10 1/2 by Canada’s Daniel Grou (aka Podz) picked up the Main Award of this year’s Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival which ended on Sunday evening.
The International Jury of filmmakers Cynthia Beatt and Clemens Klopfenstein and Warsaw Film Festival director Stefan Laudyn said that Grou’s story – about a seemingly untameable young boy reminiscent of Truffaut’s L’enfant sauvage - was “profoundly convincing on every level.”
Meanwhile, Chinese filmmaker Zhao Dayong’s The High Life, which had its international premiere in Mannheim, received both the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Prize and the Fipresci Prize.
The Critics Jury described Zhao’s fiction feature debut as being a “vivid, sardonic portrait of the daily hustle in post-communist China, ingeniously linking a pyramid scheme, a policeman poet and a scrappy, petty street criminal.”
The International Jury’s Special Award went to Ahmet Boyacıoglu’s feature debut Black and White set in the real-life Ankara bar of the same name.
Boyacioglu’s ode to friendship and growing old will be screened as part of the Turkish Cinema 2010 showcase at this year’s edition of the Festival on Wheels in the provinces of Ankara, Artvin and Ordu from Dec 3-19.
In addition, the International jury gave special mentions to Nelofer Pazira for her film Act Of Dishonour and to Swedish actress Alicia Vikander for her performance in Lisa Langseth’s Pure, while this year’s audience award was shared between Argentinean filmmaker Sabrina Farji for Eva And Lola and Denmark’s Kaspar Munk for Hold Me Tight, which also received the Ecumenical Jury’s Prize.
Speaking to ScreenDaily, festival director Michael Kötz said in a review of the 2010 edition that, “compared to other film festivals, the trademark of Mannheim-Heidelberg is that we only show a limited number of films and can therefore take individual care of each film and its maker.”
This year, the festival presented 45 films in six programme sections which Kötz admits was perhaps fewer than his ideal, but this decision had been dictated by the fact that he had one less screening venue in Mannheim and was not sure how the Heidelbergers would take to the two new temporary cinemas located above the old town in the Castle Gardens.
Films which were unexpected successes with the audience included the omnibus film Some Other Stories, Predrag Velimovic’s Motel Nana and winner 10 1/2. “People were queuing up in long lines for this film and that’s something very encouraging that people are not only coming to the cinema for entertainment, but also take it seriously like they would a visit to the theatre,” Kötz said.
While several Mannheim regulars observed that this year’s festival competition lineup would not necessarily be remembered as a vintage edition, the festival’s business dimension operated on a much more modest level compared to previous years when the Mannheim Meetings co-production market had hosted more than 50 projects looking for financiers and co-production partners.
This year’s re-launch under the new label of Mannheim Meeting Place provided a platform for a handful of projects, including new films from Igor Pedicek of Ljubljana-based Casablanca and German producer Steffen Philipp Schmidt of SP Schmidt Medienproduktion .
Moreover, Thom Palmen of Botnia Film was in Mannheim looking for partners for the Ukrainian-Swedish feature film Brothers, by Victoria Trofimenko. The adaptation of Torgny Lindgren’s psychological drama Hummelhonung had previously been pitched at another project market during the Molodist festival in Kiev last month.
Kötz explained that he had decided to re-think the direction of Mannheim’s industry activities after observing the inflation in the number of co-production events in recent years. “Often, I would see projects coming to us after being at several markets or going on to many others after Mannheim. When you calculate what all that costs and the fact that they might not have found a partner after all that, it is just a gigantic trip on the gravy train.”
However, a new concept devised by Kötz for the Mannheim Meetings after the 12th edition last year was not granted funding by the MEDIA Programme in Brussels. He was therefore forced to go it alone with the Mannheim Meeting Place with a small number of projects, a programme of discussions on topical issues such as VOD services and digital distribution for arthouse cinema, and a screening service for buyers.
Those attending the Mannheim Meeting Place this year included such sellers as Stelios Ziannis (Aktis Film), Sasha Wieser (EastWest Filmdistribution), UK-based Laura Wu, and Jeff Nuyts (Intramovies), buyers Jean B. Heijl (Moonlight Films), Monica Eckelkamp (Eye Film Institute), Andre Bennett (Cinema Esperanca), Egon Nieser (Arsenal Film), and Torsten Frehse (Neue Visionen), as well as the production companies augenschein Filmproduktion, Flussaufwärts Film, and Ireland’s Dig Productions.