Romanian Days awards go to Morgen and Outbound at Transilvania International Film Festival.

Argentinian director Miguel Cohan was the big winner at the 10th edition of the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) in Romania’s Cluj with his feature debut No Return picking up the top prize of the €15,000 Transilvania Trophy and the Best Screenplay Award for the script written with his wife Ana.

The Argentine-Spanish co-production, which is handled internationally by Latido Films, had premiered last year at the Valladolid Film Festival where it won Best Film, Best New Director and the FIPRESCI Prize.

The TIFF International Jury, which included producers Cedomir Kolar, Uberto Pasolini and Romanian director Radu Muntean, described Cohan’s debut as “the most accomplished film in the competition lineup, a discourse on ethics disguised as a high-quality detective story, which was shortlisted by the jury, for almost every possible trophy.”

Meanwhile, the Best Directing Award was shared between Rúnar Rúnarsson for Volcano and Constantin Popescu’s Principles Of Life, and the Special Jury Award went to Spain’s Federico Veiroj for A Useful Life.

This year’s Romanian Days Award for Best Feature Film was awarded by a three-person jury to Marian Crisan’s Morgen, which had premiered in Locarno last year, while Bogdan George Apetri’s Outbound – another title premiering in Locarno last August – was named Best Debut.

French actress Elodie Bouchez received the Best Acting Award for “an uncompromising, right and credible performance” in Zeina Durra’s feature debut The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, and the Best Cinematography Award was presented to Linda Wassberg for her camerawork on She-Monkeys by Swedish filmmaker Linda Aschan.

Viewing films in the Wasted Youth sidebar, the FIPRESCI international critics‘ jury gave its prize this year to Serbian filmmaker Nikola Lezaic’s feature debut Tilva Rosh which had premiered at last year’s Locarno Film Festival.

The critics said that the film is “a slice of life which has universal appeal and it’s done with so much innocence that it has really conquered our hearts.” The production by Film House Kiselo Dete will be released theatrically in Romania by Transilvania Film and has been selected by VODO for its free-to-share distribution platform.

At the same time, Belgian actor Maarten Mertens was on hand to accept the Audience Award on behalf of his director Hans Van Nuffel for the feature debut Oxygen.

Saturday evening’s awards ceremony in Cluj’s National Theatre saw a number of honorary awards presented before an audience of 1,000 guests.

Filmmaker Cristi Puiu came on stage to hand over a special award on the occasion of TIFF’s anniversary to DoP Oleg Mutu who had lensed his award-winning The Death Of Mr Lazarescu, while colleague Corneliu Porumboiu was joined by TIFF artistic director Mihai Chirilov to present this year’s Excellence Award to veteran Romanian director Lucian Pintilie, who was the subject of the first complete retrospective in his native country and is widely regarded as the key inspiration for the filmmakers of the new wave of Romanian filmmakers.

Due to health reasons, British actor Michael York could not travel to Cluj to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award for an Outstanding Personality of the European Cinema, but sent a video message expressing his wish to come to the festival in the future to receive the distinction in person.

However, actress Jacqueline Bisset attended to accept the festival’s Special Award for the Contribution to the World Cinema. She told the audience that she was looking forward to catching up on the new Romanian cinema via the DVD box of 11 debuts which was launched during TIFF, since she had little chance to see films from other countries in her home in Los Angeles.

TIFF’s 10th birthday was also an opportunity to recognise the achievements of the Romanian-born producer-distributor-exhibitor-director Marin Karmitz with a Special Award and present Lifetime Achievement Awards to veteran Romanian actor George Motoi and Italian actor-director Michele Placido who is still known and revered by Romanian audiences from his TV crime series La Piovra.

Meanwhile, the parallel Romanian Days (June 9-11) attracted some 200 participants ranging from such producers as Guillaume de Seille (Arizona Film), Christoph Thoke (Mogador Film), Raymond van der Kaaij (Revolver Films), Ada Solomon (HiFilm Productions) and Dan Burlac (Elefant Film) through sales agents Stelios Ziannis (Aktis Film International), Jonathan Hild (Rezo Films) and Sasha Wieser (EastWest Filmdistribution) to such festival representatives as Berlinale Forum director Christoph Terhechte, Locarno Industry Office chief Nadia Dresti and Warsaw Internation Film Festival director Stefan Laudyn.

In addition, the Days were attended by the heads of Israel Film Fund (Katriel Schory), Georgian National Film Center (Tamara Tatishvili), Connecting Cottbus (Bernd Buder) as well as Film i Väst’s Senior Executive for International Co-Productions Anthony Muir and Margaret von Schiller, head of the Industry Office at the Seville Film Festival.

Bogdan Mirica’s Pythonesque Bora Bora was considered the Best Romanian short by the jury in a year when the new feature films failed to ignite the levels of enthusiasm among festival selectors and sales companies that had been witnessed at the 2010 edition of the Romanian Days.

A number of the films presented in the showcase already have a sales company in place – such as MK2, Celluloid Dreams or Insomnia – but most of those without a sales agent didn’t appear to have great potential for international distribution.

In fact, the two programmes of Romanian shorts proved to be more engrossing and offered hope that there could be some comedic directorial talents around the corner. Apart from the aforementioned Bora Bora, Nicolae Constantin Tanase’s Outrageously Disco, Victor Dragomir’s Strung Love and Sabin Dorohoi’s Transylvania Girl were proof that the Romanians have a healthy sense of humour, while Anca Miruna Lazarescu’s Silent River and Ioana Uricaru’s Stopover stood out from the rest in this year’s crop.

The Romanian Days were used as a platform by Hungary’s State Secretary for Culture Geza Szocs visit his native town of Cluj at the weekend to speak to Romanian producers about the new film funding system being introduced in Hungary. Szocs confirmed that Janos Szasz’s adaptation of the Agata Cristov novel The Notebook is one of the first projects to be supported under the new funding regime.

At the same time, Moldova’s first independent distributor Dumitru Marian of Altfilm told ScreenDaily in Cluj that he had negotiated with producer Tudor Giurgiu to obtain the theatrical rights for Titus Kino Caravan to be released theatrically in Moldova last month. He had now been approached by Romania’s National Film Centre (CNC) after been in contact with producer Anca Puiu about taking on Morgen and Aurora.

Marian explained that, until now, there hadn‘t been any independent distribution in his country and that rights for Russia had always included the territory of Moldova. Thus, cinema-owners there had received Russian dubbed prints directly from the Russian distributors. “They get what they are given and are don’t have any choice,” he said.

His initiative is part of an attempt to get international distributors to stop putting Moldovan rights with the Russian ones and have the territory combined instead with Romania. Then Romanian subtitled prints could be brought to Moldova since the younger generation, in particular, are more proficient in Romanian than Russian and the majority of the population is Romanian-speaking.

Marian added that he is planning to distribute songwriter/comic Tony Hawks‘ first film Round Ireland With A Fridge later this year. He sees even greater potential in his territory for Hawks‘ second film which is based on the comedian’s book Playing The Moldovans At Tennis about a bet that he could beat all of the members of the Moldovan national football team at tennis.