Marian Crisan wins best director prize for Morgen.

Maverick Russian director Alexey Balabanov’s A Stoker (Kochegar) [pictured] was the top winner at this year’s goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film in the German city of Wiesbaden.

Balabanov’s 13th feature, which had screened in Rotterdam’s Spectrum sidebar this January, received the festival’s main prize, the €10,000 Golden Lily, as well as the international film critics’ FIPRESCI Prize.

Balabanov had previously won the award for Best Director in Wiesbaden when his last feature Morphia was shown at goEast in 2009. It is the second year in a row that a Russian film has been awarded the FIPRESCI Prize after last year’s critics’ jury recognized Alexei Popogrebsky for How I Ended My Summer (Kak ya provel etim letom).

The International Jury, headed by veteran Serbian director Zelimir Zilnik and including Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca, German distributor Torsten Frehse and the 2010 Golden Lily winner Levan Koghuashvili, awarded this year’s prize for Best Director to Romania’s Marian Crisan for his feature debut Morgen, which premiered in Locarno last summer.

goEast’s new festival director and artistic director Gaby Babic also announced that the German language broadcaster 3sat had also acquired the broadcast rights to Morgen to air the film in its schedule during next year’s festival.

The “Remembrance and Future” Documentary Award went to Polish filmmaker Piotr Stasik for The Last Day Of Summer (Koniec Lata), while the Federal German Foreign Ministry’s Award recognizing “artistic originality that creates cultural diversity” was  presented to Georgian director Alexander Kviria for his documentary Gorelovka about a rural community vanishing in southern Georgia.

Speaking during the awards ceremony, jury president Zilnik said that the decisions had been taken after “a long debate” and regretted that the jury could only bestow four awards and two special mentions (this year for Cristi Puiu’s Aurora – “one of those rare instances when content and form meet” - and Helena Trestiková’s Katka). “East European cinematography is becoming richer in expression,” Zilnik concluded after having seen this year’s competition lineup.

Meanwhile, this was the fifth year of the festival serving as the venue for the presentation of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Co-Production Prize for joint short film productions by young German and Eastern European filmmakers.

15 nominated teams in the categories of animated film, documentary and short fiction had competed for production support of up to €70,000 per project.

An expert jury including Romanian producer Ada Solomon, Sarajevo Film Festival director Mirsad Purivatra, Estonian animator Mait Laas, and Berlinale Talent Campus programme manager Matthijs Wouter Knol selected the German-Russian-Kosovo animation project Breaking News, the German-Hungarian documentary Roma Rally, and the German-Romanian short fiction Pepsi.

Previous Co-Production Prize winners include Paul Negoescu’s Renovation, Vuk Mitevski’s Alerik and Katya Suvoriva’s Seatomorrow.

In a new development, next year’s Co-Production Prize will also be open to filmmakers from the Black Sea and Caucasus region.

Babic’s first outing as goEast’s festival director and artistic director saw the screening of 127 films from 30 countries, including an homage dedicated to the Czech surrealist and filmmaker Jan Svankmajer and the introduction of a new sidebar Beyond Belonging which offered space to “interesting films made outside of Central and Eastern Europe yet possessing visible connections with the region.” The new section focused this year on films exploring migration and exile such as Arielle Javitch’s English language film Look, Stranger, starring Anamaria Marinca and Tom Burke, and Katja Schupp and Hartmut Seifert’s The Magical Journey Of The Useless Things. “They deal with core questions: how are lives altered by migration, how can the experience and history of migration be recounted on film?,” Babic explained.