Festival director Stefan Laudyn also announced that the CentEast Market will “hopefully” expand next year to include films from Chinese independent filmmakers.

Belgian filmmaker Frédéric Fonteyne’s Tango Libre [pictured] was named the winner of this year’s Warsaw Grand Prix at an awards ceremony in the Polish capital on Saturday evening.

Tango Libre was premiered this year in Venice’s Orizzonti competition - where it won the Special Jury Award - and is the final film in Fonteyne’s trilogy about how women and love work after Une Liaison Pornographique and La Femme de Gilles. International sales are handled by Films Distribution.

Warsaw Film Festival’s International Competition jury, which included China’s Et Hu, Hungarian producer Jozsef Berger, Ankara Cinema Association’s Ahmet Boyacıoğlu and Polish director Greg Zgliński, gave its Best Director award to Andrzej Jakimowski for his drama Imagine, starring Edward Hogg and Alexandra Maria Lara, while the Special Jury Award was presented to Tudor Giurgiu for his comedy Of Snails And Men. “I’m usually the Special Mention guy,” Giurgiu quipped as he came on stage to accept the distinction.

The winner of the Competition 1-2 for first and second features was Sára Cserhalmi for Dear Betrayed Friends, with a Special Mention for The Wild Ones by Alejandro Fadel of Argentina, while this year’s Free Spirit Award in the Free Spirit Competition went to Iran’s Mani Haghighi for Modest Reception.

Michał Marczak’s Fuck The Forest picked up the Best Documentary prize in the Documentary Features Competition, with a Special Mention going to Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her.

Other prizes included the FIPRESCI Prize for best East European debut to Russian filmmakers Alexander Kasatkin and Natalya Nazarova for The Daughter, the Ecumenical Jury’s award to Operation E by Miguel Courtois Paternina and the NETPAC Jury prize for the Best Asian film to Wildlife by Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr. from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, this year saw the eighth edition of Warsaw’s CentEast market (Oct 19-21) and the fourth year of a showcase of “works in progress” being presented in Warsaw and Moscow to a select audience of sales agents, distributors and festival programmers.

In a change from previous years, the showcase was first staged in Moscow – at the new Red Square Screenings – on Oct 16 to an audience including representatives from Fortissimo Film, Global Screen, Rezo Films, Eye Institute, Neue Visionen, China Film Co., Yume Pictures and festivals from Locarno, Karlovy Vary, Telluride, Cluj and Cannes.

The ten-film lineup of projects in various stages of production were then presented in Warsaw on Oct 19 to another group of industry professionals including acquisition executives from Films Boutique, m-appeal, Revolver Entertainment, Wide Management, East-West Filmdistribution and AS Fidalgo.

Films previously shown as “works in progress” at CentEast have included Andrzej Jakimowski’s first English language film Imagine, the opening film at this year’s Warsaw Film Festival (WFF), Victor Ginzburg’s award-winning Generation P which will be released on over 100 prints in the US on Nov 16 by New World Distribution, Roman Prygunov’s no. 1 hit Dukhless, which has taken more than $10m at the Russian box-office since its release on Oct 4, and Czech director Bohdan Sláma’s fourth feature Four Suns that premiered at Sundance in January.

At the weekend, WFF director Stefan Laudyn announced that the CentEast Market will “hopefully” expand next year to include films from Chinese independent filmmakers following the signing of a cooperation agreement with Beijing-based Film Factory to create the China-Europe Film Promotion Project (CEFPP).

The objectives of CEFPP are twofold: to open Chinese distribution channels for European arthouse films and to offer assistance in introducing quality Chinese films to Europe.

CEFPP’s Eastern European partners are Estonia’s Black Nights Film Festival and the Baltic Event, Russia’s Red Square Screenings, Bulgaria’s Sofia International Film Festival and Sofia Meetings and Romania’s Transilvania International Film Festival and Romanian Days. The project is open to other European film festivals interested in providing a platform for artistic films from China.

As a start this year, CentEast had seven independent Chinese productions - including Gao Qun-shu’s Beijing Blues, Teng Hua-tao’s Love Is Not Blind and Li Yu’s Buddha Mountain - selected by Film Factory’s Et Hu from its video library.

Laudyn explained that an application for funding the project’s activities had been made to the European Union’s MEDIA Mundus (which already supports the CentEast Moscow-Warsaw Market along with the Russia Cinema Fund) and the Polish Film Institute, and Et Hu will also be approaching Chinese funding bodies for support.

“There have been several attempts in the past by Western companies to enter the Chinese market, but they haven’t been very successful,” Laudyn noted. “We decided from the very beginning to take a different road and focus on cultural exchange, so our project is based on reciprocity. With our colleagues in Europe, we will help Chinese filmmakers to achieve visibility on the international market and get selected for festivals, and serve as link between the filmmakers and international sales agents.”

“We also hope to build a window onto the Chinese market for European filmmakers,“ he continued, pointing out that the European side of CEFPP would make a selection of films to submit to its Chinese partner, Film Factory, who would in turn make a final choice according to official government criteria.

Laudyn, who had attended the first Beijing International Film Festival last year, added that he was keen to develop relationships with leading Chinese film festivals through the mediation of Et Hu whose social networking platform has 6,000 Chinese filmmakers as members.

Meanwhile, the German-Polish Co-Development Fund announced ahead of this year’s festival that it had allocated support for the joint development of two new German-Polish projects.

Support was given to the documentary Johannas Geheimnis by Wladislaw Jurkow and Gerburg Rohde-Dahl, to be produced by Warsaw’s Arkadia Film with Rohde Dahl Filmproduktion, and to Mariko Saga’s feature film project Viet Wander House, to be produced by Lodz-based Lava Film with Berlin’s Rohfilm.

The German-Polish Co-Development Fund is supported by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MDM and the Polish Film Institute.