Polish cinema was the big winner at this year’s FilmFestival Cottbus with the international jury unanimously awarding Maria Sadowska’s Women’s Day the €20,000 Main Prize for Best Film.

The award gives Sadowska the opportunity to return to Cottbus next year to present a new feature film project at the Connecting Cottbus East-West co-production market as the recipient of the CoCo Special Pitch Award.

The other Polish prize-winners were Leszek Dawid, who was awarded the Special Prize for Best Director for You Are God (his last film My Name Is Ki had picked up two awards in Cottbus a year ago), the Main Prize in the Short Films Competition for Aleksandra Terpinska’s All Souls Day; and a Special Mention in the U18 German-Polish Youth Film  Competition for actress Katarzyna Figura for her performance in Piotr Mularuk’s feature debut Yuma.

The International Jury, which included Croatian director Branko Schmidt, Vjosa Berisha, head of the Prishtina International Film Festival, and German actor Tobias Schenke, gave a Special Mention to Arsen Anton Ostojić’s Halima’s Path, also voted by festival-goers as the winner of this year’s Audience Award, while the prizes for outstanding acting performances went to Vladimir Svirski for his role in Sergei Loznitsa’s In The Fog and ex aequo to Anna Mikhalkova and Yana Troyanova for their parts in Avdotya Smirnova’s Kokoko.

Other awards included the FIPRESCI Prize for Latvian filmmaker Juris Poškus’ Kolka Cool, the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury to Loznitsa’s In The Fog, the Dialogue Prize for Intercultural Communication for Ami Drozd’s Israeli-Polish co-production My Australia and the prize for Best Debut Film to Miroslav Terzić’s Serbian blockbuster thriller Redemption Street.

This year’s edition of the festival of East European cinema featured 150 films from 36 countries, including the international premieres of such titles as Sadowska’s debut Women’s Day, Anna Wieczur-Bluszcz’s Being Like Deyna and Dmitriy Diachenko’s What Else Men Talk About as well as the world premiere of Jan Wilde’s genre mix Bardo, starring  jury member Tobias Schenke.

Co-Pro Market

Meanwhile, the parallel running Connecting Cottbus East-West Co-Production Market presented 13 feature film projects from 12 countries – from the UK to Georgia - looking for co-producers, sales agents and distributors to become partners.

This year’s edition was attended by such industry figures as sales agents Valeska Neu (Films Boutique), Anja Sosic (New Europe Film Sales),  film funders Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MDM Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, CNC, the Russian Cinema Fund, as well as producers Guillaume de Seille (Arizona Films), Benny Drechsel (Rohfilm), Cedomir Kolar (A.S.A.P. Films), Natalia Drozd (CTB Film Company), Stephan Grobe (Jolle Film), Stephane Zajdenweber (f2.8 Pictures), and Jonas Katzenstein (Augenschein Filmproduktion).

This year’s Best Pitch Award went to Kosovar director Isa Qosja’s Three Windows And A Hanging, which is described by the producers as “a critical reflection on the male-dominated sense of honour in a recovering society.” The €650,000 production by Prishtina-based CMB already has € 400,000 in place in cash or services through Isstra Creative Factory and the Kosovar National Television RTK, and has attracted Germany’s Nicole Gerhards of Berlin-based Niko Film as a co-producer. Turkish cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki, who worked with Nuri Bilge Ceylan on Once Upon A Time In Anatolia and Three Monkeys, is attached as DoP for the shoot which is scheduled for late summer/autumn 2013.

A jury including producer Cedomir Kolar and The Post Republic’s David Steinberger selected the Turkish project Motherland for the Pitch Award with colour correction and the production of a DCP offered by the Berlin postproduction house.

During the public pitchings, Hungarian director Attila Till said that his second feature Kills On Wheels about a wheelchair-bound gang of hitmen has received a minimum guarantee from Budapest Film and there was “strong interest” from A Company to pick up rights for Eastern Europe and Russia, while producer Dragos Vilcu and Romanian filmmaker Radu Muntean indicated that they would “probably” collaborate again with sales agent Films Boutique for their new project One Floor Below after the positive experience on Tuesday After Christmas.

In addition, Czech producer Jiri Konecny of endorfilm revealed to Screen that the French company Rouge International has come onboard Slovenian filmmaker Olmo Omerzu’s second feature Family Film which already has co-producers from Slovenia (Arsmedia), Croatia (Studio dim), and Slovakia (Punkchart films); and Pavel Cechak and John Riley of Lucky Man Films explained that Poland’s leading arthouse distributor Gutek Film had pre-bought Petr Zelenka’s Lost In Munich which won the Best Pitch Award in Cottbus last year.

Moreover, Joanna Bence and Fyodor Druzin of the UK production outfit Curb Denizen Productions reported that they had approached Aleksandr Bashirov, the “unofficial father of Russian punk”, to contribute to a soundtrack for Kyrgyz director Marat Alykulov’s dark comedy Lenin?! about three punk kids in Kyrgyzstan, who steal a statue of Lenin to make some easy cash, but haven’t reckoned with the reaction of the locals.

Bence and Druzin confirmed to Screen that another of Curb Denizen’s productions,  Andrey Khvostov’s feature debut Saint Petersburg, has been picked up for world sales by German-based Aktis Film International. Aktis Film’s Stelios Ziannis had seen the film when it was shown last month as part of the Red Square Screenings in Moscow and now plans to give the film its international market premiere at the European Film Market next February.

Meanwhile, an update of recent editions of Connecting Cottbus showed that several projects have since gone into production or about to start principal photography.

Romanian director Valentin Hotea’s Roxanne wrapped shooting in Bucharest last month, while Gyula Nemes’ Zero, as a co-production between Hungary’s Playtime and Katapult Film with the Czech Republic’s endorfilm and Germany’s 42 Film is set to begin shooting at locations in Hungary and Africa from next month (December).