Lluís Galter’s Caracremada and Pia Marais’ At Ellen’s Age [pictured] shared the Crossing Europe Award in this year’s European Competition in the Austrian city of Linz at the weekend.

This was the first time in the history of the Crossing Europe festival that the main prize had been awarded ex aequo to two films.

The International Jury of Italian critic and festival programmer Paolo Bertolin, Birgit Kohler, co-director of Berlin’s Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, and Renen Schorr, founder and director of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem, praised the two winning films for their “equally daring and unconventional artistic stances to the questions their characters and topics raise.”

Commenting on this year’s competition lineup, the jury expressed its “appreciation for the diversity of cinematic approaches and the underlying quests for meaning and style in the nine films in the competition” and noted that the films “indeed provided an inspiring picture of what is to come in the coming years.”

There were two new prizes introduced for the eighth edition of Crossing Europe: the New Vision Award went to Serbian filmmaker Oleg Novkovic’s White White World, while the festival audience voted for Agnes Kocsis’ Adrienn Pal to receive the Audience Award.

Meanwhile, the Crossing Europe Award – European Documentary – which included acquisition of TV rights by Austrian public broadcaster ORF – went to Into Eternity by Michael Madsen.

Another innovation this year was the staging of the EU XXL Forum conference during the festival with such issues as international co-productions, copyright and working conditions for filmmakers on the agenda.

Participants included FERA secretary general Elisabeth O. Sjaastad, Hrvoje Hribar of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Connecting Cottbus director Bernd Buder, sales executive Sasha Wieser (EastWest Filmdistribution), and Sergei Stanojkovski of Film Forum Zadar.

In a resume of this year’s edition, festival director Christine Dollhofer reported that a record 19,000 had attended the festival’s programme, up from 2010’s total of 17,000.

The festival had opened on April 12 with the world premiere of local filmmaker Bernhard Sallmann’s The Bad Field as well as screenings of John Landis’ black comedy Burke & Hare, and Nanouk Leopold’s Brownian Movement.

A total of 160 films from 35 countries were shown including a Dutch Tribute to Leopold and her producer Stienette Bosklopper as well as a retrospective of Red Westerns from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and showcases dedicated to the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School and Ljubljana’s Animateka Animation Film Festival (Ljubljana).