AlekseiGerman Jr.'s story of four friends on the eve of theFirst World War Garpastumwon the Stella Artois Grand Prix for Best Film at theSofia International Film Festival 10th anniversary edition which ended on March18.

In itsmotivation, the International Jury headed by Russian critic Andrei Plakhov said that the film "deals in real depth withthe problems and possibilities of youth, and is remarkable for its director'sextraordinary control of his medium".

Acceptingthe prize on behalf of German Jr. at the awardsceremony, Sergei Lazaruk,Head of the Cinema Section at Russia's Federation Agency of Cultureand Cinematography, used the occasion to announce plans to launch a screenplaycompetition for stories of common interest for Russia and Bulgaria to promote co-production betweenthe two countries.

TheJury's Special Mention Award went to Bosnian filmmaker NenadJuric's comedy SkiesAbove The Landscape "for the originalityof its conception, its excellent performances and vivid sense of humour."

TheJameson Award for Best Bulgarian Short went to Andrei Tzvetkov's,Black On Whitewith a Special Mention for Boginya Naydenova's, Kaloyan & Sonya.

Localfilmmakers were also given a boost with Georgi Djulgerov's, Lady Zeepicking up two prizes: the FIPRESCI International Critics Award and the BestBulgarian Film Kodak Award. In a generous gesture, Djulgerovand his DoP Radoslav Spasov decided to give their prize of KODAK film negativeworth $ 3,000 to three young Bulgarian filmmakers MaiaVitkova, Svetoslav Draganov and Dimitar Sardgev.

Otherprizes included the No Man's Land Prize for the Best Balkan Film to Sloveniandirector Jan Cvitkovic's Gravehopping, the Audience Awardwent to James Ivory's The White Countess,as well as Awards for Life Achievement in Cinema to directors Sir Alan Parker,Nikolai Volev, Volker Schloendorff,Rangel Valchanov and actress Vanessa Redgrave.

At thethird edition of the Sofia Meetings co-production forum held during thefestival, the attending international producers and film fund executivesselected Slovenian filmmaker Hanna A.W. Slak andproducer Dunja Klemenc asthe winners of this year's $4,870 (Euro 4,000) Award for Best Pitch for theirproject Teah.