Prague International Film Festival’s primary award went to Iceland for the second year running.

Rúnar Rúnarsson’s Sparrows was awarded the Grand Prix in the New Europe Competition at this year’s Prague International Film Festival - Febiofest which closed with the Czech premiere of Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie The Eagle.

Rúnarsson’s sensitive coming of age story is the second Icelandic film in a row to receive the top honour in Prague after Baldvin Zophoniasson’s Life In A Fishbowl took the Grand Prix home in 2015.

Amnesty International Award

Febiofest’s 23rd edition also saw the launching of a new prize, the Amnesty International Febiofest Award.

A jury consisting of the actress Martha Issová, the director of Amnesty International Czech Republic, Mark Martin, and the former Rotterdam programmer Gertjan Zuilhof selected Carlos Tribino Mamby’s The Silence Of The River from a line-up including Mustang, Nahid and Strange Heaven.

Speaking to Screen after the awards ceremony, Mark Martin said that he was “especially indebted” to the UK producer and European Film Academy deputy chairman Mike Downey who had proposed the idea of an award with Amnesty International during his visit to Febiofest a year ago.

Originally, there had been plans to call the prize the Oleg Sentsov Award in honour of the imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker, but it was then agreed to have the more general title in order to bring attention to other filmmakers, journalists, artists and bloggers who have been imprisoned by dictatorial regimes.

International guests

The closing ceremony also saw the Febiofest management presenting its fifth Kristian Award for Contribution to World Cinema to the UK’s Peter Morgan, the first screenwriter ever to have received this honour.

Earlier in the festival, Kristian Awards had been handed out to the veteran Italian director Marco Bellochio, Spanish actress Carmen Maura, Scottish actor-director Peter Mullan, and Slovakian actress Emília Vašáryová.

Other international guests included German actor Daniel Brühl and Slovenian director Jan Cvitkovic - both the subjects of film tributes alongside Maura, Morgan and Bellochio - as well Israeli actor Itay Tiran (Demon) and Maltese director Rebecca Cremona (Simshar).

While cineastes outside of Prague will be able to see selected films during the regional Echoes of Febiofest from March 29 to April 21 in 14 Czech cities such as Karlovy Vary, Plzeň and Zlín, another separatetly operating Febiofest was held in the Slovak capital of Bratislava parallel to the Prague event.

First Bratislava Industry Days

This year saw Bratislava’s International Film Clubs Festival - Febiofest staging the first edition of its Industry Days with a Works in Progress showcase of projects in development, production or postproduction by Czech and Slovak directors.

The line-up for this new initiative included:

  • Peter Kerekes’ creative documentary Censors about the role of censorship in the Arab world, Africa and Europe, currently in development with the Czech company Hypermarket Film.
  • Koza director Ivan Ostrochovsky new feature, the drama The Disciple, which had previously been pitched in Karlovy Vary, Cottbus and Arras last year.
  • Peter Hledík’s bio-documentary Photographer Of The Beatles about the legendary Slovak-born Dezo Hoffmann, photographer of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Marilyn Monroe, among others.
  • Jan Hrebejk’s latest feature The Teacher, a Slovak-Czech co-production currently in post-production, with LevelK on board as sales agent.