Films from former socialist bloc countries swept the awards at the 26th Panorama of European Cinema Festival in Athens.

Alexandra Strelyanaya’s The Sea, a Russian production by Alexey Uchitel, received the best film award.

The film is a sentimental drama with social and environmental overtones set in the Russian  Kola peninsula on the North Sea coast.

Class Enemy by Slovenian Rok Bicek, in which students and teachers clash at a high school, received the Fipresci award.

Withering by Milos Pusic, a Serbian-Swedish-Swiss co-production about a young villager’s efforts to escape poverty by emigrating to Switzerland, received the audience award.

A career award was presented to local director Yorgos Tsemberopoulos, back from the UK where his latest The Enemy Within played at the London Film Festival.

Other career awards went to veteran art director Anastasia Arseni and celebrated theatre and film actor Minas Hatzissavas.

The festival, steered by artistic director Ninos Fenek Mikelides, featured more than 70 films across eight different sections.

It wrapped last night with Ralph Fiennes’ Charles Dickens biopic The Invisible Woman, which was presented out of competition.

Aside from the eight titles in competition, other highlights included a retrospective dedicated to Chilean surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky and a homage to US indie cinema.

There was also a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s first film, Fear and Desire (1953), as well as a retrospective of gruesome Italian Giallo Cinema.

The programme also paid homage to Greek cinema of the 1960s while the line-up also featured celebrated films by Michael Cacoyiannis (Electra), Nikos Papatakis (The Shepherds of Calamity), Jules Dassin (Phaedra), Nikos Koundouros (Young Aphrodites), Ado Kyrou (The Roundup) and Vassilis Georgiadis (Blood in the Land).