Source: Venice Film Festival


Slovakian directors Ivan Ostrochovský and Pavol Pekarčík’s Ukraine war drama Photophobia has won the Europa Cinemas Label as best European film in the Giornate degli Autori section of the Venice Film Festival.

Set in the midst of the Ukraine war, Photophobia centres on a family sheltering in the Kharkiv metro station. When 12-year-old Niki meets Vika (11), a new world opens up to him and as their bond strengthens, the children find the courage once again to feel the sun on their faces.

The prize comes with promotional support from Europa Cinemas and better exhibition thanks to a financial incentive for network cinemas to include it in their programming schedule.

In a statement, the jury called Photophobia a “very original and beautifully observed film”, adding: “This is no miserabilist cliched war story. We see the way human beings – and the children in particular – learn to create a new way of living.”

The jury added: “As it stands, this film has no international sales company attached. We strongly recommend that companies look at this film very quickly and get to work. As exhibitors we are convinced that this film has a wide audience waiting for it. Our unaninmous choice for the Europa Cinemas Label here in Venice is Photophobia.

The film is a Punchart Films and Cinémotif Films production, co-produced with Radio and Television of Slovakia, Arthouse Traffic, Czech Television, Partizanfilm with the support of the Slovak Audivisual Fund, Czech Film Fund and the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic.

The Europa cinema jury comprised Gerardo de Vivo of the Modernissimo cinema in Naples; Lukas Berberich of Kino Usmev in Košice, Slovakia; Mira Staleva of Sofia Film Fest on the Road, Bulgaria; and Priscilla Gessati of L’Entrepôt in Paris.