In The Rearview

Source: Sheffield Doc/Fest

‘In The Rearview’

In The Rearview, by Polish aid worker-turned-director Maciek Hamela, won the best film prize at the 29th Vilnius International Film Festival (VIFF) on March 27. 

The award comes with a €8,000 cash prize established by Vilnius City Municipality.

Hamela’s documentary portrays ordinary people fleeing Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion, in the back of a nondescript mini-van driven by Hamela. It is a co-production between Poland, France and Ukraine. 

The international jury was comprised of Turkish actor Elit İşcan, Lithuanian film producer Klementina Remekaitė, Jenni Zylka, head of the Berlinale’s German Cinema Perspective department, Polish film journalist Marta Bałaga and filmmaker Paweł Łoziński. 

They noted: “In the backseat of the vehicle, the refugees talk about what they had to leave behind - their house, their animals, their family and their belief in a peaceful life – filling it with the fate of an entire nation. “On its way out, it passes ruins, soldiers and tanks. In its rearview mirror you can see more than just a destroyed country - it also shows destroyed hope. But at least its passengers managed to escape.”

The jury also gave a special mention to Saura Lightfoot Leon for her “fearless, present, and very tactile acting as an enormously complicated young woman” in UK filmmaker Luna Carmoon’s debut film Hoard.

This year’s edition of VIFF had three main sections: Competition, which consists of first and second feature-length films by European directors, a competition of European short films and Smart 7, the travelling competition across seven European film festivals.

A jury consisting of Lithuanian journalists and film critics accredited by VIFF awarded the €3,000 prize for best Lithuanian premiere to DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman’s The Peasants.  The Poland-Serbia-Lithuania co-production melds some 40,000 oil paintings  over live-action footage of actors to create a drama about life in an early 19th century Polish village.

The Peasants also won the festival audience award.