Serbiandirector Oleg Novkovic scored a hat-trick at this year's FilmFestival Cottbus(Nov 14-18) when his latest feature Tomorrow Morning (Sutra Ujutru) won the Main Prize for Best Film, the FIPRESCI Prize and thenewly-created From Cottbus to Cinema Distribution Support Prize.

This Novkovicthird film to show at the festival of East European Cinema, having appeared in1994 and 2001 with his first two features Say Why Have You Left Me (KaziZasto Me Ostavi) and Normal People (Nevidljivi Ljudi).

Romanianfilmmakers also figured prominently among the prize-winners with the SpecialPrize for Best Direction going to Radu Muntean's The Paper Will Be Blue and the Special Prize for an Outstanding Artistic Contributionrecognising the performances of the lead actors in Corneliu Porumboiu's Camerad'Or winning 12:08 East Of Bucharest.

RaduJude also picked up the Main Prize in the Short Feature Competition for hisshort film The Tube With A Hat.

Theother prizes included the Audience Award for the Kyrgyz director Nurbek Egen's TheWedding Chest, the International Federation of FilmSocieties' Don Quixote Prize for Gyorgy Palfi's Taxidermia and the Dialogue prize for Intercultural Communication to MikhailSegal's Franz And Polina.

Attendanceat this year's festival surpassed 2005's record attendance of 16,000, and over130 professional visitors from 17 countries attended the parallel ConnectingCottbus market forum to hear pitches of 13 new feature film projects fromCentral and Eastern Europe.

Duringthe forum, Serbian writer-director Darko Lungulov revealed that MirjanaKaranovic (Grbavica, Das Fraulein) andLazar Ristovski (Tomorrow Morning, Casino Royale) havealready been cast for lead roles in his $1.2m (Euros 800,000) Serbian-Englishromantic drama Here And There which will be producedby Media Plus and Dakar at locations in New York and Belgrade.

Moreover,this year's Connecting Cottbus provided an update on feature projects whichfound production partners after being pitched at past editions of the pitchingforum.

Post-productionis currently underway on Balkan Traffic and ThreeGirls, which were both pitched at the event in 2001: MarkusStein and Milan Puzic's Balkan Traffic wasproduced by Germany's Hoferichter & Jacobs with Austria's Lotus Film andCroatia's Jadran Film, while the German company served as a co-producer onIbris Film's production of Murad Ibragimbekov's Three Girls which was shot at locations in Azerbaijan's Baku.

Bulgarianfilmmaker Stefan Komanderev's next feature The World Is Big, which was presented at Connecting Cottbus in 2002, has now receivedproduction support from the Leipzig-based regional fund MDM in addition tobacking from the Bulgarian Film Centre and the SEE Network.

Theco-production between Bulgaria's RFF International, Germany's Pallas Film andPandora Film, and Slovenia's Emotionfilm will be executive produced by VladimirAndreev of Borough Film.

Accordingto RFF's Stefan Kitanov, casting and location scouting has been underway inboth Bulgaria and Germany, with Carlo Ljubek already committed for one of theGerman parts on what will be one of the most ambitious Bulgarian films ofrecent years. The $2.3m (Euros 1.8m) production is due to begin shooting inBulgaria from mid-March 2007, with The Match Factory handling internationalsales.

Inaddition, two projects from the 2004 edition are nearing completion: the Polishfilm Fur, directed by Tomasz Drozdowicz andproduced by SF Autograf with Germany's Twenty Twenty Vision, and Serbiandirector Srdan Golubovic's family drama The Trap, which is being produced by Belgrade-based Bas Celik with Germany'sMediopolis and Hungary's New Budapest Filmstudio, with Bavaria FilmInternational handling international sales.

Meanwhile,three of the 2005 projects - Ilja Khrzhanovsky's Dau, Robert Glinski's Piggies, andLibra Film's Conversation With Sefarim -have found production partners to work on the development together, whileFerenc Torok's stockbroker drama Overnight wasshot this summer in Hungary, Germany and Bombay and is now in postproduction asa co-production between Hungary's Katapult Film and Germany's Schmidtz KatzeFilmproduktion.

Speakingin Cottbus, Russian producer Artem Vasiliev explained that Khrzhanovsky's filmwas now "at the end of the development stage" after the Germanco-producer Essential Filmproduktion had brought a script doctor onboard andpointed out that the project was quite unusual since "not that manyRussian producers are working on co-productions with Europe."

Productionfunding was granted last week by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and anapplication is now being made to the MDM fund in Leipzig for support.

At thesame time, Mario Schneider of Halle-based 42Film revealed that veteran Germanactor Rolf Hoppe has been committed for a lead role in Glinski's film, which isbeing structured as a majority Polish-German co-production with Widark - Film& Television Productions as the lead producer.

Moreover, Romania's Libra Film found Berlin-basedMediopolis Film as a partner for theatre director Silviu Purcarete's featuredebut Conversation With Serafim which has alreadyattracted development support from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg in addition tobacking from the Balkan Fund and Romania's CNC.