Russian cinema was the big winner at this year's FilmFestival Cottbus - Festival of East European Cinema (Nov 6-11) with Vera Storosheva's Travelling With Pets taking home five of the total 13 prizes.

The Grand Prix winner at this year's Moscow Film Festival was awarded the Special Prize for Best Director, the FIPRESCI Prize, the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Don Quixote Prize of the FICC Jury.

Moreover, the film's lead actress Ksenija Kutepova was presented with the Special Prize for a Outstanding Artistic Contribution.

Another two Russian productions received prizes as well: the Short Feature Competition Special Prize for Stone People by Leonid Rybakov and the Best Debut to Gagarin's Grandson by Andrei Panin and Tamara Vladimirzeva. However, the members of the Festival International Jury, which included Slovenian producer Dunja Klemenc, Interfilm president Hans Hodel and last year's top prize-winner Oleg Novkovic (Tomorrow Morning), gave their Main Prize to Bulgarian film-maker Iglika Trifonova for Investigation,a co-production between Bulgaria's Klas Film, the Netherlands' PhantaVision and Germany's Flying Moon Filmproduktion.

As an innovation this year, Trifonova will automatically have a right as the main prize-winner to make a Coco Special Pitch for a new project at the festival's sister event, the East-West co-production market Connecting Cottbus, at the 10th edition next year.

Other prizes included the German distribution support prize for Pure Coolness by Ernest Abdyshaparov from Kyrgyzstan, the Intercultural Dialogue Award for the Slovenian film Estrellita by Metod Pevec, and the Audience Award to Empties by the Czech Oscar prize-winner Jan Sverak.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, one of the jury members, the Cannes Film Festival selector Serge Sobczynski said he and his colleagues had been 'amazed and impressed by the quality of the selection' of the feature film competition, while festival director Roland Rust noted that admissions had increased by 6% over the previous year to 17,000 for the 80 films from 25 countries.

At the parallel Connecting Cottbus co-production market, the Serbian writer-director debutant Andrijana Stojkovic received the Best Pitch Award for The Box, a fatal comedy set in Belgrade in early spring of 1992, which is to be produced by Tijana Konstantinovic's Jetifilm.

During the pitches, Serbian director Oleg Novkovic revealed that he has Investigation's Klas Film and Jean-Luc Ormieres' OF2B Productions onboard his project White White World, while Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude noted that his feature debut The Happiest Girl In The World, which is to be produced by Ada Solomon's Hi Film Productions, has attracted Stine Bosklopper's Circe Films from the Netherlands as a co-producer.