Russian cinema is well and truly back on the international scene after becoming the big winner at this year's Festival of East European Cinema in Cottbus (November 4-8) by picking up nine of the festival's 12 awards presented at a gala ceremony on Saturday evening (Nov 8).

Lidija Bobrowa's Granny (Babusja) received the International Jury's Euros 12,000 Main Prize for Best Feature Film as well as the Euros 2,000 Audience Award, while this year's Golden Lion Winner The Return by Andrei Zvyagintsev received the Euros 5,000 Special Prize for Best Director and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

Meanwhile, the FIPRESCI Prize was awarded to Alexei Uchitel's The Stroll (Progulka) which also attracted the International Jury's Euros 4,000 Special Prize for an Outstanding Artistic Contribution and the Interessenverband Filmkommunikation's "Boulder" Award encouraging a German distributor to acquire the film.

In addition, Andrei Konchalovksy received the DIALOG Prize for Intercultural Communication for his Venice 2002 film House Of Fools (Dom Durakov) and Jelena Sorokina the Short Film Jury's Special Prize for her study of small Siberian community in De Lana Caprina.

At the same time, three distinctions went to Romanian director Peter Calin Netzer for his harrowing family drama Maria: the Cottbus Students Jury's Prize for Best Debut and Special Mentions from the International Jury and the International Federation of Film Societies (IFFS), while this year's Don Quijote Prize was awarded to Czech director Michaela Pavlatova for her debut Faithless Games (Neverne Hry).

Festival director Roland Rust announced that 13,800 festival-goers had seen more than 120 films from over twenty countries in the five days and that next year's regional focus will be dedicated to the Czech Republic after this year's FOCUS had centred on new cinema from Russia.