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Glittering end to the 18th Filmfestival Cottbus

On Saturday, 15th November, the 18th edition of the FilmFestival Cottbus came to an end with an impressive closing ceremony where prizes to a total value of 67,000 Euros were awarded. The most important cultural event in Cottbus celebrated its coming of age with what looks like being record full cinemas. The festival presented 136 films from 36 countries and attracted around 500 professional guests from around the world to the Lausitz region. The festival thus underlined once more its importance as a unique forum for contemporary Central and East European filmmaking and as "the most important meeting place for the East European film scene", as the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed on Tuesday in his opening speech.
17,300 festival visitors participated in the extensive offer of film screenings, concerts, readings and exhibitions, which marks a further increase in the admission figures.

The Main Prize of the International Festival Jury went this year to the Russian-Bulgarian co-production CAPTIVE by Alexey Uchitel. Sergei Dvorzevoy received the Special Prize for Best Director for TULPAN which had already kicked the festival week off in style on Tuesday. The Special Prize for an Outstanding Artistic Contribution was picked up by the Polish director Michał Rosa for the screenplay of his film SCRATCH.

The Russian film WILD FIELD by the director Mikhail Kalatozishvili received both the FIPRESCI Jury Prize as well as the distinction from the Ecumenical Jury. The FICC Jury awarded the Don Quixote Prize to DELTA by Kornél Mundruczó from Hungary.
The three prize-winners in the Feature Film Competition also received the "Lubina" sculpture trophy.
In the Short Feature Competition, the Main Prize went to the Hungarian film THE DINNER by Karchi Perlmann, while the jury's Special Prize was presented to ALEXANDRA by Radu Jude from Romania, who had already received the Main Prize of the Short Feature Competition in Cottbus in 2004.
The Cottbus Discovery Award was given to director Andri Luup from Estonia whose debut KINNUNEN numbered among the festival's numerous discoveries.
The Audience Award went to COUNTRY TEACHER by Bohdan Sláma from the Czech Republic by a close vote.
Thursday had already seen the awarding of the Prize for Best Debut by the Cottbus Student Jury to MUKHA by Vladimir Kott from Russia during the Ecumenical Reception .
The festival's focus this year was on "New Cinema from the Baltics", which brought filmmakers together from the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as all of the other countries bordering the Baltic Sea.
The "Russian Day" section was successfully established this year, being enthusiastically received by both the audiences and the professional visitors. In accompanying industry meetings, the perspectives for German-Russian cooperation were explored, with Cottbus intending to serve as a future platform for the dialogue between the two countries.
This year's retrospective "1968: Prague Spring and the Aftermath" offered an opportunity in both moving and stimulating film talks to reflect on the repercussions of the historical caesura 40 years ago.
The 10th Connecting Cottbus demonstrated above all one thing: there is a functioning network of filmmakers from Eastern Europe and Germany. Many new faces from 13 countries came to Cottbus to present their latest projects and find partners for the realisation. In total, 140 interested visitors participated in the jubilee edition of Connecting Cottbus. The CoCo Best Pitch Award 2008 went to the Romanian project THE BEAR, presented in Cottbus by producer Tudor Giurgiu (Libra Film) and author/director Dan Chisu. The award, which is donated by EastWest Filmdistribution, consists of a voucher for script doctoring services to the value of 3,000 €.

The screening of the family story from the divided Germany NOVEMBER CHILD rounded off the event in the Cottbus Stadthalle. This preview before the theatrical opening was presented in the presence of the director Christian Schwochow and the actors Hermann Beyer and Adrian Topol. This remarkable debut also received the Promotion Prize of the DEFA Foundation which will be officially awarded at the Cottbus festival's Berlinale reception in February.

On Sunday, 16th November, there is an opportunity to see the festival's highlights and prize-winners in the Cottbus Stadthalle. On 17th and 18th November, films from Russia and the Czech Republic will be presented in cinemas in Berlin and Potsdam as a festival epilogue.

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Chatelin Bruno
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