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The 26th edition of FESTROIA: TROIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL will be held from June 4 to 13 in the beautiful coastal resort town of Setubal, Portugal. The Festival, the country's oldest and most prestigious, is known as the "Cannes of Portugal" and showcases international talents from around the world, with competition sections, special events and a program  of new works from emerging North American independent filmmakers from the U.S.A.


EMPTIES Wins Top Prize At Festroia


Monday, June 16------EMPTIES, the ironic comedy by Czech director Jan Sverak, has won the Gold Dolphin, the top award at the 24th edition of Festroia in Portugal. The film, a comic love story about a man facing old age, is the third in a trilogy that includes the director’s previous films ELEMENTARY SCHOOL and the Oscar winning KOLYA. The film has previously won the Czech Lion (the local Oscar) for Best Director and Audience Prize, as well as the Audience Award at last year’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival. The film stars Zdenek Sverak, the director’s father (who also wrote and starred in the previous two films) as a cantankerous teacher who suddenly retired and makes life miserable for everyone around him, especially his long-suffering wife. Theirs is a universal love-hate relationship: at the end of the day their affection, though grudging, wins out.

Other important awards announced at the Festival’s Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening in Setubal, Portugal included a Special Jury Prize, which was won by Estonian director Ilmar Raag for his devastating story of the bullying of a young boy which ends in a Columbine-style school massacre. THE CLASS had previously won the Label Europa Cinemas prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and the Special Jury Award and FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the Warsaw Film Festival. The film also picked up a Special Mention Signis Prize, determined by a Catholic jury, at Festroia. 

Best Director honors went to Serbian director Srdan Solubovic for the film THE TRAP. The film is a modern film noir reflecting the true face of Eastern European 'society in transition.' In the film, an ordinary man is forced to choose between life and death of his own child in post-Milosevic Serbia. The film had previously won the Grand Prix at the Sofia International Film Festival.

Eastern European films and talents also captured some of the major awards of the evening, including a Silver Dolphin as Best Actor for Poland’s Robert Wieckiewicz for the film ALL WILL BE WELL , a Silver Dolphin for Russian cinematographer Oleg Kirichenko’s work on the film MERMAID, the First Works Award to debut helmer Lukasz Palkowski for the Polish film PRESERVE, and the Audience Award for Slovenian director Metrod Pevec’s crowd-pleasing comedy ESTRELLITA.

Scandinavian films also figured in the Festival’s top winners. MIRUSH, a poignant film about a father-and-son reconciliation by Norwegian director Marius Holst, won the FIPRESCI International Critics Award. WORLDS APART, a Romeo-and-Juliet love story about a young Jehovah’s Witness who falls in love with a “non-believer”, won the Signis Prize for Danish director Niels Arden Oplev. Finally, Finnish actresses Outji Maenpaa and Ria Kataja deservedly shared the Silver Dolphin for Best Actress in the triangle drama BLACK ICE, by director Petri Kowica. 

American director Andrew Wagner won the City of Setubal Prize in the American Independents competition for the drama STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING. The film, about a reclusive elderly writer whose life and career are rekindled by a young graduate student, features a stellar performance by film and stage veteran Frank Langella, who won several film critics association awards this past for his riveting and very raw performance. 

The 24th edition of Festroia demonstrated the continued vitality of independent cinema and the variety of themes, subjects and stories that illuminate the human condition and the shared humanity that makes each film, as specific as it may be to its own culture, very universal as well.

 Sandy Mandelberger, Festroia Dailies Editor

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Sandy Mandelberger
(International Media Resources)

United States

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