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Paulo Portugal

Paulo Portugal is an European freelance film journalist covering festivals for over 20 years. His blog will feature reviews, news and interviews, video.

Paulo is contributoir and a member of Fipresci and Federora for jury duties. 



Top award in Belgrade's FEST goes to iranian Milad Alami's 'The Charmer'

Belgrade was the capital of film between February 23rd to March 4th, with 46th FEST serving as an ideal platform, as Artistic Director Jugoslav Pantelic assumed, to connect “the predominantly commercial cinema repertoire in Serbia and the most important films which were produced”. During it’s ten days period, the festival showcased “films that have already been recognized” and those that will probably have the only presentation “in this part of the planet”.

From the 16 films on the Main Competition program, where we found a few gems, to the new slate of Serbian films, the Focus Europe, and the discoveries in the Frontiers section, there was a full course film menu to feed us during our amazing stay. Even if our jury duty led us to focus more on the Main and Serbian competitions. All in all, a wonderful experience, and a very well organized festival. Yes, in our festival circuit memories, “we’ll always have Belgrade”.

In two decades of covering film festival all around the world, I did not recall two closing ceremonies which filled out the huge almost 4 thousand seats Sava Center. And do I have to mention the lavish parties? Better not. Let the pictures speak for themselves.

Iranian filmmaker Milad Alami was honored with the Belgrade Victor for "The Charmer", the winner of the 46th Main Competition, this Saturday. A film which the jury presided by Micho Manchevski, along with Jovan Jovanović, Mila Turajlić, Gordan Kičić and Elma Tataragić described as “harmonizing all aspects of film aesthetics, thanks to the convincing story and complex main character.”

On this first intriguing and accomplished feature, Alami's clever scrip with usual partner Ingeborg Topsoe, that received also the Best Screenplay, follows the attempts of a young charming Iranian (excellent performance by Ardalan Esmaili) to pick up girls that might help him to maintain his stay in Denmark. In a way, a behavior study where loneliness of the bourgeois Danish society meets the needs of this young man who plays the role of a real 'charmer'. This is an award that adds to an amazing array of awards in several festivals around the world. 

The Iranian cinema was in high note with Ali Jalivand’s “No Date No Signature”, wining the Jury Prize. The film that had the world premiere in Venice film festival, where it won two best actor and best director in Horizon’s section, describes the dilemma of a forensic doctor after a young boy’s death, which he thinks he was also responsible. The jury praised this story that “elaborates the question of guilt and responsibility in a simple and powerful way, supported by an excellent cast.”

Lebanese actor Adel Karam won Best Actor for his role in “The Insult” (“L’Insulte”) and the ensemble cast of Chinese of “Angels Wear White” (“Jia nian hua”) won Best Actress award.

Argentinean director Natalia Garagiola won Debut Award for sensitive and strong “Hunting Season” (“Temporada de Caza”), a debut feature that analyzes the difficult relationship between a father and a son in Patagonia. On a curious note, Garagiola shared with Milad Alami in 2014 the director credits in the ensemble film “Nordic Factory”.

Finally, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” won the Audience Award.

The Fedeora Jury (Paulo Portugal, Nevena Dakovic and Zlatko Vidackovic) award for the best European and/or Mediterranean film in the main competition went to (“Uvreda/The Insult”, by Ziad Doueri. And the best film in Serbian competition was “Offenders”, by Dejan Zecevic. A special mention was also given to “Ederlezi Rising”, by Lazar Bodroza.


Article by Paulo Portugal

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