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PÖFF announces its 2021 award winners

At the Award Ceremony of the 25th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF), awards were presented to the winners of the festival’s four competition programmes and PÖFF’s youth and children’s film sub-festival Just Film. PÖFF Shorts announced its winners last week, but added an EFA nominee.

The jury of Official Selection – Competition, headed by EFA Chairman Mike Downey, selected director Andreas Kleinert's historical biopic Dear Thomas as their favourite, handing the film the Grand Prix of the festival. Shifting deftly between reality and feverish dream, far from following biopic conventions, Dear Thomas has taken biography and made a manifesto for art and its power for change.

The jury commended the film with the following statement: “For its powerful narrative and masterly execution of the biopic form and for throwing an essential light on one of the seminal figures of German letters, the award for Best Film goes to director Andreas Kleinert and producers Till Derenbach and Michael Souvignier for the film Lieber Thomas (Dear Thomas) from Germany.”


The Best Director award went to Wojciech Smarzowski for The Wedding Day, a rich, provocative and brutally incisive portrait of Polish society and history. The jury praised his work with the following words: “In recognition of his biting expose of modern day corruption, historical revisionism, deep rooted hatred of the other, in a perfect revelatory concoction of abhorrent crimes both past and present in the heart of Europe, the prize for Best Director goes to Wojciech Smarzowski for The Wedding Day (Wesele) from Poland.”

Smarzowski also received the Best Screenplay award in recognition of The Wedding Day’s script, which the jury described as an “uncompromising narrative and powerful evocation [,] an aesthetically complete unified piece of art.”


The Best Cinematography award was presented to Emre Tanyildiz for The List Of Those Who Love Me, in the eyes of the jury “16mm filmmaking at its very best”.

The Best Actress award went to Russia’s Sofia Krugova for No Looking Back for her portrayal of a daughter caught between comically ultra violent mother and grandmother.

Albrecht Schuch received the Best Actor award for his “extraordinary and multifaceted” performance as German writer and man of letters Thomas Brasch in Dear Thomas.

The Best Original Score prize went to Finland’s Esa-Pekka Salonen for his evocative score for The Wait, described by the jury as, at the same time, both “emotionally raw” and “spiritually liberating”.

Hungary’s Anna Nyitrai picked up the Best Production Design award for the independently-produced Perpetuity’s vividly-realised futuristic dystopia.

The First Feature Competition

Three awards were given out by the jury led by Jayro Bustamante, with Germany’s Other Cannibals, directed by Francesco Sossai, receiving the Best First Feature award. This twisty thought experiment combines black comedy, a pinch of Western and a deep dive to the heart of human desire.

The competition has two Special Jury Prizes, the first of which was handed out to Chilean director Nicolás Postiglione for Immersion, an exquisitely tense water-bound psychological thriller.

The second Special Jury Prize went to Cécile Ducrocq for Her Way, offering new perspectives on both prostitution and motherhood.


Baltic Competition and Rebels With A Cause

Lithuania’s Runner, from Director Andrius Blaževičius, picked up the Baltic Competition prize, presented by jury head Marjorie Bendeck. The appropriately fast-paced drama finds Marija chasing after her mentally ill and missing life partner.

The Rebels with a Cause jury, led by Kazik Radwanski, chose Piotr Stasik’s The Moths for the Rebels with a Cause prize. The experimental piece follows a youth group detached from their virtual lives in a Polish forest.

The jury also presents an award for the Rebels with their Shorts programme that went to Faeze Karimpour’s They Were to Cross the River.


The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) watched the First Feature Competition and selected Other People as their winner. The film is a fresh, energetic and rhythmic drama, orbiting around a wannabe rapper and a wealthy housewife.

Estonian Ecumenical award

Representatives of Estonia’s faith communities chose Mukagali to receive their Ecumenical prize for 2021, praising its visual richness and story of triumph over adversity. The biopic focuses on the life and struggles of Kazakhstan’s legendary national poet.



Jury: Mike Downey, Francis Annan, Nisan Dağ, Eugen Tamberg, Piret Tibbo-Hudgins

Grand Prix for the Best Film
Grant of 20,000 Euros, shared by the Director and Producer

Dear Thomas
Director: Andreas Kleinert, Producers: Till Derenbach & Michael Souvignier
Germany, 2021

Jury comment: For its powerful narrative and masterly execution of the biopic form and for throwing an essential light on one of the seminal figures of German letters, the award for Best Film goes to director Andreas Kleinert and producers Till Derenbach and Michael Souvignier for the film LIEBER THOMAS (Dear Thomas) from Germany

Best Director
Grant of 5000 Euros

Wojciech Smarzowski for The Wedding Day
Poland, 2021

Jury comment: In recognition of his biting expose of modern day corruption, historical revisionism, deep rooted hatred of the other, in a perfect revelatory concoction of abhorrent crimes both past and present in the heart of Europe, the prize for Best Director goes to Wojciech Smarzowski for THE WEDDING DAY (Wesele) from Poland

Best Cinematography
Grant of 1000 Euros

Emre Tanyildiz for The List Of Those Who Love Me
Turkey, 2021

Jury comment: Aesthetically consistent and creatively assured cinematography which demonstrates a textbook example of the ongoing treasure and pleasure of 16mm film making at is very best has led the International Jury to award the prize for Best Cinematography to Emre Tanyildiz for THE LIST OF THOSE WHO LOVE ME (Beni Sevenler Listesi) from Turkey

Best Script
Wojciech Smarzowski for The Wedding Day
Poland, 2021

Jury comment: For its uncompromising narrative and powerful evocation of two very specific historical periods in an aesthetically complete unified work of art, the prize for Best Screenplay goes to Wojciech Smarzowski for THE WEDDING DAY (Wesele) from Poland

Best Actress
Sofia Krugova for No Looking Back
Russia, 2021

Jury comment: For her hilariously bravura and smartly ‘knowing’ performance, managing to more than hold her own within a stellar cast of comedy greats, the prize for Best Actress in the role of Masha goes to Sofia Krugova in NO LOOKING BACK (Otorvi i Vibros) from Russia

Best Actor
Albrecht Schuch for Dear Thomas
Germany, 2021

Jury comment: For his extraordinary, multifaceted and versatile performance in the title role, and his utterly believable interpretation of the life of one of Germany’s most important artists in what is ultimately a cinematic tour-de-force, the Jury Prize for Best Actor goes to Albrecht Schuch for his performance as Thomas Brasch in DEAR THOMAS (Lieber Thomas) from Germany

Best Original Score
Esa-Pekka Salonen for The Wait
Finland, 2021

Jury comment: Creating a score which is not only spiritually liberating, its emotional rawness not only gets under the skin of the audience, but perfectly reflects the inner passions, loves and insecurities of the three main characters, the Jury Prize for Best Original Score goes to Esa-Pekka Salonen for THE WAIT (Odotus) from Finland.

Best Production Design
Anna Nyitrai for Perpetuity
Hungary, 2021

Jury comment: For the creation of an apocalyptic vision of hell in a futuristic European dystopia, the award for Best Production Design goes to Anna Nyitrai for PERPETUITY (Mindörökké) from Hungary


Jury: Jayro Bustamante, Elfar Adalsteins, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Paul Thiltges, Evelin Penttilä

The Award for the Best First Feature Film
Grant of 5000 Euros, shared by the Director and Producer

Other Cannibals
Director: Francesco Sossai, Producer: Cecilia Trautvetter
Germany, 2021

Jury comment: For a reality portrayed from a personal perspective, strong visual language, innovative, with cinematic freshness. The writing and great acting performances come together effortlessly in a story of loneliness told with a tender human touch. It is a film that makes us look forward to seeing the next work of this exciting director.

Special Jury Prize #1
Chile, 2021

Jury comment: We enter from the first images into a universe of suspenseful tension that never lets go of us during the film. Using the genre with mastery and trapping the viewer in the prejudices of the strong social criticism that the film denounces.

Special Jury Prize #2
Her Way
France, 2021

Jury comment: Because this story is told with great maturity, an extremely important ingredient when it comes to portraying human intimacy from the depths. This director knows how to lead her magnificent cast to the ambiguity represented by the problems of adolescence, as well as those of a middle-aged mother who works to give her son what she did not have.


Jury: Marjorie Bendeck, Xavier Henry-Rashid, Ben Pullen

Best Baltic Feature Film
Grant of 3200 Euros

Director: Andrius Blaževičius
Lithuania, 2021

Jury comment: The award for best Baltic film competition goes to an honest and thought-provoking film dealing with a tough subject matter, full of heart, energy and passion, as well as performance to match.


Jury: Kazik Radwanski, Juris Kursietis, Rene van Pannevis

Rebels with a Cause Award
The Moths
Director: Piotr Stasik
Poland, 2021

Jury comment: The Rebels with a Cause award goes to The Moths, a film that takes us on a conceptual ride into the woods with a group of boys who have escaped from a camp for teenage gamers. The jury applauds Piotr Stasik’s daring feature and his bold, cinematic choices full of intrigue, poetry, and meticulously composed images. His stunning cinematography coupled with his engaging, brave and multi-layered ideas challenge notions of masculinity and society through choreography, dance, and group process.

Rebels with their Shorts Award
They Were to Cross the River
Director: Faeze Karimpour

Jury comment: The Best Rebels Short prize goes to They Were to Cross the River, the jury applauds Faeze Karimpour who has created a transfixing film that takes place in a world that exists out of time and current conventions.

FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Prize

Jury: Ola Salwa, Aleksander Huser, Maarja Hindoalla

Other People
Director: Aleksandra Terpinska
Poland, 2021

Jury comment: The winner of the FIPRESCI prize is a gutsy, gritty and innovative critique of capitalism and its hollow people - or as the title says, OTHER PEOPLE.


Jury: Andres Põder, Justinius Ilmar Kiviloo, Marge-Marie Paas, Tõnis Kark

Director: Bolat Kalymbetov
Kazakhstan, 2021

Jury comment: The prize of the Estonian Ecumenical Jury goes to a film whose poetic language and visual richness allow the most sensitive topics to be translated into the language of the human soul. The pursuit of beauty and spirit is not extinguished, even in the deepest ideologies and shattered hearts, but instead opens the door to glorification of true spiritual values. The award goes to the Kazakh film “Mukagali”.


Carlos Saura (Spain)


Elle Kull (Estonia)


Liesl Tommy (South Africa / USA) for Respect


Sebastian Meise (Germany) for Great Freedom


PÖFF Shorts nomination for the EFA awards

Steakhouse / Liharesto
Director: Špela Čadež
Slovenia, 2021

Find the full list of PÖFF Shorts winners here.


Just Film Grand Prix

Jury: Stefano Cipani, Julia Jarl, Rasmus Merivoo

Director: Laura Wandel
France, 2021

Jury comment: Important story presented in a masterful and unique way, never leaving the children’s perspective. Heavy but gripping with the excellent performances of children.

Just Film ECFA Award

Jury: Gloria Morano, Joe Ursell, Mikk Rand

My Dad Is A Sausage
Director: Anouk Fortunier
Belgium / Holland, 2021

Jury comment: The jury were very impressed with the range of films and storytelling techniques in the competition and would particularly like to give a special mention to Even Mice Belong In Heaven, for the wonderful fantasy and richness of the stop motion craft. Our overall winner was a film that surprised all of us, a story full of warmth and a love of the power of art for art's sake, a live action film with some dazzling animated sequences scattered throughout. A number of challenging issues were raised in the film in accessible ways that never patronises young people, and the film was constantly entertaining, funny, perceptive, and moving. We're all looking forward to watching it again! The jury was united in our decision to award the Best Film prize to My Dad Is A Sausage.

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About Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Started in 1997, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has grown into one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe and busiest regional industry platforms, hosting more than 1000 guests and industry delegates and over 160 journalists. The festival screens around 250 features and more than 300 shorts and animations and sees an attendance of 80 000 people annually. In 2017 the festival was covered in 71 languages with a potential global media audience of over 1.1 billion people.

As of 2014 the festival holds the FIAPF accreditation for holding an international competition programme which puts the festival into the so- called A-category of film festivals, alongside other 14 festivals in the world (including Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Shanghai, Tokyo etc).  

Black Nights has an umbrella structure with two sub-festivals PÖFF Shorts and youth and children's film festival Just Film taking place concurrently with the main festival,
two off-season festivals - Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival and Tartu Love Film Festival - and a fully-fledged film industry platform Industry@Tallinn, organised jointly with the Baltic Event Co-production market.

Black Nights Film Festival 16 Nov - 2 Dec
PÖFF Shorts 20 Nov - 25 Nov
Just Film 16 Nov - 2 Dec
Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 26 Nov - 30 Nov



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