Russian film snatches gold

It’s a wrap for the 44th International Thessaloniki Film Festival as it drew to a close on Saturday with a gala award ceremony held at the Olympion Cinema. Russian director Alexei German Jr captured the Golden Alexander for Best Film (with a purse of 37,000 euros) for «The Last Train,» which also won the International Union of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award. In the film, a German surgeon arriving at the eastern front in 1944, disappears after the Soviets counterattack. The Silver Alexander (22,000 euros), went to Italy’s Michelangelo Frammartino for «The Gift,» which follows the story of an old man and a retarded girl living in a remote Calabria village, and Argentina’s Celina Murga was voted Best Director for «Ana and the Others.» Best Screenplay went to Greece’s Dimitris Indares, for «Totally Married,» while best actress and actor went to Dorota Nvotova and Mario Kubas, both of whom starred in Czech Benjamin Tucek’s «Girlie.» The jury’s Artistic Achievement Award went to «Tiny Snowflakes» by Iran’s Ali Reza Amini, while a special mention was given to France’s Siegrid Alnoy’s for «For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow.» The seven-member jury was presided over by renowned Georgian filmmaker Otar Ioseliani, who, despite expressing his displeasure at being on a jury at all, outlined the criteria for selection. «Cinema is not meant to endlessly experiment. Experimental cinema is that which is not phrased correctly and incomprehensible. A film that is rational or based on rational thought can be made both by experienced directors and newcomers. Cinema is meant to convey meanings about the modern world to the audience and to future generations. All films are welcome, but it makes us happier, of course, when newcomers present films that are better than those of the more experienced directors.» The Audience Award, backed by Dewar’s and worth 3,000 euros, was given to «A Nation Without Women» by Manish Jha of India. In the Greek Film Center’s awards, Tassos Boulmetis’s «A Touch of Spice» led with the 58,700-euro purse, followed by «To the Inn» by Giorgos Bakolas with a 44,025-euro purse. Below are extracts from critiques on some of the International Competition films by Kathimerini’s correspondents at the festival.