Cottbus prize, popularity grow

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The world's longest-running showcase devoted to film from Eastern Europe opens today in Cottbus, Germany with a prize purse worth a total of €56,500 ($72,399), up more than 25% from last year.

The 16th edition of the Cottbus Film Festival — held in the small town between Berlin and Dresden in what used to be East Germany — will screen more than 100 films from 23 countries, including 10 features in the main competition, nine of which will be international or German premieres.

Steady growth in the popularity of the festival as a key crossroads for both Eastern and Western European filmmakers has helped organizers secure an additional €16,500 ($21,200) from sponsors to fund a total of 15 prizes.

A new prize of €10,000 ($12,800) — donated by regional film support body Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg — will subsidize distribution of the top prize-winning film. Another €3,500, from Potsdam-Babelsberg firm Gerhard Lehmann, will be given toward subtitling costs while Bucharest's Stage & Studio Romania Services for Film and Television has created an award worth €3,000 for outstanding talent for a film from either Bulgaria or Romania: the festival's "focus" countries this year.

"The increased prize money reflects the growing strength and importance of the festival," festival director Roland Rust said.

The feature films in competition are "12.08 East of Bucharest" (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania); "The Paper Will Be Blue" (Radu Muntean, Romania); "The Christmas Tree Upside Down" (Ivan Tscherkelov and Vassil Zhivkov, Bulgaria); "Monkeys in Winter" (Milena Andonova, Bulgaria); "Ode to Joy" (Anna Kazejak-Dawid, Jan Komasa and Maciej Migas, Poland); "Tomorrow Morning" (Oleg Novkovic, Serbia); "Franz & Polina" (Mikhail Segal, Russia); "The Indian and the Nurse" (Dan Wlodarczyk, Czech Republic), "The Wedding Chest" (Nurbek Egen, Kyrgyzstan); and "Taxidermia" (Gyorgy Palfi, Hungary).
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