Norway's 'The Almost Man' Takes Top Honors at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Norwegian filmmaker Martin Lund's (pictured) film The Almost Man, won the Grand Prix Crystal Award ($25,000) at the main competition Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary, a hilly and picturesque spa town in the Czech Republic.
The film is a character study about the efforts of thirtysomething man named Henrik, portrayed by Henrik Rafaelsen, to resist inevitable changes in his life that come with getting older. Rafaelsen picked up the festival's Best Actor award for his portrayal.
The Almost Man was one of a bumper crop of films that picked up two awards each at the festival, but Rafaelsen had to share the Best Actor limelight with Polish actor Eryk Lubos, who was also awarded for his work in Jan Jakub Kolski's To Kill a Beaver.
Another double prize-winner was French-Canadian director Rafael Ouellet's Camion, a drama about a tragic accident that brings a scattered family back together. The film won the Ecumenical Jury Prize and a Best Director nod for Ouellet.
Iranian director Ali Mosaffa's The Last Step won the FIPRESCI prize “for the unsettling way it plays with memory, with strong performances and a fresh take on Iranian cinema,” according to the jury. Lead actress Leila Hatami, who is Mosaffa's wife and looks slightly like Isabella Rossellini, took the Best Actress Award.
Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy, also a double-winner, tells the true story of a terrorist attack in December 1969 at a bank on Piazza Fontana in Milan. The film picked up the Special Jury Prize and the European Cinemas Label Award.
Eva Neymann's black-and-white Ukrainian production House with a Turret, a WWII-era drama about a boy whose mother dies from illness, won the East of the West competition prize ($20,000), for which films from Eastern Europe competed.
Serbian director Miroslav Momcilovic's Death of a Man in Balkans, a chamber-piece about the chaos that ensues in an apartment after the composer living there commits suicide, picked up the festival's Forum of Independents Independent Camera Award.
Belgian director Geoffrey Enthoven's Come as You Are, a comedy about disabled people resorting to prostitution, won the festival's audience award. The film had previously won the audience award at the Montreal World Film Festival.
The documentary competition awarded prizes of $5000 each to Ilian Metev's feature-length Sofia's Last Ambulance, about an overworked ambulance in the Bulgarian capital, and Sergio Oksman's short A Story for the Modlins, a chronicle of a Madrid couple's bizarre apocalyptic art project.
This year's lifetime achievement awards went to Helen Mirren and Susan Sarandon. Mirren visited in the early days of the festival to collect her Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution and Sarandon showed up to do the same in the latter half. At the awards ceremony, Sarandon praised the video montage of her work, calling it “one of the best montages I've seen,” and upon being handed the trophy, got teary-eyed and dedicated the prize to the late Nora Ephron, calling her “my friend and wonderful director.”