Czech and Bulgarian Directors Share Vilnius 'New Names' Award

I, Olga Hepnarova still 2 - H 2016
Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

'I, Olga Hepnarova' and 'Thirst' named best films at Lithuanian festival.

Two productions shared the best film award at the 21st edition of the Vilnius International Film Festival's 'New Europe — New Names' competition. 

Czech directors Petr Kazda and Tomas Weinreb's study of a young woman hanged for murder 40 years ago, I, Olga Hepnarova, was named along with Bulgarian director Svetla Tsotsorkova's Thirst that uses a water shortage as a prism to explore the human hunger for love, in a program that aims to discover new directors from Central and Eastern Europe. 

Best director went to Poland's Agnieszka Smoczynska for The Lure. Bulgarian Monika Naydenova, who debuted in Thirst, was named best actress. Serbian actor Uliks Fehmiu received best actor for his role in Ines Tanovic's Our Everyday Life. 

Regional competition Baltic Gaze highlighted documentary talents in its awards with best film going to Russian/Ukrainian director Vitaly Mansky for his study of the North Korean regime, Under the Sun and best director to Lithuanian Mantas Kvedaravicius for his film about people living in a Ukrainian city on the front lines of the country's war with separatists, Mariupolis. The award marks the first time a Lithuanian filmmaker has been recognized in the festival's competition program. 

The best actress nod went to Trine Dyrholm for her performance in Thomas Vinterberg's The Commune and Oleg Maximov won best actor for the documentary Don Juan, in which he played himself. There was a special mention for Swedish director Hanna Skold's drama Granny's Dancing on the Table.