Israeli film ‘Restoration’ Wins Top Prize at Karlovy Vary

"Collaborator," "Gypsy," "Generation P" also awarded prizes.


KARLOVY VARY -- Israeli filmmaker Yossi Madmoni's solo directing debut Restoration, a family drama about efforts to save an ailing antique restoration business, won the Grand Prix Crystal Award ($30,000) at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival at the eponymous spa town in the Czech Republic. The film had previously won the screenwriting award at Sundance's World Cinema Dramatic competition. Unlike other recent Israeli international award winners, his Restorationis not about political conflicts (Waltz With Bashir, Lebanon).

Madmoni did not travel to Karlovy Vary until he had heard about the win, and told the closing night audience that he had interrupted quality time with his daughter in order to collect the prize, saying that despite her disappointment at his sudden departure, he'd console her by bringing back “this beautiful statue,” referring to the sizable and sexy Crystal Globe statuette that comes with the award. He also thanked jury head and Hungarian filmmaker Isvtan Szabo, whom he referred to as an “inspiration.”

American actor David Morse won the festival's best actor award for his turn as Gus in Collaborator, the directorial debut from Martin Donovan, a regular actor in Hal Hartley films.

This year's lifetime achievement awards went to Judi Dench and John Turturro. Dench visited in the early days of the festival to collect her Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution and Turturro showed up in the latter half to pick up the president's award and support the world premiere of Michael Di Jiacomo's European-produced, New-York-set film Somewhere Tonight, in which Turturro stars with his wife Katherine Borowitz. On his way to Russia to act in an opera in St. Petersburg, previous president's award-winner John Malkovich was on hand to present a show of the latest collection of his Technobohemian clothing label.

Other winning films included Martin Szulik's Czech-Slovak co-production Gypsy, which picked up the special jury prize, European Cinemas Label Award, International Federation of Film Societies Don Quixote Prize and a special mention for actor Jan Mizigar's performance in the film.

Another special mention went to Russian-American filmmaker Victor Ginzburg's Generation P, an adaptation of hip Russian author Viktor Pelevin's chronicle of the rise of the advertising industry in Post-Soviet Russia. Ginzburg thanked the jury for its recognition of a film that he felt was “very important for Russia.”

The town of Karlovy Vary has a heavy Russian presence year-round, and the festival has become an important platform for contemporary Russian cinema. Other Russian films featured in the festival were Andrei Zvyagintsev's Cannes Un Certain Regard winner Elenaand Bedouin, a social drama from progressive up-and-comer Igor Voloshin (Nirvana, I Am). 

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