Polish Film 'Loving' Wins Best Film at Vilnius International Film Festival

Julia Kijowska and Marcin Dorocinski in Slawomir Fabicki's film 'Loving.'

Slawomir Fabicki's drama wins Best Film in VIFF's New Europe – New Names competition.

BERLIN – The competitions of the 18th edition of the Kino Pavasaris Vilnius International Film Festival (March 14-28) ended on Thursday in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.

The jury, which consisted of Palestinian film and theater actor Ali Suliman, Romanian actress Ada Condeescu, Turkish film director and screenwriter Yesim Ustaoglu, Italian film critic and curator Giovanni Ottone and Croatian actor Leon Lucev, awarded the Polish film Loving (Milosc), directed by Slawomir Fabicki, Best Film in the New Europe – New Names competition, a prize that includes a cash award of 7,000 euros ($8,958.53). The film is a drama about a family affected by rape.

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“I am grateful to festival director for the invitation, and the jury – for such an appraisal. This is my first time in Lithuania. The festival is great, as well as the audiences,” Fabicki said after receiving the award. “This award is very important to me, because I created this film after a six-year break, and I put all my heart into it, as did all the actors.”

New Europe – New Names is the festival’s main competition and is devoted to debuts and second films from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. This year, 12 films from Romania, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Slovakia, Lithuania and Georgia competed for the main prize. This year’s festival had a very heavy Balkan presence both in terms of programming and guests. Other guests from the Balkans included Croatian-born actor Rade Serbedzija (Before the Rain) and Darko Basheski, CEO of the Macedonian Film Fund.

Another Polish film, The Whistle, directed by Grzegorz Zariczny, won the VIFF short film competition. The decision was handed down by a jury that consisted of Lithuanian-American actress and filmmaker Oona Mekas, Croatian director Danilo Serbedzija (Rade Serbedzija’s son) and British cinema journalist, BAFTA member Laurence Boyce.

Malgorzata Kasner, director of the local chapter of the Polish Institute, was delighted at the accolades for Polish films. “I want to thank the jury members and viewers for trust, respect, and love for Polish cinema, which not tells beautiful stories, but also raises the most important and major issues in life,” she said upon collecting the award for Zariczny’s film.

The festival screened more than 200 films. It opened with Quartet, the Golden Globe nominated comedy directed by Dustin Hoffman, and closed with the archetypal Hungarian film Final Cut – Ladies & Gentlemen, assembled by director Gyorgy Palfi and a team of editors from footage out of major internationally-known movies and a few slightly more obscure Eastern European films.

Other VIFF prize winners:

International Art Cinema Theater and Festival Confederation Best Film: Keep Smiling, directed by Rusudan Chkonia

Best Film Audience Award: Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul

Best Short Film Audience Award: Buzkashi Boys, directed by Sam French

Best Director: Mira Fornay, My Dog Killer

Best Actor: Dan Chiorean, Rocker

Best Lithuanian Film Actress: Valda Bickute

Saulius Masaitis Lithuanian Film Critics Award Best Film: No, directed by Pablo Larrain