The Japanese Dog Takes Best Feature
Beverly Hills, CA – April 8, 2015 –The South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) (seefilmla.org) celebrated a milestone 10th anniversary year, culminating with a closing night gala event and awards presentation at The Mark in Beverly Hills, where the 2015 SEEfest Jury Awards were presented.
“I have watched the films with festival audiences for the second or third time, and it did not dim their beauty one bit,” said Vera Mijojlic, founder and director, SEEfest. “These films deserve to be seen beyond the festival and I hope that SEEfest will provide an ongoing platform for a larger audience to discover and enjoy the cinema from the borderlands of the Balkans and the Caucasus.”
Best Feature Film, Grand Jury Prize, Bridging the Borders Award was awarded to the opening night film “The Japanese Dog” (Romania) by director Tudor Cristian Jurgiu. In the drama, an old widower is forced to cope with the aftermath of the recent floods that devastated an entire village. A visit from his estranged son with a young Japanese family in tow stir deep-seated emotions on both sides.
Additional awards included:
Special Jury Mention, Feature Film: “Cowboys” (Croatia), Director Tomislav Mršić. A strong contender for the foreign language film category for the 2014 Academy Awards, the comedy is the story of eight outsiders in a deep Croatian province audition for a theater play, breaking every rule of stage craft.
Special Jury Prize for Best Ensemble Cast: “Bota” (Albania/Italy) with cast Flonja Kodheli, Fioralba Kryemadhi, Artur Gorishti, Tinka Kurti, Alban Ukaj, Guljelm Radoja, Luca Lionello. “Bota” also received the Audience Award for Best Feature. By directors, husband and wife team Iris Elezi and Thomas Logoreci, the film is the story of two young waitresses stuck in a roadside cafe where a middle-aged owner presides over a cast of odd patrons, including a construction crew building a new road. The film was the Critics’ Prize Winner (FEDEORA Award) at the 2014 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Best Cinematography, Feature Film: “Rat Poison” (Bulgaria/Romania), Cinematographer: Krasimir Andonov. The comedy is a story of four young, petty thieves who meet in a juvenile hall on the eve of tectonic changes that swept Eastern Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Best First Feature: “Down the River” (Azerbaijan), Director: Asif Rustamov. The sumptuously photographed psychological drama powers through rowing races in a provincial town where a coach is caught in a web of his own midlife crisis and a desire to win a trophy at the expense of his trainee son. The first ever title from Azerbaijan in the festival, the film was nominated for the ‘East of the West’ Award at the 2014 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
In the documentary category, Best Documentary Film was shared with awards presented to
“The Undertaker” (Serbia), Director: Dragan Nikolić and “Flowers in the Shadows” (Romania), Director: Olivier Magis.
“Although the film deals with such a dark subject as death and the funerary business, in the end, we are left feeling uplifted with a sense of life,” commented Jury Member John Fitzgerald Keitel.
Best Cinematography, Documentary: “In the Dark” (Serbia), Cinematographer: Dragan Vildović. The film was also awarded the Audience Award for Documentary (Narrative).
Best Short Fiction: “Nine Days” (Serbia), Director: Strahinja Savić;
Best Short Documentary: “Once Upon Another Time” (Georgia), Director/Producer: Alexandr Baev;
Best Animation Short: “Elmando” (Romania), Director: Anton Octavian.
From April 30 through May 7, 2015, SEEfest showcased North American and West Coast premieres of nine feature films, 11 documentaries, nine fiction shorts, seven documentary shorts, and 11 animation shorts, with attendance by filmmakers, industry professionals and cultural dignitaries from Los Angeles and South East Europe.
The opening night gala, held at the Writer’s Guild Theater, featured SEEfest’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement and Legacy Awards, presented to legendary Romanian actor Victor Rebenguic, who starred in “The Japanese Dog,” and acting legend George Chakiris, Academy and Golden Globe Award winner for his role as Bernardo in “West Side Story.”
About The South East European Film Festival (SEEfest)
SEEfest presents cinematic and cultural diversity of South East Europe to American audiences and creates cultural connections through films, artistic and social events. SEEfest was founded in 2006 by Vera Mijojlic, long-time film critic and cultural entrepreneur.
See video recap: SEEFEST On INSIGHTS