SEEfest 2017 announced festival’s Jury Awards last week on its closing night. Presentation of the SEEfest 2017 awards took place on May 4 at the Writers Guild theater in Beverly Hills. Special “Ambassador of International Cinema” award was presented at the Opening of the festival to Bijan Tehrani, editor-in-chief of Cinema Without Borders.
Winners of the Jury Awards: Best Feature Film, Grand Jury Prize – Cinema Without Borders’ Bridging the Borders Award went to the Croatian-Slovenia-Macedonia-Czech-UK co-production The Constitution, an extraordinary and very funny “love story about hate” by veteran Croatian director Rajko Grlić. It was acquired for U.S. distribution by Synergetic and will be released theatrically in the Fall. Previously the film won the Grand Prize of the Americas in Montreal 2016, and Best International Feature Film award in Santa Barbara in January 2017.
Special Jury Mention in this category was given to Swedish-Bosnian drama by Goran Kapetanović My Aunt in Sarajevo, father-daughter story about the painful past buried in the ruins of the war in Bosnia.
Best Ensemble Cast, Best Cinematography in Feature Film (shared, ex aequo) and Best First Feature awards as well as Audience Award went to road movie set in 1968 on the backdrop of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, That Trip We Took With Dad, by Romanian director Anca Miruna Lăzărescu.
Best Cinematography in Feature Film (shared, ex aequo) was also awarded to Kostas Gikas who lensed Greek romance epic Roza of Smyrna, directed by George Kordellas.
Best Documentary Film award went to Slovenian Maja Prettner’s Home Sweet Home, an enriching account of the joys and struggles of children in a youth home.
Special Jury Mention for Documentary Film, and Best Cinematography in Documentary Film was awarded, respectively, to director Petra Seliškar, and cinematographer Brando Ferro, for My World is Upside Down, (Slovenia/Croatia co-production), about the enduring legacy of the Slovenian satirical songwriter and artist Frane Milčinski Ježek.
Best Short Fiction: Limbo (Greece), director Konstantina Kotzamani; with two Jury Special Mentions for Lost Exile (Kosovo), director: Fisnik Maxhuni; and Refugee 532 (Sweden), director Goran Kapetanović.
Best Short Documentary: The Other Side of Home (USA), Director: Naré Mkrtchyan.
Best Animation Short: Ethnophobia (Albania/Greece), Director: Joan Zhonga; with Special Jury Mention for Flutter (USA) by Bulgarian artist Vladimir Todorov.
Audience Awards, Best Feature Film: Romania’s That Trip We Took With Dad, by Anca Miruna Lăzărescu; and Best Documentary: Bulgarian Angel Wagenstein: Art Is a Weapon, by New York-based director Andrea Simon.
SEEfest Project Accelerator judges awarded four projects: Best Proposal Overall went to V Detectives by Jeff Solema; Best Feature Film Project was awarded to Marisé Samitier, Kathy Fischer, and Anna Spyrou for Meteora/Devil’s Climb, and Best Documentary award was shared, ex aequo, between RMS: Rapid Movement Schindler, by Valentina Ganeva, and Phoenix: The History of Women’s Resistance in the Peace Movement, by Betsy Kalin.
SEEfest 2017 presented 12 features, 8 documentaries, 2 special screenings out-of-competition, and 36 short films over 8 days, most of them North American and West Coast premieres to an audience of filmmakers and international art house aficionados, industry professionals and cultural dignitaries from Los Angeles and South East Europe.
Opening Night Photos courtesy of T. Sampson
Closing Night Photos courtesy of Aaron Perez