After five days in five locations and 40 films shown to diverse audiences in Los Angeles, the South East European Film Festival, SEEfest 2013 concluded Monday night at UCLA’s Bridges Theater in Los Angeles with Turkish film PRESENT TENSE in a double bill with a short from Switzerland WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE. Both films explore the theme of people desiring to live a better life in another culture, yet pulled back into their own. Directors Belmin Söylemez and Cosima Frey delighted the audience in the Q&A with Turkish filmmaker and guest moderator Atil Inac discussing the obligatory melancholia permeating the films from the East and the Balkans and drawing laughs from an engaged and thoroughly entertained audience.
After the lively Q&A members of the jury presented the awards of the 8th annual SEEfest:
Director Tudor Giurgiu from Romania won Bridging the Borders award for Best Feature Film of the festival, working class comedy OF SNAILS AND MEN. Honorable Mention went to Greek filmmaker Adrianos Georgantas for anarchist romance DOGS, CATS & RATS. Both awards are traditionally presented by Cinema Without Borders, festival’s media sponsor.
Prominent Romanian theater director with multiple awards from the international theater scene, Silviu Purcarete won Best Debut Feature award for a visual stunner SOMEWHERE IN PALILULA, while Best Documentary went to Ana-Felicia Scutelnicu for folkloric feat of PANIHIDA from the Republic of Moldova. Both cinematography awards went to Greek productions: for feature film DOGS, CATS & RATS, cinematographer Nikos Voulgaris; and for documentary MUSTAFA’S SWEET DREAMS, cinematographers Laurent Fénart and Giorgos Giannelis.
Turkish short LATER by director Nazlı Elif Durlu was awarded in short fiction category, and WHEN I WAS A BOY I WAS A GIRL by Serbian director Ivana Todorović in short documentary, with Todorović also getting the inaugural SEEfest No Limit Award, a special category recognizing a film from the region that deals with the subject of LGBT human rights.
Winner of 2013 Audience Award was Bosnian war drama HALIMA’S PATH by Arsen Anton Ostojić, from Croatia.
Juries and awards of the 8th South East European Film Festival included: Cinema Without Borders’ Bridging the Borders Award, with jurors Bijan Tehrani, editor-in-chief, Cinema Without Borders; Mira Furlan, leading actress from the region; and Fareed C. Majari, director of the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles. Best Documentary Award, with jurors Margit Kleinman, director, Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades; Arnold Schwartzman, Oscar-winning filmmaker and designer; Zoran Amar, filmmaker and professor from New York; Best Debut Feature Award, with filmmaker jurors Yangzom Brauen, from Switzerland; Matthew Mishory, and Lance Mungia from Los Angeles and Monrovia, respectively; Best Short Film, and Best Short Documentary Awards, with jurors Lisa Ogdie, from the Sundance festival shorts programming team; Jacob Michelson, producer and dance professional; Daniel Chaffey, film programmer, Goethe-Institut Los Angeles. Best Cinematography Award, feature and documentary film, with jurors: cinematographers John Bailey, Judy Irola, Philip Holahan and visual artist and choreographer Mark Steger.
Among sponsors of the festival are Goethe Institut, Los Angeles – UCLA – ELMA – Turkish Airlines – KLCS-TV – Levantina Cultural Center and Cinema Without Borders.