The Good Driver Wins MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award at 2023 SEEfest


Cinema Without Borders announced the winner of the MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award at the award ceremony of the18th edition of SEEFEST, held at the UCLA Bridges Theater on Wednesday May 3rd. CWB Foundation is proud to offer its Bridging The Borders Award for 17  year at the prestigious SEEFEST South East European Film Festival LA. 

Keely Badger, the executive director of MOZAIK Philanthropy, Bridging the Borders Award sponsor and Bijan Tehrani, Editor in Chief of Cinema Without Borders and Cinema Without Borders Foundation President, inbound the the Honorary Mention and the Winner of the Bridging the Borders Award.

MOZAIK Bridging the Borders award Announcement: “This year our jury received an incredibly competitive submission pool from filmmakers from all corners of the globe and all walks of life. We had nine nominees for the Best Feature Film.

On behalf of our jury, I have to admit that we all wished we could announce all of these wonderful films as the winner of the Bridging The Border Award.. Each nominee for our award addressed an important social justice issue using the universal language of cinema.

Our Honorary mention is a beautiful and mind challenging film that portrays the ugly face of war and its invisible wounds that never heal. This film is The Happiest Man in The World, by Teona Strugar Mitevska. Congratulations!

The winner of 2023 MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award for the Best Feature Film atSEEFEST is a tormented study of the relationships between places and individuals, with a protagonist who sees his purity shattered against a wall of opportunism, violence, and prevarication. It’s a film about all immigrants and those that are constantly searching for a place in the world. The winner of MOZAIK Bridging The Borders award is The Good Driver by Tonislav Hristov.

Congratulations to our winners and all the fantastic nominees of the MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Awards. Thank you for the work you do, the stories you tell, and, importantly, how you tell them. And to the audience, I hope you’ve enjoyed a wonderful festival!”

The Good Driver Director:Tonislav Hristov
Winner of the MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award
Ivan, a Bulgarian taxi driver living at the Golden Sands tourist resort, is saving money in order to go back to Finland to meet his wife and son, and to make amends for his past mistakes. Money is tight and Ivan is forced to get creative in order to earn faster. This leads him into problems. And if he even gets to another side of Europe, is it possible to fix what has once been broken?
Tonislav Hristov (b. 1978) is a filmmaker born in Bulgaria, based in Finland and Bulgaria. He has directed 7 documentary films that have been screened in numerous festivals around the world, including Sundance, Berlinale, IDFA, HotDocs etc. His documentary The Good Postman (IDFA 2016, Sundance 2017) was nominated for the European Film Awards in 2017. Magic Life of V premiered in Sundance and Berlinale 2019. The Good Driver is Hristov’s first feature film.

The Happiest Man in the World Director: Teona Strugar Mitevska
Honorary Mention
Asja, a 40-year-old single woman, lives in Sarajevo. In order to meet new people, she ends up spending her Saturday in a speed dating event. She’s matched with Zoran, a 43-year-old banker. However, Zoran is not looking for love but forgiveness.
Teona Strugar Mitevska is Macedonian born Teona Strugar Mitevska started as a child actor, trained as a painter and graphic designer and studied film at NYU-Tisch School of Arts. She directed her first short, VETA, in 2001, and has been making films ever since: HOW I KILLED A SAINT, 2004; I AM FROM TITOV VELES, 2007; THE WOMAN WHO BRUSHED OFF HER TEARS, 2012; TERESA AND I, 2013; WHEN THE DAY HAD NO NAME, 2017 and most recently, GOD EXISTS, HER NAME IS PETRUNYA that premiered in competition in Berlin Film Festival 2019, where it was awarded the Ecumenical Prize, as well at the German Guild Film Prize. Until today the film has received more than 30 awards internationally, most notably the 2019 LUX Prize by the European Parliament and was sold for theatrical release to over 40 territories world-wide. In 2018, France’s Ministry of Culture awarded her the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters. THE HAPPIEST MAN THE WORLD is her newest film; she is currently in pre-production of MOTHER, her first English language film. Teona Strugar Mitevska lives between Skopje and Brussels with her son Kaeliok.

Other AWARDS of SEEfest 2023
MEN OF DEEDS by Paul Negoescu
Honorable Mention: SONNE by Kurdwin Ayub

Honorable Mentions: JUVENILE by Jovan Todorović

Cinematographer Giorgos Karvelas, SILENCE 6-9
Honorable Mention: Cinematographer Orlin Ruevski, THE GOOD DRIVER

Cinematographer Hirotoshi Takeoka, ADAMIANI
Honorable Mention: Cinematographers Stefan Đorđević and Jovan Todorović, JUVENILE

GRANNY’S SEXUAL LIFE by Urška Djukić and Émilie Pigeard
Honorable Mentions:
MONEY AND HAPPINESS by Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak Jr

THE SCORE by Aleksandra Bilić

CHIATURA by Toby Andris
Special Jury Mentions:
ON XERXES’ THRONE by Evi Kalogiropoulou
THE EAGLE’S NEST by Milija Šćepanović

Barco HDR Master LightSteering Color Grade Prize
SILENCE 6-9 by Christos Passalis – BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY IN FEATURE FILM, Giorgos Karvelas

Audience Awards
Feature Film: MEN OF DEEDS, by Paul Negoescu
Documentary Film: LIGHTS OF SARAJEVO, by Srdjan Perkić

Jury members for MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award were:

Susan Morgan Cooper
Susan Morgan Cooper is a Director/Producer/ Writer and her credits include:
To the Moon and Back, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2016 (A cinematic act of love and courage’ … Broadway World) – Hopper [In his own words] Documentary, Producer/Writer 2013 (“I was moved to tears” Mike Medavoy) – Mulberry Child, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2012 (‘A powerful and touching film’… 31/2 stars. Roger Ebert) – An Unlikely Weapon [The Eddie Adams Story]..Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2008 ( ‘A terrific documentary’ The Hollywood Reporter) – Making Of Shadows in The Sun, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2005 – Heroes And Sheroes. Television Series, Director/Producer/Writer 2000
Mirjana: One Girl’s Journey, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 1997 – Stringers, Narrative Short Director/Producer/Writer 1990 – Hadley’s Rebellion, Narrative Feature Associate Producer 1989

Arameh Etemadi
Arameh Etemadi is a versatile media professional with extensive experience in television production, documentary direction, journalism, and film criticism. Since 2007, she has been recognized as a film critic for Iranian Film Magazine, where she is known for her insightful articles and film reviews. In 2014, she won the award for Best Art Interviewer from the Iranian Society of Film Critics and Writers (ISFCW).

Currently, Arameh Etemadi works as a film critic for Film-e Emrooz Magazine, and her writing has also appeared in a range of other publications, including Chelcheragh, Hamshahri Javan, Shargh Newspaper, Tehran-e Emrooz, and 24 monthly magazine. She was born and raised in Tehran, where she began her professional career as a journalist and film critic for Hamshahri and NaghshAfarinan in 2004. She holds a master’s degree in Journalism and has studied Social Communication Science in Tehran and Arameh Etemadi completed post-production courses at UCLA. In addition to her work as a film critic, Arameh Etemadi is also a talented writer, director, and live TV show producer. Her documentary on the life and works of “Mohamadreza Lotfi” was released in 2015, showcasing her skills as a director.

In 2022, Arameh Etemadi directed and produced two documentaries about cryptocurrency. Furthermore, she co-founded and served as Artistic Director of the Sheed Film Festival in Dallas, TX, in 2016 and 2017.

Arati Misro
Arati has dedicated most of her career to storytelling, through the medium of film and TV, and has worked in independent film sales, marketing and distribution in the U.S and abroad. She has produced several award winning films, and hails from one of the top film schools in the world, AFI, with an MFA degree. She has worked for major studios like Fox and Sony.

Misro is a proud Native of California. Misro holds an undergrad degree in Cultural Anthropology and Mass Communications from U.C San Diego.

Misro is currently producing a feature film called ” LoveBeats” among several other projects that are development. Her career has taken her through various parts of the world and enjoys learning about other cultures and traditions. She has spent extensive time in India pursuing her passion in educating and empowering women.

Ramin Niami
Ramin Niami is an award-winning Iranian American writer, director, and producer of feature films and documentaries. After studying film at Polytechnic of Central London (University of Westminster) and making festival favorite Michael, presented by the BFI (British Film Institute), Niami worked on films for Channel 4 and BBC.

Ramin’s filmography as director includes feature debut Somewhere in the City which features a star-studded cast including Bai Ling and Sandra Bernhard and premiered at the Seattle Film Festival, thriller Paris, shown in main competition at the Tribeca Film festival, award-winning documentary feature, Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn, and romantic comedy Shirin in Love starring Nazanin Boniadi and Riley Smith. These films released theatrically, and shown on networks like HBO, CINEMAX,TMC and Showtime.

His most recent film, psychological horror/thriller, Eye Without a Face released in US, Canada by Cinedigm, UK by101fils and Eastern Europe, and is currently available on all major platforms. As producer Ramin’s work includes Iranian New Wave director Amir Naderi’s first English language film Manhattan by Numbers, and Naderi’s latest film, Magic Lantern which both premiered in the Venice International Film Festival.

Ramin has several documentary and narrative projects currently in development.

Bijan Tehrani
Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as Editor in Chief of Cinema Without Borders and President of Cinema Without Borders Foundation. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children’s books. He has been writing film critics for several publications during the last four decades.

For the tenth anniversary of Cinema Without Borders, Bijan has received Ambassador of International Cinema Award from South east European Film Festival, Friend of the Festival Award from Polish Film Festival, LA and Gateway to International Cinema.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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