Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, Elene Naveriani’s Georgian drama about a 40-something independent woman who has an affair that triggers an existential awakening, has won the top prize for best film at the 2023 Sarajevo International Film Festival.
Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry star Ekaterine Chavleishvili also took the best actress honor at the Heart of Sarajevo awards, which were handed out in the Bosnian capital Friday night.
The best actor prize went to newcomer Jovan Ginić for his role in Vladimir Perišić’s Lost Country as a Serbian teenager in the 1990s, caught between student protests against the authoritarian regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milošević and his loyalty to his mother, who happens to be the spokeswoman for the regime.
Ukrainian filmmaker Philip Sotnychenko won best director for La Palisiada, a slow-burning crime drama about two old friends, a police detective and a forensic psychiatrist, who investigate the murder of their colleague in western Ukraine in 1996, a few months before Ukraine will sign the European Convention on Human Rights.
The festival’s prize for best documentary went to Bottlemen from Serbian director Nemanja Vojinović, which follows the marginalized men who work at the huge unsanitary landfill on the outskirts of Belgrade. Macedonian filmmaker Kumjana Novakova won the human rights award, given to the film in the Sarajevo competition that best addresses human rights issues, for her documentary Silence of Reason, which used the archives of the international court of human rights in the Hague to explore how violence against women was used as a weapon of war in the Bosnian War.
Nvoakova took part in the public discussion held in Sarajevo on Thursday into the artistic and media representations of violence against women. The discussion was held on a day of national mourning across Bosnia and Herzegovina called in response to a shocking triple-murder suicide in the northeastern Bosnian town of Gradacac last week, in which a man live-streamed the murder of his ex-wife. The Sarajevo festival suspended its regular programming, with the public discussion as the only event of the day.
The Sarajevo jury, headed this year by Australian actress Mia Wasikowska, also gave a special jury award to Gergő Somogyvári’s documentary Fairy Garden, which follows the unlikely friendship between a 19-year-old transgender teenager, and a 60-year-old homeless man who live together in a ramshackle hut in the woods outside Budapest. De Facto from director Selma Doborac won a special jury prize for promoting gender equality. The documentary takes an analytical approach to examine how cinema can engage with crimes against humanity, extreme violence and state terror without being complicity in them.
The prize for best short film, which qualifies the project for Oscar consideration, went to 27 from Flóra Anna Buda, an animated film about a 27-year-old woman who still lives with her parents and dreams of escaping her dreary everyday life.