Karlovy Vary 2016: Central and East European Cinema in the Spotlight

Contributor; Slovakia (@martykudlac)

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival wrapped its 51st edition and the display of new Central and East European cinema with the award-giving ceremony.

Hungarian filmmaker Szabolcs Hajdu was picked for the Grand Prix in the main competition for his independently produced chamber(s) drama It´s Not the Time of My Life, which follows a marital crisis shot in the filmmakers actual apartment. Hajdu, who also stars in the film alongside his spouse and son, returned to the stage to receive another accolade the very same night, the Best Actor Award, for his performance. Arising Russian director Ivan I. Tverdovsky who made a name on the international circuit with the small yet intense drama Correction Class, was picked for the Special Jury Prize for his sophomore feature, the modern fable Zoology, about a lonely middle-age woman and the curious situation when she suddenly grows a tail.

The Best Director Award went to the hands of Slovenian director Damjan Kozole behind the thriller Nightlife. Slovakian actress Zuzana Mauréry earned the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of a corrupt teacher in Jan Hřebejk´s latest effort, the Communist-era satire The Teacher. Two titles shared the Jury Special Mention: Romanian drama By the Rails by Catalin Mitulescu and unconventional auto-biopic The Wolf from Royal Vineyard Street by the Czech filmmaker Jan Němec, who passed away during the shooting; the film had to be finished posthumously.

The top honors in the "East of the West" competition was awarded to Georgian filmmaker Rusudan Glurjidze for his debut drama on war consequences, House of Others, while Estonian first-time feature director Triin Ruumet received the Special Jury Prize for The Days That Confused. This year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival held 507 screenings of 200 films, consisting of 146 feature-lenth films, 20 short films, 30 feature documentaries and four short docupics.

Browse through the gallery to read about a slew of screened features.

Death by Death (dir. by Xavier Seron)

The directing feature debut Death by Death by Belgian filmmaker Xavier Seron falls into the niche of small oddball films. The monochrome photography and idiosyncratic style choices remind of Estonian filmmaker Veiko Ounpuu´s brilliant film The Temptation of St.Tony. However, where Ounpuu employs twisted and Kafkaesque poetics, Seron tinkers with neurotic comedy and hyperbole, although curiously enough both reached for religious, more precisely Christian, iconography to subvert. Xavier Seron´s protagonist Michel is almost 40-year-old stuck at dead end job at an appliance store and taking care of his terminally ill mother. The lengths he is willing to go in providing the best care demonstrates riotous deadpan opening scene where he tries out coffins as a piece of clothing to best suit his mother´s measures. The play with eccentricities transferred onto the structure, a narrative arc catering the leitmotif of mortality is chopped up into a sequence of vignettes, a diverse variation on the absurd icing each one of them.

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