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Summing Up the 11th Odesa International Film Festival

The Odesa International Film Festival, which, for the first time in its history, took place online from September 25 until October 3, has closed

964 films from more than 40 countries applied for participation in the 11th OIFF. 12 films competed for the Grand Prix in the International Competition; 7 full-length and 11 short films took part in the National Competition, and 8 films participated in the European Documentary Films Competition. Overall, more than 120 films took part in the competition and non-competition programs of the festival.

Despite the new online format, a traditional open air performance took place at the Potyomkin Stairs in Odesa. On October 2, the viewers watched Golem: How He Came into the World in the open air. This film by Carl Boese and Paul Weneger, which is a prominent example of early German expressionism, celebrated its hundredth anniversary this year.

Within the Special Screenings section of the 11th OIFF, the viewers watched Numbers by Oleg Sentsov and Ahtem Seitablayev, documentary film Kubrick by Kubrick by Gregory Monro, and Last Picture Show in Bucharest by Ludi Boeken.

During the OIFF, the Dovzhenko Center in Kyiv presented the Ukrainian Retrospective: Odesa Free Cinema, which mostly featured debut films by independent filmmakers from Odesa. The non-competition program Visions was also featured at the OIFF. The section presented films with a unique visual and narrative cinematic approach that have gained recognition at the world film festival, e.g. Cannes, Toronto, Berlinale, and others.

Two Golden Dukes for Lifetime Achievement were awarded at the festival. The first of the awards went to Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson during the Opening Ceremony of the 11th OIFF. The second Golden Duke for contribution into cinema went to Roman Balayan, one of the most prominent Ukrainian filmmakers, who received the statuette during the live broadcast of the Closing Ceremony.

The 11th Odesa International Film Festival took place in spite of all the challenges of our times. We were not afraid to take a risk and conduct it in a hybrid format – both online and offline. Within the shortest time possible, we have created a unique platform, which has already been visited by 20,000 unique users, and by the end of the screening period, we expect this number to increase to 30,000 over next week. We have received more than 150,000 online views of all the virtual OIFF events, involving the audience of 350,000 viewers, and engaged more than 100 film professionals. We conducted the largest film performance on the Potyomkin Stairs, where we showed the classical film of German expressionism Golem: How He Came into the World, which turned 100 this year. In the future, we aim to achieve synergy between online and offline formats, attracting an even larger international audience. We will surely meet next year at the 12th OIFF, because our entire team is working to bring the best films from around the world to the OIFF,” said the OIFF President Viktoria Tigipko.

The Film Industry Office section is also developing and expanding from year to year. This year, it took place online from September 29 to October 2. These days were filled with online events for film professionals aimed at supporting and developing the Ukrainian film industry and international promotion of Ukrainian cinema: Pitching, Work in Progress, a series of presentations and panel discussions, pitching competition EastSeries, and one-day educational intensive promoLAB from the Ukrainian Institute. The traditional Cinema: Backstage Online Edition conference was also held within the industry section. In addition, BookPitch was held for the first time, organized in cooperation with the X International Book Arsenal Festival.

This year’s professional section Film Industry Office of the 11th OIFF took place in a new online format. However, it has enhanced our abilities to support the industry, develop Ukrainian projects, and present them to the international film community. In particular, we held presentations of projects at Work in Progress, East Series, Pitching, as well as launched Book Pitch together with the Book Arsenal. Ukrainian filmmakers joined panel discussions and the one-day educational intensive promoLAB on effective promotion of films abroad. Traditionally, we have held the Cinema: Backstage Online Edition conference, which raised the issue of mental health in the challenging times that we all experience now. The challenges of 2020 have become a search for alternative ways and approaches to work for the film industry, which will continue to integrate into the industry in combination with the offline format,” said General Producer of the OIFF Julia Sinkevych.

The Grand Prix of the 11th Odesa International Film Festival went to American indie comedy Dinner in America by Adam Rehmeier. The Audience Award of the National Competition went to Victor_Robot by Anatoliy Lavrenyshyn.

The Best Film award of the European Documentary Competition went to Summerwar (directed by Moritz Schultz). Special diploma of the jury of the European Documentary Film Competition was awarded to the films Gevar’s Land (directed by Qutaiba Barhamji) and Conductivity (directed by Anna-Karin Grönroos).

FIPRESCI awards went to the best Ukrainian feature film Demon (directed by Yehor Troyanovskyi) and the best Ukrainian short film Chachó (directed by Vitaliy Gavura).

The jury of the National Competition chose the best Ukrainian short film Goodbye Golovin (directed by Mathieu Grimard). Maria Khomutova became the Best Actress of the National Competition for her role in Two of Us (directed by Vladislav Vitriv). Adrian Pirvu and Olena Maksyom's film Everything Will Not Be Fine won both the awards for Best Director and Best Feature Film.

The Best Acting Award of the International Competition went to the ensemble of actresses from the film Maternal (directed by Maura Delpero): Lydia Lieberman, Denise Carrizo, and Agustina Malale. The Best Director Award went to Fabrice du Welz, who made the film Adoration. The jury awarded the prize for the Best Film to Atlantis by Valentyn Vasyanovych. The jury of the International Competition awarded its Special Mention to the films Servants (directed by Ivan Ostrokhovsky) and You Will Die at Twenty (directed by Amjad Abu-Alala) for the film’s soundtrack.

The Film Industry Office also awarded the winner of its Pitching, the project Expedition-49 project by Alisa Kovalenko, which received UAH 60,000 from the OIFF. The prize from the “Ukraina” TV channel, which amounts to UAH 60,000, was awarded to the project Editorial Office directed by Roman Bondarchuk.

In the Work in Progress section, the Stop-Earth project directed by Kateryna Hornostay received the special jury award. The prize from the “Ukraina” TV channel (UAH 60,000) was awarded to the project Pryvoz directed by Eva Neymann. Olga Zhurba's film Roma received the prize of UAH 150,000 from the Ukrainian Institute as a project with the greatest international potential.

The EastSeries Prize - a set of post-production services worth € 20,000 from Star Media – went to the project of Black Friday series by Michał Zielinski, Poland. In the Book Pitch section, the award from Star Media (script refinement) went to Behind the Back written by Haska Shyian. The prize from the Book Arsenal - a promo video on the information resources of the festival - went to the novel Daughter by Tamara Horikha Zernya.

On October 4, the laureates received their well-deserved awards at the gala reception celebrating the closure of the 11th Odesa International Film Festival.

The official auditor of the OIFF, Kreston GCG, ensured maximum reliability and transparency of voting throughout the festival.

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