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22nd Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival awards Best Film to Wandering Girl by Rubén Mendoza

Official Selection - Competition

Jury: Andrea Pallaoro, Martynas Bialobžeskis, Guðrún Ragnarsdóttir, Timo Salminen, Gilles De Schryver

Grand Prix for the Best Film: Wandering Girl / director Rubén Mendoza, producer Daniel García (Colombia-France)

Actress Lina Sanchez accepting the Grand Prix for Wandering Girl

Jury comment: For powerfully exploring themes of grief and abandonment through a very moving, intimate, piercing, and delicate sensorial cinematic approach. The film manages to unveil the inner worlds of four sisters and their relationships while at the same time  explore social issues of contemporary Southern American society at large with refreshing honesty, catharsis, and originality.

Best Director: Jang Woo-Jin / Winter’s Night (South Korea)



Director Jang Woo-Jin accepting the Best Director Award for Winter's Night

Jury comment: For depicting the disintegration of a relationship through a striking poetic cinematic language, formal rigor, and the creation of a mesmerizing and highly original world. The film intertwines past and present, beginnings and ends, into a highly engrossing, layered, melancholic, and uncanny viewing experience in which every element of the cinematic grammar, from cinematography to mise-en-scene, elevates one another with the uttermost coherence, subtlety, and integrity.

Best Script: Rajat Kapoor / Kadakh (India)

Jury comment: Well constructed screenplay that captivates the viewers attention right from the start, with interesting plots and diverse characters and holds it to the very end.

Best Actress: Seo Young-hwa / Winter’s Night (South Korea)

In a story of miscommunication, the actress manages to keep the attention of the audience all through pauses, silence, and the sometimes complete absence of dialogue that are crucial to the storytelling. While maintaining a well-balanced scale of recognisable emotions she invites the viewer to join her in the unspoken, thus becoming a part of the relationship, and thus becoming a part of the emotional core of the story.

Best Actor:

shared by Navid Mohammadzadeh / Sheeple (Iran)

and Dar Salim / Until We Fall (Denmark)

Jury comment: Sometimes it is impossible to pick out one personal performance above all the others. This year, the jury has been granted permission to give out a shared award for best actor. In two very different, and differently captivating performances, these two actors carry their film on their shoulders and leave the viewer hungry for more.

In one story, a father desperately tries to find out what has happened to his lost son, and allows the viewer to become a partner on this quest in a minute application of Force and Tenderness that result in a truly gravitational character.

In the other story, a son commits a form of patricide, while trying to emancipate from a world of violence. Through an endearing physically applied transformation with both levity and complexity, the actor manages to strengthen the audience’s belief in the ability to reset one’s moral compass and the application of one’s true better self.

Best Cinematographer: Jean Pierre St-Louis / A Place to Live (Canada)

Jury comment: Jean Pierre St-Louis shot the film "A Place to Live" beautifully and precisely serving the story.

Best Music: Las Ānes / Wandering Girl (Colombia-France)

Jury comment: For the inspiring musical whispering of magical femininity, for the subtle connection between music and picture that keeps the spectator navigating the delicate and fragile line between dream and reality.


First Feature Competition

Jury: Mike van Diem, João Pedro Rodrigues, Blerta Zeqiri, Karin Rask, Igor Savychenko

Best Film Award: Head Above Water / director Margaux Bonhomme, producer Caroline Bonmarchand (France)


Jury comment: A gripping and truly heartbreaking family drama that because of it’s overwhelming authenticity and very high level of emotional realisme frequently feels like a documentary, while it is in fact a very smartly constructed piece of fiction, precisely choreographed and overall tremendously well directed by an unusual talented and skilled first time feature filmmaker who therefore richly deserves the top prize in this category.

Special Jury Prize #1: As I Fall / director Magnus  Meyer Arensen (Norway)

We are happy to give our first nomination to a film that is in true sense a "well made film". It's realistic, it is pure, it is enjoyable to watch. Made from the perspective of a drug addict, the film allows us get under the skin of the main character, to feel his struggles, to understand the reasons of the destructive choices he so often makes. Strong directing and performances makes this a film that well exceeds the expectations of a debut. Right from the first scenes, this magnetising film captures the viewer, and doesn’t let go even long after the closing credits have run out. We cannot wait to see the director's second work!

Special Jury Prize #2: Cronofobia / director Francesco Rizzi (Switzerland)

Jury comment: The second special mention goes to a picture that kept us all wide awake sitting upright in our seats from the first minute to the last. Driven by smart, ambitious storytelling this film sometimes stretches the boundaries of dramatic credibility, but never loses traction thanks to the very strong and seductive performances by the two lead actors. It greatly pleases the jury to hand it's second special award to what was perhaps the most intriguing film in this years first feature category.


Baltic Film Competition

Jury: Steven Bernstein, Pelin Esmer, Sergei Šolohhov

Best Baltic Film award winner: Summer Survivors / director Marija Kavtaradze (Lithuania)

Jury comment: Many of the films in both categories were dark and full of pessimism, and on the first examination, Summer Survivors can seem the same, but what set it apart, besides the fantastic quality of the acting across the board, was the various levels on which it worked. Not only did we find ourselves caring deeply for these flawed characters, but we were also soon engaged in the consideration of bigger issues to do with our ability to connect with other people, to help each other and ultimately to save one another. Or not. It's not until the very finish of the film do we fully understand what the filmmakers meant by calling it Summer Survivors, but once understood, it profoundly resonates. A film that gets better the more you think about it and maybe that's the measure of greatness.


Estonian Film Competition

Jury: Steven Bernstein, Pelin Esmer, Sergei Šolohhov

Best Estonian Film award winner: Ahto. Chasing a Dream / director Jaanis Valk (Estonia)

Jury comment: This remarkable piece is as much historical artifact as it is anything, which is not to diminish its remarkable qualities as a film. The function of art, at least in part, is to give us new eyes to see the world and Ahto does this by transporting us completely to a different time and place and what a very remarkable place it is. The research that must have been involved is breathtaking and the color footage from before the war is something to behold. And with all this, there is also a compelling narrative that illustrates the brightest parts and darkest recesses of the human condition. A great film and fun to watch.


Rebel with a Cause Award

Jury: Joonas Kiik, Tõnu Karjatse, Andrei Liimets

Winner: Mira / director Denis Shabaev (Russia)

Jury comment: For a humanist, realistic and timely portrait of soviet inheritance that helps
to understand the political challenges Europe has to face today and tomorrow.


Award for Best Asian film by the jury of Network for the Promotion of
Asian Cinema (NETPAC)

Winner: Kejal / Nima Salehiyar (Iran)

Jury comment: An empowering story of courage and determination of a woman who assumes the role of a smuggler in the Kurdistan-Iraq-Iran border to help pay off family debts and to retain her dignity and freedom in spite of community pressures.


International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award

Jury: Alexandra Pütter, Suncica Unevska, Annika Koppel

Winner: Head Above Water /director Margaux Bonhomme (France)

Jury comment: For the way in which this special story shines a spotlight on humanity, love, and maturity within the challenges of everyday life.


Ecumenical Jury Prize by the spiritual leaders of the largest congregations in Estonia (chosen from Official Selection)

Ecumenical Jury: Rainer Sarnet, Regina Hansen, Madis Kolk, Marge-Marie Paas, Erki Tamm

Winner: Werewolf / director Adrian Panek (Poland)

Jury comment: Oicumenical jury offers their prize for the best picture to “Werewolf” by Adrian Panek for being a thrilling movie in its own genre where the message and the medium were equally important which made it very exiting to watch. It is important to mention that the movie was not in any way trying to manipulate the viewer through the painful and politically sensitive topic. Werewolf shows the human nature, created in Gods image, in extreme situations where the Latin proverb “A man is wolf to another man” is not valid anymore and  where meekness, love and forgiveness towards the enemy are chosen instead.


Audience Award: shared by The Guest / directed by Hadi El Bagoury (Egypt) and
Werewolf / directed by Adrian Panek (Poland)


Lifetime Achievement Awards of the festival:
Liv Ullmann (Norway)
Ivars Seleckis (Latvia)
Mark Soosaar (Estonia)


Main prizes of the sub-festivals of Black Nights FF

Youth and children’s film festival Just Film, Youth Competition, Best Film: "Hope You'll Die Next Time" / Director: Mihály Schwechtje (Hungary)

Shorts and Animations film festival PÖFF Shorts    

International Competition: Best Short Film: All Inclusive / director Corina Schwingruger-Iliç (Switzerland)

International Competition, Best Animation: Egg / director Martina Scarpelli (Italy)


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About Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Started in 1997, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has grown into one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe and busiest regional industry platforms, hosting more than 1000 guests and industry delegates and over 160 journalists. The festival screens around 250 features and more than 300 shorts and animations and sees an attendance of 80 000 people annually. In 2017 the festival was covered in 71 languages with a potential global media audience of over 1.1 billion people.

As of 2014 the festival holds the FIAPF accreditation for holding an international competition programme which puts the festival into the so- called A-category of film festivals, alongside other 14 festivals in the world (including Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, Shanghai, Tokyo etc).  

Black Nights has an umbrella structure with two sub-festivals PÖFF Shorts and youth and children's film festival Just Film taking place concurrently with the main festival,
two off-season festivals - Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival and Tartu Love Film Festival - and a fully-fledged film industry platform Industry@Tallinn, organised jointly with the Baltic Event Co-production market.

Black Nights Film Festival 16 Nov - 2 Dec
PÖFF Shorts 20 Nov - 25 Nov
Just Film 16 Nov - 2 Dec
Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event 26 Nov - 30 Nov



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