By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz April 20, 2014 at 10:30AM
Recently, after six days of program, this year’s Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival came to a close in Cologne’s Odeon Cinema with a presentation ceremony totalling four awards and €16,000 worth of prize money. Spanish director Neus Ballús won the €10,000 debut feature film competition, in which eight debuts were to be seen. In her film La Plaga (The Plague), she portrays five fascinating characters on the outskirts of Barcelona against the backdrop of rural Catalonia. It's a scorching hot summer and a plague of insects has ruined the harvest. Ms Ballús meticulously stages the daily routines of a cast played by non-professional actors, creating in the process an impressive piece of fiction which ultimately tells us a lot about Spain and Europe. Neus Ballús was present in Cologne to receive the prize personally.
Withotu a doubt, La Plaga succeeded in convincing the jury which consisted of Kim Yutani, curator of the Sundance Film Festival, Pelin Esmer, the Turkish director (10 to 11, Watchtover ) and Julia Hummer, the German actress (Ghosts, The State I Am In). The jury said: “ The film takes a profound philosophical approach and explores the cycle of life of five individuals you’ll never forget. Confidently and sensitively, the film-maker (...) directs the team of amateur actors while presenting a screenplay that weaves together the stories of the protagonist with subtle realism.”
Sponsored by Choices magazine, the €1,000 Audience Award Prize 2014 was awarded to Farewell, Herr Schwarz directed by Yael Reuveny. The film portrays two families in Israel and Germany who knew nothing of each other for years. Eligible here were all movies shown at the festival with a length of more than 60 minutes.
The winners of the National Competition for (Next Generation) Women Directors of Photography were announced in the run-up to the festival. The awards of €2,500 each were conferred Sunday evening to DoP Christiane Schmidt for her documentary The Forest Is Like The Mountains and DoP Bine Jankowski for her movie Rebecca. This jury comprised DoPs Sophie Maintigneux, Anne Misselwitz and Julia Daschner.
Festival Director Silke J. Räbiger was more than satisfied with the response to the festival programme. This year, in addition to the unique spectrum of films on offer, it featured a wide range of panel discussions, workshops and workshop discussions – all in high demand by festivalgoers. “The close collaboration with partners such as medica mondiale, LaDOC and Turkish Film Festival Ruhr has again proved a wonderful success. Together, we were able to put on a very impressive programme and reach a broad and highly interested audience."
The Country Focus: Turkey section shed new light on the Turkish film industry in particular and the current political situation in general and thus inspired much discussion among the audiences. The festival also notched up a huge success with its offerings for Cologne and Dortmund schools. Around 1,500 students attended the performances.
The next main festival programme is to be held in Dortmund in April 2015.