The last star flash of the festival took place on Saturday before closing: Catherine Deneuve came to Odesa for the first time.
At a meeting with the public the celebrity was lapidary, restrained, and patient (the latter fact is important because of the level of some issues). She confessed her love to growing tomatoes in general and to the Ukrainian tomatoes in particular. She does not comment on the #MeToo Movement and sex scandals in Hollywood since the media would still twist everything anyways. The most important directors in her life are André Téchiné and Francois Truffaut, and the role in The Last Metro was a turning point for her career. Working on the characters, Catherine gives her heroines a part of herself, but, in her opinion, chance plays a huge role in any acting career. She does not feel lonely waiting for the next take on the set. She loves the theater, but she did not play and will not play on stage, because she is too worried – even with her current experience, even in front of a friendly audience.
And always, a good scenario is the main point when choosing a role. A good life story. Therefore, she agrees to play even in the unknown authors’ films if they have such a story to offer.
In the evening, Deneuve appeared in front of the festival audience for the second time that day – on the stage of the Odesa Opera and Ballet Theater to receive the honorary “Golden Duke”. The honor companion is both unexpected and deeply expected persona – Mikhail Zhvanetsky. A living symbol, a humour incarnated. Mr. Mikhail did not miss the opportunity to read a few maxims, apt as always, about the “bright hopelessness of the old age” and age-related changes “from a sense of happiness to a great description of it”.
Of course, the announcement of the awardees of three competitions was the main substantive part of the evening.
The European Documentary Competition was first. The jury recognized the Norwegian docudrama The Men’s Room (directors are Petter Sommer and Jo Vemund Svendsen) as the best film (with a prize of 2,000 euros). It narrates a story of a company of harsh tattooed men who, as an amateur choir, decide to write and perform a song for one of them doomed to pass away soon due to cancer.
The jury of the National Competition was to distribute 4 prizes. The first decision, so to speak, surprised all who watched short films competition: a Duke statuette and 50,000 UAH were awarded to Oksana Kazmina for a sketch Secret. A Girl and a Boy. The reason for such a reaction is that this work is not a film, but rather a sample of purely gallery video art – without a plot or acting – a naked statement about the conventionality of gender roles. The reason for this verdict remains vague – there were really professional films in the category.
The nomination of national full-length films was also surprising. However, quite predictably Irma Vitovska was called the best actress (a “Duke” plus 50,000 UAH) for the role of an authoritarian and loving mother in Antonio Lukich’s Comedy My Thoughts Are Silent. But the double triumph of Vadym Ilkov’s directorial debut Father Is Mother’s Brother – the best direction (60,000 UAH) and the best film (100,000 UAH) of the National Competition – was also somewhat unexpected. Ilkov found a family where the uncle had to take on the role of a father because of the mental illness of his sister, and showed the everyday life of a little non-standard community in an interesting way. However, My Thoughts Are Quiet is clearly in the lead in terms of form and quality of performance. But in the end, Lukich received a no less important award – the Grand Prix awarded on the basis of the audience voting – and this award was given for the first time in the competition.
Just before the announcement of the verdicts, the main jury in the International Competition said kind words about each of the 12 films participating in the program. However, there was a clear leader: “the best actor’s work” (Levan Gelbakhiani, 2,000 euros prize), “the best film” (5,000 euros) and the Grand Prix (designated by the audience vote, 10,000 euros) were given to the Georgian-Swedish drama And Then We Danced (Levan Akin). This film has already caused a scandal in Georgia, since, among other things, it touches the theme of gay life in a thoroughly homophobic society, in the holy of holies of this society – the local ballet. But social motives have nothing to do with it – the film is played and shot in an outstanding way.
High visual quality is also inherent in quite a phantasmagoric work Monos (Alejandro Landes, Colombia, Argentina, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Germany, Denmark, Sweden), awarded with a “Duke” for the best direction (3,000 euros reward). Many cinephiles liked this kind of dystopia about teenagers living in an armed commune in the jungle.
It is especially pleasant that the Ukrainian film Home by Nariman Aliyev shared the Grand Prix with And Then We Danced.
So, the Odesa Film Festival is over. Of course, it was the best one in the history of its holding. And it also confirmed that now we do have the Ukrainian cinema.
Dmytro Desiateryk, The Day – exclusive for opinionua.com