The Calvert Journal is proud to announce the winners of The Calvert Journal Film Festival 2021. Over the course of two weeks, the 2021 festival screened 35 movies, with films from across six competition categories battling to be named best film in their individual section. A special audience choice award was also given to one film from across all categories, including the out-of-competition special screenings section.
The winning pictures were selected by an independent jury of renowned industry figures: Ukrainian producer Natalia Libet, Czech anthropologist and documentarian Pavel Borecký, New Zealand-born, Berlin-based film critic and curator Carmen Gray, Bosnian actor and educator Selma Alispahić, Kosovan filmmaker Norika Sefa, Lithuanian director Romas Zabarauskas, Latvian programmer Zane Balčus, Scottish film critic and journalist Amber Wilkinson, and Kazakh filmmaker Adilkhan Yerzhanov.
The competing films were judged based on their authenticity and originality in voice, storytelling, and aesthetic approach, as well as the insights they provide into the human experiences and issues confronted in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia.
Best Fiction Feature
Dawn, dir. Laila Pakalnina
“In Dawn, the director handles with subtlety and depth her ambiguity and willfully elusive intentions. A very complex film, where one feels one is going through a range of emotions, in a familiar, yet strange, imaginative world. A blend of culture, history, political, and social commentary, all wrapped up in a visually exquisite work that is as appealing, as it is informative.”
Best Documentary Feature
Warsaw: A City Divided, dir. Eric Bednarski
“This documentary contextualises rare, archival footage of the Warsaw Ghetto with personal testimony from survivors, and reflections on its modern-day legacy, to shed light on its place within the Holocaust, as well as Polish history.”
Best Animation Film
My Favorite War, dir. Ilze Burkovska-Jacobsen
“Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen uses animation inventively to bring the past to life and emphasise the emotional themes of the director’s personal history. It helps make the subject of propaganda accessible for younger, as well as older audiences.”
Best Short Film
History of Civilization, dir. Zhannat Alshanova
“History of Civilisation examines what teacher Indira is leaving behind when she decides to move from Kazakhstan to London. Sexism, authenticity, friendships? The question is asked in a unique cinematic style revealing director Zhannat Alshanova’s burgeoning talent.”
Best Experimental Film
Microcassette — The Smallest Cassette I’ve Ever Seen, dirs. Igor Bezinovic and Ivana Pipal
“In between chance, imagination, and one massive pile of garbage, a happy-go-lucky exploration of Igor Bezinović and Ivana Pipal suggestively asks: what is this fabric that makes us who we are? Microcassette is a smart, memorable and fun-to-watch piece of storytelling: our favourite of this year’s experimental line-up.”
Best Student Film
The Vibrant Village, dir. Weronika Jurkiewicz
“Weronika Jurkiewicz is an emerging director who was able to create a vibrant, intriguing story full of life-breathing details, grabbing the viewers’ full attention and making them smile at the end.”
Audience Choice Award
Rhythms of Lost Time, dir. Anisa Sabiri
“Artfully blending narration and interview with strikingly colourful imagery and immersive soundscapes, director Anisa Sabiri takes her viewers on a truly immersive musical journey across Tajikistan’s Badakhshan region. There, she delicately pulls at the threads which weave music into the region’s everyday life, focusing on local minutiae to tell stories which are both far-reaching and universal.”