Sebastian Meise’s ‘Great Freedom’ Snags Top Prize at the Seville European Film Festival

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Southern Spain’s annual showcase of standout recent European auteur cinema, the Seville European Film Festival, wrapped its 18th edition Saturday, Nov. 13 with a slew of prizes scattered among its various contenders, with the top prize, the Giraldillo de Oro, going to Sebastian Meise’s “Great Freedom” and its lead, Franz Rogowski, nabbing the best actor award. The Andalusian screenwriters association, Asecan, also chose the drama as the best film in the festival’s official selection.

Set in post-war Germany, “Great Freedom” has been racking up rave reviews and prizes across the festival circuit, starting with its Cannes Un Certain Regard jury prize and most recently in Athens and Sarajevo where it topped their awards. In it, Hans, played by Rogowski, is imprisoned repeatedly for being gay. The only constant in his life is his cellmate, Viktor, a convicted murderer, with whom his initial repulsion turns to something akin to love.

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Helmer-scribe Jonas Carpignano took home best director for “A Chiara,” described by Variety critic Jay Weisberg, as an extension, if not the third part of a triptych made up of Carpignano’s earlier“A Ciambra” and “Mediterranea,” all of which deal with the mafia-dominated underworld of Italy’s Calabrian city of Gioia Tauro.

A Chiara - Credit: Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight
A Chiara - Credit: Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight

Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight

Further confirmation of Carpignano’s directing skills came with the ensemble cast special mention for the drama’s actors Nina Fumo, Swami Rotolo, Carmela Fumo and Claudio Rotolo.

Moon, 66 Questions,” the feature debut of Jacqueline Lentzou, took home the best film prize in the festival’s Nuevas Olas (New Waves) sidebar as well as the Women in Focus award. The family drama, which first bowed at the Berlinale’s new Encounters section, centers on a young woman who returns home to Athens, after a long absence, to take care of her sick father. As she strives to take care of him, old resentments surface between the two, until the unearthing of an old secret gives them the chance to purge the negativity between them.

Lucie Whang, scored best actress for her perf in Jacques Audiard’s “Paris, 13th District,” which opened the fest. Audiard is no stranger to the festival. The French auteur won the Seville’s Golden Giraldillo for best film in 2005 with “The Beat that My Heart Skipped” and the Audience Award for “A Prophet” in 2009.

The Panorama Andaluz sidebar awarded Best Film to documentary “¡Dolores, Guapa!” by Jesús Pascual who trains his lens on the queer community of Sevilla and how they follow the religious traditions they’ve assimilated since their childhood, setting up meeting points and their own codes.

Moon 66 Questions - Credit: Courtesy of Thessaloniki Film Festival
Moon 66 Questions - Credit: Courtesy of Thessaloniki Film Festival

Courtesy of Thessaloniki Film Festival

Meanwhile, the section Permanent Revolutions extended its top prize to French director Nicolas Peduzzi’s documentary “Ghost Song,” which premiered at Cannes and won at FIDMarseille. The doc-feature is set in Houston, Texas where a hurricane looms. Set to the rhythm of music, from rap to folk, Peduzzi captures the diversity of its inhabitants, from rapper OMB Bloodbath to rich kid William, now wandering the streets because of his drug addiction.

Animated doc-feature “Flee,” by Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen, nabbed the Ocaña Freedom Award, an apt recognition for a film that makes you ever grateful for the freedom we all take so much for granted in democratic countries. The Sundance and Annecy winner, and Denmark’s official Oscar entry at the 94th Academy Awards, tells the story of Amin Nawabi as he struggles to reveal a secret he has kept hidden for two decades. Told mostly through animation, “Flee” details his harrowing escape from Afghanistan.

Running from Nov. 5-13, the festival honored German-Catalan actor-director Daniel Brühl (“Inglourious Basterds,” “Rush”), and screened the Spanish premiere of his directorial debut, comedy thriller “Next Door.” French actress Emmanuelle Béart (“8 Women”) also came to receive the City of Seville 2020 award she was unable to pick up last year due to the pandemic.

2021 SEVILLE EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS

COMPETITION

Golden Giraldillo

“Great Freedom,” (Sebastian Meise, Austria, Germany)

Grand Jury Award (Ex aequo)

“Onoda,” (Arthur Haradi, France, Japan)

“Costa Brava, Líbano,” (Mounia Akl, Lebanon, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Qatar)

Best Director

Jonas Carpignano, “A Chiara”

Best Actor

Franz Rogowski, (“Great Freedom”)

Best Actress

Lucie Whang, (“Paris, 13th District”)

Best Screenplay

Arthur Harari, Vincent Poymiro, (“Onoda”)

Ensemble Cast/Special Mention

Nina Fumo, Swami Rotolo, Carmela Fumo, Claudio Rotolo, (“A Chiara”)

Best Editing

Nicolas Chaudeurge, Rebecca Lloyd, Jacob Schulsinger, (“Cow”)

Best Cinematography

Faraz Fesharaki, (“¿What Do We See When We Look At The Sky?”)

THE NEW WAVES

Best Film

“Moon, 66 Questions,” (Jacqueline Lentzou, Greece)

Special Award

“Hold Me Tight,” (Mathieu Amalric, France)

Best Film – Non Fiction (Ex aequo)

“The Story of Looking,” (Mark Cousins, United Kingdom) and “Babi Yar. Context,” (Sergei Loznitsa, Netherlands, Ukraine)

Special Award

“Landscapes of Resistance,” (Marta Popivoda, Serbia, Germany, France)

ENDLESS REVOLUTIONS

Best Film

“Ghost Song,” (Nicolas Peduzzi, France)

ANDALUSIAN PANORAMA

Best Film

“¡Dolores guapa!,” (Jesús Pascual, Spain)

Special Mention

“Pico Reja, lo que la Tierra Esconde,” (Remedios Malvárez, Arturo Andújar, Spain)

Best Short Film- Rosario Valpuesta Award

“El productor,” (Juanma Suárez, Spain)

Artistic Contribution – Special Rosario Valpuesta Award – Short Film

“Farrucas,” (Ian de la Rosa, Spain)

AUDIENCE AWARDS

Extraordinary Stories Audience Award

“Small Body,” (Laura Samani, Italy, France, Slovenia)

Grand Audience Award, EFA Selection

“The Worst Person in the World,” (Joachim Trier, Norway, France)

OTHER AWARDS

AC/E Award – Best Spanish Film

David Pantaleón, (“Rendir los machos”)

Best Director, First or Second European Feature

Marta Popivoda, (“Landscapes of Resistance”)

Cinephiles of The Future Award

“The Horizon,” (Emilie Carpentier, France)

Junior Europe Award

“El secreto de Vicky,” ( Denis Imbert, France)

ASECAN Award – Best Film

“Great Freedom,” (Sebastian Meise, Austria, Germany)

Ocaña Award to Freedom

“Flee,” (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Denmark, France, Sweden, Norway)

Women in Focus Award

“Moon, 66 Questions,” (Jacqueline Lentzou, Greece)

XIV European Film Award ‘University of Seville’ 2020, Fiction

“En la noche caminamos solos,” (Rafa Alberola, Spain)

XIV European Film Award, University of Seville 2020, Non Fiction

“Currulao,” (Juanma Jiménez, Spain)

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