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Film Festival winners

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2006-06-01

Winning film Portrecista


The Polish capital of Warsaw has once again played host to an international Jewish Film Festival. In just a few short years the Zydowskie Motywy has established itself as one of the world's leading festivals celebrating all aspects of Jewish film.

This year's event, which took place in the middle of May, saw a plethora of films spanning the globe, and the organisers say it was their best festival yet, though they are adamant they can do even better in 2007.

The winner of the festival's top prize, the Gold Warsaw Phoenix and 25,000 Polish zloty (about £4,400) was Ireneusz Dobrowolski for the film Portrecista (Portrait Photographer). Based on a true story, it is a documentary about Wilheim Brasse, a pre-war portrait photographer of Austrian descent who refused to sign the Reichslist and who was sent to Auschwitz to photograph the camp first-hand. After the war, he gave up photography. The film was the big hit of the festival, also scooping the Audience Award.

Joint winner of the Silver Warsaw Phoenix and 15,000 zloty (about £2,640) was Radu Mihaileanu for Live and Become, a drama about an Ethiopian boy who leaves his home country during Operation Moses in 1984 and begins a new life in Israel – but has to conceal the fact he was not born Jewish.

The other two winners of the Silver Warsaw Phoenix were Peter Mostovoy for the Israeli film Scena (The Stage), a documentary about former Soviet Union Jews with theatrical backgrounds who now work in Israel, and Irina Litmanovich for Obyczaje z Cheloma (Khelom's Customs), a five-minute animation from Russia, based on a poem by Ovsei Driz. And described as "a mournful celebration of the fact problems never end".

Meanwhile, the critically panned British documentary Philip And His Seven Wives, about a former Messianic "rabbi" who believes he is a prophet, won a Bronze Warsaw Phoenix and scooped 5,000 zloty (£880).

Related link:

Warsaw Jewish Film Festival