Danish Film Institute: The War Show and Heartstone wins top prize

Danish Film Institute

Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon’s Syrian road trip “The War Show” wins the top prize at Venice Days, while Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson’s coming-of-age drama “Heartstone” takes home the Biennale’s LGBT award. Three Danish co-productions are also among this year’s winners.

“We believe it is a film that each and every one of us should see,” the jury signed off their commendation of “The War Show,” awarding Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon’s documentary the top Venice Days prize at the closing ceremony on Friday September 9.

Cut down from 300 hours of footage recording radio host and co-director Zytoon’s experiences in the aftermath of the Syrian uprising, “The War Show” garnered much critical acclaim at its world premiere on 31 August as the opening film of Venice’s independently run Venice Days.

“Such an effective, unsettling contrast of the broad and the intimate makes the film a galvanising choice to open Venice Days, as well one that won’t quickly be forgotten,” Screen Daily wrote upon the film’s world premiere, while Variety described the film as “a heart-rending attempt to document what cannot be imagined.”

Now playing at the Toronto Film Festival (8-18 September), “The War Show” triggered these words from indie film site Ioncinema: “‘The War Show’ reminds us that there are indeed living, breathing, and loving individuals just trying their best to endure this war-torn time period in their homeland.”

“The War Show” is produced by Miriam Nørgaard and Alaa Hassan for Fridthjof film and sold by DR Sales.

Heartstone wins the Queer Lion

Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson’s feature debut “Heartstone” was singled out among all films presented during the Venice Film Festival as the “Best Film with Homosexual & Queer Culture Themes,” earning it the Queer Lion trophy.

Gudmundsson’s debut feature about love and friendship between two boy wins, the jury stated, for “the exquisite touch in showing the coming of age of two young friends and analyzing the acceptance of homosexual feelings and passions,” which is “set against a natural environment as breathtaking as it can be hard and cruel.”

“Heartstone” world premiered in Venice Days and was voted the second favourite film by the jury. Produced by Lise Orheim Stender and Jesper Morthorst for SF Studios Production in co-production with Join Motion Pictures of Iceland, the film is now showing at the Toronto Film Festival. Berlin-based Films Boutique are handling sales.

Co-productions on a winning streak

Among the winners this weekend in Venice are a number of films with Danish filmmakers and creatives on board:
Amat Escalante’s Mexican drama “The Untamed,” winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director which was shared with Andrei Konchalovsky for “Paradise”, is co-produced by Snowglobe’s Katrin Pors and Adomeit Film’s Katja Adomeit.

“Sami Blood” by Sweden’s Amanda Kernell won the Europa Cinemas Label award as the Best European Film in the Venice Days strand. The film, co-produced by Nordisk Film, also received the Fedeora Award, given by the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean, for Best Young Director.

Finally, Hana Jusic’s Croatian drama “Quit Staring at My Plate,” co-produced with Danish Beofilm, won the Fedeora Award for Best European Film.

Danish Film Institute by Annemarie Hørsman

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