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Ten films from seven countries in competition at Cottbus

The 15th FilmFestival Cottbus ­- Festival of East European Cinema will open in the Cottbus Staatstheater on 8th November with Susanne Irina Zacharias' feature film debut „Hallesche Kometen" („Halle Comets”). The father-son story set in Halle/Saale was produced as part of the „Ostwind“ series, a joint programme workshop administered by RBB and ZDF/Das kleine Fernsehspiel. The winner of the Film Prize of the Saarland Prime-Minister at this year's Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival in Saarbrücken will be shown at the festival in the twin town of Cottbus.

Ten films from seven countries will be put into the running for the Feature Film Competition of the 15th FilmFestival Cottbus. As festival director Roland Rust announced today, this year will see numerous prize-winners of leading international festivals having their German premiere in Cottbus, including:

- the German-Czech co-production „Stesti“ („Something Like Happiness“) by Bohdan Slama („Wild Bees“), which won the Golden Shell as Best Film at the 53rd San Sebastian Film Festival

- the Slovenian-Croatian co-production „Odgrobadogroba“ („Gravehopping“) whose director Jan Cvitkovic was also honoured in San Sebastian as the "Best New Director 2005"

- the best Russian debut of the year „Pjervyje Na Lunje“ („First People On The Moon“) by Alexei Fedorchenko , which received the Orrizonti Prize ­2005 at the Mostra di Venezia

- the Bulgarian-Turkish co-production „Otkradnati Ochi“ („Stolen Eyes“) by Radoslav Spassov, whose young lead actress Vessela Kazakova was named Best Actress at this year's Moscow Film Festival

The 15th Cottbus festival will be inviting festival-goers this year to embark on an encounter with the new EU member Hungary through the sidebar entitled NEW HUNGARIAN CINEMA. This extensive showcase of films was curated by Karin Fritzsche, one of the best experts on Hungarian cinematography for many years.

Hungary traditionally belongs to the leading cinematographies of Central and Eastern Europe. The drastic cuts in state funding after the political changes and the increasing privatisation of the Hungarian film industry in the first half of the 1990s resulted in a complete generation change. Many promising talents were best able to make use of the new possibilities, albeit mostly with little money and often without any major success with audiences.

It was only recently that a new generation appeared who managed to draw attention to themselves both at home and abroad despite the fact that production budgets remain low. Films like "Hukkle" by György Pálfi and "Kontrol" (“Control”) by Antal Nimrod – two Cottbus prize-winners from 2002 and 2004 - were examples of real audience films with cineaste ambitions that made it into German cinemas.

This year's Focus traces this process of reorientation through to the current vitality and diversity by concentrating on the two significant waves from the past 15 years: the political changes in 1989 and the generation of 2000. The selection is dedicated exclusively to debut films which are being presented in part for the first time in Germany.
The Focus is being realised in cooperation with Magyar Filmunió, the foreign promotion agency for Hungarian cinema, whose General Manager Eva Vezer will come to Cottbus.

CONNECTING COTTBUS, the film industry forum, will follow the festival's Focus and also concentrate on Hungary. This forum will be the host to producers, world sales companies. distributors, TV commissioning editors and funders from Eastern, Central and Western Europe for the seventh time between 10th and 11th November. This event will address such issues as the exemplary new Hungarian tax model as well as the funding guidelines which are particularly attractive for international co-productions.

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