40th FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH – The Award-Winners

Saturday, 11/20/2021

  • The grand prize of the 40th FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH has been awarded to the short film “Regime Change” by Yana Sad (Moscow School of New Cinema, Russia).
  • The Audience Award has gone to “Her Dance” by Bar Cohen (The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Israel ).
  • Ten awards worth 36,000 euros in total were presented to films in the International Competition.


The awards of the 40th FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH were presented on Saturday, November 20, 2021. The festival jury (Mara Wesenauer, Roberto Cueto, Olga Caspers, Loïc Hobi, Angélique Kourounis) and other juries representing the award sponsors selected this year’s winners from among 32 feature films, 7 documentaries, 6 animated films, and 1 experimental film. Ten awards — worth 36,000 euros in total — were presented, and one film was given a Special Mention. The award-winning films of 2021 come from film schools in eight countries.

Festival director Diana Iljine: “I’d like to congratulate everyone who participated in the 40th FILMSCHOOLFEST MUNICH. Some of you will be taking home wonderful prizes, but all of you will leave with the knowledge that you’ve made important contacts and exchanged ideas on pivotal subjects. We are very pleased that this year, we could once again do our part to promote young filmmakers all over the world.”

Strictly limiting admission to individuals who had been vaccinated or who had recovered made it possible, even as the coronavirus pandemic posed renewed challenges, to hold the festival in person in the screening rooms of the University of Television and Film Munich (HFF). The festival lounge — which this year took the form of a large, well-ventilated, heated tent in the courtyard of the HFF — was also a popular place for the numerous international guests and HFF students to meet.


The award-winners:

 “Regime Change” by Yana Sad (Moscow School of New Cinema, Russia) was presented the VFF Young Talent Award for best film. This award is sponsored by the Verwertungsgesellschaft der Film- und Fernsehproduzenten (VFF) royalty association and is endowed with 10,000 euros. This 18-minute short film follows Oleg and his brother Ivan, who live in an area with lots of ponds and lakes on the outskirts of a small town. Oleg is autistic and unable to live on his own; his daily routine must be strictly regimented. Ivan lovingly cares for his brother, but he soon reaches his limits, as there is hardly any room to address his own needs.

The jury said: “This film portrays a tender and rather unusual bond in a relationship defined by the disability of a brother who is autistic. The camerawork embraces the natural beauty of human beings in all their imperfection — physical, mental, and emotional. It is particularly courageous for a Russian filmmaker to tackle and discuss such a subject, which in many societies is a taboo. This makes this film all the more valuable. The jury has unanimously decided to present the VFF Young Talent Award to ‘Regime Change’.”

The festival jury also presented the ARRI Award for best documentary film, sponsored by ARRI, a long-established Munich-based company, and consisting of non-cash benefits valued at 4,000 euros. The award went to Paula González García, Gloria Gutiérrez Álvarez, and Andrés Santacruz (The Madrid Film School) for “A Dance for the End of the World”. This film follows two people in Madrid during the pandemic in April 2020. They’ve never met, but they write to each other in a chat. As they do so, they embark on a mental journey through space and time which will free them from the isolation and loneliness imposed on them. The jury said: “As times change, so, too, does the way people communicate, especially in isolation. This film offers an unusual perspective on how people, each in their own way, experience loneliness, look for creative ways of staying in touch, and find joy during troubled times.”

In the documentary film category, the jury also awarded a Special Mention to “$75,000” by Moïse Togo (Le Fresnoy – Studio des Arts Contemporains, Frankreich). The jury praised “its unique graphic design, which makes the unseen perceptible and the horror visible, which transforms a pencil into a camera, and which puts animation in service against a terrible and little-known issue.” The film is a harrowing account of how people with albinism in Africa are often victims of discrimination and brutal acts of violence.

The Award for Best Screenplay (2,000 euros, sponsored by Angela Waldleitner) has gone to writer-director David Bustos and his co-author Sergio Amador (Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya, Spain) for “Play Dead”. “Play Dead” takes us to a remote dwelling in which Marcel and his mother are spending their summer. The jury praised the film: “Surrounded by the shadow of death, the absence of a father, and an abandoned place, an intriguing yet speechless family tale is spun, filled with unexpressed feelings that leave us touched and uneasy in equal measure.”

The zweiB Award for best animation (which includes professional DCP mastering valued at 1,000 euros) goes to the film “Scum Mutation” by Ov (Le Fresnoy - Studio National des Arts Contemporains, France). This experimental animated film looks into the past and future, bringing trauma to light and setting unusually mutated bodies in motion. It is a fierce appeal not to surrender to the forces of repression, but to free oneself from victimhood with all one’s might. The jury explained its decision by saying: “In a necessary outcry against binary and systemic oppression, mutilated bodies lead us to an artistic and powerful explosion that challenges the audience’s awareness.”

This year’s Panther Prize for best production of a film at a European university goes to Borbála Nagy from Hungary. She attended the Department of Film Studies in Budapest prior to becoming a journalist. In 2011 she left Hungary for personal and political reasons. Since 2012 she has been studying directing at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB). The prize is a non-cash equivalent valued at 5,000 euros. “Land of Glory” takes us to a school somewhere in Hungary. It’s a day like any other, except that the prime minister is due to visit. The jury said: “With nationalism on the rise all over Europe, this film uses words, humor, and a precise visual style to raise some vital questions and show how anyone, even a teenage girl at school, can resist and stand up for their own values. For having the great courage to make such a film in these critical times, we present the award for best production of a European film to ‘Land of Glory’.”

This year’s Student Camera Award for best cinematography has gone to “The Water’s Whisper” by Ian B. Morales, who studied film directing at the National School of Film Arts in Mexico City. “The Water’s Whisper” is his graduation film, for which he also wrote the screenplay and did the cinematography. The jury said: “On a glimmering and shimmering ray of light refracted by the water, this poetic film takes us inside the mind of an adolescent boy. The exquisite photography and precise framing within a technically challenging environment create a uniquely sensual atmosphere.”

ARTE viewers can look forward to “Must Be Painful” by David Semler (FAMU, Prague), which has received the ARTE Short Film Prize. ARTE will buy the rights to this short film for up to 6,000 euros. THE ARTE jury explained its choice as follows: “In a waiting room at a train station in the Czech Republic, a relationship drama plays out between two completely different couples. Homosexuality, discrimination, adultery, love, and separation: all the big social issues are dealt with in the smallest of spaces and in two different languages. The story of these two couples keeps us in constant suspense, and we don’t know how it will conclude until the very end. "Must Be Painful" by David Semler succeeds in recounting the great dramas of our time in an intense, atmospheric chamber play lasting only 15 minutes.”

The jury presenting the 2,500-euro Wolfgang Längsfeld Award (Daniel Kunz, Páris Cannes, Sven Zellner) honors the most original film in the International Competition in memory of the festival’s founder, HFF professor Wolfgang Längsfeld. It has selected “Harmonia”, a short feature film by Dutch director Thom Lunshof (The Netherlands Film Academy), to be the 2021 recipient. The jury said: “Furious, frenetic, and poetic. The jury is thrilled to celebrate a movie that jolted us into a bold cinematic experience that never settles for comfortable storytelling. A young woman’s brutal effort to overcome an environment of extreme pressure is broadened into a collage of individual struggles, forming a collective portrait, an explosive mirror of our times, in which the need to succeed at all costs creates a society on the brink of crashing and burning. Ambitious filmmaking choices, beautiful performances, and an experimental take on the narrative tradition culminate in a manic, ruthless, and stunning climax. If winning means being alone, we invite this brave filmmaker to keep pushing his craft, to take the stage and enjoy a moment of solitude with all of us.”

The Prix Interculturel (2,000 euros) goes to “Topless” by Hannah Jandl (University of Television and Film Munich). The jury (Galina Antoschewskaja, Rev. Eckart Bruchner, Bhagu T. Chellaney) said: “In keeping with the motto ‘Clothes make the man (or woman)’, we’re shown the shoes of Munich pedestrians who, when asked about their shoes, talk about themselves and their outlook on life. A gentle, Socratic method of questioning, always focused on the shoes, in combination with camerawork that is at times iconographic, promotes an intercultural dialogue. The pedestrians of various ethnic backgrounds express a wide range of attitudes and outlooks, cleverly prompting introspection among the film’s viewers.”

The audience favorite was “Her Dance” by Bar Cohen (The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television, Israel). Until Saturday morning at 9 a.m., the audience had the opportunity to vote for the 1,500-euro Audience Award sponsored by the Freundeskreis Filmfest München.

The prizes in the special competition for the Climate Clips Award (sponsored by the Nagelschneider Foundation) were already awarded at the festival opening. The main prize of 5,000 euros went to “Fight Fast Fashion” by Miriam Welcker and Lili Zwirner (RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, Germany). The second prize of 3,000 euros went to “Zizuma” by Colombian director Sergio Alejandro N. Suárez (Universidad Nacional de Colombia). Italian directors Giulia Betti and Alice Gambara (Civica Scuola die Cinema Lucchino Visconti) were honored with the third prize and 1,000 euros in prize money for “Earth!”.


An overview of the award-winners can be found here.

Still images from the award-winning films can be found here.