Of Horses And Men won the Tridens and FIPRESCI prizes at Tallinn's Black Nights Film Festival
Beginning with the Lumiere Brothers' famous Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, the stage became a locomotive to take us on a journey through the prizes, which included a lifetime achievement award for Hungarian filmmaker István Szabó (Mephisto, Colonel Redl). Oh, and did I mention the man in the wolf mascot suit? The result was certainly off-kilter but the high energy of everyone involved and general quirkiness mirrored the spirit of the festival and its organisers and volunteers - enthusiastic, individual and warm-hearted. I've certainly never seen anything like it before on a film festival awards night but the Estonians could teach other places a thing or two about putting on a engaging celebration that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Tallinn is further proof that festival fans are growing in number. More than 77500 people attended Black Nights this year - up more than 10 per cent on the previous year.
The festival holds several competitions and the winners - including that picked by the FIPRESCI jury of which I was a member - are below. Juries say the quality of the films is high to such an extent that it can sound like lip service but I can genuinely say that the 12 I saw as part of our segment of the competition all had something interesting to say about their country in particular or on universal themes or, in the case of our winner, both.
Grand Prix (10,000 euros) - Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) (Italy)
Best Cinematographer - Luca Bigazzi, The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) (Italy)
Best Director (5,000 euros) - Koji Fujkada, Hotori no sakuko (Au Revoir l'Ete)
Best Actor - Maksim Sukhanov, The Role (Rol) (Russia)
Best Actress - Juliette Binoche, Camille Claudel, 1915 (France)
Special Jury Prize - Tsai Ming-Liang, Stray Dogs (Taiwan) and Serge Avedikian and Olena Fetisova, Paradjanov (Ukraine/France/Georgia/Armenia)
Tridens Competition of feature debuts from the Baltic Sea and Nordic Countries Best Film (5000 euros) - Of Horses And Men, Benedikt Erlingsson (Iceland/Germany)
Tridens Competition Special prize for the most original story - Intimate Parts, Natasha Merkulova, Alexey Chupov (Russia)
Tridens Competition Best Cinematographer - Bergsteinn Björgulfsson, Of Horses And Men (Iceland)
The Heave(i)n award for the best Estonian film - Tangerines (Mandariinid), Zaza Urushadze (Estonia/Georgia)
The international film critics FIPRESCI award for the best film - Of Horses And Men, Benedikt Erlingsson (Iceland/Germany).
North American Film Competition - The Golden Dream (La Jaula De Oro), Diego Quemada-Díez (Mexico)
International Film Clubs award - Tangerines (Mandariinid), Zaza Urushadze (Estonia/Georgia)
International Film Clubs Special Mention - Circles (Krugovi), Srdan Golubovic (Serbia)
Audience Award (2000 euros) - The Broken Circle Breakdown, Felix Van Groeningen (Belgium)
SHORT FILM AWARDS
Sleepwalkers Grand Prix (audience award) - Money Back Please, Even Hafnor (Norway)
Sleepwalkers International Competition (1000 euro prize) - Mystery (Misterio), Chema Gracia Ibarra (Spain)
Sleepwalkers Student Competition (1000 euro prize) - The Mass of Men, Gabriel Gauchet (UK)
Sleepwalkers Student Competition Grand Prix Nomination - The Fourth One (Neljas), Liis Lepik (Estonia)
Sleepwalkers Baltic Sea Competition (1000 euro prize) - Money Back Please, Even Hafnor (Norway)
Special Mentions - The Whistle, Gregorz Zariczny (Poland) and Emergency Calls, Hannes Vartiainen & Pekka Veikkolainen (Finland)
Sleepwalkers National Competition (1000 euro prize) - The Photo (Foto), Katrin Maimik & Jan Erik Nõgisto (Estonia)
Sleepwalkers National Competition Grand Prix Nomination Mai, Maria Reinup (Estonia)