Unclenching The Fists Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
The drama, which is set in a former mining town in Russia’s southern region of North Ossetia, tells the story of a young woman trying to break free from her family’s grip.
Kovalenko, who wrote and directed the film, was unable to attend the awards ceremony in person as she is on set for another film.
La Civil Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
Prayers for the Stolen, the first fiction film by Mexican documentary maker Tatiana Huezo, received a special mention from the jury.
Six of the 20 films in the section were films by first-time directors, which means they will also compete for the still to be announced Camera d’or prize.
Director and screenwriter Andrea Arnold, whose documentary Cow featured in the Cannes Première selection, presided over the jury of director and screenwriter Mounia Meddour, actress Elsa Zylberstein, director and screenwriter Daniel Burman and Michael Covino, director and actor.
Arnold said: "In our discussions, the two things we were constantly saying were, 'This film is very brave' and 'This film come from the heart'. Many of the films are very passionate and many of the films are talking about things which are hard to talk about. We’d like to acknowledge all the filmmakers for their brave and beautiful work. Their films created vigorous debates."
The awards in full:
Unclenching The Fists, Kira Kovalenko
Great Freedom, Sebastian Meise
Good Mother, Hafsia Herzi
Prize of Courage
La Civil, Teodora Ana Mihai
Prize of Originality
Lamb, Vladimir Johannsson
Noche De Fuego (Prayers for the Stolen), Tatiana Huezo