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Monday
Nov062017

MARRIAGE DRAMA, SPACE RACE EPICS TAKE TOP HONOURS AT RUSSIAN FILM FEST

Boris Khlebnikov’s Arrhythmia was named The SCREEN-SPACE Best New Russian Film at the closing night of the 2017 Russian Resurrection Film Festival in Sydney last night. Also honoured with special jury mentions were Klim Shipenko’s Salyut 7 and Dimitry Kiselyov’s Spacewalkers (pictured, below), two audience favourites that revisited the glory days of the Soviet space program in grand filmmaking style.

Read our review of Arrhythmia here.

A contemporary take on the drifting commitment and strained emotions of a young Moscow couple, Arrhythmia (pictured, below) earned its leading man Aleksandr Yatsenko the Best Actor trophy at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and recognition from events in Sochi, Sakhalin and Haifa ahead of its Australian festival run. Khlebnikov’s assured and moving film was the unanimous victor as judged by Limelight magazine’s Lynden Barber, Managing Editor of SBS Movies, Fiona Williams, and Screen-Space editor Simon Foster.   

High amongst the finalists vying for the top festival honour were two Holocaust-themed dramas, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Paradise and Pavel Chukhray’s Cold Tango; Karen Shakhnazarov’s highbrow literary adaptation Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story; and Valery Todorovsky’s The Bolshoi, the lavish dance drama that opened the 14th annual celebration of Russian cinema on October 26.

In choosing to break with tradition and give jury nods to the space epics, the judges cited a vast and ambitious scale rarely seen in international cinema, due largely to the costs of realising such immense visions. In praising Salyut 7 and Spacewalkers, the judges spoke of both films in the same breath as the American space race classics, The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, and deemed the quality of the work reflected the strong production and post-production infrastructure of the Russian industry.

The 14th annual Russian Resurrection Film Festival drew to a close after an eleven day run at the Event Cinema's George Street site, during which attendance levels were amongst the highest in the festival's history. The highly anticipated Closing Night film was a digitally restored print of Yakov Protazanov’s rarely-seen 1924 silent science-fiction classic Aelita, accompanied by a live score by the renowned Volotinsky Quartet.

Friday
Aug042017

THE ULTIMATE READY PLAYER ONE EASTER EGG COMPILATION

It became the sensation of the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con; the daring and dazzling mosaic of iconic 80s and 90s properties in Warner Bros 123-second trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One the stuff of comic geek fantasy and nostalgist dream. The Greatest Living Director’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s VR tech-epic doesn’t drop until March 30 2018, but the challenge to spot all the ‘easter egg’ nuggets of pop culture gold became the convention’s favourite past time. So here they all are…

“I live here, in Columbus Ohio”
Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) navigates ‘The Stacks’ (trailer homes piled on top of each other) on his way to his VR den, home to such pop culture touchstones as a Nintendo ‘Zapper’, iPod, Commodore 64 joystick and He-Man lunchbox, as well as iconic 80s ephemera from The Garbage Pail Kids, Gremlins, Watchmen, Q-Bert and Tim Burton’s Batman;

“It’s the only place I feel like I mean anything.”
When Watts (as his virtual avatar Parzival) enters the VR universe known as Oasis, characters adopted by the global online population are gathered. He is greeted by Harley Quinn and Deadshot (pictured, above); in the crowded room, Hagar the Horrible and Conan the Barbarian can be seen. To the strains of a reworked version of ‘Pure Imagination’ from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (a nod to the narrative similarities between Cline’s book and Raold Dahl’s family classic), Gandalf dances high above the din;

“A world where the limits of reality are your own imagination.”
The Iron Giant (pictured, above) from Brad Bird’s 1999 animated classic plays a major role in helping Parzival and his egg-hunter offsiders Daito and Shoto hunt for the virtual prize that will give them control of the Oasis. The brown structure to the right of frame is The Temple of Syrinx, a reference to the 1976 album 2112 by Canadian band, Rush, the epic track forming the basis for one player’s quest in the novel. The soft-metal group’s discography is a source of inspiration for OASIS creator, the late James Halliday (played by Mark Rylance);

In his guise as ‘Napoleon’, Parzival rides a mecha-scorpion (perhaps a reference to a similar creature in the vid-game, Ultrabots) while fighting a battalion of warrior ostriches, lifted from the 1982 Atari arcade classic, Joust (pictured, above);

Wade’s best friend Aech (Lena Waithe), reimagined in Spielberg’s film as a Rings-like Orc warrior, comes under fire from Duke Nuk’em as he lays waste to Mortal Kombat’s Kitana and Nightmare on Elm Street’s villain Freddy Krueger (whose demise frees up an inventory of weapons from the game Borderland, including Sledge’s Shotgun and Krieg’s Buzz Axe). Aech’s weapon of choice is the MA5 assault rifle from Halo;

“A modern day warrior / Mean, mean stride / Today’s Tom Sawyer / Mean, mean pride”
Rush’s ‘Tom Sawyer’ pulsates as we are introduced to a VR army of ‘Sixers’ (so named because their avatar numbers begin with 6, visible on the uniforms and car roofs). Gathered for a mammoth road race are the 1966 Batmobile, Mad Max’s modified Ford Falcon Interceptor, the Red F1 car from the Pole Position vidgame (the blue car is glimpsed later); right of frame, Lara Croft leans on the 1958 Plymouth Fury from Stephen King’s Christine, talking to Dizzy Wallin from Gears of War in front of the van from The A-Team (also in the mix is Ryu, the key protagonist from the Streetfighter franchise);

Legendary offroader Bigfoot, the first of the great monster cars since it debuted in 1979, lays to waste some sixer vehicles, including one with a QR code on its bonnet that, when scanned, leads to http://www.jointhequest.io, the Innovative Online Industries recruitment site;

“No, his mind is not for rent / To any God or government”
As the road carnage unfolds on what is revealed to be a Hot Wheels track writ large, Kaneda’s light-cycle from the anime classic Akira emerges, driven by Parzival’s online ally Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) and adorned with stickers for Hello Kitty, Atari, SEGA and Taito (original manufacturers of Space Invaders).

The ‘Parzival’ number plate confirms our hero is driving Doc Brown’s time machine from Back to The Future, which appears to have been modified with the in-car AI known as K.I.T.T, from Knight Rider. Inside the Delorean, the dashboard reads ‘Feb 11 1945’ – the day Wade/Parzival finds the copper key in the novel – as well as key dates from the B.T.T.F. trilogy;

The final and ultimate ‘easter egg’ is the Ready Player One logo itself. It is a maze, with the goal being an egg inside the ‘O’ of the word ‘One’. A masterful piece of marketing, the design reflects the essence of Cline’s plot and Spielberg’s adaptation.

Screen-Space acknowledges The Nerdist, Geekritique, VR Scout and Collider as sources in compiling this article.  

Sunday
Jun112017

PREVIEW: 20th REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Flying the flag for two decades in the name of provocative, socially aware and artistically challenging films might test the mettle of your average film festival programming team. But not, it would seem, the Revelation crew. The 20th anniversary of Perth’s internationally recognised film event offers an expanded film line-up, bolstered academic strand and plenty of opportunity to party when it kicks off July 6.

Once again under the combined stewardship of festival director Richard Sowada and program director Jack Sargeant, 2017 Revelation Perth International Film Festival offers up an impressive list of statistics to woo local and, in increasing numbers, interstate and overseas patrons. 86 Australian films are amongst the 200 films scheduled to screen over the 14 day event, an exhaustive calendar that boasts 15 world premieres and 41 Australian premieres.

Opening Night honours have been bestowed upon Becoming Bond, Josh Greenbaum’s rousing celebration of the one-shot Bond, Australian George Lazenby. Starring Lazenby himself recounting his life and fleeting stardom and featuring actor Josh Lawson (pictured, right) as Lazenby in scenes recreating key moments in the Sydney car mechanic-turned-great non-actor's life, the film also stars ex-Bond Girl Jane Seymour and played to wildly enthusisatic crowds at SXSW, where it earned Audience Award honours. In a major coup for the festival, Lazenby will be guest of the fest, present a retrospective screening of his solo 007 effort On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and front a hot-ticket Q&A evening hosted by FilmInk senior contributor Travis Johnson.

An enticing array of feature film offerings run the gamut from starry vehicles from idiosyncratic auteurs (Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, with Oscar winner Brie Larsen; David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, with Rooney Mara; Colm McCarthy’s The Girl With All The Gifts, with Gemma Arterton; Todd Solondz’s Wiener Dog, with Greta Gerwig); festival favourites with indie cred (Liam Gavin’s A Dark Song; Claude Barras’ My Life as a Zucchini; Laurent Micheli’s Even Lovers Get The Blues; Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$; Bruce McDonald’s Weirdos) and, as is the ‘RevFest’ way, the truly bizarre (Peter Vack’s Assholes; Johannes Nyholm’s The Giant; Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley’s Sylvio; Xander Robin’s Are We Not Cats).

The feature documentary strand runs to an incredible 31 films. As one would anticipate, there are a great many from Australia (Gillian Leahy’s Baxter and Me; Kriv Stenders’ The Go-Betweens: Right Here; Jennene Riggs’ Secrets At Sunrise) and the USA (Keith Maitland’s Tower; Jennifer M Kroot’s The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin; William A Kirkley’s Orange Sunshine; Alexandre O. Phillippe’s 78/52); there are also two Australia/USA co-productions (Jai Love’s Dead Hands Dig Deep; Kate Hickey’s Roller Dreams).

Having solidified a global reputation, submission to Revelations were received from and slots allocated to factual films from The Netherlands (Susanne Helmer’s Melanie), Ireland (Colm Quinn’s Mattress Men; Brendan Byrne’s Bobby Sands 66 Days); Spain (David Fernandez’s The Key to Dali); Denmark (Max Kestner’s Amateurs in Space); and, Austria (Ulrich Seidl’s Safari; pictured, right). Co-productions include Matteo Borgardt’s You Never Had It: An Evening with Bukowski (USA/Italy/Mexico); Pierre Bismuth’s Where is Rocky II? (Germany/Belgium/Italy/France); Florian Habicht’s Spookers (Australia/New Zealand); and Ziga Virc’s Houston We Have a Problem (Slovenia/Croatia/Germany/The Czech Republic/Qatar).

Always the innovators, Revelation will launch Next Gen Webfest, a celebration of local web-content creators; utilise the interior of Perth’s historic St George’s Cathedral for the audiovisual spectacular, Suspended Voices; enter the burgeoning world of Virtual Reality with the presentation, Only at the Air Only at Each Other; present Night of The Living Dead Re-Composed, a re-imagining of Romero’s classic undead masterpiece to the music of local experimental music collective, Genrefonix; and, collaborate on Life in Pictures, a competitive film-making competition undertaken with the government sector and the arts community to present narratives that explore issues relating to the ageing in modern society.

Travelling from San Francisco for the festival will be Denah Johnston (pictured, right), an academic-curator-filmmaker and former executive director of The Canyon Cinema Foundation, a Bay area collective that promotes and makes accessible the works of experimental visual artists. She will be presenting a showcase of 16mm film works from woman directors collated from the Canyon archives, entitled Always Something There to Remind Me, as well as a headline-grabbing line-up called ‘Stinky Wieners and Dreamy Beavers’, a retrospective of the late Curt McDowell, a brazen and bold visualist in the style of his mentor and underground cinema legend, George Kuchar.

Returning strands include the now iconic ‘Revel-8’ film competition, which challenges entrants to construct an in-camera 3½ minute work on super 8 film; the Experimental Showcase, featuring 12 paradigm-shattering shorts certain to befuddle and astound; and, Mini Rev, a family-themed celebration of the art of filmmaking and the joy of film watching.

2017 REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL screens at various venues across Perth from July 6-19. Full session and ticket information can be found at the official event website.

Wednesday
Jun072017

WHAT WOULD NASHEN WATCH? DIRECTOR PICKS HIS BEST OF THE FEST

Having overseen the selection of the 2017 Sydney Film Festival line-up from 100s of hopefuls, the question is there to be asked…what would Nashen watch, again? With his bums-to-seats ratio growing annually and a new raft of films and venues in the mix, there’s an argument to be made that Nashen Moodley is the most successful festival director in Sydney Film Festival history. 

On May 17, a gathering of industry insiders joined journos and sponsors at the Abode Bar in Sydney’s Park Royal Hotel to get the scoop on the best of the fest from the man himself… 

WE DON’T NEED A MAP: Dir Warwick Thornton
Nashen says: “A couple of years ago, Warwick made a very controversial statement that the Southern Cross as a symbol had become the new swastika. He got into a lot of trouble for that but, instead of shying away from it, Warwick decided to make a film about it. It’s a clever documentary that, like the man himself, is funny and provocative.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; the Opening Night film is having its world premiere at Sydney.

FELICITE: Dir. Alain Gomis
Nashen says: “So little is known about African cinema outside of Africa, which is a very sad fact. Set in the Congolese city of Kanchasa, this film is filled with music and magic as well as tragedy. It’s a remarkable film because it subverts the ideals of African cinema in many ways, presenting hardship but within a love story, a resilience against hardship.”
Critics say: “A formally complex work, too long perhaps and occasionally opaque in its meaning, but a daring ride to those wanting to glimpse the best of African cinema.” – The Film Stage

LITTLE HOURS: Dir: Jeff Baena
Nashen says: “This one will cause a little trouble, I think, but it’s very funny. It’s set in a nunnery, where some nuns are not as committed to their as they should be when a hunky deaf mute Dave Franco enters their world. The trailer has made some people angry, but it’s all loosely based on The Decameron, so they’ve had 700 years to be angry about it.”
Critics say: “as it delivers plenty of laughs for its duration it’s difficult to fault The Little Hours for *only* being a funny film.” – Film School Rejects

BLUE: Dir. Karina Holden
Nashen says: “This film paints a horrifying picture about what is going on in our oceans at the moment. Fortunately, we are introduced the film to a number of heroes who are challenging what has been accepted for too long and are changing how are oceans are being treated.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; film is having its World Premiere at Sydney.

THE BEGUILED: Dir. Sofia Coppola.
Nashen says: “There’s sexual tension, heresy, the type of ‘southern hospitality’ that you’ve not seen before. Nicole Kidman is remarkable in this role, that sees her balance between extreme good and quite extreme evil.”
Critics say: “Although the picture is noticeably lacking in taut suspense of the conventional variety, it flies in close to a subtler, hotter flame: The sensuality of deceit.” – TIME

PATTI CAKE$. Dir:
Nashen says: "I’ve been to many Sundance festivals and I can’t recall any films that got a reaction like Patti Cake$. It is very inspirational, with a wonderful performance in the lead by Australian actress Danielle McDonald. It was the focus of a big bidding war and will be one of the best session at our festival.”
Critics say: “Every few years, an indie character comes along who so perfectly captures what it’s like to be mocked and marginalized, even as she refuses to let the bullies and abusers have the last word. That’s the kind of character Patti Cake$ is, and that’s why she stands to become one of the year’s most endearing discoveries” – Variety

THE UNTAMED: Dir. Amat Escalante.
Nashen says: “Escalante has made quite a few very controversial, very extreme films, most notably Heli. He changes tack once again with The Untamed, which is about…um, how to say this…I guess…a sex monster from another planet, capable of providing humans with the greatest pleasure they’ve ever experienced. It is science-fiction, erotica and social realism. It is not one for everyone, I admit.”
Critics say: “Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft had written The Joy of Sex, or better still a porn parody of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker.” – CineVue

RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD: Dir.Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana.
Nashen says: “It is about how native Americans and their music has impacted all kinds of music across many decades. It is a fantastic, surprisning film with so much great music.”
Critics say: “Along with showcasing the evolution of rock music, blues, jazz, folk, pop and even hip hop, Rumble also provides great insight into the hardships that Native Americans endured over the years.” – In The Seats.

ALI’S WEDDING: Dir.
Nashen says: “Australia’s first Muslim rom-com. It stars Osamah Sami, the very person upon whom the incredible true story is based. He told his story to a film producer friend, who said ‘We have to make this into a film’.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; the film is having one of its first showings at Sydney.

OKJA: Dir. Bong Joon-ho
Nashen says: “I have admired this director for a long time; he’s one of the best filmmakers working today. In his homeland of Korea, his films are considered mainstream, where his genre films are blockbusters, earning upwards of 12 million admissions. We’ve shown almost all his films at Sydney; the last one was Snowpiercer.”
Critics say: A gleeful satire about the rapacious US food industry... wrapped neatly around a moving, almost Disney-esque story of a girl and her pet.” – The Daily Mail (UK)

Monday
May292017

STAR POWER AND SWEDISH SATIRE EARN CANNES 2017 TOP HONOURS

The Square, a Swedish social satire that utilises elements of performance art and conceptual design, has taken Palme d’or honours at the 70th Cannes Film Festival. The closing night gala was held at the Grand Theatre Lumiere and launched in glamourous style by Mistress of Ceremonies, Monica Bellucci, whose movie star moxie ushered in an evening in which old-school star power was feted in the key categories.

The decision to bestow the festival’s top honour upon director Ruben Ostlund’s follow-up to his Un Certain Regard winner, Force Majeure was met with bemused looks by some attending the ceremony. Critical toing-and-froing and passionate audience debate had greeted the bracingly original work, a response that has been the death knell for past Cannes competitors given the importance placed upon jury consensus in the final voting. In a moment the likes of which the Cannes closing night had never seen, Ostlund led the black tie crowd in a collective primal scream, echoing the descent into madness central to his film. (Pictured, top; Ruben Ostlund, director of The Square, with fellow winners and jury members

Acting honours were given to high-profile names Diane Kruger, for Fatih Akins’ In The Fade, and Joaquin Phoenix, for Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. Kruger, who runs the gamut of emotions as the grieving, angry survivor of an act of terrorism, acknowledged the victims of such acts, saying, “Please know that you are not forgotten.” Phoenix was his typically enigmatic self, appearing stunned by the award and accepting the trophy wearing sneakers. (Pictured, above; a scene from The Square)

The Best Director award went to front-runner Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled, capping off a dream international launch for the director’s Civil War drama. The film’s lead Nicole Kidman, who had four separate projects on The Croisette, was officially crowned ‘belle of the ball’ with a special honour called the ‘70th Anniversary Award’ bestowed upon her.

The Grand Prix award went to Robin Campillo’s AIDS-era drama 120 BPM, set against the French LGBT struggle of the mid-90s. In an act that toyed with the one film/one trophy tradition of the Festival, screenplay honours were split between The Killing of a Sacred Deer, written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou, and Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here (for which Phoenix would be honoured, later in the night).

The full list of winners from the 70th Festival de Cannes are: 

FEATURE FILMS – COMPETITION
PALME D'OR - THE SQUARE directed by Ruben ÖSTLUND
The Palme d'or was awarded by Juliette Binoche and Pedro Almodóvar.

70th ANNIVERSARY AWARD - Nicole KIDMAN
The 70th Anniversary Award was awarded by Will Smith. 

GRAND PRIX - 120 BATTEMENTS PAR MINUTE (BPM – Beats Per Minute) directed by Robin CAMPILLO
The Grand Prix was awarded by Costa-Gavras and Agnès Jaoui.

BEST DIRECTOR PRIZE - Sofia COPPOLA for THE BEGUILED
The Best Director Prize was awarded by Fan BingBing and Gabriel Yared.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR - Joaquin PHOENIX in YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE directed by Lynne RAMSAY
The Best Performance by an Actor Prize was awarded by Jessica Chastain.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS - Diane KRUGER in AUS DEM NICHTS (In The Fade) directed by Fatih AKIN
The Best Performance by an Actress Prize was awarded by Irène Jacob and Paolo Sorrentino

JURY PRIZE - NELYUBOV (Loveless) directed by Andrey ZVYAGINTSEV
The Jury Prize was awarded by Maren Ade and Guillaume Gallienne.

BEST SCREENPLAY EX-ÆQUO – (TIE) Yorgos LANTHIMOS and Efthimis FILIPPOU for THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER; Lynne RAMSAY for YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE
The Best Screenplay Prize was awarded by Marisa Paredes and Park Chan-wook.

SHORT FILMS – COMPETITION
PALME D'OR - XIAO CHENG ER YUE (A Gentle Night) directed by QIU Yang

SPECIAL DISTINCTION BY THE JURY - KATTO (The Ceiling) directed by Teppo AIRAKSINEN
The Palme d'or and the Jury Special Mention for Shorts Films were awarded by Uma Thurman and Cristian Mungiu.

UN CERTAIN REGARD
UN CERTAIN REGARD PRIZE - LERD (A Man of Integrity) directed by Mohammad RASOULOF

PRIZE FOR BEST ACTRESS - JASMINE TRINCA for FORTUNATA directed by Sergio CASTELLITTO

PRIZE FOR THE BEST POETIC NARRATIVE - BARBARA directed by Mathieu AMALRIC

PRIZE FOR BEST DIRECTION - Taylor SHERIDAN for WIND RIVER

JURY PRIZE - LAS HIJAS DE ABRIL (April's Daughter) directed by Michel FRANCO

CAMÉRA D’OR
JEUNE FEMME (Montparnasse Bienvenüe) directed by Léonor SERRAILLE presented as part of UN CERTAIN REGARD

The Caméra d'or Prize was awarded by Sandrine Kiberlain, President of the Caméra d'or Jury.

CINEFONDATION
FIRST PRIZE - PAUL EST LÀ (Paul Is Here) directed by Valentina MAUREL
INSAS, Belgium

SECOND PRIZE - HEYVAN (AniMal) directed by Bahram & Bahman ARK
Iranian National School of Cinema, Iran

THIRD PRIZE - DEUX ÉGARÉS SONT MORTS (Two Youths Died) directed by Tommaso USBERTI, La Fémis, France

The CST Jury decided to award the VULCAIN PRIZE FOR ARTIST-TECHNICIAN to: Josefin ASBERG for her remarkable artistic contribution to match the inventiveness of the film THE SQUARE.