A film by Georgian director Levan Koguashvili has won top honours and thousands of dollars at the Sofia International Film Festival.
His melancholic comedy Blind Dates beat more than 200 films from 54 countries to win the Grand Prix award for Best Film and Best Director. The win saw him awarded €10 000 in prize money.
When International Jury president producer Alexander Rodnyansky presented the Grand Prix award to Koguashvili, he said the jury’s deliberations awarding the the top prize "lasted about 10 minutes and was unanimous”.
"This film has become the absolute winner of this festival,” Rodnyansky claimed.
Blind Dates also received the FIPRESCI International Film Critics’ prize.
Another winner was Vladimer Katcharava of Tbilisi-based 20 Steps Production, who received the Sofia Meetings’ €10 000 Digimage - LVT Post-production Award for Mariam Khachvani’s Dede, which he pitched in the Plus Minus One program.
"Georgia was the big winner at the festival,” wrote the Screen International, a multimedia film magazine, after the awards ceremony.
The festival presented a total of 212 films from 54 countries from all over the world. More than 300 international guests arrived in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, including directors, producers, festival directors and media and film experts.
The Festival winner, Blind Dates, which is Koguashvili’s second feature, won the Special Jury Award, plus $50,000 USD at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2013.
The film, is about a lonely 40-year-old schoolteacher who takes up with the wife of a soon-to-be-released convict. It is a compassionate, tragic comedy that comments on relationships and the profound emotional responsibilities they trigger. It describes bachelorhood's quiet desperation and its constant search for true companionship.