After a long and fruitful discussion the jury, comprising of Ilia Iliev, PhD, Vihra Baeva, PhD, Slobadan Naumovic, PhD, Vladimir Bocev, PhD and Dimitar Venkov, have decided with a majority to give the IFEF 2017 “Best Film” prize to “The Possibility of Spirits” (Netherlands), Mattijs van de Port (director, researcher, cameraman). He will receive a “Samodiva” statuette made especially for IFEF 2017 by the Bulgarian woodcarver Dimitar Mitev.

Here is their motivation:

“The Possibility of Spirits” combines ethnography with innovative visual and intellectual approaches. The audience is slowly immersed in the plot, and a variety of protagonists – from traditional craftsmen producing ritual objects, to priests, skeptics, troubled minds, and true believers – is presented in an effortless way, which implies a supreme command of field data and gained trust of the local communities.

Yet it is far from a conventional ethnographic film. The idea that spirits are possible is suggested in a slow, intellectually provocative narrative, which reminds one of whispered, ingenuous insinuations of Christian demons. It is a highly seductive film, and the audience is constantly subjected to intellectual and visual seduction, which refers more to Mephistopheles’ insidious ways than to Green Feather, the Orixás from Candomblé. Thus everyone is given the chance to find, to resist, or to allow to be seduced by their own spirits.

Mattijs van de Port presenting “The Possibility of Spirits”

The jury have decided to give a special diploma to the film “Journey to the Maggot Feeder” (Estonia), Liivo Niglas, Priit Tender (director and researcher) for its innovative approach.

Here is their motivation:

„Journey to the Maggot Feeder“  is a film which goes beyond the standards of a traditional ethnographic film and provokes the viewer with its groundbreaking approach. The author’s attention is not focused on a specific community or culture, but rather on an enigmatic story from remote lands. Everyone who has ever dealt with folk narratives has probably noticed that their meaning is often not obvious on the surface. Rather, they resemble a secret language that demands patient and careful decoding. In this captivating film an artist who has animated an old Chukchi legend sets off on a quest with the hope of grasping its deeper layers of meaning. With this in mind the artist goes on a journey from his native Estonia through the United Kingdom and Russia to reach the north eastern corner of Siberia where he meets the descendants of the people who have created the story of the Maggot Feeder. In the course of the film we meet a variety of people from different cultures and each one of them has his or her own interpretation of the legend. The multiple versions do not contradict each other, on the contrary, they complement and enrich the overall message of the story and enable us to get closer to a more profound understanding of the legend on rational, emotional, and spiritual level. The film is in the form of an ongoing dialogue between the author and his characters, between ethnographic documentary and animation, between cultures, and between worlds.

The jury have decided also to give diploma for a Short-length Film to the film “Quarantore of Komiža” (Croatia), Davor Boric (director), Ljiljana Šišmanović (co-writer).

Here is their motivation:

“Quarantore of Komiža” is a film which proves that the spirit world can be accessed not only in the distant past or in far-away lands, but also nowadays in the heart of Europe. It tells the story of a rare tradition from a small Croatian village set within a picturesque Renaissance landscape. The film explains with ethnographic precision how the locals put together the complicated decoration for the church altar on the eve of Palm Sunday when they venerate the Holy Sacrament. What is more, it also shows how people can cross the border between the mundane and the sacred, and how they can make a miracle happen through joint effort, respect for tradition, modesty, persistence, faith, and love. And when at the end, the sun’s rays make old church dust look like golden powder falling from heaven; the enchanted viewer can’t help imagining angel’s wings and the smile of God.

Ljiljana Šišmanović & Davor Boric receiving their diploma

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