"Crystal Swan" by Belarusian Darya Zhuk Wins Odessa International Film Festival Grand Prix

Darya Zhuk’s "Crystal Swan", Belarus, was awarded the "Golden Duke" Grand Prix of the 9th Odessa International Film Festival and € 10,000 at the closing ceremony July 21. At this festival, known for short as Odesa IFF, the overall winner is determined through audience voting.

42837960354_a69970035b_k.jpgPhoto: Darya Zhuk and her husband Gai Tsimbalo (“Crystal Swan”, cameo appearance), Odesa IFF

"The film being my first one, this award means a lot to me. For my team, it is a great gift and honor, but most importantly, it is a breakthrough for Belarus, our small country, Ukraine’s neighbor, whose films can so seldom be seen at international festivals", Daria Zhuk said at the Odesa IFF closing ceremony. The awards ceremony was held at Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, one of the 11 Exceptional Eastern European Sights according to Forbes magazine.

This year, within the festival’s main competition program, 12 films from different countries have been presented. A number of them have already participated in the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlinale as well as other prominent film events.

Recognized as Ukraine’s largest film event, Odesa IFF is also one of Eastern Europe’s most important film forums. Every year, unfailingly, Odesa IFF can boast an international audience of over a hundred thousand people, foreign stars included. Amongst the festival’s distinguished guests, are actors and actresses such as John Malkovich, Isabel Huppert; directors such as Darren Aronofsky, Agnieszka Holland and many other key figures of modern cinema. This year, the festival’s lifetime achievement award goes to British actress Jacqueline Bisset.

43482512012_4bc47a7065_k.jpgPhoto: Daria Zhuk and film actors Alina Nasibullina and Yuri Borisov at the film presentation, Odesa IFF

"Crystal Swan" is set in 1990s Belarus and follows a girl named Valya who works as a DJ and dreams of emigration to America. And yet, due to a mistake made by accident in the visa application, she now has to spend a week in a small mill town.

A joint Belarusian, US, German and Russian production, "Crystal Swan" gained highly positive reception from foreign critics following its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival June 30. Meanwhile, the filmmaker keeps receiving invitations to present her film at other international film festivals. On top of that, "Crystal Swan" has been chosen by the Belarusian Oscar Committee to be nominated for the American Academy Award.

Back in Belarus, the release of "Crystal Swan" has been scheduled for August 30. The film will be distributed in Belarus by the Center for Visual and Performing Arts "ART Corporation".