The European Parliament has announced the winner of the 2019 LUX Prize. During the award ceremony held in Strasbourg, the feminist satire God exists, her name is Petrunya by North Macedonian director Teona Strugar Mitevska triumphed over its competitors, Cold Case Hammarskjöld by Mads Brügger and The Realm by Rodrigo Sorogoyen. Since 11 November, Members of the European Parliament had had the chance to vote for their favourite film from among the LUX Official Competition titles, which this year stood out on account of the wide range of styles and genres represented by the three finalists (a documentary, a social comedy-drama and a political thriller).
President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, who handed out the award, said: “Cinema is key. It opens the doors for us all to better understand the reality we live in and who we are. Directors need to have the courage to address difficult problems, and the European Parliament has always been committed to the protection of their rights. We believe in freedom of expression. Long live European cinema.” Vice-president Klára Dobrev and Sabine Verheyen, chair of the CULT Committee, presented the prizes to the runners-up.
Director Teona Mitevska collected the prize, stating, “Petrunya is defiant. It is her resistance, her courage and her quest for justice that touches us deeply and profoundly. I’m always criticised because my films are too political, and it is true. I think it is my duty to raise my voice to speak about problems that nobody else dares to speak about. How can we build a better future if we don’t dare to speak about the problems? We must be given the chance to air our opinions freely.” She also referred to the imprisonment of Ukrainian filmmaker and former political prisoner Oleg Sentsov, who yesterday addressed the plenary chamber in Strasbourg. “Oleg Sentsov spent five years in prison. Something like this can never happen again. This must be our common fight as creators, artists and politicians, to express ourselves freely and without fear. I’m a woman, I’m Macedonian and I’m European, and I truly believe that the future of Europe means solidarity and inclusion.” Teona Mitevska was accompanied by actress-producer Labina Mitevska and the film’s protagonist, Zorica Nusheva.
The film, based on true events, is a satirical drama about a woman who opposes religious traditions and gender stereotypes in a small town in North Macedonia. It is a co-production between Macedonia`s Sisters and Brother Mitevski Production, Belgium`s Entre Chien et Loup, Slovenia`s Vertigo, Croatia`s Spiritus Movens, and France`s Deuxième Ligne Films and EZ Films, with Pyramide International managing its international rights. The film had its world premiere this year in the main competition of the 69th Berlinale, and since then, it has won various awards at different international film festivals.
The three 2019 LUX Prize Competition titles will keep travelling across Europe thanks to the LUX Film Days, a series of special screenings organised in collaboration with several festivals and venues in different countries. All of the information about the upcoming screenings can be found here.