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'Smoke Sauna Sisterhood' wins international documentary prize in Biarritz

Anna Hints'
Anna Hints' "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" ("Savvusanna sõsarad"). Source: Press photos

Estonian movie "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" has won yet another award, this time taking the grand prix for best international documentary at FIPADOC in Biarritz, France.

"FIPADOC is one of the great European documentary festivals and has become an important annual event for French documentary filmmaking," said the movie's French co-producer Juliette Cazanave.

"Winning the award will draw increased attention to "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" ahead of its release in French cinemas on March 20. The award has already raised awareness and expectations among the professional film community, who are eagerly awaiting the film and spreading the good word," Cazanave added.

The FIPADOC jury said that "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" takes viewers on a profoundly intimate journey through pain, grief, regret, hope, joy and shared laughter – a journey that at first seems like a tryst, but soon becomes a special cleansing ritual.

"The director creates an extraordinarily safe space for the audience and her characters, where women allow themselves to reveal their fragility and understand their strength. It reflects a nuanced story of women's pain and resilience through the ages," said the jury in its feedback.

Director Anna Hints is currently in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she is President of the Jury of the Nordic Documentary Competition. The Swedish premiere of " Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" will also take place in Gothenburg, though outside the competition program. "I don't know of any serious director who makes films for the sake of awards, but awards can change a filmmaker's life. That's what happened to me when 'Smoke Sauna Sisterhood' won an award at the Sundance Film Festival. I'm currently on the jury of the Gothenburg Film Festival and I feel that responsibility when I award someone a prize. I hope that the grand prix in France will pave the way for us to reach French audiences," said Hints.

Having already won a number of top European documentary awards, "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood" is one of five nominees for the 2024 LUX European Audience Film Award.

The LUX Audience Award is presented every year by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy, in partnership with the European Commission and Europa Cinemas. Viewers can vote for the movie here.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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