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Europeans win big at Buenos Aires

The 7th edition of the Buenos Aires Festival Intenacional De Cine Independiente (Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema) ended this past weekend with the announcement of awards in various competition areas.

European films had a remarkably strong showing, winning most of the major categories. The Festival hosted nearly 100 films from Europe, making up nearly a third of the overall program. In addition, European Film Promotion, the organization that represents the film promotion boards of countries in the European Union and the former East, had a strong presence at the event, presenting information seminars, a press conference and several receptions. A contingent of 10 European directors and two sales agents were also present, under the auspices of the organization.

Top prize winner in the International Competiton was El Cielo Gira (The Sky Turns) by Spanish director Mercedes Alvarez. The fiction feature, which was widely praised for its evocative presentation of small town life in a remote region of Spain, also won the FIPRESCI critics prize and the Premio Signis.

4, a provocative Russian film about interconnecting relationships among several men and women, won the Best Director Award for its debut director Ilya Khrzhanovsky. The Special Jury Prize was awarded to the French film L’Esquive, by director Abedeliatif Kechiche for its depiction of life in the mostly Arab suburbs of Paris. Honorable Mentions from the Jury were awarded to Monobloc (Luis Ortega, Argentina) and Spying Cam (Cheol Mean Whang, China).

Palestinian actor Mohammad Bakri won a Best Actor prize for his breathtaking performance as a father whose family is under siege in the international hit Private, directed by Italian director Saverio Costanzo. German actress Eva Lobau won Best Actress honors for her performance as a teacher who moves to the big city in director Maren Ade’s The Forest For The Trees.

Argentinian films were among the most anticipated and well attended at this event, and a special competition for Argentinian films revealed some of the best presented this year in Buenos Aires. Winning top prize was Como un Avion Estrellado (Like A Crashing Plane), a heartfelt story of alienated youth, directed by Ezequiel Acuna. The prize includes an 80,000 Argentine peso award from INCAA, the Argentine film board, towards completion and promotion of the film in its theatrical run.

Special Jury Prize was awarded to Vida En Falcon (Living In A Falcon), a gripping documentary feature about two homeless men who live in their vintage cars on the streets of Buenos Aires. An Honorable Mention was given to Los de Saladillo by Alberto Yaccelini, which also won the FIPRESCI critics prize in the Argentinian film competition.

The Human Rights Prize was awarded to Moolaade, the internationally hailed film from African film master Ousmane Sembene, which looks at the issue of ritual genital mutilation that is still practiced on the African continent.

Festivities held in the Abasto Shopping Centre, where most of the major films were screened at the Hoyt Cinemas multiplex, was followed by a party in the harbor area known as Puerta Madero, which has become Buenos Aires’ chicest restaurant area.

Sandy Mandelberger
Industry Editor

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