26 September, 2008

French Films Are A Highlight Of New York Film Festival

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The New York Film Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious showcases of international cinema in the US, opens this evening with the US Premiere of the Cannes Palme d'Or winner, The Class by director Laurent Cantet. The film, a neo-realistic look at the crumbling standards of the French educational system, is one of several French films and co-productions that are highlighted at the two-week long event.

France is represented in the festival’s main slate through four French films and eight international co-productions. French entries include Arnaud Desplechin’s star-studded family drama A Christmas Tale, Agnès Jaoui’s story of aspiring filmmakers following a rising female politician Let It Rain and Olivier Assayas’s moving introspection on time and mortality, the beautifully realized Summer Hours.

Israeli director Ari Folman’s animated wartime autobiography Waltz with Bashir is one of several prominent French co-productions. In addfition, the Festival is presenting a retrospective screening of Max Ophul's steamy romantic melodrama Lola Montes in a newly struck film print.

The Festival is presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which each March presents a provocative showcase of new French cinema in the RENDEZ-VOUS WITH FRENCH CINEMA program, co-presented by Unifrance USA. French films continue to be among the strongest box office winners in the US marketplace, with the above films all set for theatrical releases in the coming months.

French Cinema In The City By The Bay

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The San Francisco Film Society, in association with the French-American Cultural Society, the French Consulate of San Francisco and Unifrance USA, will present a spotight on contemporary French cinema in the program French Cinema Now, which opens at Landmark's Clay Theater on October 8. The mini-fest, lasting five days, celebrates the best in the newest French wave of auteur talents....a kind of salute to "frogs" in the fog.

The series is bookended by two much celebrated French films of the past year. The opener is A Christmas Tale, the story of a dysfunctional upper class French famiily, which features some of France's most arresting talents, including screen goddess Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Almaric (The Diving Bell And The Butterfly) and Chiarra Mastroianni (the impossibly beautiful offspring of Ms. Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni). The film is directed by Arnaud Desplechin, one of France's most high profile directors.

The series ends 5 days later with The Class, winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. A neo-realist dissection of the contemporary French classroom, the latest film from celebrated auteur Laurent Cantent is making the festival rounds (it opens the New York Film Festival tomorrow night) and is slated to be one of the arthouse box office hits of the season.

Other highlights from the program include Welcome To The Sticks (Dany Bon), a small charmer about a post office manager who longs to escape his humdrum existence in a small port town in northern France; Actresses, a tour de force for its director/writer and star Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, one of Europe's most busy actresses; Alibi(Pascal Bonitzer), a classy who-dunnit starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Miou-Miou and Mathieu Demy; and Lads And Jockeys (Benjamin Marquet), a debut documentary that takes us into the world of jockey apprenticeship where young teens adopt a grueling training regimen in hopes of landing an elusive professional career.

The Festival also includes two little-seen films by Arnaud Desplechin, including
the hour-long Life Of The Dead, his first film that begins his revelatory investigation into the web of relationships that comprise the modern family; and My Sex Life . . . or How I Got into an Argument, his keenly observed and quite funny look at the tedium and pretension of graduate school, with a young Mathieu Almaric showing real comic style as a 29-year-old assistant professor of philosophy.

Any series on French cinema traces its aesthetic roots to the famous New Wave cinema of the 1960s. In a nod to that influence, the series will feature a rare screening of Six in Paris, a pastiche of Parisian stories by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Rouch, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer, along with the lesser known Jean Douchet.

Lots to savor a la francaise......

20 September, 2008

No Borders Co-Production Market In New York

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

One of the key events of the Independent Film Week in New York, organized by the IFP/Independent Feature Project this past week, is the No Borders International Co-Production Market. Now in its 14th year, No Borders is the only international co-production market in the U.S., connecting U.S. and international narrative projects at the script stage with financiers and buyers.

"No Borders has become one of the great success stories of IFP's first 30 years," said Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP. "Since 2004, we've had 151 projects take part in 1,688 financing meetings. The impact of the program has grown dramatically since inception."

The Market is set up as a series of one-on-one pitches. Filmmakers with some track record and some cash already raised, attempt to set up meetings with local and visiting distributors, financiers, television companies, to flag their projects. Although most meetings are rather short, an aggressive producer can come away with some significant leads towards further financing in the weeks and months ahead.

No Borders' alumni include some of the most acclaimed independent films of the past decade including Courtney Hunt's Frozen River, Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden's Half Nelson, Joshua Marston's Maria Full of Grace, Miranda July's Me And You and Everyone We Know, Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree, Sam Garbarski's Irina Palm and Stephen Frears' Cheri.

Half of No Borders' participants are from the U.S. and the other half comes from the IFP's eight international partners including established funding bodies (Telefilm Canada, UK Film Council, Germany's Filmstiftung NRW, Australia's Film Victoria and NSWFilm and Television Office, the New Zealand Film Commission, and the National Film and Video Foundation in South Africa) and support organizations (Ateliers du Cinéma Européen/ACE, CineMart, Pusan Promotion Plan/PPP, and the Sundance Institute).

For the second year, the UK Film Council is sending established independent producers Mia Bays (2006 Academy Award® winner for Six Shooter - live action short), Mark Herbert (2008 BAFTA winner for This Is England) and Gabriel Range to take No Borders meetings for a number of projects on their slates.

Other European producers doing their pitches in New York this past week:

--Field of Blackbirds (Germany, Dennis Todorovic), a story of love, war and tragedy among a disparate group of men and women during the Serbian war. Website:

--The Flowers Of Kirkuk (Italy, Fariborz Kamkari), a political drama set in the late 1980s, amidst the ethnic cleansing by Saddam Hussein in Iraqi Kurdistan. Website:

--Heaven On Earth (Germany, Ongjen Svillicic), a drama about a couple who go threw a domestic crisis, set at a summer resort on the Croation Riviera. Contact:

--The Human Race (The Netherlands, Jorien van Nes), a dark comedy about a middle aged television executive who tries to stay afloat in his cut-throat world by exploiting television audiences in Africa. Website:

--Whirrr (Germany, Sven Dagones, Phedon Papamichael), a comedy about a pair of married couples who have a number of eye-opening misadventures in the Balkans. Contact:

No matter what happens as a results of these networking encounters, both the producer and the industry professional come away with a number of contacts that merit follow up and, possibly, hopefully, economic support.

14 September, 2008

Toronto Film Festival Closes With Awards Announcements

Slumdog Millionaire

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The Toronto International Film Festival came to a close today with the announcements of various awards. Although Toronto does not have an official competition section (positioning itself as a "public festival"), positive critical praise, strong industry reaction and awards from the discerning Toronto public are important components for the life of the films that have risen to the top at this important event. With ceremonies held at the Awards Reception at the Intercontinental Hotel on the waterfront of Lake Ontario, a number of deserving films received their Toronto nods.

The Cadillac People's Choice Award is voted on by Festival audiences and offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by Cadillac. This year’s award goes to Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, the story of an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai,who is just about to win a staggering 20 million rupees on India 's “Who Wants to be A Millionaire?” Arrested on suspicion of cheating, he tells the police the amazing tale of his life on the streets, and of the girl he loved and lost. The film will screen later tonight a a free screening at the Visa Screening Room of the historical Elgin Theater. First runner-up is Kristopher Belman's More Than A Game and the second runner-up is Cyrus Nowrasteh's The Stoning of Soraya M.

The Diesel Discovery award has been won by Hunger, the intense IRA drama directed by UK video artist Steve McQueen. The film chronicles the life and death of activist Bobby Sands, whose dramatic hunger strike was the catalyst in gaining special category status for republican prisoners. The film is unsparing in its depiction of prison conditions for Sands and the other political inmates of Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison in 1981, with an especially effecting performance by German-born-but-Irish-raised Michael Fassbender, whose commitment to the part should be acknowledged at awards season. The Festival press corps, which consists of 1000 international media, voted on the Diesel Discovery Award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize and a custom award sponsored by DIESEL Canada.

The Festival welcomed an international jury from FIPRESCI, the international film critics’ association, for the 17th consecutive year. This year's jury was made up of jury president Jonathan Rosenbaum (USA), Nick Roddick (United Kingdom), Elie Castiel (Canada), Ranjita Biswas (India), Kim Linekin (Canada) and Pablo Scholz (Argentina). The prize was given to Lymelife, an American indie film by Derick Martini, which played in the Discovery section. The film is a poignant coming-of-age tale that examines first love, family dynamics and the American Dream in late 1970s Long Island. Rory Culkin plays an innocent 15-year-old who is a direct contrast to his blustery father, played by Alec Baldwin.

The FIPRESCI Prize in the Special Presentations section was awarded to Disgrace, Australian director Steve Jacob’s adaptation of a Coetzee novel set in apartheid-era South Africa. John Malkovich plays a literary professor whose life falls apart after he has an impulsive affair with one of his students. Forced to resign from Cape Town University , he escapes to his daughter’s farm in the Eastern Cape, where they both become victims of a vicious attack. The film had its world premiere in Toronto.


The Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film has been awarded to Before Tomorrow, a French Canadian film by co-directors Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu. The film is based on a novel by acclaimed on the novel by acclaimed Danish author Jørn Riel. The film tells the moving tale of a strong Inuit woman and her beloved grandson, who become trapped on a remote island as they face the ultimate challenge of survival. The jury commended the film for “its arresting beauty, its humanist, innovative storytelling and its artistic integrity in capturing the narrative of a people through an intimate tale.” The prize includes a $15,000 cash prize from CityTV.

The City of Toronto-Citytv Award for Best Canadian Feature Film was awarded to Lost Song, directed by Rodrigue Jean. The film brings to shattering life the story of a young couple with a new-born baby who move to a summer in a remote area north of Montreal Isolation and the difficulty of coping with her new situation and surroundings send the mother into a spiral of depression. The jury lauded the film as “constantly surprising,” and “profound, masterful and devastatingly sad.” A special citation also went to veteran Canadian director Atom Egoyan for her elegiac Adoration, another story about a family in moral and psychological crisis. The prize comes with a cash award of $30,000.

12 September, 2008

Che Finds A Home With IFC Films

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Che, the 4 1/2 hour epic on the life of revolutionary Che Guevera, has been acquired for all North American rights by IFC Films. The film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film's lead Benicio del Toro won the Best Actor prize. It screened this past week at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be screening next at the New York Film Festival. The film is a co-production between Laura Bickford Productions (USA), Morena Films (Spain), Telecino (Spain) and Wild Bunch (France).

Che gives IFC Films a strong contender for end-of-the-year awards season, including possible Oscar nods for the film, the director and the star. Che will be released for one week awards qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles in December, and then will re-open in January through the company's IFC In Theaters, its day-and-date distribution platform which makes independent films available to a national audience in theaters and on-demand, simultaneously. It will also be included in the company’s exclusive video rental deal with Blockbuster Video.

While critically praised, the film's length and the director's insistence on releasing the film in two parts, apparently scared off some studio or larger distribution firms. However, with the video-on-demand component that would allow viewers at home to watch the film at their leisure, taking breaks when needed or viewing the film in installments, it made IFC a logical place for the film to land.

Soderbergh has a long relationship with IFC. He sits on the advisory board of both the Independent Film Channel cable network and the IFC Center arthouse multiplex in downtown Manhattan. The company also financed his performance documentary, Gray's Anatomy, featuring the verbal artistry of legendary storyteller Spalding Gray.

The film was sold by Wild Bunch, the French-based international sales company. Vincent Maraval, one of the company's heads, commented that "this project is so important to us that we wanted to partner with someone sharing our same idea of distribution." “This is a unique distribution challenge", Maraval continued, "and we needed someone with creative passion and marketing skill to work with."

IFC Films has been a major presence at the Toronto International Film Festival with 7 films screening including Arnaud Desplechin's A Christmas Tale, Ole Christian Madsen's Flame and Citron, Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah, Kim Jee-Woon's The Good, The Bad, The Weird, Steve McQueen's Hunger, Barry Jenkins' Medicine for Melancholy and Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours. The company just announced the acquisition of Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments, which was one of the standout hits of the Telluride Film Festival and is currently also screening in Toronto.

It will be interesting to see how IFC Films confronts the unique challenges of distributing this lengthy epic and if it can build interest beyond a core audience for a film on the life of a revolutionary who died more than 40 years ago. However, since Che himself is not only a historical figure but an immediate icon of revolutionary promise and sacrifice, the interest could be huge. And Golden Globe, Oscar and film critics nods at the end of the year could make this a major box office phenomenon.

10 September, 2008

Toronto FF Market Watch

Everlasting Moments by Jan Troell

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

While the Toronto International Film Festival does not have an official film market like Berlin or Cannes, sales agents, film distributors and festival programmers from all over the world are here to sample the more than 300 films on display. So far, only a handful of films have been acquired, but the softness of the marketplace could mean that more announcements will come in the Festival's final days, or even in the next few weeks. It is no longer the "go go" market it was even a year or two ago.

"This is the quietest Toronto Film Festival that I can remember", one prominent distributor commented to me yesterday. But despite the indie sector being in a cautious mood, a number of Toronto films have announced major distribution deals.

Less than 24 hours after it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Darren Aronofsky's drama The Wrestler has been picked up for U.S. distribution by Fox Searchlight, the specialty division of 20th Century Fox (the distributor behind such recent hits as Juno and Little Miss Sunshine). The film, which features a comeback performance by Mickey Rourke that could well see him in contention for acting honors during awards season, screened in Toronto over the weekend to an enthusiastic response. Apparently a bidding war ensued, with Fox Searchlight the victor. After its Toronto screenings, the film will close the New York Film Festival next month.

Another high profile pick up was announced yesterday. IFC Films has acquired the North American rights to veteran Swedish director Jan Troell's Everlasting Moments. IFC Films will include the film in its IFC in Theaters program, which simultaneously releases a film in traditional cinemas and on video-on-demand platform on the same date. Everlasting Moments received a high profile launch at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day Weekend, including a special tribute to veteran director Jan Troell. The film is represented by Scandinavian sales agent Nordisk International.

Celluloid Dreams, the Paris-based international sales agent, has sold the French thriller Mark of An Angel (L'Empreinte de l'Ange) to Seville Films in Canada (and a US deal is expected shortly). The film, directed by Saffy Nebou and produced by Diaphana Films, stars Catherine Frot as a mother who loses custody of her child in an ugly divorce, who becomes fixated with the child of another mother, played by the always excellent Sandrine Bonnaire. The film has been a big summer hit in its native France.

After a very quiet Cannes for the British film industry, there are 25 British films (a mix of shorts, documentaries and features) being presented in Toronto this week. The films range from the big-budget (Saul Dibb's The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley and Richard Eyre's tale of l'amour fou, starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Antonio Banderas) to the aggressively independent (including Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle, Is There Anybody There? by John Crowley and the Colin Firth-starrer Genova by Michael Winterbottom).

Other British films making their North American premieres here include, the Cannes Camera d'Or winner by video artist Steve McQueen; the IRA drama Fifty Dead Men Walking by Kari Skogland and the latest film from veteran director Mike Leigh, the lighter-than-air

Nine of the 25 Toronto entries were partially funded by the UK Film Council, which hosted a reception this afternoon to introduce UK film producers to members of the international community and to discuss how the UK can work with the worldwide film industry. "One of the UK Film Council's key objectives is to help nuture and support British film in North America", UK Film Council US Office director Claire Chapman declared. "We are thrilled there is such a strong portfolio of UK films being showcased at Toronto this year."

08 September, 2008

Toronto Film Festival Welcomes European Talent

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Midway through the Toronto International Film Festival, one cannot help but impressed by the sheer number of films on display. The facts and figures of this year's Festival go something like this: 312 films from 64 countries, including 249 feature-length films, 76 per cent of which are world, international or North American premieres, and 61 of which are feature directorial debuts. At least 40% of the films are European productions or co-productions, making Toronto a major showcase of the newest films from all over Europe.

Aside from close to 1500 international members of the press and the film industry, the Festival is also welcoming over 500 international stars and special guests on the red carpet, including some major European film directors, producers and actors.

European film talents include: Agnès Varda, Anne Fontaine, Antonio Banderas, Arnaud Desplechin, Barbet Schroeder, Ben Kingsley, Colin Farrell, Colin Firth, Daniel Brühl, Danny Boyle, Emmanuelle Beart, Fabrice Luchini, Ferzan Ozpetek, Guy Ritchie, Isabelle Huppert, Jan Troell, Javier Cámara, Jean-Marc Barr, Jeanne Moreau, Jeremy Irons, Keira Knightley, Kristin Scott Thomas, Liam Neeson, Michael Winterbottom, Mika Kaurismäki, Mike Leigh, Olivier Assayas, Peter O'Toole, Ralph Fiennes, Richard Eyre, Robert Carlyle, Terence Davies, Tilda Swinton, Tim Roth and Vincent Cassel.

The above list does not even include representatives of the European film promotion boards, distributors, sales agents, festival programmers and press. So, the European presence and Toronto's reputation as a "gateway to North America" remains extremely vibrant. I'm sure I may have left someone out from the above list, but it is still mightily impressive and a sign that lovers of European cinema have a lot to see this week in Toronto.

To access my Online Dailies coverage of the Festival, please visit:

05 September, 2008

European Film Promotion In Toronto

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

European film will again have a high profile at the Toronto International Film Festival, which opened yesterday. European Film Promotion (EFP) the trans-European organization representing Europe's national film boards, will be in Toronto again, as it has for the past 12 years. Toronto is one of the major industry venues EFP’s sales support initiative, Film Sales Support (FSS).

Now in its fourth year of supporting European sales agents and production companies, Film Sales Support will support 42 of the 120 European films to be presented at the Festival. FSS not only covers half of the promotion for films unsold to North America but also pays towards the travel costs of some of the talent.

This year, in addition to the exhibition stands of its members in the Sales & Industry Office in the Sutton Place Hotel, EFP will host its annual party on Sunday afternoon (a Toronto tradition) and is convening a meeting with selected South American buyers to explore the situation of European film in Latin America. More on European films at the Festival in future articles. Stay tuned.

Films and Sales Companies backed by FSS at the Toronto International Film Festival

Alexandros Film (Greece)
El Greco by Iannis Smaragdis, Greece/Spain/Hungary 2007

Autlook Filmsales (Austria)
Blind Loves (Slepé Lásky) by Juraj Lehotský, Slovakia

Bavaria Media (Germany)Krabat by Marco Kreuzpaintner, Germany
Beta Cinema (Germany)
A Woman in Berlin (Anomyma – Eine Frau in Berlin) by Max Färberböck, Germany/Poland
Il Divo by Paolo Sorrentino, Italy
My Mother, My Bride and I (Die zweite Frau) by Hans Steinbichler, Germany/France
Pa-Ra-Da by Marco Pontecorvo, Italy/France/Romania

Capricci Films (France)
Birdsong (El cant dels ocells) by Albert Serra, Spain

Celluloid Dreams (France)
A Year Ago in Winter (Im Winter ein Jahr) by Caroline Link, Germany
Better Things by Duane Hopkins, United Kingdom
The Mark of an Angel (L’empreinte de l’ange) by Safy Nebbou, France
White Night Wedding (Brúðguminn) by Baltasar Kormákur, Iceland

Ealing Studios International (United Kingdom)
Easy Virtue by Stephan Elliott, United Kingdom
The Other Man by Richard Eyre, United Kingdom/USA

Fandango Portobello Sales (United Kingdom)
A Perfect Day (Un giorno perfetto) by Ferzan Ozpetek, Italy

Films Boutique (Germany)
I Want to See (Je veux voir) by Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, France/Lebanon
The Rest of the Night (Il resto della notte) by Francesco Munzi, Italy 2008
Universalove by Thomas Woschitz, Austria/Luxembourg/Serbia 2008

Fortissimo Films (The Netherlands)
Country Wedding (Sveitabrúðkaup) by Valdis Óskarsdóttir, Iceland

HanWay Films (United Kingdom)
Genova by Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom

Intandem Films (United Kingdom)
Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary by Jamie Jay Johnson, United Kingdom

Keyman Film (The Netherlands)
Katia’s Sister (Het Zusje van Katia) by Mijke de Jong, The Netherlands

Kinology (France)
With a Little Help from Myself by François Dupeyron, France

m-appeal (Germany)
Tale 52 (Istoria 52) by Alexis Alexiou, Greece

Miramar Film (Bulgaria)
Zift by Javor Gardev, Bulgaria

pong (Germany)
Peace Mission by Dorothee Wenner, Germany

Preview Production (Germany)
Upstream Battle by Ben Kempas, Germany

Pyramide International (France)
The Girl from Monaco (La fille de Monaco) by Anne Fontaine, France

Rezo Films (France)
Hooked (Pescuit Sportiv) by Adrian Sitaru, Romania/France

Sogepaq (Spain)
The Blind Sunflowers (Los girasoles ciegos) by José Luis Cuerda, Spain

Sola Media (Germany)
Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms by Thomas Borch Nielsen, Denmark/Germany

The Match Factory (Germany)
Flame & Citron (Flammen & Citronen) by Ole Christian Madsen, Denmark/Germany
Jerichow by Christian Petzold, Germany
Revanche by Götz Spielmann, Austria

TrustNordisk (Denmark)
33 Scenes from Life (33 sceny z zycia) by Malgoska Szumowska, Poland/Germany
Cold Lunch (Lønsj) by Eva Sørhaug, Norway
Fear Me Not (Den du frygter) by Kristian Levring, Denmark
Maria Larsson’s Everlasting Moments by Jan Troell, Denmark/Sweden

The Works International (United Kingdom)
Unspoken by Fien Troch, Belgium/The Netherlands

Umedia (France)
Adhen (Dernier Maquis) by Rabah Ameur-Zaϊmeche, France

Velvet Octopus (United Kingdom)
The Secret of Moonacre by Gabor Csupo, UK/Hungary/France

Wide Management (France)
Three Wise Men (Kolme viisasta miestä) by Mika Kaurismäki, Finland

03 September, 2008

Europeans Have Strong Showing At Montreal Film Awards

By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

After a 10 day marathon of world cinema, the Montreal World Film Festival concluded on Monday night with its gala Awards Ceremony and a screening of the French/Swiss/Belgian film Home, starring Isabelle Huppert. While French-language films are de rigeur in this French speaking city, the Festival’s highest honor went to a Japanese film. The Grand Prix des Ameriques, announced from the stage of the Theatre Maisonneuve by Jury President (and Oscar nominated American director) Mark Rydell, was awarded to Okuribito (Departures) by Yojiro Takita. The most awards of the evening however went to a local Quebec film. Ce Qu’Il Faut Pour Vivre (The Necessities of Life), an audience pleaser about an Inuit man suffering from tuberculosis in 1950s Quebec, won three awards, a Special Grand Prix, as well as audience awards as Best Picture and Best Canadian Film.

European directors and talents figured strongly in the final awards tally. Two European films nabbed multiple prizes. Turneja (The Tour), Serbian director Goran Markovic’s film about a troupe of Serbian actors who go on the road during the height of the civil war in Bosnia in 1993, won the Best Director prize, and also scored the FIPRESCI International Film Critics prize. Varg (The Wolf) by Swedish director Daniel Alfredson took home both the Ecumenical Prize and an award for Best Artistic Contribution. Actor Peter Stormare (Fargo) stars as an indigenous father in the remote mountains of northern Sweden who tries to protect his family and his herd of reindeer from wild wolves.

Best Actress honors went to German thespian Barbara Sukowa (a veteran actress who has worked with such German icons as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Margarethe von Trotta) for her performance as a housewife who hides a deserter in the waning days of World War II in the period film The Invention of Curried Sausage by Ulla Wagner.

Two films tied for the Best Screenplay award. Spanish writer/director Xavi Puebla and his collaborator Jesus Gil shared the prize for Bienvenido A Farewell-Gutman (Welcome to Farewell-Gutman), a bitter satire on the world of international business as exemplified in a hierarchical pharmaceutical company. Japanese director Riyoichi Kimizuka shared the prize for his hard-hitting policier script for Nobody To Watch Over Me.

First Film honors (the Golden Zenith award) were bestowed on Iranian-born Austrian director Arash T. Riahi for his debut film Ein Augenblick, Freiheit (For A Moment, Freedom). The film tells the tale of two young Iranian children who are being smuggled out of Iran by their cousins to join their parents in Austria. Runners-up includes Silver Zenith winner Weltstadt, German director Christian Klandt’s hard-hitting story of an attack on a homeless man by two drunk teenagers in a small East German town, and Bronze Zenith honoree Tatil Kitabi (Summer Book), Turkish director Seyfi Teoman’s lyrical portrait of family life.



Grand prix des Americas:
OKURIBITO (DEPARTURES) by Yojiro Takita (Japan)

Special Grand Prix of the jury :

Best Director :
THE TOUR (TURNEJA) by Goran Markovic (Serbia/Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Best Actress :

Best Actor :
ERI CAÑETE for the film TEO'S VOYAGE (EL VIAJE DE TEO) by Walter Doehner (Mexico)

Best Screenplay:
WELCOME TO FAREWELL-GUTMANN (BIENVENIDO A FAREWELL-GUTMANN) by Xavi Puebla, screenplay by Xavi Puebla and Jesús Gil (Spain)
NOBODY TO WATCH OVER ME by Riyoichi Kimizuka, screenplay by Riyoichi Kimizuka and Satoshi Suzuki (Japan)

Best Artistic Contribution :
WOLF (VARG) by Daniel Alfredson (Sweden-Norway-Finland)

Innovation Award:
IT ALL BEGINS AT SEA by Eitan Green (Israel)

JURY President : MARK RYDELL, director (U.S.A.)
EVELYNE BOUIX, actress (France)
JOHANNE DUGAS, representing the general public (Canada)
XIE FEI, director (China)
VOJTECH JASNY, director (Czech Republic)
DANY LAFERRIÈRE, writer and director (Canada)


First Prize :
THE NECKTIE (LE NŒUD CRAVATE) by Jean-François Lévesque (Canada)

Jury Award:
FAL by Hans Van Nuffel (Belgium)


Golden Zenith for the Best First Fiction Feature films :

Silver Zenith for the First Fiction Feature Film :
WELTSTADT by Christian Klandt (Germany)

Bronze Zenith for the Fisrt Fiction Feature Film :
SUMMER BOOK (TATIL KITABI) by Seyfi Teoman (Turkey)


Public Award for the most popular film of the Festival:

Public Award for the most popular Canadian Feature Film :

Glauber Rocha Award for the Best Latin American Film :
DON'T LOOK DOWN (NO MIRES PARA ABAJO) by Eliseo Subiela (Argentina-France)

Award for Best Documentary :
CHILDREN OF THE PYRE by Rajesh S. Jala (India)

Award for Best Canadian Short Film :
THE NECKTIE (LE NŒUD CRAVATE) by Jean-François Lévesque (Canada)

THE TOUR (TURNEJA) by Goran Markovic (Serbia/Bosnia and Herzegovina)

WOLF (VARG) by Daniel Alfredson (Sweden-Norway-Finland)
Special mention of the Ecumenical jury :
TEO'S VOYAGE (EL VIAJE DE TEO) by Walter Doehner (Mexico)

Special Awards for their exceptional contribution to the cinematographic art :

02 September, 2008

Isabelle Huppert Honored At Montreal Film Festival

By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

French actress Isabelle Huppert received a special Award this past weekend at the Montreal World Film Festival for her unique contribution to French and world cinema. One of the great actresses of her generation, Huppert is also being honored with special screenings of several of her films, including the French films Violette Noziere, Madame Bovary and L'Ivresse Du Pouvoir, all directed by her muse, iconic French film director Claude Chabrol and the Western epic Heaven's Gate, which teams Huppert with an all-star cast including Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston.

Huppert also stars in the Festival’s Closing Night Film, the North American Premiere screening of Home, the newest film from French/Swiss director Ursula Meier. The film screened at the Theatre Maisonneuve following the announcement of the juried awards (see awards article on Wednesday). Home, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Critics Week, is a Franco-Swiss-Belgian co-production, starring Isabelle Huppert and Olivier Gourmet as a husband and wife whose family's peaceful existence in an isolated country home is threatened with the reconstruction of a busy highway nearby.

Ursula Meier was born in Besancon, France and worked as an assistant director on several films of the iconic Swiss director Alain Tanner. After directing several short films, Strong Shoulders, which was screened in Montreal in 2003, she is now making her feature film debut. Home was produced by Archipel 35 and French sales company Memento Films is selling the film internationally.

Isabelle Huppert was born in Paris and spent her childhood in Ville d'Avray. She graduated from the Paris Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique and made her first film, Faustine, when she was 17. Her career accelerated quickly and she worked with some of the cinema world's best known directors, including Bertrand Blier (Les Valseuses, 1974), Otto Preminger (Rosebud, 1975), and Claude Chabrol, with whom she made a trio of films.

Huppert won the Best Actress Award at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival for her role as the murderess in Violette Noziere and a British Academy Award the following year for her role in La Dentelliere (The Lacemaker). In the 1980s, she starred in such celebrated films as Bertrand Tavernier's Coup De Torchon, Jean-Luc Godard's Passion and Diane Kurys' Entre Nous. In the 1990s, she won a Best Actress Cesar for La Ceremonie, again directed by her muse Claude Chabrol.

In recent years, she made an impact as a sexually frustrated piano teacher in director Michael Haneke's controversial La Pianiste (2001). The sometimes disturbing films she appears in may not be the easiest for the audiences to digest, but they have made Huppert a consistent and individual screen presence.