‘Trahir’ tops Montreal

Romanian helmer Radu Mihaileanu’s first feature, “Trahir” (Betrayal), won the Grand Prix of the Americas at the 17th edition of the Montreal World Film Festival, which wound down with its closing ceremonies Monday night. “Trahir’s” lead actor, Johan Leysen, won the best actor award, shared with Montrealer Denis Mercier, who stars in the Quebec feature “Le Sexe des Etoiles.”

“I would like to dedicate this to my parents, who lived a story very similar to this,” Mihaileanu said Monday night.

“Trahir,” a Romanian-French co-production, is about a dissident writer who is forced to make a deal with the Romanian secret police to get out of prison.

It also won the Prix de Montreal for best first fiction feature.

Roger Spottiswoode’s HBO AIDS pic “And the Band Played On” was given the Special Grand Prix of the Jury, while the other U.S. entry in the official competition, Dominic Sena’s “Kalifornia,” nabbed the award for best artistic contribution.

Director honors were shared by French vet Claude Lelouch (“Tout Ca Pour Ca”) and Spain’s Juanma Bajo Ulloa (“La Madre Muerta”).

Carla Gravina won the best actress trophy for her work in Margarethe Von Trotta’s much-praised “Il Lungo Silenzio,” and the best screenplay prize went to Michael Jenkins and Richard Barrett for Jenkins’ Aussie feature “The Heartbreak Kid.”

“Il Lungo Silenzio” also won the Air Canada Award for the most popular feature at the festival and the public voted local helmer Paule Baillargeon’s “Le Sexe des Etoiles” as the best Canadian film at the fest.

Early estimates indicated attendance was up from 1992’s nearly 300,000, and sold-out screenings were up by 25%.

“It’s a great success,” said festival prexy Serge Losique.

The Ecumenical Jury gave its prize to “Il Lungo Silenzio,” with an honorable mention to “Trahir.” Fipresci gave its Official Competition prize to “Kalifornia ,” and unanimously awarded its prize for the Cinema of Today and Cinema of Tomorrow section to Chinese feature “Consuming Sun,” directed by John Zhang.

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