Montreal has ‘Georgia’ on its mind

French-U.S. co-production “Georgia” was the big winner at the closing awards ceremony of the Montreal World Film Festival on Sept. 4, with the indie pic from French company Ciby 2000 taking home the Grand Prix of the Americas for best film.

“Georgia” star Jennifer Jason Leigh took the best actress trophy for her portrayal of a messed-up rock ‘n’ roll singer.

A hard-hitting drama about two sisters with distinctly different singing careers, “Georgia,” which had its premiere in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year, was co-produced by Leigh and her mother, Barbara Turner, who also scripted.

“Getting a picture made today is something close to a miracle,” said “Georgia” helmer Ulu Grosbard. “But to be awarded the Grand Prix is a real honor.”

The Montreal fest jury’s only other double winner was the Chinese-Hong Kong co-production “A Mongolian Tale” from director Xie Fei. The drama set in rural Mongolia garnered the director prize for Fei and the award for artistic contribution for its music score by Tengger.

The director award was shared by Goran Markovic, for “Burlesque Tragedy,” a pic set in present-day Belgrade. The special Grand Prix of the Jury went to “A Moslem,” a Russian film from director Vladimir Khotinenko about an Afghan war veteran who returns home a devout Moslem.

Fabrizio Bentivoglio took the best actor award for the Italian drama about corruption, “Ordinary Hero.” The screenplay award was given to Israeli writer-director Shemi Zarhin for “Passover Fever.”

Director Liv Ullmann’s medieval love story “Kristin Lavransdatter” did not nab any awards, but Ullmann was given a Special Grand Prix of the Americas for her “exceptional contribution” as an actress and director.

In the non-jury awards, the Air Canada people’s choice award for the most popular film was given to “Don’t Die Without Telling Me Where You’re Going,” from Argentine director Eliseo Subiela. The public also voted Quebec helmer Robert Menard’s “Behind the Blue” (L’Enfant D’Eau) the best Canadian film.

The Prix de Montreal for best first fiction feature was shared by Norwegian pic “Cross My Heart and Hope to Die,” from director Marius Holst, and Belgian film “Manneken Pis,” directed by Frank Van Passel.

The FIPRESCI (Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique) jury gave its official competition prize to “Like It Never Was Before,” a Swedish pic from director Susanne Bier, and the out-of-competition FIPRESCI went to “Manneken Pis.”

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