GIJON, Spain – Packed screenings and top-quality films in competition confirmed that Spain’s Gijon Intl. Film Festival, which wrapped Nov. 30, has entered the elite of Spanish film fests, allowing local distribs to test audience reaction to low-budget, edgy pics from around the world.

Among the most provocative: Arden Oplev’s uncompromising, Lars von Trier-esque ”Portland,” which provoked praise (plus walk-outs for its in-your-face violence), and Australian Monica Pellizari’s highly applauded ”Fistful of Flies,” which won Dina Panozzo a best actress award and shared the public’s Young Jury Prize for best feature film with Richie Winearls’ ebullient ”The Imitators.” ”Fistful of Flies” picked up a distribution deal in Spain.

Clara Law’s ”Floating Life” took both the top best feature and best director plaudits, while local thesp Manuel Alexandre drew long applause upon his best actor plaudit for Spanish pic ”El angel de la guarda.”

Set in the gorgeous north of Spain and in its second year under director Jose Luis Cienfuegos, the rejuvenated 34th Gijon Fest’s other standouts included a special screening of Spanish documentary ”Asaltar los cielos.” Focusing on the life of Leon Trotsky’s murderer, Ramon Mercader, ”Asaltar” has just achieved theatrical exhibition in Spain, an unusual feat which bodes well for international sales.

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