Sony picks up winner of 25-day fest

SEATTLE — “Shower” continued its festival reign, picking up two top prizes at the 26th annual Seattle International Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday with an awards breakfast at the Space Needle.

The fest’s audience-voted prizes, appropriately called the Golden Space Needle Awards, were led by best-feature and best-director trophies for Chinese helmer Zhang Yang, who was likewise part of fest’s Emerging Masters series. Now backed by Sony, “Shower” has previously won aud awards at virtually every fest it has played since preeming last fall at Toronto.

Dan Futterman got the best-actor nod for his “Urbania” lead, edging out runner-up Shiro Mifune for “When the Rain Lifts.” Takashi Koizumi’s Nippon-filmed pic also placed second in the top two categories. French thesp Nathalie Baye was named best actress for roles in both “Venus Beauty Institute” and “An Affair of Love,” with the latter (originally called “Une Liaison Pornographique”) repped by Fine Line. Best docu by many votes was “Trade Off,” former localite Shaya Mercer’s hard-hitting record of last fall’s WTO riots in the Emerald City, and best short was Jason Reitman’s irreverent “In God We Trust.”

Feel the ‘Magic’

In juried categories, Tony Barbieri’s Nastassja Kinski starrer “The Magic of Marciano” picked up the New American Cinema Award. Panel, which included Variety’s Emanuel Levy, gave a special citation to the ensemble cast of “The Weekend,” led by Deborah Kara Unger, D.B. Sweeney and Gena Rowlands.

A WGA-sponsored writing prize was given to Mike White for his “Chuck and Buck” script, and Trekker Technologies gave a $30,000 editing suite to Gregory Hobson for his deft snipping of “Very Mean Men” — a raucous, post-Tarantino gangster spoof that, alongside the nifty crime thriller “Preston Tylk,” constituted one of the fest’s few undistribbed discoveries.

Another jury, limited to recent offshore fare, singled out Teresa Villaverde’s “The Mutants” for the New Directors Showcase Award. Panelist Alan Franey, who tops the Vancouver fest, cited the super-realistic Portuguese pic for “its boldly stylistic statement on disenfranchised youth in Lisbon.” Same jury gave a separate nod to France’s similarly verite-styled “Human Resources.”

An HBO-sponsored kidflick prize went to the student-made “Neuter Your Cat” while Web company IFILM gave $1,500 in cash and Kodak film to “The Periwig Maker,” an animated short from Germany.

Attendance record

This year’s 25-day fest — the best-attended yet — finally played out its 250 shorts and features with a closing-night gala offering the world preem of Peter O’Fallon’s “Rumor of Angels,” a Maine-set family drama starring Vanessa Redgrave and Ray Liotta.

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