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‘Billy’ tale takes 1st at Dinard

Odd wins for cinematography on 'Voices'

DINARD, France — “Billy Elliot,” Stephen Daldry’s inspirational tale of a gifted young dancer from a working class background, won the Golden Hitchcock Sunday at the Dinard Festival of British Cinema.

One of six recent U.K. titles in competition, “Billy Elliot” also won the Silver Hitchcock, as voted by rank-and-file viewers.

The Kodak Prize for outstanding cinematography went to David Odd for his work on “Some Voices,” directed by Simon Cellan-Jones.

Championing cross-cultural inspiration, Jury president Anouk Aimee seized the occasion to say, “I’m so happy to see so many talented people from England, because if your films are getting better and better, so will ours in France and in Italy, and that’s important for Europe.”

General consensus was that the annual Franco-British producer’s meeting was less productive than last year’s high-water mark in which the two sides could finally confer from positions of comparable strength, thanks to National Lottery coin.

Most participants agree that it would be nearly impossible to gather so many high-powered reps of each nation’s film industry in either Paris or London, but that the idyllic beachfront setting of Dinard does the trick.

Yugoslavian actor Rade Sherbedgia (the conniving Russian in “Space Cowboys”) introduced Guy Ritchie’s competition entry “Snatch” in which he plays Boris the Blade: “Why a British film festival in France? Maybe it’s a message to producers and directors across the big river — ‘Hey, man! Stop being an American colony. Be British!’ I spent all those years playing bad guys in American movies, hiding behind my beard. People would say, ‘Where you from?’ and I’d whisper ‘Yugoslavia’ and they’d say ‘Oh’ with a pitying expression. Now I am proud that I can say I’m Yugoslavian. My people have their liberty at last.”

Among the 33 features shown was the well-received world premiere of Khaled El Hagar’s Egyptian-immigrant-in-London comedy “Room to Rent,” starring Said Taghmaoui (La Haine, Hideous Kinky) as an aspiring screenwriter and Juliette Lewis as a dedicated Marilyn Monroe impersonator.

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