Nichols' 'Wit' takes audience prize

AMSTERDAM — Italian director Silvio Soldini walked away with the top prize for “Burning in the Wind” at the Film By The Sea fest, held in Vlissingen, Holland Sept. 15.

Based on the book “Here” by Agota Kristov, “Burning” won best film based on a literary work. The jury, led by Dutch author Rinus Ferdinandusse, called the pic “an intriguing and beautiful love story.”

The audience award went to Mike Nichols “Wit,” a drama about a university professor who has cancer. It was chosen from 15 films but has yet no distribution in Holland. Film By The Sea is arranging representation.

Roughly 23,000 visitors attended the festival. Among the 100 professionals who made the trek were Portuguese Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, director Ismail Merchant, who’s “The Mystic Masseur” was also in competition, actor Ciaran McMenamin, and director Constantin Costa-Gavras.

McMenamin and Costa-Gavras’ movies “To End All Wars” and “Amen.” respectively, were screened during the fest, but Costa-Gavras created a buzz when he took on the Bishop of Breda, Monsigneur Muskens, in a televised debate carried by Dutch pubcaster Nederlands 1.

“Amen.” looks at the role of the Catholic Church during WWII. During the debate, Muskens publicly apologized for the church’s complacency and failure to speak out against Nazi atrocities during the war.

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