B.C. indie pics rule Vancouver fest

Thesp Chiarelli, helmer Geary take top prizes

VANCOUVER — Independent films made in British Columbia took most of the main prizes at the Vancouver Intl. Film Festival, which ended its 16-day run over the weekend.

Vancouver actor Gina Chiarelli won the artistic merit award for her performance as a schizophrenic in the local indie “See Grace Fly,” and Vancouver director Nathaniel Geary won the feature award for Western Canada and C$12,000 ($9,000) from Citytv for “On the Corner,” a gritty movie set in the city’s squalid Eastside.

Vancouver director Jesse McKeown won the $3,750 Keystone award for young Western Canadian director for his short “The Big Charade.”

“Los Angeles Plays Itself,” directed by Thom Andersen, was the winner of the National Film Board award for documentary.

Two awards were decided by audience vote. “Kamchatka,” an Argentina/Spain co-production directed by Marcelo Pineyro, won the People’s Choice for most popular film. Documentary “The Corporation,” co-directed by British Columbians Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, won the award for Canadian film.

For his debut feature “Uniform,” about a man impersonating a policeman, indie director Diao Yinan of China won the Dragons and Tigers: The Films of East Asia Award for Young Cinema.

Fest director Alan Franey said auds topped 150,000 for the second year in a row, thanks to a record 500 screenings from a menu of 300 features, shorts and documentaries.

The fest’s success boosts plans for the city’s new film center, slated to open in 2005. The fest has committed to raise another $450,000 this year toward the building’s cost of about $3.75 million. It will house the festival office and a state-of-the-art theater.

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