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‘Storytellers’ spins top Rio prizes

Docu films drew strong aud response

RIO DE JANEIRO — Helmer Eliane Caffe’s “The Storytellers” won three of the top prizes at the Rio Film Festival 2003, which may have lacked some of the international glitter of past editions but attracted record crowds.

“The Storytellers” was tapped by both the jury and the public for their respective best film awards.

Due to budget constraints, the audience prize was not accompanied by a grant of $66,000 towards distribution, as has been the case in past editions, but exhib Cinemark funded a $10,000 grant.

“I spent four years working on this film. It was an odyssey,” Caffe said. “I wish the people of Gameleira da Lapa were here now.”

Cameleira da Lapa, in Bahia state, is where Caffe lensed the fictional story of the residents of Jave, who struggle to prevent their small town from disappearing under the waters of a hydroelectric power plant.

The jury tapped thesp José Dummont as best actor for his turn in “The Storytellers” and Cleo Pires as best actress for Monique Gardenberg’s “Benjamim”.

In the non-fiction categories, the jury chose Evaldo Mocarzel’s “On the Fringes of San Paulo: Homeless” for best docu and tapped Guilherme Coelho for best director for “Living Rap in Rio”.

“Living Rap in Rio” also received the best docu audience award, which was accompanied by a $6,600 grant from Cinemark.

Festgoers agreed that this year’s event underlined the strength of Brazilian documentaries, which outshone a weak selection of new fiction. One of the most-liked films was Paulo Sacramento’s “The Prisoner of the Iron Bars (Self-portraits)”, which powerfully documented the infamous penitentiary in San Paulo that was the subject of Hector Babenco’s hit fiction feature “Carandiru.”

Silvio Tendler’s film portrait of the late Brazilian director Glauber Rocha, “Glauber the Movie, Labyrinth of Brazil,” stirred emotional memories in many of those present at the screening. Coming on the heels of Eric Rocha’s docu about his father “Stones in the Sky,” it confirmed the great interest still surrounding the eccentric director of “Black God, White Devil” and other

classics.

Latin America’s largest film fest, Rio added a competitive, jury element for the first time this year.

The jury was comprised of the Brazilians vet helmer Carlos Diegues (“God is Brazilian”), thesp Lucelia Santos, and director Beto Brant (“The Trespasser”) and Jytte Jensen, director of the film department at NYC’s MOMA and Toronto film fest’s Latino films programmer Diana Sanchez.

Attendance was a highlight of the 2003 fest, which unspooled from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9.

Admissions totaled about 210,000 this year, up 28% over last year.

At the behest of Rio’s city hall, which stepped up as a fest sponsor this year, venues were added in impoverished neighborhoods around the city, which probably helped increase attendance.

Foreign pics such as Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant”, Sofia Coppola’s “Lost In Translation” and Catherine Hardwicke’s “Thirteen” were among the more popular screenings.

(Deborah Young contributed from Rio).

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