‘Storytellers’ takes trophy trio at Rio

Pic tapped for best film by both fest jury, public

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

“The Storytellers” was tapped by the jury and the public for best film awards and its star Jose Dummont nabbed actor honors.

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

Pic concerns villagers who struggle to prevent their homes from disappearing under the waters of a hydroelectric power plant.

Cleo Pires won actress honors for Monique Gardenberg’s “Benjamim.”

In the nonfiction categories, the jury tapped Evaldo Mocarzel’s “On the Fringes of Sao Paulo: Homeless” for the docu nod and presented Guilherme Coelho with director kudos for “Living Rap in Rio.”

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

This year’s event underlined the strength of Brazilian docs, which outshone a weak selection of 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 Sao Paulo that was the subject of Hector Babenco’s hit fiction feature “Carandiru.”

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

The jury was comprised of vet helmer Carlos Diegues (“God Is Brazilian”); thesp Lucelia Santos; director Beto Brant (“The Trespasser”); Jytte Jensen, director of the film department at New York City’s MOMA; and the Toronto Film Festival’s Latino films programmer Diana Sanchez.

Admissions for the 2003 fest were up 28% to 210,000.

At the behest of Rio’s city hall, which stepped up as a fest sponsor this year, venues were added in impoverished neighborhoods, 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 to this report.)

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