'Destination Shanghai' nabs Fipresci int'l critics award

ROTTERDAM — Films from South Korea, Argentina and Russia took the top prizes at the Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam on Friday as the 12-day event spun into its final weekend.

“Extrano,” by Argentine helmer Santiago Loza, “Jealousy Is My Middle Name,” the debut pic of South Korean director Park Chan-Ok and “With Love, Lilja” by Russian director Larisa Sadilova each won equally ranked prizes of E10,000 ($10,819) at the 32nd edition of the fest, which wrapped Sunday. Awards also include theatrical and TV distribution in Holland.

The three Tiger awards, sponsored by Dutch public broadcaster VPRO, reflect Rotterdam’s reputation as a discovery showcase for non-mainstream Asian cinema, its increasing attention to cutting-edge Latin American cinema and its importance as a window for European pics that often slip through the cracks of larger fests.

Chinese honors

“Welcome to Destination Shanghai” by Chinese director Andrew Cheng snared the Fipresci international critics award for what jurors noted was a “timely fictional report on changing conditions in contemporary China.” Special mention went to Canadian filmer Guy Maddin for his video installation “Cowards Bend the Knee.”

Dagur Kari, director of Icelandic pic “Noi the Albino” walked away with a $5,418 prize from the Moviezone youth jury. Pic sold to seven territories during the fest, including France and Italy.

A number of other deals also went down, including Paris-based Films Distribution pacting for Lucas Belvaux’s “The Trilogy” (encompassing “An Amazing Couple,” “On the Run” and “After Life.”

Other awards during the event included Amnesty Intl.’s inaugural Doen Award of $5,418, handed to Iranian helmer Manijeh Hekmat for “Women’s Prison,” a pic that cost Hekmat her license to film in Iran after she brought an uncensored copy of it abroad.

A $16,257 development grant from the Prince Claus Fund was also awarded to Burkina Faso helmer Fanta Regina Nacro for her project “The Night of Truth.” The fund goes to projects from emerging film territories.

New Zealand director Niki Caro’s right of passage pic “Whale Rider” won the Canal Plus Audience Award at the fest, which drew 355,000 admissions, 5,000 up on 2002.

(David Rooney contributed to this report.)

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