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Valencia takes ‘Journey’

Spanish fest awards top prize to Israeli pic

MADRID — “James’ Journey to Jerusalem,” a nimble but telling skit on illegal immigration and racketeering in Israel, won the top Golden Palm Tree at an austere 24th Valencia Intl. Film Festival.

The first feature from Israeli documaker Ra’anan Alexandrovicz, “James’ Journey” came to the festival having played in the Cannes Directors Fortnight and at Toronto.

It was still a surprise winner for local critics, however, who warmed more to two other pics: Carlo Luglio’s “Capo Nord,” an increasingly sombre chronicle of four laddish Neopolitans out to pull birds and pull in some easy money in Germany; and Spaniard Juan Manuel Chumilla’s “Desnudos, Desnudos,” a droll tale of a nude photographer whose finds beauty in art, but little in his own life or those of his models.

“North Cape” took the Silver Palm Tree and “Desnudos” best director. The Audience Award went to Antonio Mercero’s teen cancer victim drama “Fourth Floor,” which received a long ovation.

The first festival under film/TV director Jose Antonio Escriva, the 24th Valencia Mostra — as the fest is popularily known — was hobbled by a large budget-scything debt, which left it as a transition event before the fest builds up to its 25th anniversary.

Its main achievement was to establish the Mostra as a showcase for burgeoning local film-making talent.

Standouts pics included a lush, 11-minute promo of strong international seller “Whore,” toplining Denise Richards and Daryl Hannah, unveiled by Dolores Pictures’ Jose Magan and director Luna; and the bow of Pau Martinez’s thriller “Bala perdida,” with David Carradine, which just bested Guillermo Escalona and Joan Cuevas’ Brooklyn-set “The Other Shoe” for the best Valencia feature film $35,000 cash prize.

The 24th Valencia fest ran Oct 16-23.

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