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Mexico fest taps Russian ‘Return’ tops

Helmer honors go to Ceylan for 'Uzak'

MEXICO CITY — The first Mexico City Intl. Contemporary Film Festival wrapped Sunday, handing the laurel for film to Russian helmer Andrei Zvyangintsev’s “The Return.”

Director honors went to Turk Nuri Bilge Ceylan for “Uzak,” while the actor trophy went to Ulrich Thomson for his work in “Arven.” Brigitte Hobmeier nabbed the actress prize for “Identity Kills”; she was the only major winner on hand to accept her kudo.

Other awards went to Yamina Bachir’s “Rachida” for first feature and Mexican helmer Rigoberto Perez Cano’s “XV anos en Zaachila” (15th Birthday in Zaachila) for documentary. The audience choice award went to “The Station Agent,” which won that category at Sundance.

Perez Cano was the only Mexican winner. Julian Hernandez’s critically acclaimed “Mil nubes de paz cercan al cielo, amor jamas dejaras de ser amor” (A Thousand Clouds of Peace Near Heaven, My Love, You’ll Never Stop Being Love) had been considered a front-runner in picture, director and actor categories but came up short.

The five-member jury was headed by British helmer Mike Figgis, who unspooled several of his films, including a special screening of “Hotel” and “Time Code,” during which Figgis played live musical accompaniment.

The 10-day fest, known as Ficco for its Spanish acronym, drew more than 35,000 people — far more than the expected 15,000 ticket buyers.

So many screenings sold out — often days in advance — that Cinemex, which organized and hosted, scheduled last-minute additional showings of several pics, including Canada’s Oscar foreign-lingo winner “The Barbarian Invasions” and Germany’s “Good Bye Lenin!”

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