Kudos, 'Intimate' bow close Seattle Film Fest

A correction was made to this article on June 16, 2004.

SEATTLE — The 30th annual Seattle Film Festival wrapped its 25-day run Sunday with the North American premiere of Patrice Leconte’s “Intimate Strangers,” followed by the event’s closing gala.

In a ceremony held earlier that day, at their vertiginous namesake site, the Golden Space Needle Awards were handed out. Based on more than 70,000 ballots, the popular prizes were presented in six categories.

Best film was Italy’s “Facing Windows,” helmed by Ferzan Ozpetek. (Runners-up included “The Best of Youth,” “Bonjour Monsieur Shalomi” and “Twilight Samurai.”) Director nod went to Marco Tullio Giordana for “Best of Youth,” followed in votes by Ozpetek for “Windows.”

Luis Tosar drew actor kudos for Spain’s “Take My Eyes” (with “Garden State’s” Zach Braff the runner-up), and Catalina Sandino Moreno took the actress prize for “Maria, Full of Grace” (followed by Laia Marull, also for “Take My Eyes”).

Top doc was India’s “Born Into Brothels,” helmed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. “The Corporation” came close, followed by “Big City Dick” and “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.”

Best short was “Consent,” from American Jason Reitman, closely followed by “Day Off the Dead,” by helmers Jeffrey Dates and Lee Lanier. The Lena Sharpe Award, sponsored by Women in Cinema Seattle, went to “Dear Frankie,” from Scotland’s Shona Auerbach.

Of the juried prizes, the New American Cinema Award — mulled by local helmer John Jeffcoat, Spanish distrib Simon de Santiago and biz writer Anne Thompson — was shared by Zak Penn’s “Incident at Loch Ness” and Lisa Cholodenko’s “Cavedweller.”

The New Director’s Showcase Award, given to a first or second effort (usually from Europe), walked on the “Wild Side,” from France’s Sebastien Lifshitz. A special mention from the jury, which consisted of critic David Ansen, Rotterdam’s Ido Abram and Peggy Chiao of Taiwan’s Arc Light Films was meted out to “Feathers in My Head,” helmed by Belgian Thomas de Their.

The Refracting Reality Documentary Award was prismatically split between “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus,” from the U.K.’s Andrew Douglas, and “The Game of Their Lives,” a South Korean pic helmed by Daniel Gordon.

In a Down Under rout, animated short kudos went to the Australian “Hello,” by Jonathan Nix, while top live-action short was New Zealand’s “Two Cars, One Night,” from Taika Waititi, although a special mention in the second category was given to “Underdog,” by American helmer Scott Leberecht.

Other small pics causing a stir in the Seattle fest’s waning days, most with their helmers in tow, included the Czech comedy “Bored in Brno”; Gregory Jacobs’ sharply made “Criminal” (topliner John C. Reilly was on hand, too); and Kevin DiNovis’ timely satire “Death and Texas.” Some more well-dug docs were Jehane Noujaim’s “Control Room,” about the Al-Jazeera satellite station, and Madeleine Farley’s “Trollywood,” about homeless roamers in L.A.

The indie-heavy fest is one of only seven in North America qualifying pics for the Independent Spirit Awards. Under new topper Helen Loveridge and returning programmer Carl Spence, the event upped last year’s box office by 20%.

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