Haggis pic wins fest's Grand Prize

DEAUVILLE, France — Writer-director Paul Haggis’ ensemble pic “Crash” won the Grand Prize at the Deauville Film Festival on Sunday night. The first film the jury saw in the 10-title competition was very popular with fest auds, which bodes well for its imminent Gallic release.

“On the Outs” by Lori Silverbush and Michael Skolnik tied with Lodge Kerrigan’s “Keane” for the Jury Prize. Silverbush and Skolnick, onstage with their lead thesps, who play poor teens from the South Bronx, delivered the most overtly political — and well-received — comments.

“Despite the war on terror and the war in Iraq, we feel there’s a war facing our young people at home every day and we thank you for recognizing it,” scripter and co-helmer Silverbush said.

The Canal Plus prize for documentary went to Alex Gibney’s “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” The Premiere magazine jury honored Andy Fickman’s stridently retro musical comedy “Reefer Madness.”

The International Crix jury chose “Keane,” singling out Damian Lewis’ tour de force perf as a man obsessed with finding his vanished young daughter.

The Chevignon Screenplay award went to Duncan Tucker for “Transamerica,” in which Felicity Huffman stars as a transsexual. Tucker cited Jean Renoir for “his understanding that comedy and tragedy can be the same thing, (a principle that) guided my heart in making this movie.”

The 31st edition of the world’s only foreign film fest dedicated exclusively to American fare could be described as either “lowkey” or “dead as a doornail,” depending on expectations. While programming was satisfactory to excellent, celebs were rare and streets sparsely populated.

Names on hand during second half of 10-day event included Cameron Crowe, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Wahlberg, Miranda July and David LaChapelle.

Ron Howard made a quick visit from “The Da Vinci Code,” lensing in London, for his Sept. 6 tribute. Forest Whitaker, who arrived Friday, was visibly moved by jury prez and jazz fan Alain Corneau’s tribute to his talents, prior to the showing of his latest pic, Abel Ferrara’s “Mary.”

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