'American Dream' takes home Grand Prix trophy

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France — Two harrowing films about the abuse of women took the top international and French competition awards at the 27th short film fest here Saturday night.

“The Other American Dream,” by Enrique Arroyo of Mexico, won the Intl. Grand Prix. Compact fiction follows a Mexican woman’s worst nightmare after a crooked cop catches her trying to cross the border.

After last year’s national jury refused to award a prize in protest against a perceived lack of innovation in Gallic shorts, Laurent Achard’s “La peur, petit chasseur” (“Fear, Little Hunter”) won the Grand Prix in the French competition. Pic, which employs a fixed camera position and a thoughtful soundtrack to suggest a world of anxiety and violence inside a house in the distance, also won the Intl. Press Jury prize and the sound design award.

The vivid digital destruction of a building dazzles in “Sometimes,” winner of the Grand Prix in fest’s third and equal “Labo” category for experimental films. Co-directed by a French collective called Pleix, pic puts “special effects” in the service of art.

Two American films won Labo awards: recent Sundance title “The Raftman’s Razor” by Keith Bearden (Press Jury prize) and “Oh My God” by John Bryant (Canal Plus prize).

It was a good year to be from an ex-Eastern Bloc country, with additional prizes going to filmmakers from Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania.

With nearly 130,000 tickets sold, most screenings played to capacity crowds. (Closing night ceremony is re-enacted thrice in a row in a 1,500-seat auditorium to accommodate demand.)

Business was brisk at the 20th short film market, per organizers, who cited 3,000 registered participants on hand to select from more than 4,000 shorts.

Fest, a popular stop for international professionals en route to Berlin, ran Jan. 28-Feb. 5.

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