‘Guantanamo,’ ‘Chernobyl’ win at Prix Italia

'Turkish for Beginners' takes drama prize

ROME — Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitcross’ “The Road to Guantanamo” and French pubcaster FR3’s TV doc “The Battle of Chernobyl” claimed top prizes at the 58th Prix Italia.

Produced by Andrew Eaton and Melissa Parmenter for Britain’s Channel 4, “Guantanamo” traces the ordeal of three British Muslims who were held without charges in the U.S. military prison camp. It won the SIGNIS Award for making a courageous stand and asking difficult questions while much of the mainstream media remained quiet, the organizers said.

The controversial film also won the Silver Bear in Berlin and top honors at the Newport International Film Festival this year.

Thomas Johnson’s “Chernobyl” mesmerized jurors with an epic documentary about the 1986 plant meltdown that revealed, in the words of the organizers, “how close we came to an even greater tragedy.” Awarded best TV docu for cultural and general interest, the Play Film production generated some controversy. Some jurors were concerned the director’s decision to mix archival and dramatically reconstructed scenes could be “potentially misleading.”

The German soap comedy “Turkish for Beginners,” helmed by Oliver Schmitz for ARD, won for best TV drama, series and serials. Discovery Net took home the prize of best TV documentary, current affairs for “The Beslan Siege,” helmed by Richard Alwyn and produced by Liana Pomeranzev.

In a high-tech nod, organizers awarded Korea’s pubcaster KBS best TV drama, TV, movies and mini-series to “Saya Saya,” a “visually stunning” love story shot in high-definition.

The prestigious Prix Italia, the world’s oldest international TV fest, was held in Venice.

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