Irish drama nabs top prize at festival

The first edition of the Turin Film Festival under Nanni Moretti’s direction wrapped Sunday with the main prize of €25,000 ($36,680) going to Cannes-preemed Irish meller “Garage” in a ceremony Saturday.

This year’s fest received a major publicity boost in the Italian papers thanks to Moretti’s status as a household name and also contributed to a larger foreign press presence.

General consensus was that the competish features were an improvement over recent editions, though the selection included titles that first played at major fests, such as Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her,” Eric Nazarian’s “The Blue Hour” and Park Heung-sik’s “The Railroad.”

Other sections, including the State of Things and the Zone, aimed more for the kinds of cutting-edge works and emerging talents that the Turin fest has nurtured throughout the past 25 years. Moretti’s spat with the Rome Film Festival continued to play out more on the public’s lips than onstage, with only the competition an obvious point of comparison. The horror selections of past years (Showtime series “Masters of Horror” preemed here in earlier editions) were noticeably absent, replaced by a series of lesser-known Italo “classics” hosted by their directors (Francesco Rosi, Florestano Vancini, Tinto Brass) and followed by sessions at which Moretti quizzed the helmers.

Further awards from the jury included the special jury prize to Malaysia’s “The Elephant and the Sea.” Actress nod went to Joan Chen for “The Home Song Stories,” while actor went to Kim Kang-woo for “The Railroad.” Turin’s loyal audience gave its nod to Craig Gillespie’s “Lars and the Real Girl.”

Long known for the strength of its retrospectives, Turin celebrated two directors more in the traditional canon than some of the discoveries from past years: Wim Wenders (briefly on hand) and the late John Cassavetes. Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban were present to discuss the latter’s career and their association with the master.

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