Momoi takes best director, actress for 'Fig'

MOSCOW — Chinese-Hong Kong feature “Getting Home” from helmer Zhang Yang took top honors at the fifth Vladivostok Intl. Pacific Meridian festival, which closed Sept. 21.

Event confirmed its regional authority, drawing submissions from 35 countries. It has come a long way since its hesitant beginnings: it is the best run international festival in Russia, with a clearly defined niche, many loyal supporters, and the advantages of an ocean setting, and a conveniently close by hotel and screening venues.

Best director and actress went to Japanese pic “Faces of a Fig Tree,” from helmer-thesp Momoi Kaori. Best actor went to Russia’s Sergei Puskepalis for his lead in Alexei Popogrebsky’s “Simple Things,” already acclaimed at Karlovy Vary, and one of only two Russian pics in an international competition of 11 pics.

Best short went to home territory for Leonid Rybakov’s mockumentary “Stone People.”

Other honors went closer to home. Special award, titled “9288” — the distance in kilometers between Mos-cow and Vladivostok — was awarded to Sergei Bodrov’s “Mongol,” the event’s opening film, while the Yul Brynner special prize — the actor was born in the Pacific city, and his son Rock is a regular visitor, almost a festival figurehead — to Andrei Zvyagintsev for “The Banishment.”

Jury was headed by French director Bruno Dumont.

Another popular highlight was the first screening of an uncompleted cut of Australian director Paul Cox’s “Salva-tion,” which looks likely to find plenti-ful festival places next year; the film was partially shot in Vladivostok (the only city in Russia to work produc-tively with a local city film commis-sion) and has a strong Russian plot angle to it.

Russia’s Far East has never had a major film studio, but plans were announced early September to open such a facility — aiming both at domestic and foreign production — by 2012, when Vladivostok is due to host the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit.

That will certainly help to put the city on the political map. Five editions of Pacific Meridian have already done that on the cinema front, thanks to healthy financing from the regional government, and strong local audience interest that packed halls for major screenings.

Vladivostok Pacific Meridian Award winners

Grand Prize for best feature film:
“Getting Home” Zhang Yang (Hong Kong, China)

Best short film:
“The Stone People” Leonid Rybakov (Russia)

Best director:
Kaori Momoi for “Faces of a fig Tree” (Japan)

Best actress:
Kaori Momoi in “Faces of a fig Tree” (Japan)

Best actor:
Sergei Puskepalis in “Simple Things” (Russia)

Special jury award for originality:
“Eagle Vs Shark” Taika Waititi (New Zealand)

9288km Award from the Governor of Primorsky Territory:
“Mongol” Sergei Bodrov (Russia, Germany, Kazakhstan)

Yul Brynner Award:
“The Banishment” Andrei Zvyagintsev (Russia)

Audience award for best film:
“Listening to the Silence” Alexander Kasatkin (Russia)

Dalsviaz TVi award for contribution to world cinema:
Olympia Dukakis in “Away from Her”

Scripts Magazine award for best screenplay:
Michael James Rowland for “Lucky Miles” (Australia)

Graduate School award for best debut:
“Checkpoint” Ben Phelps (Australia)

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