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‘Bottles’ tops at Damascus festival

Sverak wins Golden Award for comedy

BAGHDAD — A film centered on the antics of a teacher-turned-bottle-retriever netted the Golden Award for Czech film director Jan Sverak at the 16th Damascus Film Festival, which wrapped on Nov. 11.

“Vratne lahve (Returnable bottles)” features the filmmaker’s real-life father, Zdenak Sverak, as a literature teacher who decides to retire early and try various odd jobs to keep himself busy, including as a bicycle messenger and a bottle retriever in a grocery store.

Film has proved extremely popular in the helmer’s home country, where it has reportedly netted a greater profit than any movie in Czech history.

Best Arab Film award went to Syrian filmmaker Abdulhamid Abdullatif for his “Days of Boredom,” which is set in 1958 when Syria and Egypt were celebrating their new union.

Film tracks the arrival of the U.S. 6th Fleet Marines in Lebanon at the request of then Lebanese President Kamil Shamoun as well as the fate of four boys in the Golan Heights who were rounded up in the middle of the night while inventing ways to end their interminable boredom.

A Greek Cypriot movie, “Odigies Chriseos” (Instructions), directed by Kostas Yaloraedes, scooped the Golden Award in the short film category.

During the festival, homage was paid to late Egyptian master Youssef Chahine.

Among actors honored at the fest were Catherine Deneuve (France), Claudia Cardinale (Italy), Franco Nero (Italy), Richard Harrison (U.S.), Nour al-Sharif (Egypt) and Soulaf Fawakhirji (Syria).

Full list of awards:

Golden Award: “Returnable Bottles,” directed by Jan Sverik

Silver Award: “Cherry Blossoms,” directed by Doris Doerrie

Bronze Award: “Burned Hearts,” directed by Ahmad Al-Ma’anouni

Best Arab Film: “Days of Boredom,” directed by Abdulhamid Abdullatif

Special Jury Award: “Song of a Sparrow,” directed by Majid Majidi

Best actress: Kristin Scott Thomas, “I’ve Loved You So Long,” directed by Philippe Claudel

Best actor: Ridha Naji “Song of a Sparrow,” directed by Maji Majidi

Mustapha Akkad Award: Carlos Morenos for “Perro Come Perrot” (A Dog Eats a Dog)

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