Best film award split in two at film festival

The Tirana Film Festival, Albania’s only international movie event, wrapped its seventh edition — the first to include a competition — late Sunday at a ceremony in the capital.

The fest’s international jury, which included U.S. filmmaker Joshua Martin (“Maria Full of Grace”), British experimental director Ben Rivers and American thesp Richard Edson, split the best film award between Spanish director Javier Rebollo’s “Woman Without a Piano” and Greek director Filippos Tsitos’ “Plato’s Academy.”

Director honors went to Albanian Gjergj Xhuvani for his comedy set during the 1985 collapse of the country’s Communist regime, “East West East.”

The only Albanian film in competition, the film — about an Albanian national cycling team stranded in Italy when the regime of Communist leader Enver Hoxa falls — also picked up actor award for its ensemble cast.

Carmen Machi took actress for her role in “Woman Without a Piano” about a beauty therapist tempted to escape a troubled marriage after a chance meeting with a Polish bricklayer.

A media award went to Serbian director Vladimir Paskaljevic’s feature debut, “Devil’s Town,” a bleak sortie into the dark side of human behavior set in Belgrade.

Paskaljevic is the son of Goran Paskaljevic, whose “Honeymoons” — the first Albanian-Serbian co-production — opened the fest Nov. 27. “Honeymoons” was co-written by fest programmer Genc Permeti and produced by fest director Ilir Butka.

Greek director Theo Angelopoulous received a lifetime achievement award at the closing ceremony. Angelopoulous was in Tirana to present screenings of his films.

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