Rookie talents top film festival awards

EDINBURGH — The 63rd Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival closed Sunday with “Moon” winning the Michael Powell Award for new British feature and “Easier With Practice” taking the prize for new international feature.

Tomm Moore’s Irish animated pic “The Secret of Kells” took the audience award, while Katie Jarvis from “Fish Tank” was honored for performance in a British film.

Cary Joji Fukanaga took the Skillset new directors award for Mexican pic “Sin Nombre,” and the Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus Award went to Lynn Shelton’s Sundance hit “Humpday.”

Despite the global economic meltdown that has hit the city of Edinburgh particularly hard, the festival reported a 3.5% increase in its box office with just a couple of days to go. Fest’s closing film was Max Mayer’s “Adam.”

The number of industry delegates also rose by 4% in the second year of the festival’s move to June from its traditional August date.

“Moon,” a sci-fi thriller directed by Brit rookie Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell, was arguably the fest’s biggest success. Arriving with Internet buzz from its Sundance premiere, it was the first film in the program to sell out, and also ended up second in the voting for the audience award.

If “Moon” can now use this springboard to become a cult hit at the U.K. box office, it will go some way to validating Edinburgh’s claim to be a “festival of discovery.”

Fest organizers will certainly point to the prize for Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s “Easier With Practice” to back up that claim. The pic, starring Brian Geraghty as a writer on a promotional tour who receives an erotic phone call from a stranger, previously screened at Cinevegas but came to Edinburgh with virtually no profile.

Edinburgh’s artistic director Hannah McGill commented, “It says a lot about EIFF and its mission as a discovery festival that Duncan Jones, Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Tomm Moore and Cary Joji Fukunaga are all first-time feature directors.”

Other films that figured strongly in the audience voting included Vogue documentary “The September Issue,” last year’s French sleeper hit “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” and the dark Scottish comedy “Crying With Laughter.”

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