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Montreal fest breathes ‘Oxygen’

Van Nuffel's Belgian-Dutch co-production wins Grand Prix

Belgian-Dutch co-production “Oxygen” won the top Grand Prix des Americas at the 34th Montreal World Film Festival, which wrapped Monday night.

The awards were handed out at Theatre Maisonneuve in Place des Arts just before the screening of Gallic helmer Bertrand Tavernier’s period romantic drama “The Princess of Montpensier,” the fest’s closing pic.

“Oxygen,” directed by Hans Van Nuffel, is a Flemish-language film about a man suffering from cystic fibrosis, and it was one of the buzz items in competition in Montreal.

The Special Grand Prix of the jury, the second prize, went to Italian helmer Gianfrancesco Lazotti’s “From the Waist Up,” about a young woman in love with a man serving a lengthy prison term. She turns to a friend, who is confined to a wheelchair, to pen love letters to the inmate in the Cyrano de Bergerac-style tale.

The director prize was shared by Maria Sodahl for “Limbo,” a Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Trinidad and Tobago co-production, and Gallic thesp-turned-helmer Pascal Elbe for “Turk’s Head,” both feature directorial debuts.

Eri Fukatsu took actress honors for the Japanese pic “Villain” from director Lee Sang-Il, while Montreal thesp Francois Papineau won actor laurels for his role as a father grieving the loss of his 5-year-old son in the Quebec film “Route 132,” which opened the fest.

The screenplay prize went to the Mexican pic “From Childhood,” penned by Silvia Pasternac, Fernando Leon de Aranoa and helmer Carlos Carrera. It also nabbed the Glauber Rocha award for Latin American film.

Polish helmer Jan Jakub Kolski’s “Venice” won for artistic contribution.

Helmer Julie Hivon’s “Silence Lies,” about a photographer obsessed with her model, merited the Innovation Award and the award for most popular Canadian film at the fest.

The award for most popular international film was shared by Spanish pic “Paper Birds,” from helmer Emilio Aragon, and German pic “The Day I Was Not Born” from helmer Florian Cossen, which also won the Fipresci jury nod.

The Golden Zenith for first feature went to Italian pic “Liquid Love” from director Mario Luca Cattaneo; the Silver Zenith went to Russian pic “Reverse Motion” from director Andrey Stempkovsky; and the Bronze Zenith went to Gallic pic “The Sentiment of the Flesh,” by Roberto Garzelli.

The award for documentary was won by the Argentine/Cuban/Spanish pic “Che, a New Man” from helmer Tristan Bauer.

The Ecumenical jury gave its prizes to “Oxygen” and “The Day I Was Not Born.”

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