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Gijon gung-ho for ‘Christmas’

Romanian film takes top prize at Spanish festival

Radu Muntean’s “Tuesday, After Christmas” and Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff” dominated top plaudits at Spain’s 48th Gijon Festival on Saturday.

A naturalistic widescreen chronicle of a disintegrating marriage, “Christmas” scooped not only best pic but also actor for Mimi Branescu and actress for Mirela Oprisor and Maria Popistasu.

In further recognition of the continuing vitality of Romanian cinema, the slow-fused killer drama “Aurora,” from “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” helmer Cristi Puiu, took production design for Vali Ighigheanu and Andreea Popa.

A studied feminist Western, “Cutoff” won Reichardt director and the Gijon fest’s Fipresci award.

Fest opened Nov. 19 in its 16th year under director Jose Luis Cienfuegos. Competition lineup packed many standouts, if not always the most obvious titles, from other major fests. That meant early competition standouts — Australia’s “Animal Kingdom,” Mexico’s “Leap Year” and Spain’s “Every Song Is About Me” — went home empty-handed. Other titles had to hunt around the margins.

Coming-of-age tale “Tilva Rosh,” from Serbian first-timer Nikola Leaic, landed the weightiest kudo — Gijon’s special jury prize.

Benjamin Heisenberg and Martin Prinz won screenplay for Berlin competition player “The Robber,” Heisenberg’s adaptation of Prinz’s novel.

Bafici Argentina Competition winner “Winter House,” Gonzalo Castro’s docu feature about Mexican writer Mario Bellatin and the docu form in general, nabbed Gijon’s nonfiction prize.Seriocomic “The Happy Poet,” written, directed and starring Yank Paul Gordon as the operator of an organic hot dog cart, won the audience award at Gijon’s more offbeat Rellumes sidebar.

And the winners are:

PRINCE OF ASTURIAS PRIZE

“Tuesday, After Christmas” (Radu Muntean, Romania)

DIRECTOR

Kelly Reichardt (“Meek’s Cutoff,” U.S.)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“Tilva Rosh,” (Nikola Lezaic, Serbia)

ACTOR

Mimi Branescu (“Tuesday, After Christmas”)

ACTRESS

Mirela Oprisor and Maria Popistasu (“Tuesday, After Christmas”)

SCREENPLAY

Benjamin Heisenberg and Martin Prinz (“The Robber,” Germany)

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Vali Ighigheanu and Andreea Popa, (“Aurora,” Romania, Israel, France, Germany)

PRINCE OF ASTURIAS, SHORT FILM

“Coming Attractions” (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria) and “Mercurio” (Sandro Aguilar, Portugal)

OTHER PRIZES:

NON-FICTION/DOCUMENTARY PRIZE

“Winter House” (Gonzalo Castro, Argentina)

FIPRESCI PRIZE

“Meek’s Cutoff”

YOUTH JURY, FEATURE

“Blue Valentine” (Derek Cianfrance, U.S.) and “Todos vos sodes capitans” (Oliver Laxe, Spain)

ENFANTS TERRIBLES, FEATURE FOR UNDER-13s

“Iep!” (Ellen Smith, Holland, Belgium)

ENFANTS TERRIBLES, FEATURES FOR OVER-13s

“Soulboy” (Shimmy Marcus, U.K.)

PRINCE OF ASTURIAS NEW DIRECTOR’S PRIZE

“La chica que se baja del tren” (Elisa Cepedal, Spain)

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