Apetri's pic takes top honor

THESSALONIKI Greece — Romanian and Greek pics won big at the 51st Thessaloniki Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday in the port city’s Olympic Theater.

Romanian-Austrian “Outbound,” Bogdan George Apetri’s story of a girl’s precious day on leave from prison, won the Golden Alexander for best pic and actress honors for Ana Ularu.

Greece’s “Attenberg,” director Athina Rachel Tsangari’s tale of a young woman’s sexual awakening, scored the Silver Alexander while the Bronze went to husband and wife helmers Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas’ “Jean Gentil,” a German-Dominican-Mexican account of a Haitian’s lonely quest for a living in the Dominican Republic.

Helmer Marian Crisan scored director honors for French-Hungarian-Romania co-production “Morgen,” a tale of bonds forged with an illegal immigrant. Pic’s Andras Hathazi and Yilmaz Yalcin shared actor kudo.

It also took home the Fipresci critics’ prize, as did Ari Bafalouka’s “Apnea,” about a competitive swimmer and his missing girlfriend.

Polish helmer Marek Lechki won screenplay prize for “Erratum,” a man’s reassessment of his life forced by a tragic accident.

Turkish helmer Belma Bas’ “Zephyr,” about childhood isolation, won for artistic achievement.

Audience prizes went to Greek dirctor Christos Nikoleris’ “Nobody,” Norway’s “A Somewhat Gentle Man,” by Hans petter Moland, and Danis Tanovic’s “Cirkus Columbia,” a Bosnian-French-U.K.-German-Belgian co-production.

The fest was not disrupted by students demonstrating against Greece’s new austerity measures — the dire state of the country’s finances seemed almost a distant problem as fest fans packed screening halls in the reinvigorated docks area, now filled with galleries, cinemas and bars.

However, Minister of Culture and Tourism Pavlos Geroulanos reminded the audience at the closing event that the fest’s future depends on its ability to “do less with more.”

Fest has turned a corner, he added. The debts that put this year’s event in doubt have been taken on by the ministry, which has faith in the fest’s viability under the new leadership of prexy Dimitri Eipides.

Meanwhile, the country’s new film fund law, which goes to parliament shortly, aims to ensure more coin reaches young filmmakers.

Fest confirmed its focus on developing new voices with its Agora market earlier in the week. It awarded Greek/German project “September” and Turkey’s “The Last Sleepless” $9,250 each. Serbia’s “The Barbarians” and Croatia’s “The House” get $4,625 each.

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