Argentine-Swiss drama earns two awards at fest

Argentine-Swiss drama “Back to Stay” (Abrir puertas y ventanas) nabbed two Leopards at the Locarno Film Festival on Saturday when freshman helmer Milagros Mumenthaler picked up the film prize and Maria Canale took home the actress award.

Mumenthaler shares the $117,000 (90,000 Swiss francs) purse with producers Violeta Bava, David Epiney, Rosa Martinez Rivero and Eugenia Mumenthaler.

Other prizes in the international competition, handed out in a celebratory event at the outdoor Piazza Grande by jury prexy Paulo Branco, went to Romanian Adrian Sitaru for director with “Best Intentions” ($39,000). Pic’s Bogdan Dumitrache won for actor.

Israeli director Nadav Lapid took home the jury prize ($39,000) for “Policeman.”

For the first time, the jury handed out a Special Golden Leopard prize, which went to Japanese helmer Shinji Aoyama in recognition of his career as well as his competish player, “Tokyo Park.”

Mia Hansen-Love’s Cannes-preemed “Goodbye First Love” was singled out for a Special Mention.

In the Cinema of the Present section, the top award went to “Summer of Giacomo” directed by Italo helmer Alessandro Comodin, while the Jury Prize went to Santiago Mitre’s “The Student,” from Argentina. Both prizes have a $39,000 purse. Special Mention went to Portuguese docu “It’s the Earth not the Moon,” directed by Goncalo Tocha.

The Variety Piazza Grande award, given in recognition of a world or international premiere combining commercial viability with artistic qualities, was handed to Canadian French-lingo pic “Mr. Lazhar,” directed by Philippe Falardeau. It also won the public vote.

French photographer-turned-helmer Valerie Massadian won best first feature laurels for “Nana.”

In his second year as artistic topper, Olivier Pere brought an increased U.S. presence to the Swiss fest, not just with the European premieres of “Cowboys & Aliens” and Sundance-preemed “Terri,” but also with A-list stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig plus vet producer Mike Medavoy.

Leslie Caron added star wattage to the fest’s Vincente Minnelli retrospective, as well as Gerard Depardieu, Isabelle Huppert, Magali Noel and Claudia Cardinale.

Locarno’s industry side, under the guidance of Nadia Dresti, attracted 951 professionals including 251 buyers attending a jam-packed schedule of dedicated screenings. The Open Doors section highlighted projects from India and Colombia.

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