Buzzed-about title was first foreign investment for Participant

Chilean Pablo Larrain’s ”No,” the first investment by Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media in a foreign-language film, swept the top Art Cinema Award at Cannes’ 44th Directors’ Fortnight.

The Directors’ Fortnight plaudit completes a near perfect Cannes for ”No,” which was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for North America and rapidly emerged as one of the most buzzed-about titles in the Festival.

Based on true events, ”No” stars Gael Garcia Bernal as an ad man who, when Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet staged a referendum in 1988 to gain a further eight-year term in office, launched a brilliantly upbeat ad campaign which, against all odds, ousted Pinochet from power.

The Art Cinema Prize vindicates at least two bold decisions at Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Chile-based Fabula outfit, which is rapidly emerging as one of Latin America’s most prolific and diversified film producers: To make a large step up in scale after ”Tony Manero” and ”Post Mortem”; and to shoot in period U-matic stock. Daniel Dreifuss produced with Juan de Dios Larrain. ”No” is sold by Funny Balloons. Wild Bunch Distribution has just acquired French distribution rights.

In further Directors’ Fortnight awards, vet Algerian helmer Merzak Allouache’s powerful psychological drama ”The Repentant,” a study of Islamic fundamentalism, won the Europa Cinemas Label for best European film in Directors’ Fortnight.

”Yacine Djadi and Jacque Bidou and Marianne Demoulin at Paris-based JBA Prod. produced.

Gallic helmer Noemie Lvovsky’s Directors’ Fortnight closer ”Camille Rewinds,” a romantic second-chance movie, nabbed the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers’ SACD Prize, given to a French-language film in the section.

Turkish thesp-turned auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan (”Three Monkeys,” ”Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”) picked up the Carosse d’Or Prize May 17. Created by the French Directors’ Guild, plaudit goes to innovative filmmakers, who show audacity and independence.

The first edition under artistic director Edouard Waintrop, the 44th Directors’ Fortnight drew wide praise for the quality of many titles and a catholic spread of movies many of which , ”No” is a perfect example , suggest considerable cross-over potential.

And the winners are:

ART CINEMA AWARD 2012
”No,” (Pablo Larrain, Chile-U.S.-Mexico)

EUROPA CINEMAS LABEL 2012
”The Repentant,” (Merzak Allouache, Algeria-France)

SACD PRIZE 2012
”Camille Rewinds,” (Noemi Lvovsky, France)

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