U.S. pic takes Turin prize

ROME — Top honors at the 15th Turin Intl. Young Cinema Festival, which wrapped Saturday, went to U.S. entry “Clockwatchers,” a comedy about four frustrated office temps by debuting director Jill Sprecher, breaking with a four-year tradition of bestowing the main prize on a Chinese-language film.

The international competition jury made up of directors Giuseppe Bertolucci, Mario Martone and Amir Naderi; Russian film critic Peter Shepotinnik; and Chicago Film Center programmer Alissa Simon chose largely to snub the new Asian cinema the Turin event has championed in recent years, reserving plaudits instead for films mostly from Europe and North America.

Special jury prizes went to Turkish director Dervis Zaim’s low-budget drama “Somersault in a Coffin,” about a homeless man in a poverty-stricken quarter of Istanbul, which also landed the audience award, and to “Brother,” Alexej Balabanov’s dark tale of a fraternal reunion in St. Petersburg. The Russian feature also won the Fipresci (international critics) prize.

Three special mentions were awarded to comedies “Torino Boys” by Marco and Antonio Manetti (Italy) and “Kitchen Party” by Gary Burns (Canada); and, in the sole nod to Asia, to the Iranian drama “The Traveller From the South” by Parviz Shahbazi.

The major hit of the festival, not surprisingly, was the Italian premiere of Peter Cattaneo’s “The Full Monty,” with about 350 people turned away from both the opening-night and repeat screenings. Fox will release the Brit comedy in Italy early in 1998.

Now firmly established in its 15th year as Italy’s premier showcase for work by new filmmakers, the Turin fest this year clocked a 5% hike in box office revenues, with accreditations up by around 6%. Press and industry guests numbered 1,600, with a significant increase in media coverage, on national television in particular.

In the short film competition, the main award went to Lars Kraume’s “Life is Too Short to Dance With Ugly Women” (Germany), with special jury prizes to Laurent Firode’s “La Mort du Chanter de Mexico” (France) and Maciej Adamek’s “Horoskop” (Poland).

The Italian competition was won by Dario Migliardi’s “The Letter” in the dramatic section and by Daniele Gaglianone’s “Restricted-Use Premises, Total Renovation Pending” among the docs.

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