Chicago film fest covers ‘The Hole’ with top prize

'Pear Tree,' 'Wind' also receive nods

CHICAGO — Millennial musical “The Hole” by Tsai Ming-Liang of Taiwan won the Gold Hugo at the 34th Chicago Intl. Film Festival Sunday night. The eight-person jury, led by thesp Christopher Lee, awarded a Silver Hugo to “The Pear Tree” by Dariush Mehrjui of Iran and a Special Jury prize to “Wind With the Gone” by Argentina’s Alejandro Agresti.

The actor award went to the ensemble cast of “Friendly Fire” directed by Beto Brant of Brazil. Alessandra Martines was named best actress for her performance in “Chances or Coincidences” directed by her husband, Claude Lelouch.

The documentary Gold Hugo honors went to American entry “Angel on My Shoulder” in which Donna Deitch recorded the death from cancer of her good friend, rambunctious actress Gwen Welles. Also honored were two British docs: “Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance” by Kevin McDonald and Chris Rodley and “Divorce Iranian Style” from Kim Loginotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini.

The Fipresci (International Critics) prize went to the dark Russian comedy “The Outskirts” (“Okraina”) by Petr Lutsik, with a special mention to the almost-as-dark French comedy “Serial Lover” by James Huth.

The oldest competitive film festival in North America showed 111 films from more than 30 countries; its latest edition was marked with capacity in-person tributes to Lee, Pam Grier and John Boorman and a career achievement award for maverick director Monte Hellman.

“If I’d known I was going to have a career, I would’ve put more thought into it,” Hellman remarked. “By the way, this is the first award I’ve ever received. I hope I’ll get many more.”

Additional top awards were:

  • Short narrative, 15 minutes and over: “Lovely,” Graham Drysdale, Scotland;

  • Short narrative, under 15 minutes: “Little Sisters,” Andy Goddard, Scotland;

  • Student narrative, 15 minutes and over: “Seventeen Years to Earth,” Perry Lin, Columbia U.;

  • Experimental short: “The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase,” Joshua Oppenheimer, USA.

Fest, which kicked off Oct. 8 and has public screenings through Thursday, culminates with a black-tie tribute to John Travolta on Sunday.