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Florida fest fetes indies

McTeer, Farnsworth receive top honors

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Janet McTeer and Richard Farnsworth, two thesps already generating Oscar buzz, received top acting prizes Friday at the 14th annual Fort Lauderdale Film Festival.

McTeer — a Tony Award winner for her star turn in the 1997 Broadway revival of “A Doll’s House” — was honored for her performance as a free-spirited, much-divorced mother who’s chronically drawn to Mr. Wrongs in Gavin O’Connor’s “Tumbleweeds.” Farnsworth earned his award for playing an elderly farmer who travels 350 miles on a riding lawnmower to visit his ailing brother in David Lynch’s “The Straight Story.”

‘Dead,’ ‘Rien’ lauded

The Fort Lauderdale Festival jury voted a tie for best picture honors: “When the Dead Start Singing,” Krsto Papic’s darkly comical drama about two Croatian emigrants who return to their strife-torn homeland in the early ’90s, and “Rien sur Robert,” Pascal Bonitzer’s French comedy about a film critic whose life falls apart after he fakes a review for a movie he has never seen.

Tim Roth received director kudos for “The War Zone,” his feature filmmaking debut, and Lara Belmont won a special Spirit of Independents prize for her performance in the stark British drama. The jury also voted awards for best world premiere (Paul Lazarus’ “Seven Girlfriends”), best Florida feature (Mark Anthony’s “Trash”), best documentary (a tie between “Children of Chabannes” and “Life in Fog”) and best short (“Mutual Love Life”).

Festival officials bestowed lifetime achievement awards upon Richard Attenborough, Norman Jewison and Eva Marie Saint, and a Star on the Horizon Award to actor Lukas Haas. This year’s fest, held Oct. 20-Nov. 14, saw an estimated 66,000 admissions.

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