MONTREAL — Majid Majidi won his second Grand Prix of the Americas at the Montreal World Film Festival on Monday night, marking the first time in the fest’s history that a filmmaker has taken top honors more than once.
“The Color of Paradise,” the latest pic from the Iranian writer-director, was awarded the Grand Prix at the closing ceremonies held Monday night at the Loews Cinema in Montreal; there were no major multiple winners.
“Paradise” — formerly titled “The Colour of God” — is a story about an 8-year-old blind boy who returns with his father, a poor coal worker, to his home village in the northern highlands of Iran. The film revolves around the boy’s fascination with nature and his dad’s quest for a new bride.
Two years ago, Majidi’s “The Children of Heaven” also won the Grand Prix of the Americas in Montreal, and the film, which was released by Miramax in the U.S., garnered an Oscar nomination this year in the foreign-language film category.
The Special Grand Prix of the Jury was awarded to Italian director Giuseppe Piccioni’s “Not Of This World,” a tale of a young nun whose life is shaken up when she’s handed an infant baby, and American director Hampton Fancher’s “The Minus Man,” an offbeat indie offering starring Owen Wilson, Brian Cox, and Janeane Garofalo.
Montreal writer-director Louis Belanger was awarded the prize as best director for his first film, “Post Mortem,” a dark story that touches on sex, violent crime, necrophilia, and romantic love.
Spanish auteur Carlos Saura’s “Goya in Bordeaux,” which received strong public and critical reaction, won for best artistic contribution. The award for best actress went to Nina Hoss for her role in the German period piece “The Volcano,” and the actor nod went to veteran Japanese actor Ken Takakura for his turn as a small-town station master in “Poppoya.”
French writer-director Pierre Jolivet and co-writer Simon Michael won for best screenplay for “My Little Business.”
The first prize in the short-film competition was given to Kirsten Winter’s “Just in Time” from Germany, with the second prize going to “Village of Idiots,” an animated film from Oscar-winning filmmakers Eugene Fedorenko and Rose Newlove. Fedorenko and Newlove’s National Film Board production also nabbed the FIPRESCI International Critics Award.
The Air Canada People’s Choice Award, voted on by the public, went to the Chinese film “Postmen in the Mountains” from director Huo Jianqi. Moviegoers voted “Goya in Bordeaux” as the second most popular film at the festival, with “The Color of Paradise” ranking third.
The public voted Quebec film-maker Jean Beaudin’s “Memories Unlocked” as the best Canadian feature at the festival, which entitled the film to the $25,000 ($17,000) Telefilm Canada Award. The Prix de Montreal for best first feature was given to Mexican director Juan Carlos Rulfo’s “Juan, I Forgot, I Don’t Remember,” with a special mention going to the Belgian pic “The Carriers Are Waiting.”
The jury for the competition prizes was led by Swedish thesp Bibi Andersson and included German helmer Percy Adlon, Quebec actress Charlotte Laurier, Italian filmmaker Mario Monicelli, Irish director Pat O’Connor, Irish actor Stephen Rea and Argentinian director Fernando Solanas.
Industry action was slow at the Montreal festival, but most pics played to packed houses and Montreal audiences once again showed they have no shortage of enthusiasm for seeking out cinematic discoveries from around the world.