‘Souls’ takes Rocky path at Banff fest

Brits, Americans left with four awards each

BANFF — French documentary “La Terre des Ames Errantes” (“The Land of the Wandering Souls”) took the grand prize at the 22nd Banff Rocky Awards Monday.

“La Terre,” produced by La Sept Arte/INA, concerns the first optical fiber cable laid across Cambodia. It won C$50,000 ($32,500) as well as the statuette for best social and political docu at the awards, the highlight of the weeklong international TV fest set in the Canadian Rockies.

American productions and co-productions drew four awards. “The Sopranos” led the pack, winning the coveted prize for continuing series for the second year running. Sports program kudos went to “Greener Grass — Cuba, Baseball and the United States” from Thirteen-WNET, Bright Pictures and Mosaic Films. U.S./France co-production “Napoleon” received the Rocky for history and biography program, and “Bash — Latterday Plays” from Steven Pevner Inc. received a special jury award.

The Brits also took four prizes. Set aboard the Rubber Duck, the smallest pirate galleon on the high seas, the short “Yoho Ahoy: Buzz With Jones,” from the Consortium of Gentlemen for the BBC, won best animated program. Granada took the short drama prize with “I Saw You,” as well as the children’s program nod with “My Parents Are Aliens: The Family Way”; Baby Cow’s “Human Remains — an English Squeak,” for the BBC, took the comedy nod.

The too-many-cooks adage doesn’t apply to television, apparently, as several multinational co-productions were recognized this year. “Kurt Gerron’s Karusell,” from Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and France snatched the arts documentary nod; the president’s prize went to a co-production from Japan, New Zealand, the U.S. and Germany, “Wild Asia: Creatures of the Thaw”; and “The Gold Rush,” from Sweden, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium and Finland took a special jury award.

“Soldiers by Moonlight,” from Sweden and Finland, won the coveted miniseries statuette, and a Dutch/British co-production from Peter Greenaway, “Rosa — the Death of a Composer,” grabbed the performance program prize. “Report: State Hypocrisy,” from Italian pubcaster RAI, won information program kudos.

Australia’s “Silhouettes of the Desert” from David Curl took the popular science and national history program nod. “Waiting at the Royal” from Apollo Films and Artist Services, also from Down Under, garnered telepic kudos.

The seven-member international jury handed out awards in 14 categories, with special jury prizes going to three others at the black-tie event. Fest runs until Friday.