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‘Assassin’ hits bullseye in Avignon

Strong line-up at 20th edition of fest

AVIGNON — “Interview With the Assassin,” Neil Burger’s faux docu about a purported JFK gunman bent on recognition, won the Prix Tournage as best American pic at the 20th Avignon Film Festival on Friday.

Thesp-cum-helmer Pierre Olivier’s bittersweet tale of accelerated romance “Comme si de rien n’etait” (Act Natural) took top French film honors, and “Juliette’s Belly,” Martin Provost’s tender riff on pregnancy, won the Euro pic category.

Eight-day fest, which champions indie productions, has always lent equal weight to shorts and features. The Panavision Prize for American short went to WWII intelligence drama “Surveillances” by frosh scripter-helmer Jay Weisman. Frederic Jolfre took equal honors on the French side for “La Lettre du Caire” (Letter From Cairo), a glossy mystery about murder by bowling ball.

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Documentary kudos went to Dutchman Johan Kramer for his first doc, “The Other Final,” which tracks preparations for the 2002 World Cup soccer match between the two lowest-ranked teams.

Gallic warmth

Amid strikes that caused travel delays that hampered attendance, politics also took a central role at the fest. Avignon’s deputy mayor waded through a crowd of striking thesps and technicians to declare, “Come what may, thanks to this festival, there will always be at least one solid pocket of Franco-American friendship.”