Poliak’s ‘Parapalos’ picks up top prize

Buenos Aires fest fetes international pix

This article was updated at 2:08 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — “Parapalos,” the third feature by helmer-scribe Ana Poliak, took top honors at the Buenos Aires Intl. Festival of Independent Film, which wrapped Sunday.

The pic — the first domestic entry to win the fest — explores the micro-universe of a young man who resets pins at a bowling alley.

The seven-person competition jury, which included Argentine vet helmer Manuel Antin and German scribe Wieland Speck, gave a special mention, the second most important prize, to Spain’s Jaime Rosales for “The Hours of the Day,” a serial-killer drama.

Singapore’s Royston Tan took the director nod for his debut feature, “15,” about five street kids.

Pietro Sibille took home the actor award for his perf as a young war veteran in Peruvian helmer Josue Mendez’s “Dias de Santiago” (Days of Santiago), while Hwang Jeong-min scooped the actress prize for her role in South Korean helmer Jeong Jun-hwan’s dark comedy “Save the Green Planet!”

Fest, once again under the direction of Argentine film critic Eduardo “Quintin” Antin, saw attendance rise 20% from last year, with some 120,000 tix sold for the 330 features and shorts over fest’s 12 days.

Expectations of strong attendance — overall, B.O. is gaining as the nation’s economy grows robustly after an abysmal slump in 2002 — led organizers to add an extra day and more screens to the 6-year-old fest. It is now Argentina’s biggest film event in number of screenings.

Confirming once again the strength of local low-budget indie production, a handful of new titles attracted attention. One of the most compelling and mysterious was Lisandro Alonso’s starkly simple tale of a man in search of his daughter, “The Dead” (Los Muertos), which screened out of competition prior to its unveiling in Cannes’ Directors Fortnight.

Depicting Argentina’s economic crisis through the eyes of small town dwellers, Alejo Hernan Taube’s “One or the Other” won the film award in the domestic competition. Daniel Rosenfeld’s docu on a redneck-turned-football coach for an all-native Indios team, “The Chimera of the Hero,” earned a special mention.

Winners in other categories were:

Short film: “El Patio” directed by Milagros Mumenthaler

Human Rights Watch prize: “S21 The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine” by Rithy Panh; special mention to “Route 181, Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel” by Eyal Sivan and Michel Khleifi

Fipresci international critics prize: “Before Time Changes” (Antes che o tempo mude) by Luis Fonseca (Portugal)

Cultural Diversity Award: “B-Happy,” Gonzalo Justiniano (Chile)

Audience prizes: “Whiskey Romeo Zulu” by Enrique Pineyro (domestic) and “The Story of the Weeping Camel” by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni (international).

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