‘Turtles’ flies off with Rotterdam nod

Fest closed Sunday after drawing 358,000 visitors

ROTTERDAM — Iranian Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi took home the E7,500 ($9,600) Tiscali Audience Award for “Turtles Can Fly” Saturday night at the Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam.

The award for the film, about kids in a refugee camp on the Iraqi-Turkish border, marked the first year of Internet service provider Tiscali as a major sponsor of the event.

Tiscali Nederlands director Patricia Spuijbroek said Ghobadi had informed her privately that the award would be given to the children in the camp who were the main actors in the pic.

Spuijbroek called the film “a very powerful and emotional work about survival and hope among children who are living under the most dire of circumstances.”

Fest, the largest film event of its kind in Holland, closed Sunday after drawing some 358,000 visitors and 2,586 professionals.

“Turtles Can Fly,” acquired for distribution in Holland by A-Film, beat out Danish lenser Susanne Bier’s “Brothers” in the public poll.

Slain filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s pic “06/05,” which, through Tiscali, had its world premiere on the Internet in December, had its theatrical bow at Rotterdam.

Spuijbroek said Tiscali was in negotiations to pick up rights to another Dutch pic, and had been in talks with a number of producers and directors during the fest about online premieres of their works.

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