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‘Departures’ wins at Montreal fest

'Life' takes runner-up prize

Japanese helmer Yojiro Takita’s “Departures” took home the Grand Prix des Ameriques, the top prize at the 32nd Montreal World Film Festival, which wrapped on Monday.

“Departures” is a tear-jerker about a cellist forced to take a job as an undertaker after his orchestra disbands.

The jury, headed by helmer Mark Rydell, gave the runner-up prize, the Special Grand Prix of the jury, to “The Necessities of Life,” the fiction debut from Montreal documentary helmer Benoit Pilon.

The pic is about an Inuit man in the 1950s suffering from tuberculosis who is taken by the government from his home in the far North to a sanatorium in Quebec City.

Pilon’s pic, which opened in Quebec theaters on Friday, also nabbed the public-vote awards for most popular film at the fest and most popular Canadian film.

There was speculation that the pic’s star, Natar Ungalaaq — best-known for playing the lead role in “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” — would garner the hardware for actor. But that award went to Eri Canete for Mexican pic “Teo’s Voyage.”

German thesp Barbara Sukowa won best actress for her role as a woman who falls in love with a sailor in German pic “The Invention of Curried Sausage.”

Director honors went to Belgrade-born helmer Goran Markovic for “The Tour,” about actors on tour during the war in Bosnia, which also won the critics’ Fipresci Prize. Markovic won the Grand Prix des Ameriques for his 2002 pic, “The Cordon.”

The screenplay award was a tie between Xavi Puebla and Jesus Gil for Spanish pic “Welcome to Farewell-Gutmann” and Riyoichi Kimizuka and Satoshi Suzuki for Japanese pic “Nobody to Watch Over Me”.

The artistic contribution award was given to Daniel Alfredson’s Swedish-Norwegian-Finnish co-production “Wolf” and the innovation award went to Eitan Green’s Israeli pic “It All Begins at Sea.”

Outside of the main competition, the Golden Zenith for first fiction feature was given to Arash T. Riahi’s Austrian-French pic “For a Moment, Freedom.”

The Silver Zenith went to Christian Klandt’s German pic “Weltstadt” and the Bronze Zenith went to Seyfi Teoman’s Turkish film “Summer Book.”

The public-vote Glauber Rocha Award for Latin American film was given to Eliseo Subiela’s “Don’t Look Down,” an Argentinean-French co-production, and the public voted Rajesh S. Jala’s “Children of the Pyre” best documentary.

The Ecumenical Prize was shared by “Wolf” and “Teo’s Voyage.”

Lifetime achievement awards were given to veteran exec Alan Ladd Jr., thesp Tony Curtis and Gallic actress Isabelle Huppert.

The 12-day fest was notable for the launch of Quebec pics, “The Banquet,” “The Necessities of Life” and “En plein coeur,” and opened with the world preem of Gallic pic “Faubourg 36,” the latest from “The Choir” helmer Christophe Barratier. But the competition pics generated mixed reaction.

Eddie Cockrell in Montreal contributed to this report.

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