‘Down’ wins at Lleida festival

Argentine pics dominate

BARCELONA — Argentina swept the top plaudits at the 14th Lleida Latin American Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday.

But, as significantly, Uruguay’s boutique national cinema faced up to the Argentinean Armada, nabbed three kudos at the Catalan meet.

Eliseo Subiela’s out-and-out erotic “Don’t Look Down” took best picture with a story about the Tao sexual initiation of a 19-year-old youngster, who suffers from sleepwalking and is traumatized by the recent death of his father.

“Down” already nabbed directing kudos at Guadalajara fest.

“I tried to make an anti-porn picture, where sex, love, life and death formed the plot’s backbone,” said vet Argentine helmer-writer Subiela (“Man Looking Southeast,” “The Dark Side of the Heart”).

“Down’s” triumph is the second year in a row that an Argentine film has topped Lleida, after “Through Your Eyes,” directed by Argentina’s Rodrigo Furth, won in 2007.

Directing prize also went to an Argentine baton — Ariel Rotter for his Pirandellian fable “The Other,” which also picked up actor for Julio Chavez.

Chavez plays a man trapped in middle-aged crisis, who appropriates another person’s identity.

An Argentina-France-German co-production, “Other” won the grand jury and actor prizes at Berlin in 2007.

Actress kudos went to Cecilia Suarez for her perf in Ernesto Contreras’ Mexican blue dramedy “Blue Eyelids” as a spineless and humble clerk at a Mexico City company who wins a trip for two to a paradise-like resort.

First feature and pubcaster TVE’s cash prize, worth Euros 60,000 ($94,400) for broadcast rights, went to Uruguay-France-Brazil co-production “The Pope’s Toilet,” a black laffer double-hander from Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone, Fernando Meirelles’ regular d.p. (“Blindness,” “The Constant Gardener,” “City of God”).

Screenwriter trio Pablo Vierci, Alejandra Marino and Daniel Henriquez took screenplay award for the political thriller “Kill Them All,” about a lone woman lawyer battling her own past and a corrupt government.

Directed by Uruguayan Esteban Schroeder, pic also has Uruguayan coin, in co-production with Chile and Argentina.

The audience award went to Argentine bitter comedy “Mas que un hombre.” Directed by TV comedian Dady Brieva and first-timer Gerardo Vallina, pic portrays the accidental encounter of an on-the-run political activist with Telmo, a singular gay couturier who offers him refuge under Argentina’s sinister military junta.

Fest director Juan Ferrer told Daily Variety he was delighted at the attendance — theaters were often crowded, he said — and that the Catalan government had promised to increase coin for the fest.

Lleida fest will offer a fest retrospective in Buenos Aires running April 26-30, and another one in Rome next July.

The Lleida fest has been chosen by AECID — Spain’s international development agency — to represent Latin America, hosting fest retrospectives at AECID’s 28 centers worldwide.

“We’re becoming kind of ambassadors for Latin America,” Ferrer said.

14th Latin American Film Festival ran April 11-18 in Lleida, a sedate town 100 miles west from Barcelona, which is renowned for its tasty grilled snails.

THE WINNERS
PICTURE

“Don’t Look Down” (Eliseo Subiela, Argentina)

ACTRESS
Cecilia Suarez (“Blue Eyelids,” Mexico)

ACTOR
Julio Chavez (“The Other,” Argentina/France/Germany)

DIRECTOR
Ariel Rotter (“The Other”)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY/CASA AMERICA PRIZE
Pablo Vierci, Alejandra Marino, Daniel Henriquez (“Kill Them All,” Chile/Argentina/Uruguay)

NEW DIRECTOR
Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone (“The Pope’s Toilet,” Uruguay/France/Brazil)

TVE PRIZE
“The Pope’s Toilet”

AUDIENCE AWARD
“Mas que un hombre” (Gerardo Vallina and Dady Brieva, Argentina)

SHORT
“Paseo” (Arturo Ruiz, Spain)

DOCUMENTARY
“M” (Nicolas Prividera, Argentina)

DOCUMENTARY/KARMA PRIZE
“Lagrimas Wayronco” (Jorge Meyer, Spain)

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