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‘Tulpan’ is tops at Zurich

Win caps biggest-ever year for growing festival

ZURICH — Swiss-Kazakh co-production “Tulpan” won the top film prize at the Zurich Film Festival on Sunday, capping the biggest-ever year for the young and growing fest.

The Zurich jury, whose prez was Peter Fonda, was captivated by helmer Sergey Dvortsevoy’s story of a young man’s quest for happiness in the bleak and desolate environment of the Steppes.

” ‘Tulpan’ is a very worthy winner and is one of the most important and touching films that I have seen in the last couple of years,” fest director Karl Spoerri said. The festival opened Sept. 25.

Arash T. Riahi’s refugee drama “For a Moment, Freedom” took the Golden Eye award for debut feature, while “Blind Loves,” a Slovak production about love between the sight-impaired won for documentary film.

Costa-Gavras was honored with a Golden Eye award for his life work. The fest’s growing reputation also lured Sylvester Stallone who accepted an award and gave a master-class to young talent.

The fest attracted around 36,000 visitors this year, roughly a third more than in 2007. Prize money of 60,000 Swiss francs ($53,159) was awarded in the international competition.

“In terms of both content and scale we have grown significantly,” said Spoerri. “We had significant numbers of international guests and media this year and that is a great step forward.”

With a budget of $3.1 million, the fest relies on private coin and has more than 60 partners.

“The festival has grown much faster than planned,” marketing and sponsoring director Nadja Schildknecht said. “I have a good feeling that our sponsors will continue to believe in the festival.”