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‘Hipsters’ nabs Black Pearl award

Middle East Film Festival hands out $1 million

LONDON — Abu Dhabi’s Middle East Film Festival wrapped Saturday night with an awards ceremony that saw more than $1 million in prize money handed out.

Russian helmer Valery Todorovsky took home the coveted Black Pearl award for best film for “Stilyagi” (Hipsters), which carries with it a $100,000 check.

Australian helmer Glendyn Ivin won the best director prize for “Last Ride” while Palestinian helmer Elia Suleiman won the best Middle Eastern narrative film for “The Time That Remains.”

Best Middle Eastern narrative director went to Turkish helmer Pelin Esmer for “10 to 11” while Mexico’s Rigoberto Perezcano got a special mention from the jury, which iconic Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami was prexy of, for his pic “Northless.”

The $100,000 Black Pearl award for documentary film went to T.C. McLuhan for “The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace,” while Turkish filmmakers Orhan Eskikoy and Ozgur Dogan won the best Middle Eastern documentary prize for “On the Way to School” (Iki Dil Bir Bavul).

One surprise absentee from the list of winners was Iraqi helmer Mohamed al-Daradji for his sophomore feature “Son of Babylon.” Pic, which world preemed at the fest, screened early on and had been heavily tipped to figure in closing night considerations.

Now in its third edition, and its first year under new exec director Peter Scarlet, the fest is showing signs of maturing into a genuine showcase for cinema and not just Abu Dhabi’s labyrinthine seven-star Emirates Palace.

Scarlet’s decision to ensure half the films selected in competition were actually from the Middle East was well received by filmmakers and auds, as was the decision to move many of the screenings away from Emirates Palace into a downtown mall. The result was a series of sold out screenings and the fest’s highest levels of local participation since it launched in 2007.

MIDDLE EAST FILM FEST AWARDS

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

Black Pearl Award for narrative film ($100,000) — “Hipsters” (Stilyagi), directed by Valery Todorovsky (Russia)

Black Pearl Award for new narrative director ($50,000) — Glendyn Ivin, “Last Ride” (Australia)

Black Pearl Award for Middle Eastern Narrative Film ($100,000) — “The Time That Remains” (Al Zaman Al Baqi), directed by Elia Suleiman (Palestine, U.K., Italy, Belgium, France)

Black Pearl Award for New Middle Eastern Narrative Director ($50,000) — Pelin Esmer, “10 to 11” (11’e 10 Kala), (Turkey, France, Germany)

Black Pearl Award for Actor ($25,000) — Hamed Behdad, “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” directed by Bahman Ghobadi (Iran)

Black Pearl Award for Actress ($25,000) — Alicia Laguna and Sonia Couoh, “Northless” (Norteado), directed by Rigoberto Perezcano (Mexico)

Jury Special Mention — “Northless” (Norteado), directed by Rigoberto Perezcano (Mexico)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

Black Pearl Award for Documentary Film ($100,000) — “The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace,” directed by T. C. McLuhan (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, U.S.)

Black Pearl Award for New Documentary Director ($50,000) — Johan Grimonprez, “Double Take” (Netherlands, Belgium)

Black Pearl Award for Middle Eastern Documentary Film ($100,000) — “On the Way to School” (Iki Dil Bir Bavul), directed by Orhan Eskikoy and Ozgur Dogan (Turkey)

Black Pearl Award for New Middle Eastern Documentary Director ($50,000) — Mohamed Zran, “Being Here” (Zarzis), Tunisia

Jury Special Mention — “The Age of Stupid,” directed by Franny Armstrong (U.K.)

SHORT FILM COMPETITION

Black Pearl Award for Narrative Short ($25,000) — “The Six Dollar Fifty Man,” directed by Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland (New Zealand)

Black Pearl Award for Documentary Short ($25,000) — “Wagah,” directed by Supriyo Sen and Najaf Bilgrami (Pakistan, India, Germany)

Black Pearl Award for Middle Eastern Short ($25,000) — “Tripoli, Quiet” (Trablos Al-Hada), directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia (Lebanon)

Black Pearl Award for Student Short — First Prize ($15,000) — “Anna,” directed by Runar Runarsson (Denmark)

Black Pearl Award for Student Short — Second Prize ($10,000) — Kasia, directed by Elisabet Llado (Belgium)

Black Pearl Award for Student Short — Third Prize ($5,000) — Schautag, directed by Marvin Kren (Germany)

Jury Special Mention (Short Narrative) — “The Employment” (El empleo), directed by Santiago “Bou” Grasso (Argentina)

Jury Special Mention (Short Documentary) — “The Herd,” directed by Ken Wardrop (Ireland)

Jury Special Mention (Middle Eastern Short) — “Fatenah,” directed by Ahmad Habash (Palestine)

Jury Special Mention (Middle Eastern Short) — “Spring 89” (Rabie 89), directed by Ayten Amin (Egypt)

Jury Special Mention (Student Short) — “Our Neck of the Woods,” directed by Rob Connolly (U.S.)