Sydney film fest honors ‘Bronson’

Refn-directed biopic wins top prize

SYDNEY — Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Bronson,” a biopic about the U.K.’s most violent prisoner, won the A$60,000 ($48,000) Sydney Film Prize on Sunday as the Sydney Film Festival wrapped.

Pic stars Tom Hardy as bank robber Michael Peterson, who calls himself Charles Bronson after the Hollywood action star. Now 56, Petersen has been in jail for most of his adult life.

This is the second year the 56-year-old fest has awarded a cash prize.

“Bronson” went up against fest opener “Looking for Eric,” from Ken Loach; local films “Disgrace,” by Steve Jacobs, Khoa Do’s “Missing Water” and Rachel Ward’s “Beautiful Kate”; Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience”; Tsai Ming-liang’s “Face”; Henry Selick’s “Coraline”; Alexey German Jr’s “Paper Soldier”; Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delepine’s “Louise-Michel”; Sebastian Silva’s “The Maid”; and Peter Bronsen’s “Altiplano.”

Five-man jury, lead by helmer Rolf de Heer, included German director Oliver Hirschbiegel, Canadian director Ted Kotcheff, Oz thesp Miranda Otto and Danish helmer Lone Scherfig.

The inaugural Australian Documentary Prize was a tie between “Contact,” directed and produced by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler, about a 17-year-old Aboriginal girl’s first contact with white men, and Safina Uberoi’s “A Good Man,” about a struggling Australian farmer, his quadriplegic wife and their plans to open a brothel.

Cabler Foxtel, which sponsors the prize, doubled the usual $8,000 pot to $16,000 upon learning of the split result.