Durban film fest loves ‘Amour’

Haneke's Cannes winner nabs best film

DURBAN, South Africa — Austrian helmer Michael Haneke’s “Amour” took home top honors for film at the 33rd Durban Film Festival on Sunday.

Haneke’s powerful drama about the final months of an aging Parisian couple’s marriage continued its winning fest run, after scooping the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year.

The jury praised the German-born director as “a contemporary master with an astute understanding of his cinematic world.”

Director honors went to Benh Zeitlin for Sundance and Cannes prize-winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a stunning debut about a young girl’s backwater Louisiana upbringing, told in an idiosyncratic, magical-realist style.

The award for South African feature went to helmer Wayne Thornley’s “Zambezia,” the country’s first 3D animated pic, which was singled out by the jury for telling “an African story from an African perspective while having clear global appeal.”

“Sleeping Beauty,” by Australian novelist-turned-filmmaker Julia Leigh, was named best first feature for its depiction of a young woman who turns to high-end sex work to make ends meet.

Iranian helmer Mohammad Rasoulof’s “Goodbye,” a taut drama about a young female lawyer trying to leave Iran, was singled out for a Special Jury Mention. Rasoulof, who was arrested by the Iranian government in 2009 alongside fellow helmer Jafar Panahi, was at the fest in spite of his ongoing legal battles at home, though he returned to Iran before the awards ceremony.

Newcomer Joseph Wairimu was named best actor for his role in “Nairobi Half Life,” a crowd-pleasing coming-of-age tale by first-time director Tosh Gitonga, co-produced by German helmer Tom Tykwer’s Nairobi-based One Fine Day Films.

Actress honors went to Deanie Ip for her performance as an elderly woman forced to retire to a nursing home after suffering a stroke in Hong Kong director Ann Hui’s “A Simple Life.”

Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” won for cinematography (Gokhan Tiryaki) and screenplay (Ercan Kesal, Ercan Ceylan and Bilge Ceylan).

Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s intimate, moving look at protests in the Palestinian Territories, “5 Broken Cameras,” was awarded best documentary.

Best South African documentary went to Bryan Little’s “The African Cypher,” which delved into the world of dance in South Africa’s impoverished townships.

Brit helmer Dominic Allan received a Special Jury Mention for docu “Calvet,” about French-born, Nicaraguan-based artist Jean Marc Calvet.

Spanish helmer Jaime Dezcallar won the prize for short film for “The Spider.” The award for South African short went to “Doppelganger,” by Joshua Rous.

The Amnesty Intl. Durban Human Rights Award went to docu “Call Me Kuchu,” by American helmers Malika Zouhali-Worral and Katherine Fairfax Wright, for its depiction of the perils facing Uganda’s gay community.

Audience Choice honors went to Luc Besson’s “The Lady” for feature, Malik Bendjelloul’s “Searching for Sugarman” for docu and American helmer Curt Morgan’s “The Art of Flight” in the surf-themed Wavescape competition.

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