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Albert Serra Film Wins Locarno Top Prize

Joaquim Pinto nabs Special Jury Prize as festival wraps

Story of My Death,” Catalan director Albert Serra’s imagined meeting of two oft-filmed historical figures—Casanova and Dracula—won the Golden Leopard Saturday night at the 66th Locarno Film Festival, the first edition under the stewardship of festival director Carlo Chatrian.

The international competition jury headed by Filipino helmer Lav Diaz awarded the second-place Special Jury Prize to Portugal’s Joaquim Pinto for “What Now? Remind Me,” a widely admired diary film documenting the filmmaker’s battle against his combined HIV and Hepatitis C infections. Pic also nabbed the top prize of the FIPRESCI international film critics association.

The prolific Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo copped the best director Leopard for “Our Sunhi,” his second new film to premiere this year, following Berlin competition entry “Nobody’s Daughter Haewon.”

A double winner earlier this year at SXSW, Destin Cretton’s “Short Term 12” added another two prizes to its festival tally, earning best actress honors for star Brie Larson as well as a special jury mention. Newcomer Fernando Bacilio was named best actor for “El Mudo,” the latest from Peruvian directors Daniel and Diego Vega (“Octubre”).

Also earning a special jury mention was “Tableau Noir,” Swiss director Yves Yersin’s portrait of a one-room Neuchatel schoolhouse.

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In the Cinema of the Present competition devoted to new and emerging filmmakers, the top prize went to directors Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez for “Manakamana,” a portrait of Nepalese villagers traveling by cable car to a sacred temple. A project of the Harvard University Sensory Ethnography Lab, previously responsible for festival favorites “Sweetgrass” and “Leviathan,” the film was hailed by jury president Hartmut Bitomsky as one that “redefines ethnographic filmmaking” and “pushes the new space in between anthropology, conceptual art and documentary practice.”

The same jury awarded best director honors to Spain’s Lois Patino for the documentary “Cosa da Morte,” and a Special Jury Prize to France’s Gilles Deroo and Marianne Pistone for “Mouton.” Latter pic was also named best first feature by the Opera Prima jury (on which this writer served).

The UBS-sponsored audience award went to Canadian director Louise Archimbault’s “Gabrielle,” while the Variety Piazza Grande Award was presented to “2 Guns,” the second Hollywood outing for Baltasar Kormakur, whose debut feature “101 Reykjavik” premiered in Locarno 13 years ago.

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