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Venice: Cuba-Set ‘Candelaria’ Wins Top Venice Days Prize

Sara Forestier's 'M' wins Europa Cinemas Label

VENICE, Italy – Colombian new wave producer-director Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza’s “Candelaria,” a drama about an elderly couple’s travails during Cuba’s deepened economic crisis in the 1990s, has won the Venice Days Award, the top nod in Venice’s independently run section.

The movie’s septuagenarians find their lives changing unexpectedly thanks to a found video camera, which re-ignites their passions. The Venice Days jury described “Candelaria” as “one of those rare films that exudes generosity and warmth to the audience by showing a non-conventional way of rediscovering love between two elderly people who are struggling to survive in Cuba.”

The award comes with a cash prize of  20,000 euros ($24,000), which is split equally between the director and the film’s international distributor, in this case Germany’s Beta Cinema, which must agree to use the sum to promote the winning film internationally. The prize-winner is chosen by a jury of 28 young European movie buffs, overseen this year by Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf (“Blackboards,” “Two-Legged Horse”).

In separate news, French actress Sara Forestier’s directorial debut “M” won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European Film in Venice Days.

“M,” which is being sold internationally by France’s Mk2, is about a girl with a stutter named Lila, played by Forestier, whose life is turned upside down when she falls in love with a man named Mo, who risks his life by racing in illegal car rallies. A jury made up of European exhibitors praised “M” for being “a charming representation of the relationship between two people scarred by life” and called it “a film with the potential to reach out and touch young audiences.”

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