The 65th edition of the Locarno Film Festival came to a climax this past weekend, with the announcement of the Festival’s Leopard Awards. THE GIRL FROM NOWHERE, a low budget self-discovery drama by French director Jean-Claude Brisseau, won the prestigious Golden Leopard prize. The film tells the story of an aging widower whose life is renewed as he helps a young homeless girl back to health. The 68-year-old Brisseau was the film’s director, producer, and screenwriter, and he played the role of the widower. The film was made on a budget of just $75,000 and mostly set in Brisseau’s Paris apartment. The cash prize (90,000 Swiss Francs or $91,000) already pays for the entire production budget, although there is wide speculation that the film will be picked up (for at least European) distribution as a result of its win.
Bob Byington’s comedy SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME won the special jury prize. The quirky comedy is about a man who glides through life and marriage mostly unaware. WHEN NIGHT FALLS by Chinese director Liang Ying, won a Best Director prize and a Best Actress award for An Nai, who plays the mother of a young man who has killed six Shanghai policemen after being beaten for riding an unlicensed bike. Walter Saabel won the award as Best Actor for his role in the German film DER GLANZ DES TAGES, a war drama about five small German children who embark on an adventure in the closing days of World War II. CAMILLE REWINDS by Noemie Lvovsky, a story about a middle-aged woman who mysteriously falls back in time to her high-school days, won the Piazza Grande Award for films that screened in Locarno’s main square.
Among the festival’s other awards, U.S. director Joel Potrykus, whose comedy APE screened in the Filmmakers of the Present sidebar, won two of the festival’s top secondary prizes: for Potrykus as Best Emerging Director, and as a special mention from the jury awarding the prize for Best First Feature. The film tells the story of a disgruntled pyromaniac comedian. The winner of the prize for Best First Feature was the autobiographical MEMORIES LOOK AT ME by Chinese director Song Fang, who cast himself and his family members in a tense drama of familial bonds. For more information on these and other films at the Locarno Film Festival, visit: www.pardo.ch