'Chinese Take-Away' Wins Top Prize at Rome International Film Festival

French "See How They Dance" and Australian "The Eye of the Storm" take home jury prizes.

ROME – Un cuento chino (Chinese Take-Away), the quirky comedy about the relationship between a reclusive Spanish hardware store owner and a Spanish-speaking Chinese immigrant in the country looking for a lost relative, was the big winner at the Rome International Film Festival, nabbing both the Marcus Aurelius prize for Best Film and the special audience award.
 
The 98-minute film -- produced by Spain’s Tornasol Films and Castalfiore Films, and written and directed by Sebastian Borenszyein -- stars Ricardo Darin and Huang Sheng Huang in the two main roles.
 
The festival, which wrapped up Friday, gave the jury prize to Voyez comme ils dansent (See How They Dance), from France’s Claude Miller. The film tells the story of two women in love with the same man, who has mysteriously vanished.
 
A second jury prize, something not normally awarded in Rome, was give to Fred Schepisi’s Australian film about the drama swirling around the death of an heiress, The Eye of the Storm.
 
Noomi Rapace, who plays a woman trying to escape with her small child from an abusive husband in Pal Sletaune’s Scandinavian drama Babycall, and Guillaume Canet, who plays a cook in Cedric Kahn’s Une vie meilleure (A Better Life), took home the main acting prizes.
 
The award for Best Original Score went to Ralf Wengenmayr for his work on Hotel Lux, an unusual German comedy about a cabaret actor who performs a Hitler-Stalin routine in Nazi Germany. The film was directed by Leander Haussmann.
 
All of the films that won major prizes were Italian or European premieres, though none was a world premiere.
 
Girl Model, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, was the most successful U.S. film at the festival, taking home the prize in the festival’s innovative Extra sidebar’s section for documentaries. The film explores the abuse of young aspiring models, including a decision by the film crew to break ethics rules and to get involved in order to help a 13-year-old Siberian girl.
 
Richard Gere was given the festival’s Marcus Aurelius award for career acting, the day after he presented the screening of a refurbished version of Terrence Mallick’s 1978 classic Days of Heaven, where Gere played a young farm worker who comes up with a get-rich scheme that ends up backfiring.
 
It was Gere’s second visit to the six-year-old Rome festival in three years, and he has established a strong rapport with fans of the event: on Thursday he spent a full hour on the red carpet, signing autographs, chatting with fans, and posing for photos.
 
Piera Detassis, the festival’s artistic director, proclaimed the festival a success a point of view held by the local press, which said this year’s edition of the six-year-old festival may go down as Rome’s most successful yet.
 
But earlier in the festival, Detassis, who has been involved with the event since it started, complained that it was also among the most difficult because of many unexpected demands from stars attending the event, though she didn’t name names.

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