'Dark Skull' Tops Cartagena Film Fest in Colombia

Courtesy of Berlinale
'So Long Enthusiasm'

Berlinale entry 'So Long Enthusiasm' snagged best director and best Colombian film honors at Latin America's longest-running film festival.

Kiro Russo's first feature Dark Skull on Monday took home the top prize at the 57th edition of the Cartagena International Film Festival in Colombia, the oldest fest in Latin America.

A drama set in a Bolivian mining community, Dark Skull premiered at Locarno, where it won a special mention. Russo's first film also collected awards in San Sebastian, Rio de Janeiro and Valdivia.

Vladimir Duran's Argentina-Colombia co-production So Long Enthusiasm earned best director honors, while also topping the Colombian competition. Duran's family drama premiered in the Forum section of this year's Berlinale.

Ruben Mendoza (a former Cartagena winner with Dust on the Tongue) won the best Colombian director award for Miss María: Skirting the Mountain.

Clare Weiskopf and Nicolas Van Hemelryck's Amazonas won the Audience Award for local films, granted by Ibero-American association EGEDA, organizers of the Platino Awards.

The Blind Christ, directed by Christopher Murray and which premiered in the main competition of the Venice Film Festival, was the pick of the film critics' federation FIPRESCI.

Paraguay's Paz Encina collected both the best director and best film prizes in the documentary competition for Ejercicios de memoria.

Cartagena's industry sidebar Puerto Ficci delivered several funding and support prizes for Latin American projects in different stages of preproduction. The Puerto Lab prize was awarded to Jazmines en Lidice by Rubén Sierra Salles.

This year's special guests at the fest included French actor Vincent Cassel (Jason Bourne), renowned Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Cemetery of Splendour) and legendary French actor Denis Lavant (Holy Motors). 

The festival kicked off with a historic ceremony held by Colombian president and Nobel Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, who joined FARC guerrilla commanders to celebrate the recent peace agreement that ended more than 50 years of armed conflict. The ceremony included the premiere of Nathalia Orozco's documentary El silencio de los fusiles, which describes the behind-the-scenes activity of the peace negotiations and features testimonies from the Colombian government and FARC members.

Latin America's longest-running festival closed its 57th edition on Monday night with a screening of Felipe Bragança's Don't Swallow My Heart, Alligator Girl, which premiered at Sundance.

Below is the full list of awards. 

BEST PICTURE, OFFICIAL COMPETITION
Dark Skull (Kiro Russo)

BEST DIRECTOR, OFFICIAL COMPETITION
Vladimir Duran (So Long Enthusiasm)

FIPRESCI PRIZE
The Blind Christ (Christopher Murray)

BEST PICTURE, COLOMBIAN COMPETITION
So Long Enthusiasm (Vladimir Duran)

BEST DIRECTOR, COLOMBIAN COMPETITION
Rubén Mendoza (Señorita María)

AUDIENCE AWARD, COLOMBIAN PICTURE
Amazonas (Clare Weiskopf, Nicolas Van Hemelryck)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Ejercicios de memoria (Paz Encina)
Special mention: The Territories (Iván Granovski)

BEST DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR
Paz Encina (Ejercicios de memoria)

GEMS
Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)

BEST SHORT
Cucli (Xavier Marrades)
Special mention: Cilaos (Camilo Restrepo)

NEW CREATORS: SHORT FILM
Menguante (Melisa Zapata Montoya)
Special mention: Lulita (Andrés Mahecha)

PUERTO FICCI
Jazmines en Lidice (Rubén Sierra Salles)
Special mention: La fortaleza (Andrés Torres)

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