Door opens for 'Garage' at Turin fest

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ROME -- Lenny Abrahamson's "Garage," a tragic comedy about a disenfranchised employee of an auto service station in Ireland, won the top prize at the 25th Turin Film Festival Saturday, the first headed by the Italian auteur Nanni Moretti.

The festival attracted unexpectedly large crowds of moviegoers and more than its fair share of controversy, as Moretti continued to criticize the two-year-old RomaCinemaFest, which closed just a month before Turin started and which Moretti has said is guilty of poaching films that would have previously gone to a top discovery festival like Turin.

But the acrimony with Rome became less of a focus as the festival marched forward, and huge crowds -- in many cases gathering outside films as much as 90 minutes before start time in order to assure a seat -- became one of the festival's signatures.

"Garage," which won 25,000 euros ($37,000) for the top prize, was an audience favorite. But the oversized crowds selected U.S. director Craig Gillespie's "Lars and the Real Girl," a feel-good story about a delusional man, played by Ryan Gosling, who falls in love with a sex doll he bought online, for the audience award.

A special jury prize went to "The Elephant and the Sea," a Dutch-Malaysian co-production from Woo Ming Jin, while South Korean Kim Kang-Woo took home the best actor prize for his work in "Gyeongui Seon" (The Railroad), and Joan Chen, the protagonist in Australia's "The Home Song Stores," won the best actress award.

"Gyeongui Seon," directed by Park Heung-sik, also won a special award from the International Federation of Film Critics, or FIPRESCI. The picture was the only production to win two prizes this year.

The festival, which started Nov. 23, presented the best Italian documentary honor to Fausta Quattrini's "La Nacion Mapuce," a Swiss-Italian-Argentine co-production. The prize for best short film went to "Giganti" (Giants), a 24-minute production from Fabio Mollo.

With the awards handed out, the focus in Turin will now shift to speculation over whether Moretti will be back for another edition next year and whether the festival will consider changing its dates to leave more of a gap between its spot on the calendar and that of the RomaCinemaFest, which will hold its third edition in October.
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