'Le Havre' Takes Top Honor at Chicago Film Festival

11:58 AM PST 10/19/2011 by Duane Bygre
Cannes Film Festival
"Le Havre"

Egypt’s "Cairo 678" and its star Maged El Kedwany earn Silver Hugos at 47th annual event.

CHICAGO — Aki Kurausmaki’s Le Havre (Finland/France) has won the Gold Hugo, the top prize at the 47th Chicago International Film Festival. The tale of an aging Bohemian shoeshine man and a young African refugee, the film was cited for “its humane depiction of illegal immigration.”

The 15-day Chicago International Film Festival, which ends Thursday, is the longest-running competitive film festival in the U.S.

Cairo 678 from Eqypt was awarded a Silver Hugo for its stirring depiction of sexual harassment, and Maged El Kedwany earned a Silver Hugo as best actor for his performance in the film as a police officer assigned to investigate three stabbing cases on a Cairo bus.

Olivia Colman won a Silver Hugo for best actress for her endearing portrayal of a Christian goodwill store worker in Tyrannosaur (U.K).

The Silver Hugo for best screenplay was presented to Joshua Marston and Andamion Murataj for The Forgiveness of Blood (U.S./Albania) for its sobering depiction of ongoing family feuds in Albania.

In the New Directors Competition, The Good Son (Finland) won the Gold Hugo. Directed by Zaida Bergroth, the film is a heartrending look at a dysfunctional family. The Silver went to another Scandinavian production, Volcano (Iceland/Denmark). Director Runar Runarsson’s debut was noteworthy for its evocative use of the daunting Icelandic landscape as a visual correlative for the characters’ emotional states.

Festival founder/artistic director Michael Kutza presented the festival’s Founders Award in the form of a Gold Hugo to The Artist (France), the romantic comedy about the silent-film era directed by Michel Hazanavicius.

In the Docufest Competition, director Mila Turajlic’s Cinema Kommunisto, a probing portrait of former Communist strongman Josip Tito, won the Gold Hugo. Diane Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel won the Silver for its striking portrayal of fashionista Diane Vreeland; her daughter, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, directed.

Salaam Dunk (U.S./Iraq), directed by David Fine, was awarded a Gold Plaque in Docufest for its compelling depiction of young Iraqi women who form a basketball team at the American University of Iraq.

All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert, directed by Vivian Ducat, collected a Silver Plaque for its moving depiction of U.S. racial history.

Ending Note: The Death of a Japanese Salesman, directed by Mami Sunada, was presented with a Certificate of Merit.

The festival unveiled a new competitive category, After Dark, for “scary” movies. An Australian film, Snowtown, won the Gold Hugo. Directed by Justin Kurzel, it was based on a notorious Adelaide serial killer. A Lonely Place to Die (U.K.), directed by Julian Gilbey, won the Silver.

The Eagleman Stag (U.K.), directed by Michael Please, won the Gold Hugo in the Short Film competition. Birdboy (Spain), directed by Pedro Rovero and Alberto Vazquez, won the Silver Hugo for best animated short.

Caretaker for the Lord (Scotland), directed by Jane McAllister, earned the Silver Hugo for best documentary short. The Unliving (Sweden), directed by Hugo Lilja, won a Silver for best narrative short.

The Extraordinary Life of Rocky (Belgium), directed by Kevin Meul, won a Gold Plaque, while Meathead (New Zealand), directed by Sam Holst, won a Silver Plaque.

Student filmmakers were honored at the festival. Julia Pott’s Belly (U.K.) took a Gold Plaque for best student short (animated). Goodbye, Mandima (Switzerland), directed by Robert-Jan Lacombe, won a Gold Plaque for best student short (documentary).

Grandmothers (U.K.), directed by Afarin Eghbal, was accorded a Special Mention.

Two awards were presented in the festival’s INTERCOM Competition, which honors a wide range of corporate, educational and branded films. Suva — The Moment of Truth won a Gold Hugo, and Osteoblasts and Osteoclasts won a Silver.

L Train, directed by Anna Musso, won the Chicago Award, presented to an Illinois artist.

French filmmaking great Claude Lelouch was honored with a Silver Hugo for his illustrious 50-year-plus career. Actor Anthony Mackie was presented with an Artistic Achievement Award in the festival’s Black Perspectives Tribute.

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