Noir fest honors Whitaker, Francois

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ROME -- Forest Whitaker and 19-year-old Belgian Deborah Francois earned the best actor and best actress prizes, respectively, and author-screenwriter Elmore Leonard was presented with a special literary achievement award at the 16th Courmayeur Noir Festival, organizers said Monday.

The Valle d'Aosta Cinema Award went to Nick Cassavetes' "Alpha Dog" and the people's choice award for best film went to "The Last King of Scotland," in which Whitaker stars as brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Francois won her award for just her second full-length film, "La Tourneuse de Pages" (The Page Turner), directed by Denis Dercourt.

The 81-year-old Leonard -- known for popular novels, many of which have been turned into screenplays -- won the Raymond Chandler Award for his body of work, which includes the screenplays for 1995's "Get Shorty" and the 1997 film "Jackie Brown," both based on novels he wrote.

Other honorees at the Alpine festival included Michael Hazanavicius, who won a special mystery genre prize for "OSS 117 -- Le Caire Nid D'Espions" (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies), and a special jury prize for "Born" (Children) from Ragnar Bragason.

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