'Road' leads to top nods at Miami fest

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NEW YORK -- Andrea Arnold's Scottish thriller "Red Road" took home the World Cinema features $25,000 prize and the International Federation of Film Critics prize at the 24th annual Miami International Film Festival.

The awards were announced Saturday along with the news that the fest's director for the past five years, Nicole Guillemet, will be succeeded by former 20th Century Fox Theatrical marketing director and inaugural 2003 Bangkok International Film Festival executive director Patrick de Bokay. Guillemet's departure was announced in December.

Marco Williams' international look at prisoner love stories, "Banished," won the $25,000 best documentary jury prize, and Francisco Vargas Quevedo's Mexican political drama "The Violin" (El Violin) won the $25,000 Ibero-American dramatic features prize.

Audience awards in the three main categories went to Dror Shaul's Israeli coming-of-age tale "Sweet Mud" (Adama Meshuga'at) in the World Cinema section, Jorge Sanchez-Cabezudo's thriller "The Night of the Sunflowers" (La Noche de Los Girasoles) in the Ibero-American dramatic feature section and Alberto Arvelo's Venezuelan youth orchestra docu "To Play and To Fight" (Tocar y Luchar) in the documentary features group. Each filmmaker received $2,500 and a Movado watch.

Special grand jury mentions in the Ibero-American cinema competition went to Vasco Pedroso for his score to "Sunflowers," writer-director Paz Encina "for her brave choice to honestly reflect how another culture tells stories" in "Paraguayan Hammock" (Hamaca Paraguaya) and to Carla Ribas for her performance in Chico Teixeira's family drama "Alice's House" (A Casa de Alice). Latin art house film distributor FiGa Films acquired rights to "House" during the festival.

Two more special grand jury mentions in the World Cinema features group went to actress Bar Belfer for her performance in Oded Davidoff's Israeli adventure drama "Someone to Run With" (Mishehu larutz Ito) and to Kirsi Marie Liimatainen's German film "Sonja" for "its sensitive and sensible rendering of an improbable love story."

The new Latin America Caribbean FedEx $10,000 audience award presented to a noncompetition Latin American or Caribbean film or project from a regional filmmaker went to Felipe Martinez' Colombian comic thriller "Bluff."
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