'Gangster' is a hit at Cognac fest


PARIS -- It was a very British year for French detective thriller fest, the Festival du Film Policier de Cognac, with Donal MacIntyre's "A Very British Gangster" taking the top prize for best film Sunday night.

The festival jury was headed by veteran filmmaker Claude Lelouch, whose "Crossed Tracks" received a long standing ovation after screening out of competition Saturday.

The jury, which also included actresses Lea Drucker, Julie Gayet, Audrey Marnay and Jocelyn Quivrin, actors Bruno Wolkowitch and Pierre Lorit and singer Julien Clerc, awarded their jury prize to two Australian entries: Ray Lawrence's "Jindabyne" and Joe Carnahan's "Smokin' Aces."

"Aces" also took home the international critics prize as the five-day public event wrapped. The audience award went to Bruce Evans' "Mr. Brooks" from the U.S., while the New Blood Jury awarded its top prize to Spanish first film "Night of the Sunflowers" from George Sanchez-Cabezudo.

The fest opened Wednesday with Johnnie To's "Exiled" and featured homage screenings of To's films, movies based on Mary Higgins Clark novels, a special series dedicated to the French thriller genre and a "Prison Break" marathon.