'Hunger' strikes at Chicago fest

'Valentino' wins Gold Hugo in the documentary category

CHICAGO -- "Hunger," a U.K./Ireland film, won the Gold Hugo at the 44th annual Chicago International Film Festival.

Directed by Steve McQueen, the film about a hunger strike in Northern Ireland's HM Prison Maze in 1981 was singled out by the festival jury Saturday for its "uncompromisingly disturbing story of the courage to fight for one's belief."

The festival, which began Oct. 16, concludes Wednesday.

In the documentary category, a U.S. film, "Valentino: The Last Emperor," won the Gold Hugo. Directed by Matt Tymauer, it is a glimpse into the life of fashion designer Valentino Garavani.

"Tokyo Sonata" (Japan/Netherlands/Hong Kong), directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, won the Grand Jury Prize. The film used the story of a humble family as a metaphor for global anxieties.

Henrik Ruben Genz won a Silver Hugo for direction for "Terribly Happy" (Denmark), a genre mix centering on a Copenhagen policeman who is re-assigned to a provincial town. Genz was cited by the jury for "great storytelling full of surprises, overturning all expectations of genre."

The Silver Hugo Award for best actor was given to Michael Fassbender for "Hunger," while Preity Zinta won the Silver Hugo for best actress for "Heaven on Earth."

The Silver Hugo Award for best screenplay was awarded to Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni Di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso and Roberto Saviano for "Gomorrah" (Italy). Their adaptation of Roberto Saviano's novel presented a "horrifyingly realistic expose of the effect of organized crime on everyday life," the jury said.

The festival presented a Silver Plaque to Nanni Moretti, Laura Paolucci and Francesco Piccolo for their adaptation of Sandro Veronesi's "Quiet Chaos" (Italy/UK).

In the New Directors competition, "The Dead Girl's Feast" (Brazil), directed by Matheus Nachtergaele, won the Gold Hugo for "transporting us to an unfamiliar world and fully embracing the freedoms that should characterize a first feature."

A Swedish film, "King of Ping Pong," won the Silver Hugo. Directed by Jens Jonsson, the film is a humorous look into the world of sport.

Other Silver Hugos were bestowed on "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" (U.S.), directed by Sacha Gervasi, and "They Killed Sister Dorothy" (U.S./Brazil), directed by Daniel Junge.

The festival presented its Chicago Award, which celebrates the efforts of regional talents, to "Wesley Willis's Joyrides." Directed by Chris Bagley and Kim Shively, the film was presented with a Silver Hugo. "Microphysics," directed by Joan Carles Martorell, also was honored with a Silver Hugo.

The Audience Choice Award will be announced Wednesday.

During the course of the festival, which began with a gala red-carpet screening of "The Brothers Bloom, " Mike Leigh was presented with a Career Achievement Award preceding the screening of his film, "Happy Go-Lucky"; Sidney Poitier was presented with a Gold Hugo Lifetime Achievement Award; and Jennifer Hudson was presented with an Artistic Achievement Award during the 12th Annual Black Perspectives Tribute.

On Wednesday, Viggo Mortensen will be presented with a Career Achievement Award preceding the screening of his "Good."
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