'Hunger' wins Sydney Film Festival prize

U.K.'s Steve McQueen honored for Bobby Sands biopic

SYDNEY -- "Hunger," U.K. director Steve McQueen's life-and-death portrait of Irish Republican Army hunger striker Bobby Sands, won the top prize at the Sydney Film Festival's inaugural competition Monday night.

"Hunger" was chosen for "its controlled clarity of vision, its extraordinary detail and bravery, the dedication of its cast and the power and resonance of its humanity," jury president Gillian Armstrong said in announcing the award, which carries an AUS$60,000 ($56,400) prize.

"Hunger" also won the Camera d'Or at the Festival de Cannes in May after opening Un Certain Regard section.

The Sydney jury commended two more features in the 55-year-old festival's first-ever competition lineup -- Carlos Reygadas' "Silent Light" and Australian actor-director Matthew Newton's debut feature, "Three Blind Mice."

The competition jury, which also included Australian actress Essie Davis, American screenwriter and critic Scott Foundas, Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi and Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi, decided unanimously based on the criteria of "audacious, cutting-edge and courageous filmmaking."

Icon Film Distribution will release "Hunger" in Australia in September. The Sydney Film Festival wraps Sunday.