'Jellyfish' swims to top at San Luis fest


BUENOS AIRES -- The winners of the inaugural Festival Internacional San Luis Cine were announced during the weekend in the provincial Argentine capital.

The Israeli film "Jellyfish" (Meduzot) won the top prize in the features category Saturday, taking home the Golden Puntano and $50,000. The film, directed by Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen, focuses on the lives of three women in modern-day Tel-Aviv. It also won the Camera d'Or this year at the Festival de Cannes, the top award for first-time directors.

David Cronenberg was awarded best director for his crime thriller "Eastern Promises," starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts. Steven Knight also was lauded with top screenwriting honors for his script about Russian mobsters in London.

Top acting props went to Cesar Troncoso for the Uruguayan film "The Pope's Toilet" (El Bano del Papa) and Germany's Maren Kroymann for "Hounded" (Verfolgt).

The jury created a new category, best opera prima, and awarded it to Nadine Labaki for "Caramel" (Sukar Banat), Lebanon's official submission for the best foreign-language film Oscar.

Stefan Schwietert's "Echoes of Home" (Heimatklange) won the $10,000 prize in the best documentary category, and Argentina's Maria Antolini took home $5,000 in the short category for "Gong."

Organizers were pleased with the inaugural edition of the festival and hoped it will help San Luis attract more film productions from abroad. The tiny province in the foothills of the Andes Mountains already is a top filmmaking destination in Argentina thanks in large part to its cinema law, which sets aside about $10 million annually to fund productions.

The second edition of the festival is slated to unspool Nov. 14-23, 2008.