'Juno' takes home top prize at RomaCinemaFest


ROME -- Jason Reitman's "Juno" -- a comedy about a pregnant girl who tries to find a couple to adopt her baby -- won the top prize at the second RomaCinemaFest on Saturday.

The U.S.-made film, which started being mentioned as a favorite after it premiered Thursday, stars Ellen Page as Juno, a Minnesota teenager facing an unwelcome pregnancy. The film, the runner-up for the people's choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, will go into limited release in the U.S. in December and in Europe early in 2008.

Croatian Rade Serbedzija won the best actor prize for his role in "Fugitive Pieces" as a Greek archeologist who saves a Jewish orphan during World War II. And Jang Wenli of "Le Chun" (And the Spring Comes) won the best actress prize for her portrayal of a provincial opera singer with big dreams.

The awards for the 10-day festival were announced during a gala ceremony at the main auditorium at the Italian capital's Parco della Musica. The full house reacted enthusiastically to the selection of "Juno" for the top prize, in contrast to last year when the Marcus Aurellius prize went to Kirill Serebrennikov's "Izobrajaya Zhertvy" (Playing the Victim), a darling of the critics that drew mixed responses from the crowd.

This year's 50-member jury -- chaired by award-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic and made up of 50 ordinary moviegoers from across Europe -- picked more mainstream films for the main prizes.

Among other prize winners was Abolfaz Jalili's "Hafez," which won a special jury prize; "La Giusta Distanza" (The Right Distance) star Giuseppe Battiston, who won the prize for best Italian performance; Battiston's co-star, Valentina Lodovini, who won the prize for best makeup; Sean Penn's "Into the Wild," which won a prize for the best film in the Premiere selection; and "Forbidden Lies," which took home the collateral prize for best documentary.

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