Karlovy Vary: Georgian Film 'Corn Island' Nabs Top Prize

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Best director goes to Hungary's Gyorgy Palfi, and Elle Fanning takes best actress.

Corn Island, the story of an old man who transmits the wisdom of life to his granddaughter, by Georgian director George Ovashvili, took the Crystal Globe grand prix and a $25,000 cash prize Saturday at the closing of the 49th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

An international co-production with German, French, Czech and Kazakh involvement that focuses on the importance of harmony between man and nature, the film also won a non-statutory award from the Ecumenical Jury and was the top pick of critics polled by the festival's daily newspaper.

Two European distribution companies inked deals for the movie during the festival, with Film Distribution Artcam picking it up for the Czech Republic and Paco Poch Cinema for Spain.

A special jury prize worth $15,000 went to Gyorgy Palfi for Freefall. Palfi also took the award for best director for the Hungarian, French, and South Korean co-production.

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Best actress was Elle Fanning for her role in New York-based U.S. director Jeff Preiss' film Low Down, the torrid, true story of the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany, which had its international premiere at Sundance this year.

Best actor went to Nahuel Perez Biscayart for his role in David Lambert's Belgium-Canada co-production, All Yours.

Russian director Ivan Tverdovsky took the top prize worth $20,000 for Corrections Class in the festival's East of the West competition, which focuses on film from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. The emotionally powerful film about the harsh and indifferent treatment meted out to disabled youngsters struggling to gain entry to regular classes at school was Tverdovsky's debut as a feature director.

Best documentary over 60 minutes was Belgium's Waiting for August, directed by Teodora Ana Mihai. Croatia's Autofocus by Boris Poljak won in the under 30 minutes category.

German director Ester Amrami won the Forum of Independents prize for Anywhere Else, which will be purchased by Czech Television for a fee worth $6,800. Non-statutory awards by critics went to two films: animated feature Rocks in My Pockets by New York-based Latvian director Signe Baumane, from international critics body FIPRESCI, and Albanian directors Iris Elezi and Thomas Logoreci for Bota, from FEDEORA, the European and Mediterranean critics organization.

This year's honorary Crystal Globe awardees for outstanding contribution to world cinema were Mel Gibson and William Friedkin, whose films during a career spanning 50 years include The French Connection, The Exorcist and Sorcerer.