'Katalin Varga' tops RiverRun fest winners

'Last Train Home' wins best documentary

"Katalin Varga," from director Peter Strickland, was a double winner, and Klaus Haro's "Letters to Father Jacob" won the BB&T Audience Award at the 12th annual RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"Last Train Home," from director Lixin Fan, received the best documentary feature prize for his film that follows one Chinese family as they make the arduous trek from one of their nation's industrial epicenters back to the rural west to visit family for the Chinese New Year.

"Varga," about a woman who sets out with her young son in the primordial Carpathian Mountains looking to right a wrong that has haunted her for years, was selected best narrative feature, and lead actress Hilda Peter received the award for best performance.

Giorgos Lanthimos was selected as best director for "Dogtooth" (Greece), a high concept parable that explores the damaged world view imposed on three cloistered teens by their manipulative middle class parents.

Edgar San Juan & Rigoberto Perezcano received the best screenplay prize for "Northless" (Mexico & Spain, directed by Perezcano), which chronicles a naive young man's difficult decision on whether to build a new life in Mexico or sneak across the border into the United States.

And Martin Gschlacht received the best cinematography prize for his work on two films in RiverRun's 2010 Narrative Competition: "Lourdes" (France, Austria & Germany, directed by Jessica Hausner) and "Women Without Men" (Germany, Austria & France, directed by Shirin Neshat & Shoja Azari).

The BB&T Audience Award for best documentary feature was presented to "The Topps Twins: The Untouchable Girls" (New Zealand), directed by Leanne Pooley. The film tells the story of Jools and Linda Topp, twin lesbian sisters from New Zealand whose devilishly comic variety act has made them national heroes

Susan Gluth won the best director prize for her work on "Soap and Water" (Germany), which had its North American premiere at RiverRun. The film offers an intimate portrait of a Hamburg dry cleaning establishment and three eclectic women who are essential to its operation (and vice versa).

Robert Persons won the best cinematography prize for "General Orders No. 9" (USA), which synthesizes a mixture of imagery and iconography vital to reconciling the cultural and territorial identity of Georgia, and by proxy the entire American South.

The Documentary Competition jury also awarded a special jury prize for editing to Marek Sulik for his work on "Cooking History" (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria & Finland, directed by Peter Kerekes). The film offers a collective memoir of life during wartime through a series of unconventional recipes explained by military cooks from various European armies.

The jury also awarded a special jury prize for nonfiction storytelling to "His & Hers," directed by Ken Wardrop.

The best narrative short award was presented to "Ivadelle" (Canada), directed by Nicole Dorsey. "A Song For Ourselves," by UC Santa Cruz student Tadashi Nakamura, was selected best documentary short with an honorable mention going to "Wagah" (Germany), from directors Supriyo Sen and Najaf Bilgrami.

The best animated short award went to "Please Say Something" (Germany), directed by David O'Reilly.

"Almost Normal" (France & Israel), directed by La Femis film student Keren Ben Rafael, received the award for best student narrative short; "A Song For Ourselves" (USA), by Nakamura, received the award for best student documentary short; and "Touchdawn of the Dead," directed by ENSAV-La Cambre film students Pierre Mousquet, Hubert Seynave & Marc Deleplanque, received the best student animated short award.