'Kill Me Please' Wins Top Honor at Rome Film Fest

ROME -- Kill Me Please, a black comedy directed and co-written by Belgium’s Olias Barco, won the Marcus Aurelius Award for Best Film at the International Rome Film Festival Friday.

The black and white film, which had its world premiere in Rome, tells the story of a doctor seeking to make suicide easier who faces his own mortality. It was the fifth time in the five-year history of the festival that a director from a different country took home the top prize.

The grand jury prize was given to Heaven – In a Better World, from Susanne Bier, while Toni Servillo won the award for best actor for his work in Una Vita Tranquilla, where he plays a mob boss relocated to Germany. In an unusual move, the best actress honor was given to the entire female cast of Mexican film Las Buenas Hierbas – the story of a daughter’s efforts to reverse her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease through the use of traditional herbal medicine.

A special optional jury prize was presented to World War I period film Poll by Chris Kraus, while a special award from the president of the Italian Republic – for the film that “best emphasizes human and social values” – was presented to Iranian coming of age story Dog Sweat from Hossein Keshavarz.

The Marcus Aurelius acting award went to Julianne Moore, who earlier in the festival was given the career honor.

The festival this year won mostly positive commentary in the Italian press, and statistics the festival released Friday showed that interest was higher than in past years, with more accredited participants (8,598 compared to 7,720 a year ago), more tickets sold (118,000 vs. 102,000) and more cash raised from ticket sales (€460,00, around $644,000, compared to €380,000, or $532,000 a year ago), and a handful more journalists (2,696, up from 2,656 in 2009).

The festival, which concluded Friday, began Oct. 28.