Marrakech Film Fest: Chinese Directors Take Top Two Honors

Marrakech Film Fest Jury Prize - H Getty 2016
Dominique Charriau/Gettyimages

Chinese film 'The Donor' won the Grand Prix at Morocco's main film awards, while Wan Xuebo won best director honors for 'Knife in the Clear Water.'

Chinese directors took home the two top awards on Saturday at the closing of the 16th Marrakech International Film Festival in Morocco.

The Donor, the debut film from Zang Qiwu about a poor father who agrees to sell his kidney to a wealthy man, earned the festival's Grand Prix, presented onstage at Marrakech's Palais Des Congres by jury president and Hungarian helmer Bela Tarr.

Best director honors went to another Chinese filmmaker, Wang Xuebo, for Knife in the Clear Water, the story of a farmer who does not want to make the customary sacrifice of his only bull after the death of his wife.

A jury prize went to Austrian and Italian directors Rainer Frimmel and Tizza Covi for Mister Universo, the film about a circus lion-tamer in search of his lost lucky charm.

In accepting the award, Frimmel dedicated it to his uncle, who he said had been given refuge during World War II in Morocco after "escaping Nazi terror in Europe."

The best actress prize went to Fereshteh Hosseini for her role in Afghan director Navid Mahmoudi's Parting, the story of a young Afghani couple risking their lives to find refuge and a better life in Europe.

The best actor award was shared between Baldur Einarsson and Blaer Hinriksson, the two young leads of Icelandic helmer Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson's coming-of-age drama Heartstone.

The weeklong event included a tribute to Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, who remarked when presented a lifetime achievement award that it was the first time he had received such recognition, as well as master classes by Verhoeven, Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis and Russian helmer Pavel Lounguine.

Isabelle Huppert attended a screening of Verhoeven's rape-revenge drama Elle, in which she plays a businesswoman violently attacked at home by a masked intruder.

Other guests included French actress Isabelle Adjani, who was the subject of a special tribute, and fellow Gallic actress Fanny Ardant, who attended a retrospective dedicated to Russian film.