'Original' tops in Shanghai awards

McGregor appearance with 'Angels' closes festival

HONG KONG -- Swedish comedy "Original" won the top prize Sunday at the 12th running of the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The festival wrapped with a screening of Vatican-set "Angels and Demons" and star Ewan McGregor in attendance to play down talk of controversy. "There's nothing that challenges Catholic or Christian belief in the film. Really, it's just a good, old-fashioned thriller with a bomb ticking away in the background and detectives solving the clues," McGregor said earlier in the day.

The jury, headed by "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle, described "Original" as "a light, touching and subversive study of mental illness that is compassionate and never sentimental." They added that it more than met the challenge that the film's title set for its makers Antonio Tublen/Alexander Brondsted.

The prizes awarded at previous editions of the Shanghai festival have rarely had major influence with rights buyers or other festival programmers. But this year's jury did find house room for "Normal," one of the few competition picks to have created much of a stir among critics. The thriller from the Czech Republic and Macedonia earned first time director Julius Sevcik the prize for best directing.

Festival boss Tang Lijun stoutly rebuffed criticism of the competition selection and pointed to the festival's programming width and its Chinese film lineup instead. "Diversity is a clear positioning of SIFF. Not every film festival or every industry can be characteristic of diversity," Tang said. "Anyway, the main purpose of SIFF is to support new talented directors."

She also pointed to the festival's robustness at a time of global economic turmoil that has severely dented many other film events. In particular, she pointed to a high-powered seminar program, the project market (China Film Pitch and Catch), the Asian New Talent Award and the International Student Shorts Award.

Throughout the nine days China's film majors found the festival to be a useful springboard for product launches, set visits, briefings and announcements – one company Huayi Brothers, holding no less than five press events.

The festival also attracted a steady stream of foreign visitors. "On the one hand, the success of this film festival is attributed to the overall development of Chinese films which is exerting an increasing influence on world films; on the other hand, it is also indebted to the booming development of Shanghai city, which is attracting more and more worldwide attention," said Tang.

12th Shanghai International Film festival, Jin Jue prize winners list:

Best Feature Film
"Original" (Sweden) dirs: Antonio Tublen  and Alexander Brondsted.

Jury Grand Prix
"The Search" (China) dir: Pema Tseden

Jury Award
"Empire of Silver" (China-Hong Kong-Taiwan) dir: Christina Yao

Best Director
Julius Sevcik for "Normal" (Czech Republic-Macedonia)

Best Actor
Sverrir Gudnason in "Original" (Sweden)

Best Actress
Simone Tang in "Aching Hearts" (Denmark)

Best Screenplay
Fabio Bonifacci and Giulio Manfredonia for "We can do that" (Italy)

Best Cinematography
Nicolas Guicheteau and Hans Meier for "Nowhere Promised Land" (France)

Best Music
Hyoung-woo Roh for "Rough Cut" (South Korea).