Pablo Larrain's 'Post Mortem' Takes Top Prize at Cartagena Film Fest

The Chile-set dark love story won the award for best film, and "La sociedad del semaforo" was voted best Colombian picture.

BUENOS AIRES -- Chilean director Pablo Larrain's second feature Post Mortem won the best film award in the Cartagena Film Festival's fiction category. The film tells a dark love story between a lonely morgue clerk and a burlesque dancer set against the backdrop of 1973 Chile, during the days of the military coup that overthrew President Allende.

In that same slate, Peruvian filmmakers Daniel and Diego Vega won the best director award for Octubre while Natalia Smirnoff''s Berlinale entry Puzzle, from Argentina, won for best script. The best actress choice went to Claudia Celedon for American-Chilean production Gatos Viejos; the best actor was Gabino Rodriguez for Iria Gomez Concheiro's Asalto al cine (Mexico).

The jury for the Official Fiction Competition was formed by producer and Sundance programmer Caroline Libresco, Screen International editor Mike Goodridge, and Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein. Other non official awards for fiction films in competition included the Cinecolor Audience Award to Carlos Cesar Arbelaez's Los colores de la montana, the fest's opening night film.

In the 100% Colombia section the winner was Ruben Mendoza's La sociedad del semaforo. The jury -- comprised of Geraldine Chaplin, Cuban author and screenwriter Senel Paz, and Fabio Zapata, a visual effects director at ILM Industrial Light & Magic and Sony Pictures Imageworks in California -- also awarded special prizes to Antonio Dorado's Apaporis, en busca del rio and Carlos Moreno's Todos tus muertos.

A small Latin American festival hit, Federico Veiroj's A Useful Life picked both the FIPRESCI award and the Colombian Film Critics' Special Mention. The Uruguayan indie film about a reclusive film historian who is forced to deal with the outside world after getting fired had recently won best picture award at the New Latin American Film Festival in Havana and best director for Veiroj in the last edition of the Valdivia Film fest in Chile.

In the documentary competition, the best film award went to Pequenas Voces, by Colombian filmmakers Jairo Carrillo and Oscar Andrade. Two special mentions were given to Chilean director Macarena Aguilo for El edificio de los Chilenos and Jesus Romero, a character in Alejandra Sanchez's Agnus Dei: Cordero de Dios, from Mexico.

The jury members in that category were Mexican producer Martha Sosa; Diego Ramirez, a local producer and founder of the Colombian Academy of Film Arts and Sciences; and Swedish producer and journalist Frederik Gertten.