Romania's 'Japanese Dog' Wins $9,600 Top Prize at Vilnius International Film Festival

The Lithuanian movie showcase lauds emerging European directors and, this year, added a regional Baltic competition.

VILNIUS, LITHUANIA -- Tudor Cristian Jurgiu's The Japanese Dog won best film and a $9,600 cash award late Thursday at the Vilnius International Film Festival.

A Romanian film starring the south-eastern European country's top veteran actor, Victor Rebengiuc, uses a robotic canine as a motif to create a poignant tale of loss, separation and love.

STORY: Will Ferrell to Star in Tennis Dramedy 'Match Maker'

The festival, which closed its 19th edition at the Baltic state city's historic Philharmonic Hall, lauded first and second films in its main New Europe, New Names competition and regional discoveries in a new section, Baltic Gaze.

STORY: John Leguizamo Boards Atlas Independent's 'The Man on Carrion Road'

Other winners in the main competition, awarded by an jury chaired by Japanese actress and producer, Kaori Momoi, were best director Levan Koguashvili for Blind Dates (Georgia); best actor Igor Samobor (Class Enemy, Slovenia); best actress Michaela Bendulova (Miracle, Slovakia, Czech Republic). A Cicae, international art house cinema organization, award also went to Rok Bicek, director of Class Enemy.

In Baltic Gaze, best film was The Hope Factory, a debut feature about life in a bleak provincial industrial city in Siberia, by Russian director Natalia Meshaninova; best director was Poland's Pawel Pawlikowski for Ida; best actor Lauri Lagle for Free Range, (Estonia, dir: Veiko Ounpuu); and best actress Alexandra Finder  (The Police Officer’s Wife, Germany, dir: Philip Groning).