Russia's 'Summer' takes top prize at Chicago Int'l Film Festival

U.S. films 'Darling' and 'Minutemen' win top two honors in docufest competition.

CHICAGO --  The Russian film "How I Ended the Summer" won the Gold Hugo, the top prize at the 46th Chicago International Film Festival, on Saturday. Directed by Aleksei Popogrebsky, "Summer" is a chilling exploration of human nature under the extreme environment of an Arctic scientific outpost.

"A Somewhat Gentle Man," from Norway, and "We Are What We Are," from Mexico, shared the Special Jury Prize and were both presented Silver Hugo Awards.

"Man" stars Stellan Skarsgard as a part-time gangster newly released from prison who must decide between vengeance and reuniting with his family. Abounding with wry comic undercurrents, the film was directed by Hans Petter Moland.

"We," directed by Jorge Michel Grau, is a horror story of a cannibalistic slum-dwelling family. With its graphic depiction of human decadence, the film is thematically and stylistically reminiscent of Luis Bunuel.

Youssouf Djaoro won a Silver Hugo for best actor for "A Screaming Man" (France/Belgium/Chad), while Liana Liberato won a Silver Hugo for best actress for "Trust" (USA).

In addition, the ensemble cast of "Brother & Sister" (Argentina) was presented a Silver Hugo for performances, led by Antonio Gasalla and Graciela Borges.

The Silver Hugo for best screenplay went to Mahamat-Saleh Haroun for "A Screaming Man," a poignant story of a father and son relationship in a time of turmoil.

The festival presented a Gold Plaque to writer/director Marta Meszaros in recognition of her long and distinguished career, which includes her latest film "Last Report on Anna" (Hungary), a frightening saga of the secret police in Hungary during the time of Soviet domination.

A Silver Plaque was bestowed on "The Matchmaker" (Israel), a lighthearted, touching coming-of-age story directed by Avi Nesher.

The International Feature Film Competition jury included Denis Dercourt (France), John Russell Taylor (UK), Regina Taylor (USA), Valery Todorovsky (Russia) and Lucy Virgen (Mexico).

In the New Directors Competition, "Shahada" (Germany) won a Gold Hugo. A saga of love, immigration and Islam, it was directed by a first-timer Burhan Qurbani.

An American film, "Norman," won the Silver Hugo. Directed by Jonathan Segal, it is a witty and sobering variation on the teen genre. "Erratum" (Poland), directed by first-time director Marek Lechki, earned a Gold Plaque in the category.

U.S. films won the top two honors in the docufest competition. "Beautiful Darling," under the direction of James Rasin, won a Gold Hugo, while "The Minutemen," under the direction of Corey Wascinski, won a Silver Hugo.

The Docufest jury awarded a Gold Plaque to "Moving to Mars" (UK/Thailand), directed by Mat Whitecross, and presented a Silver Plaque to "Sex Magic" (USA), directed by Jonathan Schell and Eric Liebman.

The Gold Hugo for best short film was awarded to "Deeper than Yesterday" (Australia), directed by Ariel Kleiman, while the Silver Hugo was awarded to "The Swimmers" (Cuba), directed by Carlos Lechuga.

The Short Film jury awarded two Gold Plaques: "Grandmothers" (Brazil), directed by Michael Wahrmann, and "The Descent" (Israel), directed by Shai Miedzinski. A Silver Plaque for best animation went to "Stanley Pickle" (UK), directed by Victoria Mather.

Three cash prizes were presented in the Human Condition 60 Second Film Competition:

First prize of $1,000 went to "I.D.," directed by Sam Firth; second prize of $500 went to "Bubbie and Zaydie," directed by Zev Franck; and third prize, the Audience Choice Award of $250, will be announced at the festival's finish on Oct. 21.

The Chicago International Film Festival is the oldest competitive film festival in the United States and was founded by Michael Kutza, who serves as artistic director.