Alex de la Iglesia's blackcomedy El Crimen Ferpecto was the big winner at the 23rdannual Cognac Thriller Festival which wrapped on Sunday night.

The film was a crowd favoritetaking the Premiere magazine audience award as well as the Grand Prize from thejury headed up by American director Joel Schumacher.

The Jury Prize went to Soundlessfrom Germany's Mennen Yapo. Produced by Tom Tykwer and written by Lars OlafBeier, film traces the unraveling and eventual redemption of a killer for hireplayed by Joachim Krol. While Soundless was not a commercial hit in itshome country, Yapo is already fielding offers from US studios hoping to grabhim for his next directorial effort.

In the Sang Neuf sidebar, ajury presided over by former Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure, the top awardwent to Frederic Balekdjian's Les Mauvais Jouers. Lescure was on hand ina rare public appearance since his departure from Canal in April 2002.

He told ScreenDaily.comthat he was ramping up his plans for television and film production and hadrecently created a new company with former colleague Dominique Farrugia calledThe Franco Maltese de Production.

The special police jury prize- voted on by four professional investigators - went to Sweden's Anders Nilssonfor The Third Wave.

The festival ran from April7-10 and was only hindered by cloudy skies and the ephemeral presence offestival guest of honour Jean-Claude Van Damme. The "Muscles from Brussels" wason hand to pick up an honorary award and it was presumed he would stick aroundto take part in the festivities but after two perfunctory public appearances,the actor-director-producer was not to be seen again.

Festival general managerLionel Chouchan - who also runs such events as the Deauville Festival ofAmerican Film and the Gerardmer Fantastic Film Festival -did little to hide hischagrin when noting the star's absence during the closing ceremony.