Other awards go to Turkish drama Hair and Icelandic dark comedy Mamma Gogo.
Rudolf van den Berg’s Tirza, about the search for a daughter who disappears on holiday in Namibia, took the top award at the 27th Festroia in Setubal, near Lisbon. The FIPRESCI prize went to Hair (Sac) by Tayfun Pirselimoglu, the saga of a chain-smoking wig-seller set in a seedy part of Istanbul.
Career Achievement Golden Dolphins went to Utrecht-based director Jos Stelling, who had a near-complete retrospective of his films unreeling throughout the 10-day event, and to Portuguese star Maria de Medeiros, with both honorees bringing brand-new shorts they recently directed to the the packed closing ceremony.
In spite of the prevailing national financial crises, and the festival’s own budget cuts, the FIAPF-approved Festroia managed to host two dozen jury members judging various sections, with a large delegation for its focus on Turkey, while most new features were represented by a director or leading actor.
For the first time, there were satellite screenings in a Lisbon mini-plex and, in spite of the rival attractions of a general election, and rising temperatures, audiences swelled during the week in the historic Charlot cinema, Setubal’s only city-centre screen, which recently re-opened after a Euros 200,000 refit.
The biggest crowd there was for Love’s Kitchen, James Hacking’s British gastro-comedy featuring a cameo by Gordon Ramsay, while the overall Audience Award went to Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s Mamma Gogo, a black comedy about his mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.
Festroia’s main section is restricted to films from countries producing fewer than 30 features annually, but the British short The Hardest Part by Oliver Refson took the Special Award for screenplay, commemorating the late festival founder and novelist Mario Ventura, which was picked up by its star Nickolas Grace playing an out-of-work actor, who puts his role as a cockney gangster to surprisingly good use in real life.