Twilight Portrait takes top award at third edition of Les Arcs, festival plans new fund.

Angelina Nikanova’s Russian drama Twilight Portrait was awarded the Crystal Arrow by the Les Arcs European Film Festival, which closed last night.

The jury, presided over by actor and director Michele Placido, praised the film for its “extraordinary aesthetic quality, the life enhancing experience and the quality of the cast that make it one of the best films of recent years.” The film will be released in France on Feb 22 by Rezo Films.

The Jury Prize went to Slovenian drama Gypsy, by Martin Sulik, which was commended for its “amazing construction and its ability to make the audience discover a world in which you feel good, far from exotic gypsy clichés.”

Emma Levie (Lena) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead) both picked up Best Actor awards, while The Prize for the Best Cinematography, sponsored by Panavision, was awarded to the German film Dreilbeben.

Death of a Superhero by Ian Fitzgibbon, starring Thomas Brodie-Sangster as a teenager with cancer, won the Audience Choice Prize and the Young Jury prize awarded by students from Bourg Saint Maurice.

A special mention went to Emmanuele Crialese’s Italian Oscar entry Terraferma, while The Cineuropa Prize was given to Spanish comedy Extraterrestrial and The Prize for Best Music was awarded to Norwegian title Sons of Norway by Jens Lien.

The Jury, headed by Placido, also included writer Tonino Benacquista, French actresses Olivia Bonamy and Joséphine de la Baume, musician and composer André Manoukian, Danish actor Thure Lindhardt and producer Marianne Slot.

The third edition of the popular Alpine festival ended under three feet of snow but throughout its week-long mix of professional events and public screenings bolstered its reputation as a productive and fun event for industry and the public.

For the first year, the event added a Works In Progress event curated by festival artistic director Frederic Boyer. The well-attended strand included projects from Baltasar Kormakur and Daniele Cipri. The festival also grew its annual Co-Production Village.

Festival CEO Pierre Emmanuel Fleurantin said:”The Work in Progress went very well. Despite being at 9am on a Sunday it was very busy. We can be proud of the quality of the productions throughout the festival. The projects we attracted were really strong this year. We had 22 projects in the Co-Production Village because we couldn’t only choose 20. We have attracted major European directors this year.”

Among those filmmakers were Slovenian director Damjan Kozole, who said of the festival: “I was part of the first edition with my film Slovenian Girl. It’s a unique event in Europe. It’s close in idea to Sundance but also very different. It has a great competition and the Co-Production Village is very professional. The sales agents are all prepared to discuss the projects and the surroundings are extremely beautiful.”

To date, five projects from the Co-production Village have gone on to be produced from the three editions.\

Speaking to Screen, Fleurantin also described a new transnational fund he is hoping the festival can offer from next year. Fleurantin is in talks with the Piedmont and Rhones Alps regions, CNC and Torino Film Lab about the new, Les Arcs run fund which could invest in projects from those regions to the tune of 500,000-1m euros.

Among the new partners of the festival this year were FestivalScope, which will show clips of the Work In Progress films and highlight the previous works of the 22 directors from the Co-Production Village. The festival also introduced a transmedia strand for the first time.

There were case studies of Habemus Papam, This Must Be The Place, presentations on the new MEDIA-backed Production Guarantee Fund and the MEDIA programme as well as panels on music in film and a Film Schools Village with adjoining events. The DIRE Days event is aimed primarily at French distributors and there were a host of new attendees at the festival including The European Producers Club and Europa International.

Over the first weekend public screening attendance was up 30 per cent year-on -year.

Camille Neel, head of international sales at Le Pacte, gave a sales perspective on the Co-Production Village: “We’ve been surprised by the projects. Among them some have been unexpectedly good and I will follow them for sure. The projects here are eclectic and perfectly suit what we are about. They are the type of projects we pursue so we will be back next year for sure.”

British producer Alexandra Stone said: “It has been really well organised. We’ve had more than 20 meetings. The event has been very important for us. We can forge a link with companies we aren’t so familiar with in the UK and the quiet, organised, one to one discussions are so much better than the rushed meetings in Cannes or Berlin. The scheduling is very well organised.”