FrozenDays, the story of a young woman roaming the streets of Tel Aviv and breakinginto empty flats to sleep at night took the 21st Haifa InternationalFilm Festival by surprise and won the competition for the Best Israeli Film.

FrozenDays is the debut feature of Danny Lerner, a graduate of Tel Aviv University's CinemaDepartment who wrote, directed and participated in the production. The picture wasmade on a shoestring budget, financed mostly from private sources, and wasnever deemed a serious candidate for the NIS110,000(20,000 Euros) award, before the festival started.

Additional distinctions went to scriptwriter NoaGreenberg and cinematographer Giora Bejach for their work on Out of Sight, Daniel Ryfkin's first filmabout a blind girl unraveling the mystery behind her best friend's suicide.

In the parallel Golden Anchor competition for Mediterranean films, thewinner was Yesim Ustaoglu'sWaiting for the Clouds, amulti-national European co-production shot in the north of Turkey, with Vincenzo Marra's Vento di Terracoming in for a special mention. The jury singled out two additional films, Gabrielle by Patrice Chereauand The Last Mitterandby Robert Guediguian.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), looking at aseparate section dedicated to new directors, picked for its top honors Italy's The Consequences OfLove, Paolo Sorrentino's stylish thriller firstunveiled last year in Cannes.