LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Audience award winner: Death At A Funeral, Frank Oz's low-budget (for him) farce about dirty doings at an English funeral, had Swiss audiences falling off their seats. International distribution is assured - the film has MGM behind it. Verve will be releasing it on behalf of MGM in the UK in early November.
Break-out hit: Slipstream did not go down especially well at Sundance but legendary actor Anthony Hopkins' debut feature as a director was far more warmly received at Locarno. Its experimental nature may have put some buyers off, but Slipstream found a US home just after its Locarno showing, with Strand Releasing taking domestic theatrical and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group (Spwag) picking up domestic home entertainment rights.
Break-out talent: Bona fide crowd pleasers were thin on the ground in Locarno this year but Kenneth Bi's The Drummer was an intriguing mix of martial arts, music and Zen, and stars Jackie Chan's son Jaycee Chan. It was applauded in the Piazza Grande. The Match Factory is handling world sales on the title, which will be competing at Tokyo Filmex. - GEOFFREY MACNAB
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL
Break-out hit: Rodrigo Pla's La Zona won the Lion of the Future with his Mexico City-set thriller, an excellent springboard for a film that went on to win a Fipresci prize at Toronto. It has already found further festival exposure (in Athens and Abu Dhabi) and looks set to become a brisk seller for Wild Bunch.
Break-out talent: Tang Wei - reportedly cast in Lust, Caution following a search taking in 10,000 actresses - arrived in Venice virtually unknown to Western audiences, and to many Asians as well. By the time she left, she was being talked about as the next Chinese superstar, with critics saying Ziyi Zhang should be looking over her shoulder. - GEOFFREY MACNAB
TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Audience award winner: David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises was the critical darling of the Toronto International Film Festival. Sold worldwide by Focus, the film has since moved to San Sebastian, London and San Luis in Argentina.
Break-out talent: The other Toronto stand-outs were Craig Gillespie's Lars And The Real Girl, with Ryan Gosling delivering a performance that is getting early Oscar buzz. Jason Reitman's Juno was also much talked about, particularly for Ellen Page's performance, and the memorable screenplay - DENIS SEGUIN
RIO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Break-out talent: Jose Padilha's festival opener Elite Squad (Tropa Elite) stirred the headlines but Marcos Jorge's Estomago was the hit of the event, earning the audience prize, best director, a jury prize and the best actor prize for lead Joao Miguel. Elite Squad was picked up by The Weinstein Company while Estomago, with a lower profile and a less obviously saleable log line, is now courting offers. It is safe to say Miguel was the darling of the festival, having cemented a reputation two years after winning the same prize for Cinema, Aspirins And Vultures. - DENIS SEGUIN
NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL
Break-out hit: With few exceptions, most of the films havD already premiered at Cannes, Venice or Toronto including Palme d'Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, which enjoyed a similarly enthusiastic response here. However, some of these same films can play differently in New York. This year, the critics swooned over Carlos Regadas' Silent Light and Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park. Audiences were also impressed by Noah Baumbach's Margot At The Wedding, despite a muted Toronto response.
While reactions in New York to Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited, were mixed, the 13-minute prologue that was shown before the film, Hotel Chevalier, starring Natalie Portman and Jason Schwartzman, was hailed as a gem.
Break-out talent: In a show of home-town favouritism, two veteran film-makers were hailed for their return to form: Abel Ferrara (Go Go Tales) and Sidney Lumet (Before The Devil Knows You're Dead). Ethan Hawke (Before The Devil ...), Juliette Binoche (Flight Of The Red Balloon), Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There) and Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) all earned raves for their performances, setting at least the last two up for certain Oscar contention. In fact, it was a banner festival for non-US actors: Mathieu Amalric drew accolades for his roles in both The Diving Bell And The Butterfly and Actresses, as did Jeon Do-yeon for Secret Sunshine, the film that won her the acting prize in Cannes. - COLIN BROWN.