Norwegian director Lars Berg's Scars, a film about a young boy who uncovers a series of painful truths about his family, scooped the top prize at the 32nd edition of the Giffoni Film Festival, Italy's pre-eminent event dedicated to youth-oriented films. The movie's lead actor, Eirik Evjen, also won the festival's best actor award.
Emanuele Crialese's Sicilian tale, Respiro - Grazia's Island, was voted a close second by the 300 12-14 year-olds who made up the jury of the Free to Fly competition section. Valeria Golina, the lead actress in the Cannes critics week winner also won the festival's best actress prize, her second award for the film after picking up a prestigious Nastro d'Argento prize last month.
Meanwhile, the top prize for the Rear Window competition, whose jurors are aged 15-19 years, went to Christoph Stark's German picture Julietta, about an 18-year-old student who leads a sheltered life until she visits Berlin's Love Parade with her boyfriend.
Giffoni's third competition strand, Early Screens, was won by Danish director Hans Fabian Wullenweber's Catch That Girl. The movie is about a young girl and her two friends who attempt to rob a high-security bank in order to pay for an operation which her father, a seriously ill mountain climber, desperately needs.
At the close of the festival, which counted Meryl Streep among its guests, artistic director and festival founder Claudio Gubitosi announced the establishment of the Media Summer School for children from around the world which will be inaugurated in Giffoni in 2004.
He also announced plans are underway to set up a permanent council for Children's film festivals, which will bring together representatives from Italy, France, the UK, Germany and Spain to determine common festival organisational strategies.