Karim Ainouzi's Madame Sata, a Brazilian/French co-production about real-life street fighter and transvestite Joao Francisco dos Santos in 1930s Rio, won the Gold Hugo at the 38th Chicago International Film Festival on Saturday night. Cited for its "multi-faceted image of an extraordinary era, an extraordinary milieu and an extraordinary character, dazzlingly embodied by actor Lazaro Ramos," the film continues a victory march for Brazilian films around the world this year.
Madame Sata screened in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, while Fernando Mereilles' City Of God was a huge success as a special screening out of competition. Both are produced by Walter Salles, a godfather of sorts to new talent in Brazil, who is scheduled to deliver his new picture The Motorcycle Diaries with Gael Garcia Bernal next year.
The Silver Hugo special jury prize went to Elia Suleiman's Divine Intervention for the "limpid clarity with which it illuminates a complex issue." The Silver Hugo for best director was awarded to Germany's Andreas Dresen for Grill Point for "his mastery of mood and skill in orchestrating a complex intrigue." The Silver Hugo for best ensemble playing also went to Grill Point - to Steffi Kuehnert, Thorsten Merten, Axel Prahl and Gabriela Maria Shmeide - "for their superb ensemble playing in a largely improvised script."
The Gold Plaque was awarded to Bahman Ghobadi's Marooned In Iraq for "its idiosyncratic fusion of comic fairy tale and searing reportage into a compelling human statement."
The feature film jury consisted of Ibolya Fekete, Claudia M Landsberger, Amir Naderi, Sandra Nettelbeck and John Russell Taylor.
The FIPRESCI prize for first and second-time film-makers went to Pablo Trapero's El Bonarense from Argentina for "the uncompromising and raw depiction of the journey of a man lost in a society without values."
The DocuFest jury gave its Gold Hugo for best documentary feature to Rob Fruchtman and Rebecca Cammisai's Sister Helen (US). The silver hugo went to Kaoru Ikeya's Daughter From Yan'An (Japan), the gold plaque to Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer's Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (Austria) and the silver plaque to Douglas Wolfsperger's Bellaria - As Long As We Live! (Germany/Austria).