The new Mar Del Plata festival administration led by National Film Institute (INCAA) director Jose Miguel Onaindia and artistic director Claudio Espana struggled against logistical problems that threatened to disrupt the otherwise successful event that wrapped on March 17.

The festival boasted nearly 30,000 admissions sold during the first three days. A four day film production workshop led by Saul Zaentz (The English Patient, Amadeus, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) drew an enthusiastic audience and free outdoor screenings on the beach were a rousing success.

Nevertheless, an unsymphathetic local press lambasted the festival organisation for the frustrating difficulties with accomodation, transport and timings, but Onaindia and Espana have matched these growing pains with a fierce will to succeed. The challenge of recovering the festival's faded lustre is daunting but not impossible, they contend. The first step they took was to move its traditional dates from November to March. However, this has led it to compete head on with the upstart Buenos Aires International Film FestivaI of Independent Cinema in April and with the venerable Cannes itself.

In response to suggestions that the two festivals join forces, Espana cites the festivals of San Sebastian and Valladolid in Spain which have managed to create strong and distinct identities for themselves despite the proximity of their dates. Onanindia points out that having it early in the year gives the festival a first look at emerging films across the globe.

The jury, which comprised Spanish director Jose Luis Borau, US film critic David Bordwell, Argentine Actress Cipe Licovsky, French actress Julie Delpy, Argentine director Daniel Burman, West African director Fanta Nacro and Cuban actress Jacqueline Arenal selected the following winners:

Official Competition

Best Picture: Confort Moderne (Dominique Choisy, France)

Poland International Film Critics Federation (FIPRESCI) Awards Best Latin American Picture: De Ida Y Vuelta (Salvador Aguirre, Mexico)

Golden Ombu Best Picture : It's Me, The Thief (To Ja, Zlodziej), Jacek Bromski

Silver Ombu Best Director: Jean-Pierre Denis (Les Blessures Assassines)

France Silver Ombu Best Actor ex aequo: Ulises Dumont and Federico Luppi (Rosarigasinos by Rodrigo Grande, Argentina)

Poland Silver Ombu Best Actress : Julie Marie Parmentier (Les Blessures Assassines) by Jean Pierre Denis

Iran Silver Ombu for Best IberoAmerican Picture Anita No Pierde El Tren by Ventura Pons

Spain Silver Ombu Best Screenplay : It's Me The Thief (To Ja, Zlodziej) by Jacek Bromski

Spain Special Jury Prize Republic Of Women, by Ataollah Haati

Special Mention Best Actress: Rosa Maria Sarda for her performance in Anita No Pierde El Tren, directed by Ventura Pons