Private, the raw, gritty and uncompromising debut of Italian director Saverio Costanzo, triumphed at the 57th Locarno Film Festival, which wrapped on Saturday night.
The tense, intimate drama, confronting an Israeli patrol with a Palestinian family in whose home they have taken cover, may well be too controversial for some, but its powerful indictment of the situation in the Middle East does its best to keep a balance between the two warring sides.
To underline its enthusiasm for the film, the jury added a best actor's prize for Mukhammad Bakri's remarkable performance as the father of the Arab family.
Meanwhile the Locarno audiences, voting for the films screened in the Piazza Grande, chose the Israeli-French-German co-production The Syrian Bride as its favourite. Smoother and more polished than Private, Eran Riklis bitterly humorous melodrama of the troubled relationship between the Middle East countries effectively highlighted the trauma of a Druze bride living in Israel on her way to marry a Druze man from Syria.
A Special Jury Prize went to Tony Takitani by veteran Japanese director Kjun Ichikawa, Silver Leopards were handed to Story Undone by Iranian Hassan Yektapanah and to En Garde, a coming-of-age story directed by Turkish-born Ayse Polat. Maria Kwiatkowski and Pinar Erincin, playing the leads for Polat, shared the award for best female performance.
The Human Rights Award was bestowed on the South African Forgiveness by Ian Gabriel; FIPRESCI picked Ichikawa's Tony Takitani while NETPAC preferred Yektapanah's Story Undone.
Golden Leopard - Private (Saverio Costanzo)
Special Jury Prize - Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa)
Silver Leopard - En Garde (Ayse Polat)
Silver Leopard - Story Undone (Hassan Yektapanah)
Best Actor - Mukhammad Bakri for Private
Best actress - shared by Maria Kwiatkowski and Pinar Erincin for En Garde
Human rights Award - Forgiveness (Ian Gabriel)
NETPAC Award - Story Undone (Hassan Yektapanah)
FIPRESCI Award - Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa)
Ecumenical Jury - Yasmin (Kenny Glenaan)
FICC Jury - Andre Valente (Catarina Ruivo)
CICAE Award - The Hunter (Serik Aprymov)