Aisling Walsh's Song For A Raggy Boy won the Golden Swan prize for best film at the inaugral Copenhagen International Film Festival (Aug 13-20).
Walsh's story about one man's struggle against a violent and fascistic regime in a boys' Irish Reformatory School has won widespread acclaim since it world premiered earlier this year at Sundance. It has since played at festivals including Karlovy Vary and has racked up numerous international sales.
The first competitive festival in the Danish capital wrapped on Wednesday (Aug 20) night when jury president Theo Angelopoulos handed out the golden statues accompanied by cash prizes.
The festival fought a losing battle with the hot Danish summer, while local media have been eager to publicise the event's financial and timing problems (ScreenDaily.com, Aug 13).
Estimated admission numbers were 17,000 - less than the expected 20-25,000. However, the festival was put together in just one year, and the organisers seem eager to change for next year's event. Among their initial plans are different dates and fewer films.
Other winners at the festival were Norway's Bent Hamer as best director for his Kitchen Stories, Norway's shooting star Kristoffer Joner as best actor in Gunnar Vikene's Falling Sky and Danish newcomer Stephanie Leon as best actress in Anders Gustafsson's feature debut Scratch.
David Trueba's Soldiers Of Salamina (Soldados De Salamina) won the Spanish writer-director the best script award. The Jury's Grand Special Prize went to the documentary S21 The Killing Machine Khmer Rouge and it's Special Prize to the animated Les Triplettes De Belleville (Belleville Rendez-Vous).
Torben Skjoedt Jensen's The Tenth Muse about the Danish cinema legend Asta Nielsen won the best cinematography prize for Norway's Harald Paalgard, and veteran actress Vera Gebuhr (b.1916) was awarded the Jury's Lifetime Achievement Award for her role as an icon of silent film. The film also took the audience award, which was sponsored by the newspaper Politiken.
The list of international guests included Samantha Morton (Morvern Callar), Aidan Quinn (Song For A Raggy Boy) and Fillipo Nigro (Facing Windows) as well as filmmakers Bent Hamer (Kitchen Stories), Siddiq Barmak (Osama), David Trueba (Soldiers Of Salamina) and Aisling Walsh (Song For A Raggy Boy). Raggy Boy is released in Denmark on Friday.