Raja Amari's Satin Rouge (Tunisia/France) won the New Director's Showcase Award, Penek Ratanaruang's Mon-rak Transistor (Thailand) won the Asian Tradewinds Award and John Feldman's Who The Hell Is Bobby Roos' won the New American Cinema Award at the 28th Seattle International Film Festival which ended its 25 day-run yesterday.
The event, one of the world's longest film festivals, screened over 200 feature films from 50 countries including world premieres of high-profile movies like Igby Goes Down starring Susan Sarandon, Ryan Phillippe and Claire Danes and last night's closing night film Passionada with Jason Isaacs and Theresa Russell.
Seattle offered the US premiere of Satin Rouge, the story of a middle-aged widow who develops a secret life as a belly dancer, which was cited by the jury for its "engaging vision of female empowerment in Tunisian society." The New Director's Showcase jury also made special mention of Jano Rosebiani's Jiyan, a Kurdistan (Iraq) film about life in the aftermath of the 1988 chemical bombings by Iraq, which was cited for "its unflinching determination to bring a people and their courage to film." The jury was composed of Simon Field (director of the Rotterdam International Film Festival), Jason Resnick (executive director of acquisitions at Universal Pictures) and Screen's Mike Goodridge.
Mon-rak Transistor was a popular winner of the inaugural Asian Tradewinds Award. In a statement, the jury said that they had "liked the humorous treatment of serious themes and the charming performances - and they are particularly happy to honour a film from Thailand at a time when Thai cinema is at last becoming known around the world." The Asian jury, consisting of Tony Rayns (writer/critic/film-maker), Kim Dong-ho (director of the Pusan International Film Festival) and Berenice Reynaud (writer/critic/teacher), also made special mention of Nan Triveni Achnas' Indonesia/Japan co-production Whispering Sands.
Meanwhile the US jury, composed of critic John Anderson, Vancouver International Film Festival director Alan Franey and Film Finders chief Sydney Levine, opted for Bobby Roos "for creating a nervy, intimate portrait of a very solitary artist while simultaneously finding a metaphor for culture at large." The film beat out competition from John Sayles (Sunshine State), Tim Blake Nelson (The Grey Zone) and hot newcomer Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down) among others.
Among the audience prizes, dubbed the Golden Space Needle Awards after Seattle's famous landmark, Peter Naess' Elling (Norway) was voted best film, Julio Medem best director for Sex And Lucia (Spain), Moritz Bleibtrau best actor for Das Experiment (Germany), Isabelle Huppert best actress for The Piano Teacher (Austria/France), Deborah Dickson's Ruthie And Connie: Every Room In The House (US) for best documentary and Nicolas Tomnay's The Host (Australia) for best short.
Executive director of the festival is Darryl Macdonald, who co-founded the event with Passionada director Dan Ireland, and making her bow this year as managing director was Helen Loveridge, the well-known film sales executive who co-founded Fortissimo Film Sales.