Czech director Jan Sverak's Returnable Bottles was awarded with Gold in the feature competition of the 16th Damascus International Film Festival (November 1-11) on Tuesday night.

French actress Catherine Deneuve attended the Syrian festival to present the award, although she handed it to the local Czech ambassador, as Sverak had left before the end of the 11-day event.

The Silver award went to German director Doris Doerrie's widely acclaimed Cherry Blossoms - Hanami, while Bronze went to Burned Hearts from Morocco's Ahmed El Maanouni.

The special jury award went to Majid Majidi's The Song Of Sparrows, which also picked up the best actor prize for Reza Najie - repeating his win at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. Kristin Scott Thomas was awarded the best actress prize for Il y a Longtemps Que Je T'aime.

Best director went to Colombia's Carlos Moreno for Dog Eat Dog (Perro Come Perro). The award is given in the name of late Syrian filmmaker Moustapha El-Akkad who is well known in Hollywood for producing the Halloween series.

In the Arab competition, judged by a separate jury to the main competition, the prize for Best Arab Film went to Days Of Boredom from Syrian director Abdullatif Abdulhamid.

French director Yves Boisset headed the 11-person jury which also included Indian director Anindita Sarbadhicari, Italian filmmaker and fest director Italo Spinelli, Palestinian director Basel Khatib, Ukranian DoP Sergei Mikhalchuk, Lebanonese actress Carmen Lebbos and Spanish actress Esther Ortega, amongst others.

The awards were presented at a lavish closing ceremony which showcased Syrian culture through dance, poetry and animation. They were followed by the screening of the closing film - Brazilian director Jose Padilha's Elite Squad. The opening film was Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Three Monkeys.

Other guests at the festival included Claudia Cardinale, Italian actor Franco Nero andUS actor Richard Harrison, along with Arab stars such as Egyptian actor Nour El-Sherif.