Eran Kolirin's Cannes favourite takes best film, actor and actress; Moshon Salmona's Wassermil wins the inaugural Most Promising Debut
Returning home after its triumphant debut at Cannes, Eran Kolirin The Band's Visit took all the major prizes at the 24th Jerusalem Film Festival on Saturday.
The comedy-drama, about an Egyptian police band touring Israel, walked away with the Wolgin award for best Israeli feature film, as well as plaudits for Sasson Gabbai (best actor) and Ronit Alkabetz (best actress).
Moshon Salmona's Wassermil won the inaugural Most Promising Debut prize for his feature about three adolescents struggling to pull themselves out of a vicious circle of poverty and crime.
Additional awards went to Ron Tal's Children Of The Sun (best documentary), and to Roads (best short) by Lior Geller.
A natural favourite, Kolirin's picture had a smooth ride to victory since its main potential rivals, Cannes Camera d'Or winner Jellyfish and Secrets - Avi Nesher's sombre drama, about a woman (Fanny Ardant) facing imminent death - opted for a commercial release on the eve of the festival instead of waiting for the competition.
Despite Secrets absence from the programme, Avi Nesher still won one of the festival's several Achievement Awards, together with veteran distributor Michael Schwilli, Israeli Film Fund chief Katriel Schori, LA-based Israeli producers Avi Lerner and Danny Dimburt and Italian film-maker Ermanno Olmi, who had to cancel his trip to Jerusalem at the last minute due to health problems.
Observers agreed that this year's festival felt more business oriented than before, with an increased number of pitching sessions, seminars and industry events as well as greater emphasis on serving the homegrown industry. The event - staged at a revamped Jerusalem Cinematheque - hopes to expand its screening facilities next year in time for its 25th anniversary.