GoranPaskaljevic was the main winner of the 51st annual International Film Festivalof Valladolid, taking home the Golden Spike award and best actorprize forThe Optimists (Optimisti).
The film'scharismaticlead Lazar Ristovskistars in five varied tales that turnin one way or another on the search for hope in modern-day Serbia.
It wasthe second time Paskaljevic has won the top honour at Valladolid, one ofSpain's premiere film festivals, following 1995's Someone Else's America.
Theprize comes with a purse of $44,000 (Euros 35,000) for Spanish distributor, NirvanaFilms.
TheOptimists also earned the youth jury's top prize.
TheSilver Spike, and its $23,000(Euros 17,500) purse for the Spanish distributor, went toIran's It's Winter (Zemestan) by director RafiPitts. The tale of a handsome, out-of-work mechanic enamoured of a local widowin a bleak industrial village also picked up the prize for best photography.
RayLawrence's Australia-set Jindabyne,about a community torn apart by the morally questionable actions of a group offriends who discover a young Aborigine woman's murdered corpse, wonawardsfor best music and best actress for lead Laura Linney.
Criticshave suggested that the fact that just three films shared the bulk of the topprizes suggested a weak year forthe festival, in its second year undernew director Juan Carlos Frugone.
Nonetheless,screenings were well attended and audiences gave high marks to a number offilms that went away without official jury awards, including publicprize-winner Days Of Glory (Indigenes), aFrench-Morroccan-Algerian-Belgian co-production about France's exploitationofNorth African soldiers in the Second World War.
Crowdpleasing Argentinian dramedy City In Heat (Ciudad En Celo) won the Pilar Miro best new director prize for Hernan Gaffet, who tookhome (Euros 15,000.)
FellowArgentinian director Miguel Pereira won the best feature film prize, awarded bythe public,in the sidebar Meeting Point section for his film El Destino.
The Fipresciaward went to Andrea Staka's Fraulein (Das Fraulein), the Zurich-set story of friendship between three very different womenfrom the former Yugoslavia.