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A scene from the French film ‘Dans la Maison’ which won the best film award for French film director Francois Ozon at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, in the northern Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian
Ozon wins top prize at Spanish fest Festival drawing filmmakers to middle America

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain, Sept 30, (Agencies): French director Francois Ozon won the top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival on Saturday for his psychological thriller “Dans la maison” (In the House).
Ozon’s film tells the story of the relationship between a world-weary French teacher and a disturbingly gifted student.
It is based on the play “El chico de la ultima fila” (The Guy in the Back Row) by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga. In addition to the Golden Shell for best film, Ozon also picked up the best screenplay prize.
Warm applause greeted the announcement of his wins at the awards ceremony.
The prize for best director went to Spain’s Fernando Trueba for “El artista y la modelo” (The Artist and the Model), a drama set in Nazi-occupied France during WWII.
Shot in black and white, it tells the story of the relationship between an aging French sculptor and a Spanish girl fleeing Franco’s Spain. The international cast includes Italy’s Claudia Cardinale and France’s Jean Rochefort.
In speeches at the festival, both Ozon and Trueba denounced the Spanish government’s budget cuts to the national film industry.
The special jury prize went to Spanish director Pablo Berger’s “Blancanieves” (Snow White).

This latest reworking of the classic fairy tale moves the setting to 1920s Spain. A silent movie with a flamenco soundtrack, it unfolds in the world of bullfighting in Seville and evokes the European cinema of that period.
Spanish actress Macarena Garcia won the Silver Shell for best actress for her performance in the film, which has also been selected as Spain’s candidate for best foreign-language picture at the Oscars.
Garcia shared the best actress honours with Katie Coseni for her performance in the Franco-Canadian production “Foxfire,” by French director Laurent Cantet.
The film, based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, tells the story of five teenage girls in 1950s New York who form a gang to strike back against their enemies.
The best actor award went to veteran Spanish actor Jose Sacristan for his performance in “El muerto y ser feliz” (The Dead Man and Being Happy) by Spanish writer-director Javier Rebollo, a road movie set in Argentina.
Sacristan plays an aging hitman stricken with cancer who is coming to terms with his own impending death. The prize for best cinematography went to Iran’s Touraj Aslani for his work in the Turkish film “Fasle Kargadan” (Rhino Season).

And the jury’s special mention went to “The Attack” by Lebanese-born director Ziad Doueiri.
It tells the story of an Israeli surgeon of Palestinian origin whose life is shattered after his wife turns out to have been the suicide bomber in a devastating attack on a restaurant.
This year’s festival attracted its share of Hollywood star power, with visits by Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon to promote their financial thriller “Arbitrage”.
The festival also presented special awards to leading figures in the industry, including US actors John Travolta, Tommy Lee Jones and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor.
Dustin Hoffman also attended to present his first film as director and received a lifetime achievement award for his acting career.
His film, “Quartet”, set in a home for retired opera singers, features a strong cast of British talent including Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Trevor Peacock.
The San Sebastian Film Festival is the oldest and most prestigious event of its kind in the Spanish-speaking world.

It’s a Friday night on Main Street in the small northern South Dakota town of Aberdeen, and it’s supposedly a hopping one with the marquee event of the annual South Dakota Film Festival being held at the historic Capitol Theater.
And yet, the street is nearly empty. The chirping of crickets is only occasionally disturbed by passing cars or pedestrians. Cannes or Sundance, this is not.
Some might consider it an unfortunate side effect of being, well, in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota, in a town hugged by corn fields and the closest “big cities” — Fargo, Bismarck, Sioux Falls and Pierre — each being about a three hours’ drive away.

But Tom Black doesn’t see it that way.
“We’re not the middle of nowhere. We’re the middle of everywhere,” said Black, a co-producer of the South Dakota Film Festival, which this weekend is in its sixth year.
Looking at a map, he’s just about right. As long as film goers don’t mind that cattle outnumber local residents, Aberdeen is pretty close to being smack dab in the middle of the country. And it’s that central location that has grown the small-town festival into a filmmakers’ favorite, consistently drawing hundreds of people into the quaint-but-spacious theater each of the event’s four days.
It’s gotten so big, in fact, that organizers said they might need to spread to other downtown locations in the next year or two.

“It’s charming here. It’s a great theater,” said Mike Scholtz, 42, of Minnesota, whose latest documentary “Wild Bill’s Run” has won awards at both the South Dakota and Seattle film festivals. The “arctic crime caper” also has been accepted into the better-known Mountain Film Festival in Canada’s Banff, Alberta.
“A lot of festivals are in hotel conference rooms, or just spaces that aren’t as nice for film watching. This is a really nice space for it,” Scholtz said.
Indeed, the Capitol Theater is the stuff of theatres past. Inside the lobby is an ornate chandelier and restored 1920s organ. The theater itself is adorned with turn-of-the-century embellishments and balcony seating. The screen pulls down over a true stage, one that’s used for live performances by the Aberdeen Community Theatre.
It’s a space Penny Stolsmark of Pierpont, South Dakota, has known since childhood — but Friday marked the first time she and her husband have visited for the film festival.
“We had to come. We’ve never been to this before, but we always wanted to,” Stolsmark said. “We’re big moviegoers.”

What drew Stolsmark to this year’s festival wasn’t a new film, but rather one celebrating its 20th anniversary: “Thunderheart” starring Val Kilmer and Native American actor Graham Greene. Greene is arguably best known for his role in another South Dakota-filmed movie, “Dances With Wolves,” for which he was nominated for a best supporting actor Academy Award.
The showing, followed by a question-and-answer period with Greene, was to be one of the festival’s highlights.
Saturday is to feature a preview of upcoming films made in South Dakota, a six-minute silent flick called “Bus 1107,” a horror film called “Werewolf in a Girls Sorority,” and what Black describes as this year’s big get: “Butter,” a film starring Jennifer Garner that won’t be widely released until Oct 5.
And that’s just a sampling. About 100 filmmakers entered their works; about half of those were accepted, organizers said. Many of the films have cast or crew from the Upper Great Plains states.
“We’ll tear about 1,000 tickets over the course of the weekend,” Black said.
Scholtz, who made his first film in 1997, said Aberdeen — population 27,000 — will continue to lure him because it’s a “filmmakers’ festival.”
“Everyone in the film community in the Midwest is aware of the festival,” he said. “Average people won’t have heard of it, but they have a really good reputation with filmmakers.”

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