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‘Orchestra’ takes top prize at ‘Carthage’ – Tibetan tale ‘Tharlo’ wins Tokyo Filmex Grand prize

Moroccan director Mohamed Mouftakir (left), receives from Tunisian Culture Minister Latifa Lakhdar the Golden Tanit award for his film ‘L’orchestre des Aveugles’ during the closing ceremony of the 26th Carthage Film Festival on Nov 28, in the Tunisian capital Tunis. (AFP)
Moroccan director Mohamed Mouftakir (left), receives from Tunisian Culture Minister Latifa Lakhdar the Golden Tanit award for his film ‘L’orchestre des Aveugles’ during the closing ceremony of the 26th Carthage Film Festival on Nov 28, in the Tunisian capital Tunis. (AFP)

TUNIS, Nov 29, (Agencies): Moroccan director Mohammed Mouftakir’s “L’Orchestre des Aveugles” (The Blind Orchestra) took the Tanit d’Or Saturday at the Carthage Film Festival, blighted earlier in the week by a suicide bombing in the Tunisian capital.

The Tanit d’Argent was awarded to “The Endless River”, by South Africa’s Oliver Hermanus, while the Tanit de Bronze went to “A Peine J’ouvre les Yeux” (As I Open My Eyes) by Tunisia’s Leyla Bouzid.

Meanwhile, Nabil Ayouch’s “Much Loved”, banned at home in Morocco, won the Jury Prize.

The awards ceremony, hosted by satirical Egyptian TV personality Bassem Youssef at Tunis’s municipal theatre, took place under heavy security.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus carrying presidential security guards in Tunis, killing 12 of them.

That was the latest in a string of terror attacks in the North African country, birthplace of the ill-fated Arab Spring.

Earlier this year, jihadist gunmen killed 59 foreign tourists in attacks on the national museum and on a popular seaside resort.


Tunisian filmmaker Salma Baccar said at the beginning of the ceremony that “we don’t feel the same joy we usually feel in our hearts, but (the festival) is a challenge to those who have a culture of death.”

Just after Tuesday’s suicide bombing, festival director Ibrahim Letaief said there was no question of cancelling the competition, saying that is “the only way to respond to these barbaric acts”.

The film festival, which has now completed its 26th edition, is a showcase for Arab and African artists.

The official competition included 17 feature-length films, 13 shorts and 16 documentaries.

The 15th Marrakech Film Festival – which positions itself as a Mecca of world cinema – will screen 93 films from 33 countries, with special emphasis on emerging filmmaking nations.As in previous editions, Marrakech showcases high-profile pics and A-list talent, including jury prexy Francis Ford Coppola and career tribs to thesps Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe.

Barry Levinson’s “Rock the Kasbah” will open the fest and next Friday’s opening ceremony includes a career tribute to “Kasbah” lead, Murray. Closing film will be Todd Haynes’ Cannes-player “Carol.” Atom Egoyan will screen his Holocaust survivor thriller “Remember,” integrated within Fest’s country tribute to Canada. Joachim Lafosse, president of the Fest’s short film jury, screen “The White Knights,” set in Chad’s civil war.

Other out-of-competition films screening in the Red City include Julien Leclercq’s crime thriller “Braqueurs,” from France, Bill Condon’s Sherlock Holmes-retirement drama, “Mr. Holmes,” Cesc Gay’s Toronto/San Sebastian-player, the friendship-themed comedic drama “Truman,” (Spain/Argentina) Sergio Castellitto’s romantic drama “You Can’t Save Yourself Alone” (Italy) and Youssef Britel’s historical drama “The Green Drama” (Morocco).

Notwithstanding the list of high-profile pics from established filmmaking nations such as France, UK and the US, for the purposes of official selection, the Fest’s organizers state that they consider there to be a lack of original works from such nations, in comparison with countries that have a smaller cinematic heritage, which “present works that are more powerful, more surprising, and ultimately more accomplished.”

This year’s 15-film Official Selection focuses on first and second films, including seven world premieres, which the organizers consider are “somber, hard-hitting, often blending subject with form, disrupting to better display a new order.”

 “Tharlo,” Tibetan director Pema Tseden’s drama about a shepherd’s encounter with the big city and love, was Saturday awarded the Grand Prize at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Filmex (Nov 21-29.)

The film premiered in this year’s Venice Orrizonte section and was later screened the Busan International Film Festival. The jury chairman was Busan festival director Lee Young-kwan.

The special jury prize went to Chinese director Zhao Liang’s drama “Behemoth” about migrant workers in Inner Mongolia. Special mentions were given to Vimukthi Jayasundara’s Sri Lankan ensemble drama “Dark in the White Light” and Yosuke Okuda’s underworld crime drama “The Dork, the Girl and the Douchebag,” the only Japanese entry in the 10-film Competition.

The festival, which specializes in Asian, Japanese and European arthouse fare, opened with Sion Sono’s “The Whispering Star” and closed with Jia Zhangke’s “Mountains May Depart.” Special sections were devoted to French comedy master Pierre Etaix and Taiwanese directors Hou Hsiao-hsien and Tsai Ming-liang.

Chilean Pablo Larrain’s Catholic Church abuse drama “The Club” swept key prizes at the 2nd edition of the Ibero-American film Fenix Awards, including best picture, director (ex-aequo with Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent”), actor (Alfredo Castro) and screenplay.

The Fenix awards, whose second edition took place Nov 25 in Mexico City, is an initiative of Mexico-based promotion org Cinema23 to celebrate the films and industry professionals of Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

At the ceremony, Colombian Ciro Guerra’s adventure drama “Embrace of the Serpent” snagged four kudos in all, including cinematography, sound and music. Sold by Germany’s Films Boutique, “Embrace” already scooped the biggest prize at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and more recently the top Golden Astor at Argentina’s Mar del Plata.

Best actress nod at the Fenix went to Argentina’s Dolores Fonzi for her role in Santiago Mitre’s Cannes Critics’ Week winning social-issue thriller “Paulina.”

A Berlin 2015 Grand Jury Prize winner and Pablo Larrain’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated pic “No,” “The Club” turns around four priests who live together in a secluded house in a small town. Each of them has been sent to this place to purge sins from the past. Their routine is disrupted by the arrival of a fifth priest.

Sold by Peter Danner’s Funny Balloons, “The Club” was acquired by Music Box in North America and has become one of Latin America’s most celebrated films of the year, adding more international plaudits such as best picture at the Austin Fantastic Festival plus director and screenplay at the Chicago Intl Film Fest.

Damian Szifron’s Argentine B.O. breakout hit “Wild Tales” won the Fenix Exhibitors Award, while Jose Maria Prado, director of the Spanish Filmotheque, received a Fenix Award for its contribution to the Ibero-American Cinema Culture.

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