By Indiewire | Indiewire August 17, 2004 at 2:00AM
Costanzo's "Private", from Italy, Wins Locarno's Golden Leopard
by Eugene Hernandez
Saverio Costanzo's Italian film "Private" won the Golden Leopard, the top award at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. The event ran from August 4 - 14, showcasing more than 350 films at the 57th festival. Based on a true story, Costanzo's film is the story of an English professor in Palestine whose family is literally caught in the crossfire between a Palestinian village and an Israeli base when the military occupy their home. Film star Mohammed Bakri won the best actor award at the festival.
Accepting the prize this weekend at the Piazza Grande, the filmmaker praised the performers in his film, saying, "It's really the actors' prize because it's their story."
The German film "En Garde" by Ayse Polat as well as Hassan Yektapanah's "Dastan Natamam" (Story Undone) each won Silver Leopards at the Locarno festival. Jun Ichikawa's "Tony Takitani" from Japan won a special prize at the festival. The festival's audience prize went to "Hacala Hasurit" (The Syrian Bride") by Eran Riklis.
"We feel that Locarno occupies a very important place in the festival calendar especially as far as independent productions are concerned," noted Locarno festival head Irene Bignardi in a conversation with indieWIRE. She emphasized that the event is an important showcase and singled out the fact that about 100 buyers from 80 companies in more than 25 countries were represented at the festival.
Bignardi noted that this year's festival included a number of films with a particularly political bent, citing the Indian film "Black Friday" by Anurag Kashyap, Patrice Leconte's "Dogora" about Cambodia, and Volker Schlondorff's "Der Neunte Tag" about the Holocaust. During the chat with indieWIRE, she said that she was particularly proud of this year's Newsfront program, a series of films meant to explore, like "Fahrenheit 9/11," "the character of the journalist and the role of media in films (and) a new attitude of cinema as a form of journalistic investigation." that she said organizers worked on for nearly a year.
[Anthony Kaufman contributed to this article.]