The 59th Locarno International Film Festival came to a close in Switzerland this weakened with Andrea Staka's "Das Fraulein" winning the Golden Leopard, the event's top prize (including a 90,000 CHF cash award). Ryan Fleck's "Half Nelson," which opened in U.S. theaters over the weekend, won the special jury prize at the festival (including a 30,000 CHF cash award). The festival's directing prize went to Laurent Achard for "Le Dernier des Fous."
In a director's statement, "Das Fraulein" filmmaker Andrea Staka called her first fiction feature a "personal film that connects my two worlds." While she grew up in Switzerland, her family's home country is the former Yugoslavia. She explained in the statement, "The film closely observes the lives of three modern women from different regions of a country that no longer exists, who are now living in Switzerland. Each of these women is burdened by an unspeakable sorrow within her." Continuing, Staka added, "With 'Das Fraulein', I wanted to explore displacement in our era; more and more people are moving between different cultures, be they refugees, travelers or simply the homeless."
Jurors included Chinese director Ann Hui, Swiss photographer Edo Bertoglio, Italian director Antonio Capuano, German producer Peter Rommel and Japanese director Nobuhiro Suwa. They awarded the festival's best actress prize to Amber Tamblyn for her role in Hilary Brougher's "Stephanie Daley" and the best actor award to Burghart Klaussner for his role in Dito Tsintsadze's "Der Man Von Der Botschaft."
The festival's audience award went to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "Das Leben Der Anderen" from Germany. The film, set in East Berlin in 1984, is described as a thriller that looks at surveillance run by the German State police service, the Stasi.
In the Filmmakers of the Present Competition, Angelina Maccarone's "Verfolgt" from Germany won the Golden Leopard, while the Leopard for best first film went to Isabelle Czajka's "L'Anne Suivante" from France. The FIPRESCI film critics prize went to Young-Nam Kim's "Nae-Chungchun-Aegae-Goham" (Don't Look Back) from South Korea.
[For a complete list of winners, please visit the Locarno International Film Festival website.]