By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire October 18, 2009 at 4:52AM
Described as, a "powerful and uncompromising portrait of the compounding frailties and difficulties of a struggling black community," Tina Mabry's "Mississippi Damned" won the Gold Hugo for Best Film at the 45th Chicago International Film Festival.
The film, which debuted earlier this year at the Slamdance Film Festival, spans twelve years in the lives of three Black kids in rural Mississippi. Based on a true story, it follows their cycle of abuse, addiction and violence.
Mabry also won the screenwriting prize at the festival and Jossie Harris Thacker won a best supporting actress award for her role in the movie.
Marco Bellocchio's "Vincere" won three Hugo prizes at the festival. The Silver Hugo for best director went to Bellochio, while Silver Hugo acting awards went to Giovanna Mezzogiorno for best actress and Filippo Timi for best actor. The film also won a cinematography prize for Daniele Ciprì.
The fest jury gave a special mention to Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" and the film's Michael Fassbender won a best supporting actor prize.
In the New Directors competition, the Gold Hugo went to Adrian Biniez' "Gigante" from Uruguay.
List of feature award winners:
International Feature Film Competition
Gold Hugo for Best Film to "Mississippi Damned" (US) for its powerful and uncompromising portrait of the compounding frailties and difficulties of a struggling black community.
Silver Hugo for Special Jury Award to "Fish Tank" (UK) for its aesthetic boldness in taking us into a grim public-housing environment and showing us the transcendent spirit of a young girl that struggles to overcome the adult lies that engulf her.
Silver Hugo for Best Director to Marco Bellocchio ("Vincere", Italy) for taking us into the privileged details of a love story so well drawn that we cannot renege on what we have felt between the two main characters.
Silver Hugo for Best Actress to Giovanna Mezzogiorno of "Vincere" (Italy) for her astonishing understanding of love, its depth and its degradation.
Silver Hugo for Best Actor to Filippo Timi of "Vincere" (Italy) for bringing such a commanding virility to a young Mussolini that we are both entranced and repelled by his climb to power and evil.
Gold Plaque for Best Supporting Actress to Jossie Harris Thacker in "Mississippi Damned" (US) for her character’s multiple and believable life changes that give us insight into the tragedy that jealousy, alcohol, and neglect can lead to.
Gold Plaque for Best Supporting Actor to Michael Fassbender in "Fish Tank" (UK) for his stunning charismatic presence that infuses life into this sad family momentarily and then absconds in shameful weakness.
Gold Plaque for Best Screenplay to Tina Mabry of "Mississippi Damned" (USA) for it's well observed unfolding character depictions in a Mississippi community that keep us both fascinated and horrified by the events that life brings.
Gold Plaque for Best Cinematography to Daniele Ciprì ("Vincere", Italy) who has taken the human face, given its images breath in every sense, and allowed us into each second of this film’s dramatic contortions.
Gold Plaque for Best Art Direction to "Hipsters" (Russia) for its infectiously colorful and imaginative sets and its stimulating counterbalancing of a modern generation set against Soviet darkness.
Silver Plaque to "Backyard" (Mexico) for its exposé of the horrible crimes of violence against women in Juarez.
New Directors Competition
Gold Hugo to "Gigante" (Uruguay), a humorous and poignant story of people striving to connect in a contemporary world of isolation and loneliness. The film and its charm center on the admirably conceived central figure of the gentle, vulnerable and lovelorn giant.
Silver Hugo to "Made in China" (USA), an exemplary demonstration of guerrilla film-making, shot at speed but conceived and assembled with wit, charm, coherence and a distinctively wry view of 21st century entrepreneurism.
Gold Plaque to "Partners" (Switzerland/France). "Partners" treats its brutal theme of the young trapped into commercial vice and violence without forfeiting affection for the victims or belief in their fundamental yearning for love and escape. We particularly admired the film’s skillful structure and excellent ensemble performances.
Gold Hugo to "Cooking History" (Austria/Slovakia/Czech Republic) for its originality and humor, and for presenting a view of war from an unexpected angle, so as to shock, entertain, and educate.
Silver Hugo to "Racing Dreams" (USA) for revealing in an unsparing yet sympathetic way the inner life of young people aspiring to break into professional sports.
Gold Plaque in Direction to "Soundtrack for a Revolution" (USA) for its inventive combination of historical footage, interviews, and musical performance.