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“My Nikifor” and “The Boys of Baraka” Honored at Chicago International Film Festival

"My Nikifor" and "The Boys of Baraka" Honored at Chicago International Film Festival

Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Krauze won top accolades at the 41st Chicago International Film Festival over the weekend, taking the event’s Gold Hugo – Best Film prize for “My Nikifor.” In addition, the film’s star Roman Gancarczyk received CIFF’s Silver Hugo Award for best actor. The film, which was the top prizewinner at the Karlovy Film Festival this summer, is the story of self-styled street artist, Nikifor whose passion and torment drove him to create over 40,000 works of art during his lifetime. Romanian director Cristi Puiu‘s recent Reykjavik International Film Festival winner, “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” meanwhile, won the fest’s Silver Hugo – Special Jury Prize. The film builds suspense surrounding one man’s quest for care in an overburdened hospital.

In other winners, the Silver Hugo Award for best actress went to Inka Friedrich and Nadja Uhl for their roles in Andreas Dresen‘s story of two women’s complicated relationship, “My Summer in Berlin.” The ’05 FIPRESCI prize went to French director Emmanuel Carrere‘s “La Moustache,” about a man who has a moustache his entire adult life, but decides one day to shave it off. He becomes deeply disturbed, however, when nobody, not even those close to him, notices the change. British director Celia Galan Julve, meanwhile, took the Gold Hugo for best short film for “One Minute Past Midnight,” while Australian director Van Sowerwine took the Gold Hugo for best animated film for “Clara” and American Josh Hyde won the prize for best student film for “Chicle.”

In the documentary category, SXSW ’05 film “The Boys of Baraka” by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady won both the Gold Hugo for best documentary feature as well as the Aquafina Pure Vision Award, which includes a $5,000 cash-prize. The film traces the story of a group of Baltimore inner-city school children as they leave their harsh neighborhood environment for a year-long life experience at an experimental school in Kenya. CIFF’s Silver Hugor best documentary went to Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani‘s “The Devil’s Miner.”

Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira received this year’s Gold Hugo – Lifetime Achievement Award for “his continual achievements and endless devotion to his craft.” Oliveira has directed, written and edited dozens of films since the 1930s. Also receiving tributes were actress Susan Sarandon preceding the Chicago premiere of “Elizabethtown,” as well as actors Melvin Van Peebles and Terrence Howard, who received Lifetime Achievement and Career Achievement awards respectively.

The 41st Chicago International Film Festival is screening 101 features and 42 shorts through October 20th. Audience choice prizes will be announced following the conclusion of the festival, which will close with Gore Verbinski‘s “The Weather Man.”

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