Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” topped the winners of the Chicago International Film Festival, which announced their prizes this weekend. The film won the festival’s “Gold Hugo” for best international film, and also won honors for acting (Denis Lavant) and cinematography (Caroline Champetier and Yves Cape).
Other major winners included Michel Franco’s “After Lucia,” Petér Bergendy’s “The Exam” and Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross’s “The Believers.”
Full press release below.
CHICAGO (October 19, 2012) – Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director, Mimi Plauché, Programming Director, and Programmers Alex Kopecky and Penny Bartlett proudly announce the winners of the 48th Chicago International Film Festival Competitions.
French filmmaker Leos Carax’s exuberant and euphoric HOLY MOTORS leads this extraordinary group of films with three awards. Carax’s first film, BOY MEETS GIRL, premiered in Chicago in 1984 as part of the 20th Chicago International Film Festival’s International Competition.
Many of the winners will be showcased during the Festival’s Best of the Fest program, Wednesday, October 24 at the AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.). The Festival runs until Thursday October 25 when Closing Night film FLIGHT, directed by Chicago-born filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and starring Denzel Washington, receives its Chicago Premiere.
International Feature Film Competition
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these works compete for the Festival’s highest honor, the Gold Hugo, a symbol of discovery.
The Gold Hugo for Best Film goes to HOLY MOTORS (France/Germany) for the sheer beauty, originality and breathtaking scope of its cinematic vision. Director: Leos Carax.
The Silver Hugo Special Jury Prize is awarded to AFTER LUCIA (Mexico/France) for being a film of great simplicity and restraint, that nevertheless moved and shocked the jury. Director: Michel Franco.
The Silver Hugo for Best Actor goes to Denis Lavant in HOLY MOTORS (France/Germany) for breathing life into a character who is alternately tragic, hilarious, shocking, profound, hideous, beautiful, wise – but always human – and, quite simply, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
The Silver Hugo for Best Actress goes to Ulla Skoog in THE LAST SENTENCE (Sweden) for showing, with great subtlety and skill, the depth, complexity and humanity of a seemingly “ordinary” human-being. Director: Jan Troell.
The Silver Hugo for Best Cinematography goes to Yves Cape and Caroline Champetier of HOLY MOTORS for images that were achingly beautiful and inventive, and somehow managed to be always perfectly in sync with the confounding universe of the narrative.
The Silver Hugo Special Mention goes to THE REPENTANT (Algeria/France) for exploring with great sensitivity the aftermath of atrocities in Algeria and the challenges of reconciliation. Director: Merzak Allouache.
The International Feature Film Competition Jury includes Danièle Cauchard, Patrice Chéreau, Alice Krige, Joe Maggio and Amr Waked.
New Directors Competition
This selection of first and second feature films receiving their U.S. premiere in Chicago celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation upon which the Festival was founded.
The Gold Hugo goes to THE EXAM (Hungary), a film which combines the intricate plotting of a Cold War secret agent thriller with the serious undercurrent concerning deeper issues of personal loyalty versus the police state; it exudes a quiet confidence, remarkable in a new filmmaker. Director: Petér Bergendy.
The Silver Hugo is awarded to FLOWERBUDS (Czech Republic), a glum image of current Czech society that is illuminated by quirky observation and even an occasional touch of humor. An impressive and sophisticated beginning. Director: Zdenek Jirasky.
The New Directors Competition Jury includes Dan Berger, Rebeca Conget, Jonathan Miller and John Russell Taylor.
This selection of international documentaries competing for the Gold Hugo go beyond the headlines in telling those true stories that surprise, entertain and challenge us.
The Gold Hugo goes to THE BELIEVERS (USA). This tightly constructed cinematic argument with strong characters puts a human face on scientific research and discovery acknowledging our universal understanding of human failings in our desire to achieve success. In THE BELIEVERS, the filmmakers remind us just how inexact science really is sometimes. Directors: Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross.
The Silver Hugo goes to NUMBERED (Israel). Visually stunning, compelling stories with surprising humor and wit edited into an impactful whole to remind us that the past lives on for the next generations. NUMBERED clearly demonstrates the importance of documenting the collective story of the Holocaust and other world genocide. Director: Dana Doron and Uriel Sinai.
The Docufest Competition Jury includes Reiner Veit, Alicia Sams and Ruth Leitman.
After Dark Competition
This competitive program of scary movies from around the world takes audiences on a journey to the darkest corners of the human soul.
The Gold Hugo goes to ANTIVIRAL (Canada/USA), one of the more ambitious feature film debuts in recent memory. Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg’s ANTIVIRAL is a work obsessed with perversions of the flesh, in the areas of science and sexuality. The film is the work of a budding visionary–full of inventive and effective artistry, and a clear sense of where we are going as a celebrity-worshipping society. Director: Brandon Cronenberg.
The Silver Hugo goes to SLEEP TIGHT (Spain). Jaume Balagueró’s gift as a director of thrillers is his way with psychological tension, digging out worrying new ways to describe how the world is simply not ever a safe place to be. In SLEEP TIGHT, not even bed and a little bit of sleep are safe. Director: Jaume Balagueró.
The After Dark Competition Jury includes Jayme Joyce, Steve Prokopy and Ray Pride.
Short Film Competition
The Gold Hugo for Best Short Film goes to RETURN (Israel), awarded for its extraordinary exploration of cultural dislocation as seen through the eyes of a young man who returns to his Israeli home after a life-changing trip to India, director Shay Levi wisely chooses to avoid obvious melodramatic touches. Instead, he tells the story through nuance and the subtle play of a moving camera. The result is that we are taken into the pained and confused mind of the protagonist yet given enough information to empathize with the people to whom he can no longer relate. The jury wishes to recognize that this achievement is all the more noteworthy because RETURN is the work of a student filmmaker. It gives us hope for a future of challenging and rewarding films from Mr. Levi. Director Shay Levi.
The Silver Hugo for Best Narrative/Live Action Short goes to PAUL (Israel), awarded for its effective mix of a fantastical story with the visual elements of noir, and for a central character whose plight is lovingly conveyed with Keatonesque simplicity. This tale of a dog-faced man who sets out to find his stolen pet fish brilliantly walks the tightrope between magical realism and a dark night of the soul. The fact that there are no missteps is due to its effective mixture of cinematic dexterity and a keen eye for the foibles of human behavior. The jury was particularly impressed by the central performance. Little more than a bodysuit made of crepe, Paul proved to be one of the most fully rounded and emotionally affecting characters that we have seen in a long time. Director: Adam Bizanski.
The Silver Hugo for Best Short Documentary goes to PARADISE (USA). With a moment of calm daybreak followed by harnesses, ropes, and the calculated preparation of a great heist movie, director Nadav Kurtz drops the audience of his short film PARADISE into a meditation through the perspective of three Chicago window washers. Topically a film about men at work, this documentary incorporates fluid camera movements, beautiful photography, steady editing, and a lovely yet understated guitar soundtrack. The subjects discuss marriage, growing old, death, the afterlife, and teaching the next generation while building inhabitants continue downtown – living, working, playing, and going to Starbucks. Director: Nadav Kurtz.
The Silver Hugo for Best Animated Short, the highest for an animated short film, goes to OH, WILLY (Belgium) due to its stunning originality. The jury found the film to be a treat, full of narrative surprises and delightful tonal shifts, and that rare beast of a film – one where the material design itself (a world covered in fuzzy wool) lends an unmistakable expressivity to the landscape of the film and characters in it. The narrative’s tender, scary, and surreal episodes culminate in a fantasy with an unexpected and captivating conclusion. Directors: Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels.
The Gold Plaque for Best Student Film is awarded to NEXT DOOR LETTERS (Sweden) both for its brave style (balancing a digi-folksy aesthetic with a hint of the grotesque), and its effectively shaped narrative. Based on a true story of teenage longing and burgeoning queer identity, the jury found it a touching and an impressive achievement. Director: Sascha Fülscher.
The Gold Plaque for Animated Short is awarded to EDMOND WAS A DONKEY (Canada/France) for its unique story of a young office drone who comes to accept the image others have of him, as well as for its ability to effectively and cinematically capture the essence of fable. Mixing black and white imagery, ironic voiceovers and a Buñuelian sense of the absurd, EDMOND WAS A DONKEY is that rare film that delights us with what it has to say as much as how it says it. Director: Franck Dion.
The Silver Plaque for Narrative/Live Action Short is awarded to VOICE OVER (Spain). On another planet, attacked by monsters, crawling through mud to save loved ones, and being dragged to murky depths by a vessel thought to be your salvation – there is no explicit way to describe the feelings outlined at the culmination of Martin Rosete’s VOICE OVER. The jury awards a Silver Plaque for the film’s art direction, technical mastery, riveting script, compact editing, elegant yet tongue-tied narrator, and a reminder of adolescent and adult struggles for life and love. Director: Martin Rosete.
A Special Mention for Narrative/Life Action Short goes to CAFÉ REGULAR, CAIRO (Egypt) for its effective and well-directed use of improvisation to create an intimacy not only between the characters onscreen, but between them and the audience as well. Director: Ritesh Batra.
The Short Film Competition Jury includes Melika Bass, Ronald Falzone and Andrew Suprenant.
One of the longest-running international competitions of its kind, INTERCOM honors a wide range of corporate-sponsored, educational and branded films.
The Gold Hugo goes to HANDTMANN – IDEA FOR THE FUTURE by Naumann Film, a compelling and elegantly cinematic evocation of the ways manufacturing and technology connect human beings in the 21st century.
The Gold Plaque go to SAVE BOWLING by Brad Bischoff. BBBS by Bengar Films; MAY FOOD KEEP US TOGETHER: “LAST STALL STANDING” by Peoples Production Limited; and SWISS LIFE – CORPORATE MOVIE by Seed Audio-Visual Communication AG.
The INTERCOM Competition Jury includes Ronald Falzone, Anne Willmore, Hannah Dallman, Zoran Samardzija, and Dan Rybicky.
The Chicago Award, presented to a Chicago or Illinois artist for the best feature, short film or documentary, goes to CONSUMING SPIRITS, directed by Chris Sullivan, a truly independent and lovingly crafted portrait of Americana that is by turns surprising and touching.
The Chicago Award jury includes Julie Ford, Kevin B. Lee, and Michael W. Phillips, Jr.
The 48th Chicago International Film Festival recognized JOAN ALLEN’s outstanding achievements and contributions in both theater and film with a Silver Hugo Career Achievement Award on October 14. HELEN HUNT’s rich career will be similarly recognized on October 20 during a Special Presentation of Ben Lewin’s much anticipated film THE SESSIONS at the AMC River East 21. The red carpet event starts at 6:30 pm.
VIOLA DAVIS will be presented with the Career Achievement Award, Monday October 22 at the Festival’s annual Black Perspectives Tribute to be held at the AMC River East 21. A powerhouse talent of stage, television and film, the Academy Award®-nominated actress (DOUBT, THE HELP) will join the ranks of past recipients including Morgan Freeman, Halle Berry and Sidney Poitier as she accepts a Silver Hugo for the rich characters and nuanced performances she has embodied throughout her career. The red carpet event begins at 6:30 p.m. and is followed by the tribute presentation and celebration of Davis’ work.
The Festival also honored Spanish filmmaker JUAN ANTONIO BAYONA with the Emerging Visionary Award for bringing fresh insight, dynamism, and humanity to familiar genres during a Special Presentation of his critically-acclaimed film THE IMPOSSIBLE on October 18.