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French war movie sweeps film festival awards
Published in Daily News Egypt on 09 - 12 - 2007

CAIRO: French film L Ennemi Intime (Intimate Enemies) triumphed at the closing ceremony of the 31st Cairo International Film Festival on Friday, scooping three awards, including the Golden Pyramid for best picture.
Directed by Florent-Emilio Siri ("Hostage ), the film chronicles the gritty realities and moral conflict of the French troops during the 1954-62 Algerian war. The film was a favorite to win, receiving glaring reviews after screening at the festival. Besides the Golden Pyramid, Siri nabbed the Best Director award and Best Actor went to Albert Dupontel s portrayal of the loyal Sgt. Dougnac, a disillusioned officer tattered by the war.
Upon receiving his award, director Siri thanked the members of the jury, saying, "Because of you . and because it s about the Algerian war, it s very important that this [film] stay in our memory.
The Mexican film Ópera was the other bigger winner of the evening, taking home three awards including Best Actress for Magdalena Flores for her role as university student embarking on an affair with a married travel writer. Flores shared her award with Russian actress Tatiana Lutaeva's role in Full Scope as a woman in her late 30s who falls in love with a younger man in post-Soviet Russia
Director Juan Patricio Riveroll received the International Critics Award (Fipresci) along with the Naguib Mahfouz Prize for best first work. "Ópera was mildly received by Egyptian critics, with many denouncing Riveroll's excessive use of nudity.
Pakistani film "In the Name of God won the Silver Pyramid award (Jury Prize). The picture traces the clash between fundamental and liberal Islam explored through the story of a modern-day Pakistani family.
The Saad El Din Wahba award for best script went to the Dutch director/scriptwriter Albert Ter Heerdt for his film "Kicks. The film centers on a shooting accident where a Dutch police officer kills a Moroccan rapper, and recounts the repercussions on the multi-cultural Dutch society.
The Turkish film "Waiting for Heaven won the award for Best Artistic Contribution, while English actor Matthew Beard won a special mention for his role as the disgruntled young Blake Morrison in "And When Did You Last See Your Father?
The award for Best Arabic Film went to the Moroccan comedy "Waiting for Pasolini. The film tells the story of a Moroccan film extra who befriended Italian filmmaker Pier Pasolini years ago. The extra assumes that Pasolini has returned with a film crew planning a production in the village, and gets the residents' hopes up only to find out that the filmmaker passed away decades ago.
Egyptian film "The Seventh Heaven received a special mention from the Arabic film competition committee. "Heaven star Farouk El Feshawy said, "We dedicate this film to the Egyptian cinema. We truly deserve this prize.
Lebanese smash "Caramel also received a special mention. Director Nadine Labaki was arguably the star of the festival, and her acclaimed movie was expected to win Best Arabic Film.
England's "The Englishman won the runner-up Silver Prize award in the digital film competition while China's "Little Moth won the Golden Prize.
British film icon Nicolas Roeg was honored with a lifetime achievement trophy. "This has come as a bit of surprise, Roeg said. "I mean I'm honored and flattered, but slightly embarrassed because I'm also head of the jury.
Palm d'Or winner Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina was another honoree for his contribution in Arab cinema. "I want to dedicate this award to Arab cineastes. They're orphans really because they don't have any money to make movies, the Algerian veteran filmmaker commented before he stormed offstage.
The last of the honorees was legendary American music producer and composer Quincy Jones. Dressed all in black, a humbled Jones said "It's more than an honor to accept this lifetime achievement award, not only because of the personal significant achievements it signifies, but because of the rich cultural legacy that incurs with it.
"Ana Masry (I'm Egyptian), Jones said to warm applause from the audience. "I'd like to give a special acknowledgement to [the festival's] Honorary President Omar Sharif who I've had the honor and pleasure of working with. I can't think of a better person to represent the virtues this festival embodies.
The limited number of films awarded in the closing ceremony (six awards for two movies) is a clear reflection of a rather weak competition, nearly devoid of great pictures.
The ceremony was an extension of the lack of organization that marred the entire festival. Presenter actress Dalia El Beihery was the biggest gaffe of the evening, throwing inconsequential and embarrassing comments left and right such as "ohh, I envy him and "God bless You before and after Jones' speech.
For about two minutes, she sarcastically called for the revered Roeg to receive Matthew Beard's award before discovering he was just behind her - simply improper.
Elsewhere, Peter Scarlet, director of the Tribeca Film Festival, fell down on a shaky platform before presenting the awards for the digital competition while actress Magdalena Flores had to wait for her own trophy after Russian actress seized the only presented one.
Egyptian director Sandra Nashaat stood confused for a while, attempting to take her place onstage instead of the resistant presenter Tamer Hagras before inquiring aloud if she should translate Roeg's speech or just stand there.
Enlisting the help of Egyptian stars Youssra, Sherif Mounir, Ahmed Ezz and Mahmoud Abdel Moghney along with American stars Harvey Keitel and Aimee Mullins could not outshine the naive and palpable mistakes of the ceremony.

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