Essential Killing takes top prize at Mar del Plata

Essential KillingPolish director Jerzy Skolimowksi walked away with Mar del Plata’s Golden Astor (Astor de Oro) prize for best film in the international competition for Essential Killing on Saturday, while Vincent Gallo picked up Best Actor for his role as a Taliban fighter in Skolimowksi’s political thriller.

“It was, without a doubt, the most difficult film I’ve ever made in my career,” said Skolimowski. “I feel very honoured to receive this prize and I thank the jury for recognising our arduous work of filming in very low temperatures.”

Presenting the Golden Astor, jury president Román Gubern said that Essential Killing highlighted “the current situation and has political vigour”. Essential Killing also picked up the ACCA prize for best film in that category.

Jurors Mario Canale, Ruy Guerra, Graciela Maglie, Dominique Sanda and Gubern also gave a double nod to Silent Souls, first to Alexi Fedorchenko for Best Director and to Denis Osokin for Best Script.

The Best Latin American film prize went to Daniel and Diego Vega’s October (Octubre), while former BAfici winner Tamae Garateguy picked up the Best Argentine film for Pompeya. Special mention was given to documentary A King for Patagonia (Un rey para Patagonia) directed by Lucás Turturro.

One film that caught not only the judges’ but viewers’ attention was Argentine director Fernando Spiner’s ‘gaucho’ western Aballay, the Fearless Man (Aballay, el hombre sin miedo) – based on the book by Antonio Di Benedetto. Competing in the international competition, it won the public’s vote as their favourite in that category, was given a second mention from the jury and picked up the unofficial Moviecity prize for best festival film.

Argentina is known for its malbec grape so one particularly fitting prize for the best feature-length Argentine film went to Nicolás Carreras‘ The Wine Trail (El camino del vino).

The 25th Mar del Plata International Film Festival closed on Nov 21 and around 80,000 spectators watched 314 films over the nine days. Programmer and director José Antonio Martínez Suárez said yesterday: “Work begins on the 26th edition tomorrow.”

First published on Screen Daily on 22 November, 2010.

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