Mexican $600 film school feature wins top prize in Transylvania

By Jorn Rossing Jensen in Cluj
    Mexican director Yulene Olaizola's first feature, Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies, a $600 exercise shot as part of her education at film school in Mexico City, won the top prize, the Transylvania Award, at the 7th Transylvania International Film Festival in Cluj, which ended Sunday, June 8.

    The documentary about the relationship between Olaizola's grandmother and one of her tenants in her guest house on the corner of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo Streets was a last-minute selection for the competition. It had previously been named Best Film at the festival in Buenos Aires.


    At the closing ceremony in Cluj's National Theatre, Olaizola received her award from French actress Catherine Deneuve, this year's Transylvanian guest of honour, who was in Cluj to receive the festival's Life Achievement Award and attend the screening of Andre
    Techine's Changing Times.


    Similar recognitions were given to Romanian veteran actors Tamara Bucioceanu-Botez and 90-year-old Radu Beligan, whose TIFF Excellence Award was given to him by Romanian president Traian Basescu, visiting the country's largest festival for the first time.


    The second prize, for Best Director, went to Danish director Omar Shargawi's Go With Peace Jamil. Shargawi's debut, about a young Arab living in Copenhagen with his wife and son, who is "settling old debts - unwillingly, but no less violently," won a Tiger Award in Rotterdam and two prizes in Gothenburg.


    The Romanian Days was won by a documentary, Thomas Ciulei's The Flower Bridge, about a father raising three children after his wife has left to find work in Italy. George Dorobantu's Elevator, following two teenagers stuck in a cargo elevator, was named Best Debut.

    The international critics' FIPRESCI Award went to Argentine director Albertina Carri's Anger, about life in the Argentine pampas, while local audiences preferred French director Samuel Benchetrit's I always anted to Be a Gangster, a comedy about four gangsters whose careers may not be in crime.

    At the gala, Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest) was appointed Chevalier des arts et des lettres by French ambassador to Romania, Henri Paul.

    The festival's seventh edition sold 35,000 tickets to the screenings of 200 films from 40 countries.

    Complete list of winners:

    The Transylvania Trophy - provided by Vodafone: Intimacies of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo / Intimidades de Shakespeare y Victor Hugo (d. Yulene Olaizola, Mexico, 2008)

    Best Directing Award - offered by the Romanian Film Center: Omar Shargawi of Go With Peace Jamil / Ma Salama Jamil (Denmark, 2008)

    The Jury's Special Award - offered by Impact Developer & Contractor: Lake Tahoe / Te acuerdas de Lake Tahoe? (d. Fernando Eimbcke, Mexico, 2008)

    The Best Performance Award - provided by Vitrina Advertising: Peter Haumann, Peter Rudolf, Milan Schruff for The Adventurers / Kalandorok (d. Bela Paczolay, Hungary, 2008)

    The Best Cinematography Award - provided by Kodak Cinelabs Romania: Mart Taniel pentru Autumn Ball / Sugisball (d. Veiko Ounupuu, Estonia, 2007)

    The FIPRESCI Award - provided by the Foreign Film Press Association Jury: La Rabia / La Rabia (d. Albertina Carri, Argentina, 2008)

    The Audience Award - offered by the Nescafe coffee: I Always Wanted to Be A Gangster / J'ai toujours reve d'etre un gangster (d. Samuel Benchetrit, Franta, 2007)

    The Excellence Award - offered by Mercedes-Benz: Radu Beligan

    The Lifetime Achievement Award - offered by Banca Transylvania: Tamara Buciuceanu-Botez

    The Lifetime Achievement Award - offered to an important personality in the history of European Cinema: Catherine Deneuve

    The Award for the Best Short Film Script in the HBO Screenwriting competition - worth 1500 USD: Bogdan Muresanu

    The Award for the Best Feature Film Script in the HBO Screenwriting competition, worth 3000 USD: Ioan Antoci

    The Romanian Days Award for the Best Romanian Short - offered by Sony: Inspiration (d. Igor Cobileanski, Romania-Moldova, 2008)

    The Romanian Days Award for the Best Romanian Feature - provided by HBO Romania: The Flower Bridge (d. Thomas Ciulei, Romania, 2008)

    The Debut Award - offered by Jolidon: George Dorobantu, for writing, directing, shooting and editing Elevator (Romania, 2007)

    The Award for the Best Short presented in Shadows - offered by Kiss FM: RIP (d. Bruno Collet, Franta, 2006)

    The Let's Go Digital! Award for the best short film produced during the workshop: Puzzle (written, directed, shot and edited by Elena Racu, Constantin Sorin Bazga and Peter Farkas)