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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Winners at the 44th Chicago International Film Festival


CHICAGO, October 25, 2008 – Michael Kutza [pictured], Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago International Film Festival, Mimi Plauché, Feature Film Programmer, and Jesse Berkowitz, Documentary and Shorts Programmer, proudly announce the winners of the 2008 Festival competitions.
Chicago audiences were able to choose from 116 feature films, 38 short and student films, and 18 documentaries from more than 45 countries, showcasing both established and promising new filmmakers. Competitions were held in the Feature Film, New Directors, Documentary and Short Film categories, along with a special Chicago Award for a local filmmaker. The Festival’s highest honor is The Gold Hugo, named after the mythological God of Discovery.
Feature Film Competition
* The Gold Hugo is awarded to Hunger (UK), directed by Steve McQueen, for its’ outstanding visual and dramatic strength, telling an uncompromisingly disturbing story of the courage to fight for one’s belief.
* The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to Tokyo Sonata (Japan/Netherlands/Hong Kong), directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, which uses a story of humble family life as a metaphor of global anxieties in an era of economic and moral collapse. The jury specially commends the fine ensemble acting.
* The Silver Hugo Award for Direction is awarded to Henrik Ruben Genz for Terribly Happy (Denmark), for great storytelling full of surprises, overturning all expectations of genre.
* The Silver Hugo Award for Best Actor is awarded to Michael Fassbender for Hunger (UK), for his self-sacrificing performance exemplifying the ideal of “being” rather than “acting.”
* The Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress is awarded to Preity Zinta for Heaven on Earth (Canada), for her strong yet subtle performance as a woman struggling to keep her dreams despite brutal realities.


* The Silver Hugo Award for Best Screenplay is awarded Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni Di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso, and Roberto Saviano for Gomorrah (Italy), for their courageous adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s novel, presenting a horrifyingly realistic expose of the effect of organized crime on everyday life.
* The Silver Plaque is awarded to Nanni Moretti, Laura Paolucci and Francesco Piccolo for their sensitive adaptation of Sandro Veronesi’s Quiet Chaos (Italy/UK).

The Main Feature Film Jury includes Mihai Chirilov (Romania), Andy Gillet (France), Ted Kim (Korea), Denise Robert (France), Yu Nan (China), and David Robinson (UK).
New Directors Competition
* The Gold Hugo is awarded to The Dead Girl’s Feast (Brazil), directed by Matheus Nachtergaele, for transporting us to an unfamiliar world and fully embracing the freedoms that should characterize a first feature.
* The Silver Hugo is awarded to King of Ping Pong (Sweden), directed by Jens Jonsson, for its humorous defense of an egalitarian sport and its atypical lead characters.
The New Directors Jury includes Dr. Yael Munk (Israel), Lisa Nesselson (France), Joe Swanberg (USA), and John Russell Taylor (UK).
Documentary Competition
* The Gold Hugo for Best Documentary is awarded to Valentino: The Last Emperor (USA), directed by Matt Tyrnauer, for its ability to entertain and educate, to reveal character, and to move us through images and editing.
* The Silver Hugo is awarded to Anvil! The Story of Anvil (USA), directed by Sacha Gervasi, which provides a rich character study of a decades-long friendship and celebrates the perseverance of the artistic impulse on an emotionally satisfying journey.
* The Silver Hugo is awarded to They Killed Sister Dorothy (USA/Brazil), directed by Daniel Junge, for the suspense of a thriller that begins with a terrible crime and discovers unexpected complexities.
The Documentary Jury includes Richard Knight, Jr. (Windy City Times, USA), Claude Nouchi (Colifilms Diffusion, France) and Hank Sartin (Time Out Chicago, USA).
Short Film Competition
* The Gold Hugo for Best Short Film is awarded to Man (USA) directed by Myna Joseph.
* The Silver Hugo for Best Animated Short Film is awarded to Lies (Sweden), directed by Jonas Odell
The Short Film Jury includes Eddie Griffin (WTTW), Scott Tobias (The AV Club), Xan Aranda (Kartemquin Films, The Short Film Brigade) and Adam Fendelman (
The Chicago Award
As part of the 44th Chicago International Film Festival’s special section focusing on local filmmakers, the Chicago Award is presented to a Chicago or Illinois artist for the best feature film, short film, or documentary. The Chicago Award applauds and celebrates the tireless efforts of regional talents who are devotees to the art of cinema and for their contributions to the medium.
* The Gold Hugo for the Chicago Award Winner is Wesley Willis’s Joyrides (Dirs. Chris Bagley and Kim Shively, USA)
* The Silver Hugo for a Special Mention is Microphysics (Dir. Joan Carles Martorell)
The Chicago Award Jury includes: Matty Robinson (Filmspotting) and Clayton Brown (137 Films).
Audience Choice Award
* The Audience Choice Award will be announced immediately following the completion of the Festival, which is October 29, 2008.
Special Tributes
* On October 17, 2008, Director Mike Leigh was presented with a Career Achievement Award preceding the screening of his film, Happy-Go-Lucky.
* On October 18, 2008, Academy Award® winning-actor Sidney Poitier was presented with a Gold Hugo, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Academy Award® winning-actress Jennifer Hudson was presented with an Artistic Achievement Award during the 12th Annual Black Perspectives Tribute.
* On October 29, 2008, Academy Award® nominee Viggo Mortensen will be presented with a Career Achievement Award preceding the screening of the U.S. Premiere of Good.

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