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'Cordon' Takes Ribbon at Montreal

MONTREAL (Hollywood Reporter) - "The Cordon," a movie from Serbia and Montenegro about a citizen uprising against dictator Slobodan Milosevic, picked up the Grand Prix of Americas at the 27th Montreal World Film Festival's closing ceremonies Sunday.

The film, was directed by Goran Markovic, now a teacher at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. His credits include "Tito and Me" (1992), "Burlesque Tragedy" (1995) and "Serbia Year Zero" (2001).

The runner-up prize in Montreal's main competition section, the Special Grand Prix of the Jury, was awarded to Canadian director Louis Belanger's "Gaz Bar Blues," which opened the festival. Belanger's sophomore feature is about a man who runs a gas station-cum-neighborhood cafe with the help of his three sons and a loyal friend. Belanger previously won the best director prize at Montreal in 1999 for "Post Mortem."

"Gaz Bar Blues" also was awarded the Ecumenical Prize, the first time in 25 years that the award has gone to a North American film. The prize goes to a movie of artistic merit that also explores ethical, social and spiritual values.

The best script prize went to the "The Professional," a Serbia/Montenegro film from Dusan Kovacevic, who also directed.

Spanish director Antonio Mercero snared the best director prize for "4th Floor," the story of cancer-plagued 15-year-old boys in a children's hospital.

Silvio Orlando was awarded the best actor award for his role in "The Soul's Haven," a film by Italian director Riccardo Milani about people in a small village in the Abruzzo mountains fighting the closure of a tire-manufacturing plant owned by an American multinational company.

Best actress went to Argentinean newcomer Marina Glezer for "The Little Polish," a film about street urchins. Glezer was a last-minute substitute for an actress who was plagued by drug problems. Director Juan Carlos Desanzo cast most of the characters in his sophomore film with street people. He is already planning to use Glezer in his next film, which he described as a "Romeo and Juliet"-type tragedy.

Other prizes awarded Sunday night included best artistic contribution to Romanian director Nicolae Margineanu's "Bless You, Prison" and best innovation to Italian director Fabio Carpi's "Memory Lane."

In the shorts competition, "Life and Death of a Boring Moment," by French director Patrick Bossard, got the top prize, while the runner-up was "In Bed With My Books," by U.S. director Michael Bergmann.

Montreal lacked the star power of the concurrent Toronto festival, even with U.S. director Martin Scorsese on hand Saturday for a packed screening of his 1973 breakthrough "Mean Streets." There was no red carpet for Scorsese's arrival, at his request, said festival communications director Martin Malina.

Slipping in and out through the back door of the 500-capacity Parisien 6 theater Saturday, Scorsese -- already in town for the filming of his Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator" -- hugged festival president Serge Losique and then spoke for about 10 minutes on the making of "Mean Streets" and commented briefly on the directors who had influenced him.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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