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European Cinema wins in Fantasporto 2008


With general praise for the quality of the selection, the lastest edition of Fantasporto, Portugals leading film festival, has just ended. So much said the members of the jury of the three competitive sections (Fantasy, Directors Week and Orient Express).

Spanish Rec by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, Hungarian Opium ¬ Diary of a Madwoman by Janos Szasz, Portuguese/ American production The Lovebirds by Bruno de Almeida and Chinese Triangle by Johnnie To, Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam, are some of the winners of the 28th edition of the Oporto International Film Festival- Fantasporto.

The 18th Directors Week winner was the Hungarian film Opium ¬ Diary of a Madwoman by Janos Szasz which also took home the recently created Manoel de Oliveira Award. Also primed in the film the extraordinary performance by actress Kirsti Stubo.

Director Bruno de Almeida, whose career started in Fantasporto with the awarded short The Debt followed by On the Run, came back with his latest, The Lovebirds, with Michael Imperioli, Ana Padrão and John Ventimiglia, to win the Special Award of the Directors Week.

But it was in the Fantasy competition that the recent production of Spanish cinema came to full glory. Rec by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, received a 6 minute ovation in the end of the screening, and became soon afterwards the winner of the Fantasporto 2008 Grand Prix-Best Film Award.
Confirming the present vitality of the Spanish, the screening of El Orfanato by Juan António Bayona, produced by Guillermo del Toro (Best actress for Belen Rueda and the Direction awards), and La Habitacion de Fermat by Rodrigo Sopeña e Luis Piedrahita ( best screenplay and Méliès DArgent awards). Both to be very soon released theatrically in Portugal.
A frequent winner in Fantasporto, Danish cinema did not disappoint.
How to Get Rid of Others by Anders Klarlund received the important Fantasy Special Award.

The Official section Orient Express distinguished with the Best Oriental Film award the Chinese Triangle by three famous directors, Ringo Lam, Johnnie To and Tsui Hark.
Breath by well known director Kim Ki Duk was primed with the Special Orient Express Award, celebrating a very strange love story.

Visitors in Fantasporto included real icons of the film world, namely an actor who has played in his long career both God and the Devil, Max von Sydow, a Woman in Red, the celebrated Kelly LeBrock who came to Oporto for the opening of The Mirror in which she plays the leading role, and a Portuguese director, Fernando Lopes, whose body of work includes, among others a film about boxing, a few good scoundrels and some women on the verge of many breakdowns.

Fernando Lopes was, like Max von Sydow, the recipient of a Fantasporto Career Award.

A second time visitor to Oporto, a city she loved the first time, was Oscar nominated actress Karen Black.

Fernando Lopes, one of the directors of the Cinema Novo, received a Career Award.
His films Crónica dos Bons Malandros, Belarmino, O Delfim and 98 Octanas were show in a retrospective. The director also became an accidental actor in The Lovebirds by Bruno de Almeida, screened in the Directors Week Competition, rightfully playing the role of a film director.

The list of guests included most of the directors of the films in the competitions, with 99 year old and Oporto born director Manoel de Oliveira, leading the way. Also a noted presence was Jack Sholder, a former winner of the Best Film Award in Fantasporto 1988 with The Hidden and, this year, doing jury duty.

Around 115,000 visitors and spectators animated the streets of downtown Oporto, walking to the Rivoli Theatre or to the nearby Sá da Bandeira Theatre and filling the city with great enthusiasm.
The festival closing party, the Vampires Ball brought, once again, many impersonators who danced to the sound of live music and DJs.

The 2009 Fantasporto will be held, as usual, in the last week of February till the beginning of Mars in the World heritage City of Portwine.

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