Special Flight: Swiss Docu about Asylum Seekers

Argentinian-Swiss film Abrir puertas y ventanas (“Back to Stay) has won Locarno’s Golden Leopard grand prize.  Milagros Mumenthaler’s tale of three sisters dealing with the death of the grandmother who had raised them was also the Fipresci critics’ choice for Best Film.

Maria Canale picked up Best Actress for her performance as one of the sisters.

There were 20 films in the international competition and jury chair Paul Branco described the winning film as “a complete success” and a “mature” first feature. Argentinian-born Mumenthaler, who lived in Switzerland until the age of 17, also wrote the screenplay.

Another family drama, this time set in a surreal hospital, picked up the other big prizes. Romanian-Hungarian entry Din Dragoste cu cele mai bune intenti (Best Intentions) won the Best Director award for Adrian Sitaru and Best Actor for Bogdan Dumitrache.

Bachir Lazhar, a Canadian film about illegal immigration, was the people’s choice, taking the UBS Prix du Public prize, and Variety magazine’s Piazza Grande award.

Special Flight: Controversial Documentary

The Swiss documentary about asylum seekers, Vol Spécial (Special Flight), was awarded the Ecumenical Prize.  Causing a buzz throughout the festival, the film was praised by competition jury chair Branco for raising awareness of “everyday fascism in Switzerland”.