Missing Cuban actor, "War Witch" win Tribeca awards

Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:17pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "War Witch," a sensitive drama about a 12-year-old girl abducted by vicious armed rebels in sub-Saharan Africa, and a nonfiction film that examines the plight of women in modern India, won the top awards at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday.

"War Witch" picked up the jury prize for best narrative feature and best actress for Rachel Mwanza who plays the girl forced to become a child soldier, while "The World Before Her" that parallels women in the Miss India beauty pageant and a fundamentalist Hindu girls camp won best documentary.

But in a continuing strange saga of life imitating art at Tribeca, a Cuban actor starring in a film about defecting to the United States, who went missing in real life while en route to the festival, shared the top acting award.

Actor Javier Nunez Florian, who was last seen at Miami's airport during a stopover to the festival and disappeared along with his female costar Anailin de la Rua de la Torre from the film "Una Noche", did not show up to split his $2,500 award.

He shared the top acting honor with his male costar Dariel Arrechada, who turned up toward the end of the awards and was the only actor present at the film's premiere a week ago. Representatives for the film said this week no one from the film has had any contact with the missing Cubans.

"Una Noche," (One Night), which follows the journey of three Cuban teenagers trying to escape the poverty of their homeland to start a new life in Miami, also picked up the best cinematography award and best new narrative director for New York University film school graduate Lucy Mulloy.

"I'm sad for them because they are my friends," Arrechada told Reuters in broken English and Spanish after his win, referring to his missing fellow actors.

"I wish they were here, but . . . you could be happy for them, for Javier and for Anailin and for everyone. It's weird. I miss him."   Continued...

Congolese actress Rachel Mwanza reacts after she has been awarded with the Silver Bear as best actress in the movie War Witch (Rebelle) at the 62nd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 18, 2012. REUTERS/Markus Schreiber/Pool