German, U.S. films win top prizes at Tribeca festival

Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:02pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A German film about a young woman who flees an oppressive life in Istanbul and moves to Berlin and a documentary about a Down Syndrome couple won the top prizes at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday.

"When We Leave (Die Fremde)" by Austrian filmmaker Feo Aladag took two awards including best narrative feature and best actress for Germany's Sibel Kekilli. "Monica & David," by first-time director Alexandra Codina, won the best documentary prize for a portrait of an American Down Syndrome couple in love and preparing for their marriage.

Tribeca, which has grown into a high-profile film festival since its launch in 2002, has previously featured movies that went on to win critical success including "Taxi to the Dark Side." This year, the festival launched a new distribution arm and online streaming for web audiences.

The award-winning films were among 85 feature-length movies shown at the festival -- including 55 narrative features and 30 documentaries -- which ends on Sunday. Among the jurors picking award-winners were singer Alicia Keys and actors Zach Braff, Brooke Shields, Jessica Alba and Whoopi Goldberg.

In a statement, the jurors noted the passion for film that the actors and director showed in making "When We Leave," saying it "balances complex social issues with honest human yearnings." Director Aladag spent six years working on it, and she rehearsed the actors for an unusually long seven months.

"Recognizing both the talent of director Feo Aladag and actress Sibel Kekilli is a testament to the strength of the film," said David Kwok, Tribeca's program director.

French actor Eric Elmosnino was named best actor in a feature film playing Serge Gainsbourg in a new biopic of the singer, famed for the heavy-breathing classic "Je t'aime ... Moi Non Plus" ("I Love You, Me Neither").

Special jury mentions were given to the Italian-subtitled "Loose Cannons" by Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek about two Italian gay brothers, as well as U.S. director Julia Bacha's documentary "Budrus" about a family man who leads Israeli and Palestinian protesters in a nonviolent crusade to save his village.   Continued...

<p>Director Feo Aldaag (2nd R) poses with actors Sibel Kekilli (R), Derya Alabora (L) and Settar Tannoegen during a photocall to promote their movie "Die Fremde" (When we Leave) at the 60th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 13, 2010. REUTERS/Christian Charisius</p>