British film “Limbo,” a wry refugee drama, directed by Edinburgh-born director Ben Sharrock and produced by Spain’s Irune Gurtubai and Angus Lamont of Crabapple Films, won the Golden Pyramid for best film at the Cairo Film Festival on Thursday.
Told in a pleasing deadpan style, “Limbo” recounts the story of a Syrian musician, played by the BIFA nominated rising star Amir El-Masry, who is placed on a Scottish island when awaiting his request for asylum to be processed. The film, which recently picked up the top prize at the Macau Film Festival, also picked up Cairo’s Henry Barakat Award for best artistic contribution. The film, sold by Protagonist Pictures and staged by Caravan Cinema and presented by Film 4, Screen Scotland and BFI, also took home the FIPRESCI award.
Russian director Alexander Sokurov was president of the seven-person jury, featuring German director Burhan Qurbani, Egyptian producer Gaby Khoury, Mexican actress Naian Gonzalez Norvind, Brazilian director Karim Ainouz, Egyptian actress Lebleba and Palestinian-Jordanian actress Najwa Najjar.
The jury award for best actor went to Bulgaria’s Julian Vergov for his turn in “German Lessons” by Pavel G. Vesnakov. The jury could not pick a winner in the best actress category, awarding the prize ex aequo to Elham Shahin, the star of Amir Ramses’ Egyptian drama “Curfew,” and Russia’s Natalya Pavlenkova, who was the center of Ivan I. Tverdovsky’s “Conference.” Tverdovsky also walked off with the Silver Pyramid for best director.
Mayye Zayed’s Alexandria set weightlifting documentary “Lift Like a Girl” picked up the Bronze Pyramid for best first or second film. The documentary also won the Youssef Cherif Rizkallah Award, the Audience Award, which carries a $15,000 prize.
The Naguib Mahfouz Award for best screenplay went to writer/director Jorge Cuchi’s Mexican drama “50 or Two Whales Meet on the Beach.” The jury also gave a special mention to “Gaza Mon Amour” by Arab Nasser and Tarzan Nasser.
In the Horizons of New Arab Cinema Competition, the Saad Eldin Wahba Award for best Arabic film went to Roy Arida for his Lebanese-French co-production “Under the Concrete.” The best non-fiction film prize was awarded to another Lebanese-French production, “We Are From There,” helmed by Wissam Tanios. It was a busy occasion for Tanios, who also shared the $10,000 prize for best Arab film selected in any of the three competitions with “Gaza Mon Amour” helmers Arab Nasser and Tarzan Nasser.
The International Critics’ Week Competition handed out the Shadi Abdel Salam Award for best film to Jing Wang’s Chinese entry “The Best Is Yet to Come.”
Finally, the Cinema of Tomorrow jury bestowed the Youssef Chahine Award for best short film to “Isabel” by Egypt’s Sarah Al Shazly, who went to Cuba’s Escuela Internacional de Cine y de Television.