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Icelandic and French entries sweep awards at France's European Film Festival

Atli Oskar, lead actor in Icelandic prize-winning film Sparrows by Runar Runarsson
Atli Oskar, lead actor in Icelandic prize-winning film Sparrows by Runar Runarsson Sophia Olasson

Two films stood out at a festival of European film in the French Alps this week. Out of 10 films in competition, Iceland's Sparrows and France's The Bang Gang, a Modern Love Story each won four awards at the seventh Les Arcs European Film Festival..   

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Both works could be described as coming-of-age films but the similarity stops there.

Icelandic director Rúnar Rúnarsson was increasingly moved as each of the prizes for his second feature was announced.

As well as the first prize, the Flèche de Cristal (Crystal Arrow), the jury named Atli Oskar Fjalarsson best actor for his role as a teenager who has to adapt to a new environment and new people who also have to adapt to him. In the process he discovers many things, including love.

The best photography award went to Sophia Olsson for her work on Sparrows.
 

This finely tuned film also won over the press jury.

The main jury identitified three themes which stand out in this year’s selection - youth, love and dynamism.

The Bang Gang, a Modern Love Story, directed by France's Eva Husson, also took four prizes.

With its cast of youngsters experimenting with freedom, relationships, sex, drugs and music, it fits the description well. For that matter so does Peur de Rien (Fearless), a French film set in Paris and Beirut in the mid-1990s directed by Franco-Lebanese director Danielle Arbid.

It’s highly relevant today, dealing with the treatment of foreigners in France.

Arbid's ideas are conveyed through the experiences and encounters of a determined, attractive woman student, played by Manal Issa who won the best actress award.

Receiving the award on behalf of Issa, who thanked the jury for her prize from Beirut via Skype, Arbid said, “I wanted to show people, tell people that France is beautiful. I want to bring France and the orient closer as they are growing apart, I want to tell people of the east that France is beautiful and I wanted to tell you that foreigners aren’t so bad.”

The Audience Prize, based on spectators’ votes after each screening, went to Room shot in Canada by Irish director Lenny Abrahamson. It’s an adaptation of a novel about a young woman who has been kidnapped and kept prisoner in a shed in a garden in a suburb along with the son she has born in captivity, who is five at the time in which the film and book are set.

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