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Ovation for India

THE WINNERS of the annual film festival held, this year, at Locarno, Switzerland, between August 1 and 10 were:

The Golden Leopard went to "Das Verlangen", Germany, directed by Iain Dilthey, for its psychological study of a woman, who is caught up in a vortex of forbidden passion, and silence over a murder. The Silver Leopard went to ``Tan de Repente" from Argentina, (Dir Diego Lerman) for exploring the process of initiation through lesbian love and the shock over death. The Best Actor and Actress prizes were surprises as they went to a child and a teenager. Giorgos Karayannis was very good as the little boy who could not come to terms with his father's death in the Greek film, ``Hard Goodbyes" by Penny Panayoto Pou. But at his age, the performance owed its ease and sensitivity to the director's handling. Taraneh Allidousti was rewarded for her portrayal the character of the same name in the Iranian film ``I Am Taraneh" by Rassul Sadr Ameli. The film also won the Special Jury Prize. The character had sweetness and spontaneity but no challenging depth. The Fipresci Prize of Critics was given to ``The Cage" by Alain Raoust, France, for its cinematic expression through images.

India's entry, "Mr. and Mrs. Iyer" won the Netpac Award as also the prize from the Department of Education and Culture in Ticino, the Swiss Canton to which Locarno belongs. India got its ovation, this time for the diaspora, from the audience prize for the best film screened at the Piazza Grande going to ``Bend it Like Beckham." And Aamir Khan got a chance to thank the enthusiastic audiences at the piazza Grande during the closing ceremony this year for having honoured ``Lagaan" with the same award last year.

The growing passion for Indian cinema was also evident in Locarno where Aamir Khan, Shabana Azmi and Om Puri were invited to present awards and in the reception given to them by the crowds. Indian cinema has certainly come a long way from niche appreciations of Satyajit Ray although, ironically, the craze in the West is not for his kind of cinema but for the cinema he abhorred: the glitz of Bollywood.

GOWRI RAMNARAYAN

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