Critical Zone wins Golden Leopard

Iranian film shot in secret takes top prize in Locarno

by Amber Wilkinson

Critical Zone took Golden Leopard
Critical Zone took Golden Leopard Photo: Courtesy of Locarno Film Festival
Ali Ahmadzadeh's Critical Zone has taken the top prize Golden Leopard at Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.

The film, which was secretly shot on the streets of Tehran without government permission, is described as “a hymn to freedom and resistance in Iran”. The director was summoned last month to Iran's Ministry of Security where he came under pressure to withdraw the film from the competition. He is currently banned from leaving the country.

In a statement the director said: "Making this film was a big rebellion. Showing it means an even bigger victory for us."

A special jury prize was awarded to Radu Jude for Do Not Expect To Much From The End Of The World while this year’s newly introduced gender-neutral acting awards went to Dimitra Vlagopoulou for Animal, directed by Sofia Exarchou and Renée Soutendijk for Ena Sendijarević’s Sweet Dreams. Maryna Vroda was named best director for Stepne.

Artistic director Giona A Nazzaro said: “This has been a thrilling edition, reasserting the centrality of the Locarno Film Festival and its ability to explore contemporary cinema in every shape and size, capturing the hearts and minds of our generous, curious and passionate public, who crowded into the Piazza Grande and theatres in great numbers. This was an excellent edition, with audiences up by 10% and a selection hailed enthusiastically by the media, cinephiles, and festivalgoers!”

The full list of awards is below:

International Competition

  • Golden Leopard for Best Film - Critical Zone, Ali Ahmadzadeh (Iran, Germany)
  • Special Jury Prize - Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, Radu Jude (Romania, Luxembourg, France, Croatia)
  • Best Director - Maryna Vroda for Stepne (Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Slovakia)
  • Best Actors - Dimitra Vlagopoulou for Animal (Greece, Austria, Romania, Cyprus, Bulgaria) and Renée Soutendijk for Sweet Dreams (Netherlands, Sweden, Indonesia, Réunion)
  • Special Mention - Nuit obscure – Au revoir ici, n’importe où,” (Sylvain George, France, Switzerland)

Filmmakers Of The Present Competition

  • Best Film - Dreaming & Dying, Nelson Yeo (Singapore, Indonesia)
  • Best Emerging Director - Katharina Huber for Ein Schöner Ort (Germany)
  • Special Jury Prize CINÉ+ - Camping Du Lac, Éléonore Saintagnan (Belgium, France)
  • Best Actors - Clara Schwinning for Ein Schöner Ort (Germany) and Isold Halldórudóttir and Stavros Zafeiris for Touched (Germany)
  • Special Mentions - Excursion, Una Gunjak (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, France, Norway, Qatar) and Negu Hurbilak, Colectivo Negu (Spain)

First Feature Competition

  • Swatch First Feature Award - Dreaming & Dying, Nelson Yeo (Singapore, Indonesia)

Pardi Di Domani Short Film Competition

  • Best Auteur Short Film - The Passing, Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan (US)
  • Special Mention - Been There, Corina Schwingruber Ilić (Switzerland)
  • Best International Short Film - A Study of Empathy, Hilke Rönnfeldt (Denmark, Germany)
  • Pardino d’argento SRG SSR for the International Competition - Du Bist So Wunderbar, Leandro Goddinho, Paulo Menezes (Germany, Brazil)
  • Best Director - Eric K Boulianne for Faire Un Enfant (Canada)
  • Medien Patent Verwaltung AG Award - The Guard, Amirhossein Shojaei (Iran)
  • Special Mention - The Lovers, Carolina Sandvik (Sweden)
  • Best Swiss Short Film - Letzte Nacht, Lea Bloch (Switzerland)
  • Pardino d’argento Swiss Life for the National Competition - Night Shift, Kayije Kagame, Hugo Radi, (Switzerland)
  • Best Swiss Newcomer Award - Letzte Nacht, Lea Bloch (Switzerland)

Pardo Verde Ricloa Awards

  • Pardo Verde Ricola - Guardians of the Formula, Dragan Bjelogrlić (Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia)
  • Special Mentions - Procida, Procida Film Atelier (Italy) and Valley Pride, Lukas Marxt (Austria, Germany)

Independent Jury Awards

  • Ecumenical Jury Award - Patagonia Simone Bozzelli (Italy)
  • Special Mention - Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, Radu Jude (Romania, Luxembourg, France, Croatia)
  • FIPRESCI Award - Stepne, Maryna Vroda (Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Slovakia)
  • European Cinemas Label Award - Yannick, Quentin Dupieux (France)

Junior Jury Awards

  • International Competition

  • Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, Radu Jude (Romania, Luxembourg, France, Croatia); Sweet Dreams, Ena Sendijarević (Netherlands, Sweden, Indonesia, Réunion), Critical Zone, Ali Ahmadzadeh (Iran, Germany)
  • Environment is Quality of Life Prize - Nuit obscure – Au revoir ici, n’importe où, Sylvain George (France, Switzerland)
  • Special Mention - Stepne, Maryna Vroda, (Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Slovakia)
  • Cineasti del Presente Award -Camping Du Lac, Éléonore Saintagnan (Belgium, France)
  • Special Mention - On the Go, María Gisèle Royo, Julia de Castro (Spain)
  • Pardi di domani - Z.O. Loris G Nese (Italy); Canard, Elie Chapuis (Switzerland, Belgium); Intelligence, Jeanne Frenkel, Cosme Castro (France)
  • Special Mention - A Study Of Empathy, Hilke Rönnfeldt (Denmark, Germany)

Open Doors Shorts

  • Environment is quality of life Prize - Rimana Wasi: Hogar de Historias, Ximena Málaga Sabogal, Piotr Turlej (Peru)
  • Special Mention - Plástico, Vero Kompalic (Venezuela)

Critics' Week Awards

  • Grand Prix - Monogamia, Ohad Milstein (Israel)
  • Premio Zonta Club Locarno - Les Soeurs Pathan, Eléonore Boissinot (France)
  • Marco Zucchi Award - Les Premiers Jours, Stéphane Breton (France)
  • Residency Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur @ Villa Sträuli - Mohamadreza Mayghani, (Filmmakers Academy participant, Iran)

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