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Casanova film seduces Locarno jury for director Serra

A Catalan-language film about a famed Venetian womanizer has won top prize at the Locarno Film Festival. There was also some success for Germany, with a documentary taking a peek at the global banking industry.

The festival's top prize, the Golden Leopard, was awarded on Saturday to Albert Serra's "Historia de la meva mort" (The Story of My Death).

The film, which became a hot favorite to win after its initial showing, is a dreamlike interpretation of the exploits of 18th century Venetian libertine Giacomo Casanova - and includes a meeting with Dracula.

It is the first Spanish film ever to win an award in the 66-year history of the festival.

Neighboring Portugal picked up the festival's other major prize, the Special Jury Prize, with "E Agora? Lembra-Me" (What Now? Remind Me). It details the battle of Portuguese director Joaquim Pinto against HIV and Hepatitis C.

Competition for one of the big prizes proved too much for the German film "Feuchtgebiete" (Wetlands), based on the scandalous erotic novel of Charlotte Roche.

However, there was success for the German film industry in the shape of Critic's Week prizewinner "Master of the Universe," awarded to 29-year-old director Marc Bauder. In the German-Austrian coproduction, Bauder promises a critical look behind the scenes of the international banking industry.

Special recognition for Herzog

On Friday evening, German director Werner Herzog - who initially found fame through works such as "Aguirre the Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo" - picked up a special prize for his lifetime achievements.

Saturday's Best Director prize went to South Korea's Hong Sangsoo, for "U Ri Sunhi" (Our Sunhi) - a low-key film in which a female film student is tasked with obtaining a letter of recommendation for her career from three men who know her.

The accolade for Best Actress was scooped by American Brie Larson for her part in the film "Short Term 12 ," while Peruvian Fernando Bacilio won the award for Best Actor for his role in the movie "El Mudo."

The Logarno film festival is widely held to be Europe's fourth biggest, after Cannes, Venice and Berlin, and is seen as an indicator of future awards success.

rc / ch (AFP, dpa)

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