Turkish film wins "Heart of Sarajevo" award

This picture taken on August 14, 2014 shows the main festival square in Sarajevo, on the eve of the grand opening ceremony of the Sarajevo Film Festival (AFP Photo/Elvis Barukcic)

Sarajevo (AFP) - Turkish director Erol Mintas won the "Heart of Sarajevo" prize on Saturday for the best picture at the 20th Sarajevo film festival.

Mintas's "Song Of My Mother" -- a moving story of an elderly Kurdish woman yearning to return to her home village in Eastern Turkey -- was also given a 16,000 euro ($21,390) main prize ahead of eight other competitors.

"I have dedicated this film to my mother who lived in an Istanbul suburb where many Kurdish families found shelter during the 1990s," Mintas said after receiving the award.

Feyyaz Duman won the best actor award for his role in the same film.

The best actress award went to Mari Kitia for her role in the Georgian film "Brides," an insight into the country's harsh penal system through the eyes of the inmates' wives and family.

The film also marked Tinatin Kajrishvili's directorial debut.

Kitia was awarded "for playing a complex role leading the cast with strength and dignity," said the international jury chaired by Hungarian director Bela Tarr.

Oscar-winning US actress Melissa Leo and London-based Tate Modern director Chris Dercon were also among the jurors.

On Thursday, the festival -- created as an act of resistance to the siege of the city during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war -- awarded a special 8,700 euro bursary to two Gaza directors, Abdel Salam Shehadeh and Ashraf Mashharawi.

Only Mashharawi was able to attend the festival due to the latest surge of violence in Gaza.

The festival, which opened on August 15, offered its biggest ever line-up of films, with 247 movies from 60 countries screened during the nine-day event.

A retrospective of films by British director Michael Winterbottom was also screened.

This year's honorary guest was Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.

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