The UPC Audience Award of the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2012 goes to Philippe Falardeau's Monsieur Lazhar (Canada, 2011). The award comes with prize money of €10.000.
The Dioraphte Award
(also €10.000) for the highest-scoring film in the audience poll among the seventeen festival films made with support from the Hubert Bals Fund
was won by Goodbye
by Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof.
The winner of the UPC Audience Award
, Monsieur Lazhar
, is a film in the spirit of Être et avoir, in which the Algerian immigrant Lazhar helps a primary school class come to terms with a tragic loss, while benefitting himself from the innocence of the schoolchildren. Monsieur Lazhar, which also took the award for Best Canadian feature film at the Toronto film festival and is in the running for an Oscar for best foreign film, will be given a Dutch theatrical release on 22 March 2012 by Imagine Nederland.
Other audience favourites
In the Dioraphte Award winner Goodbye
, a young female lawyer tries to leave Iran. This personal, gripping film by Rasoulof, who himself has been the subject of legal persecution in Iran for his films, was made thanks to a contribution from the Hubert Bals Fund. Other films scoring highly in the audience award poll included Martin Scorsese's Hugo
, Die Unsichtbare
by Christian Schwochow (Germany), the topical documentary Back to the Square
by Petr Lom (Norway) and A Simple Life
by Ann Hui (China).
Looking back over the past festival, director Rutger Wolfson said: 'IFFR 2012 had a characteristic, albeit slightly smaller programme of strong, distinctive films in the Tiger Awards Competition
, as well as the Bright Future
'The Chinese documentaries by Ai Weiwei and others in the Hidden Histories
programme; the Syrian and Egyptian works shown in the Power Cut
programme and the exuberant Mouth of Garbage
films led to much discussion among visitors of the festival. Discussions via social media and reporting on this spread far beyond the borders of the Netherlands.'
'The smaller number of films was good for the profile of individual works, giving new discoveries and world premieres an opportunity to build up a reputation among both the general public and professionals. The fact that the likes of Miike Takashi, Michel Gondry, Wang Xiaoshuai, Andrea Arnold, Steve McQueen, Aki Kaurismäki, Peter Kubelka and Peter von Bagh, among many other filmmakers, were in Rotterdam was heartwarming. Films such as Valley of Saints
(Musa Syeed, India), Room 514
(Israel, Sharon Bar-Ziv) and the Hivos Tiger Award winners
are already receiving a great deal of international attention.'