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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Festival Ends On Hopeful Note

The 21st Moscow International Film Festival finished on a note of congratulation Thursday night as an octogenarian Japanese director picked up top prize and Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin announced that the traditionally biannual festival would take place again next year.

Despite the lack of superfamous movie stars like Robert de Niro and Sophia Loren, who graced the event two years ago, the 1999 festival has proved much more popular with over 100,000 viewers in the last 10 days.

Crowds gathered early at Pushkin Square before the ceremony to watch the mix of glossy dresses, revealing necklines and spangly jeans arrive at Pushkin Hall for the closing ceremony.

Festival president Nikita Mikhalkov stood at the top of the carpeted stairs leading to the Pushkin Hall theater welcoming those famous enough - or brave enough - to shake his hand. And the man on the loudspeaker in Pushkin Square roused the audience by reminding them that the Argentinian Fernando Solanas is a famous director and asking them to applaud all the guests, even the film festival workers who had dolled up especially for the last day.

The one man who needed no announcement was French superstar and buddy of Krasnoyarsk region Governor Alexander Lebed, Alain Delon, present to receive a lifetime award for his contribution to world cinema.

Inside, Solanas, the chairman of the competition jury, presented the festival trophy - the St. George - in an oddly clunky ceremony. Few of the five awards went to their actual recipients, a sign perhaps that the Moscow festival is still some way from its more prestigious West European rivals. Best film was awarded to veteran Japanese director Kaneto Shindo for "Will to Live," the tale of a man finding new vigor at death's door and of the coming together of generations. Appropriately, his son was there to collect it.

Best actress went to Catherine Frot for the French film "La Dilettante," and best director to Icelandic director Agust Gudmundsson for "The Dance." Neither of them made it to the ceremony. Luckily Farkhat Abdraimov did turn up for his award for best actor in the role of a large middle-aged man with a heart of gold in "Fara."

Shindo's film had also won the International Critics prize, the FIPRESCI, and the Russian Guild of Critics award at the festival.