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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swedish Film Takes Top Prize, Depardieu Dazzles

ReutersDirector Othman Karim and producer Malim Holmberg-Karim accepting the festival's top prize for "About Sara."
The Moscow International Film Festival closed Sunday night, with the top prize going to a psychological drama called "About Sara" by a Swedish director making his feature debut.

French actor Gerard Depardieu received a lifetime acting award and addressed a packed news conference on topics ranging from the seductive powers of actress Monica Bellucci to his views on the World Cup.

Depardieu provided some much-needed sparkle to an event that had been criticized for its lack of international stars, although the competition film he stars in, a sexy comedy called "Combien Tu M'Aimes?" (How Much Do You Love Me?), met with mixed reviews from local critics.

At the red-carpet closing ceremony, Depardieu received the Konstantin Stanislavsky acting award, while Ugandan-born director Othman Karim took the Golden St. George award for a film shot in Malmo, Sweden, that follows a young girl over a decade of relationship and career changes.

Karim had so few expectations of winning that he returned to Sweden after the film's premiere on Wednesday, the festival's official web site reported. When the news came through, he flew back to accept the award, which is in the shape of St. George killing the dragon.

The jury for the edgier Perspectives section of the competition, which showcases debut films and experimental works, gave the top award to "Chashma," a drama about a young bride by Yolkin Tuichiev. The Uzbek director also received $10,000.

Despite negative reactions from some Moscow critics, "Combien Tu M'Aimes?" won the Silver St. George directing award for the 67-year-old filmmaker Bertrand Blier. Izvestia had panned the film as "an adult fairy tale in which real people are replaced by types," while Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported that there was ironic applause and laughter during its premiere.

At the news conference, Depardieu praised Blier for his ability to compose frames and said playing a seductress seemed to come naturally to his co-star, Bellucci, who played the role of a prostitute in the film. Looking tanned and relaxed in a cream casual jacket and blue shirt, Depardieu puffed on cigarettes and fielded an oddball set of questions.


Misha Japaridze / AP

French actor Gerard Depardieu waving to fans as he arrives at the closing ceremony of the 28th Moscow International Film Festival on Sunday evening.

Reporters asked his opinion of martial arts -- he likes them -- and whom he supported at the World Cup (France, although he also liked Brazil). They then got down to the essential question: What is the meaning of life? "Le sens de l'existence?" a translator passed on to Depardieu, who paused for a moment, but swiftly came up with an answer. "You simply need to live," he said, adding that he never loses interest in people.

Depardieu emphasized his connections to Russia, talking of his lifelong love for the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and saying he is currently preparing to work on a television adaptation of "The Brothers Karamazov," in which he plays Dmitry Karamazov.

As for a plan to play the Ukrainian national hero Taras Bulba in a joint French-Ukrainian production, that film has been shelved, the actor admitted. And no, he isn't going to buy up the Crimean vineyards either.