THE French-Canadian film Heartbeats, a witty look at unrequited love, has won the Sydney Film Festival competition.A jury headed by the Australian producer Jan Chapman awarded the $60,000 prize for ”audacious, courageous and cutting-edge” cinema to the comic drama made by Xavier Dolan, a rising star of international film.The 21-year-old, who is on to his second feature as director, also wrote, produced, edited and stared in Heartbeats. He plays one of two hip twentysomethings – a male and a female – who both fall for the same man.”With a witty and insightful script and strikingly playful use of cinematic language, the jury found Heartbeats to be a boldly truthful and compassionate observation of one of the great crippling foibles of human nature – the hopeless crush,” Chapman said.An honourable mention went to the lively Australian drama Wasted on the Young, directed by first-timer Ben C. Lucas and focusing on conflict at an elite private school.Chapman said the jury was impressed with Lucas’s storytelling and visual style, tapping into a world where teenagers communicate using text messaging and social networking sites. ”It was really daring, we felt, and accomplished,” she said.Another honourable mention went to the Russian drama How I Ended This Summer, about two men working at a remote Arctic weather station who turn on each other.Chapman said the jury was impressed by the boldness of the 12 films in competition.”We found it incredibly inspiring to see that all over the world people are still making films that are really true to their own visions,” she said.The 13-day festival, which closed last night, looks to have turned around last year’s loss.Its chief executive, Leigh Small, expects a ”small profit” after a 15 per cent increase in box office takings, helped by higher prices for some tickets.Total takings are still being toted up but the festival found that patrons who bought books of tickets, FlexiPasses, used a much higher percentage than last year.Ms Small said strategies to program films with a younger appeal and screen documentaries at the Event Cinema in George Street had been successful. ”A lot of the films that sold out, for instance, Four Lions or Wasted on the Young, were a very young audience who hadn’t been to the State Theatre [and] hadn’t been to the Sydney Film Festival.”
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