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U.S., Soviet, Greek Films Share Top Honors In Moscow

July 13, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ Norman Jewison’s ″A Soldier’s Story″ became the second American film ever to win a gold medal at the Moscow Film Festival, sharing top honors Friday with a Soviet epic of World War II and a Greek movie.

The biennial festival ended with the awards announcements. The festival, which this year featured films from 107 countries, offered Muscovites rare showings of modern foreign movies.

It was the first time in 12 years an American film won the top honor. In 1973, ″Oklahoma Crude″ starring George C. Scott and Faye Dunaway shared the golden award with a Soviet and a Bulgarian film.

This year’s three prize-winning films, picked from 45 features for top honors, are all set in the 1940s.

The Soviet entry, ″Go and See,″ directed by Elem Klimov, depicts the suffering of Byelorussia under Nazi onslaught. Focusing on the massacre of villagers at Khatyn, it took the highest laurels of first gold medal and was named best film overall.

Jewison directed and helped produce ″A Soldier’s Story,″ in which World War II forms a distant backdrop to racial tensions on a Louisiana army base among blacks and whites.

The Greek winner, ″Descent of the Nine,″ directed by Greek Cypriot Christos Siopachas, shows the retreat of communist forces following their defeat in the 1946-49 Greek civil war.

Juli Basti of Hungary and Choe Un Hi of North Korea won awards as best actresses, and Lars Simonsen of Denmark and West Germany’s Detlef Kuegow as best actors.

″Pyramid,″ a Soviet film about man’s struggle for life, won the golden prize in the short film category for documentaries and animated movies, and Canada’s ″The Dog Who Stopped War″ took first in the children’s category.

In the feature category, silver awards went to ″Unseen Wonder,″ a Yugoslav tragicomedy set in the 1930s, Poland’s ″A Woman Wearing a Hat,″ and ″Avaete: Seeds of Vengeance″ from Brazil, a violent tale of the destruction of an Indian village.

″Go and See,″ lauded by Soviet reviewers and news media, was co-written by Klimov and Byelorussian Alex Adamovich.

The suffering of the republic, where one in four inhabitants perished in the war, has been the subject of other cultural events this year as the Soviets mark the 40th anniversary of the war’s end.

Jewison’s movie, featuring jazz and blues music written by Herbie Hancock, starred Adolph Caesar as a disliked black sergeant who is murdered. The movie was shown Wednesday night.

Jewison said he liked the movie because it is self-critical, showing the racism of the Deep South in the 1940s. He said such movies, examining flaws in their own country, are a particular strength of cinema in the United States and Britain.

The 14-member jury headed by Soviet actor-director Sergei Gerasimov praised ″A Soldier’s Story″ for showing the ″spiritual destruction″ of racism.

Francis Ford Coppola’s ″The Cotton Club,″ Wim Wenders’ ″Paris, Texas,″ ″Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,″ and ″The Dresser″ were among the English-language films offered.

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