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Awards 2008

The 44th Chicago International Film Festival is proud to announce the award winning films from this year's competition.


The Gold Hugo – Best Film is awarded to:
Hunger (UK/Ireland), directed by Steve McQueen, for its’ outstanding visual and dramatic strength, telling an uncompromisingly disturbing story of the courage to fight for one’s belief.

The Silver Hugo – Grand Jury Prize is awarded to:
Tokyo Sonata (Japan/Netherlands/Hong Kong), directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, which uses a story of humble family life as a metaphor of global anxieties in an era of economic and moral collapse. The jury specially commends the fine ensemble acting.

The Silver Hugo for Direction is awarded to:
Henrik Ruben Genz for Terribly Happy (Denmark), for great storytelling full of surprises, overturning all expectations of genre.

Silver Hugo Award – Best Actor is awarded to:
Michael Fassbender for Hunger (UK), for his self-sacrificing performance exemplifying the ideal of “being” rather than “acting.”

Silver Hugo Award – Best Actress is awarded to:
Preity Zinta for Heaven on Earth (Canada) for her strong yet subtle performance as a woman struggling to keep her dreams despite brutal realities.

The Silver Hugo Award for Best Screenplay is awarded to:
Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni Di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso, and Roberto Saviano for Gomorrah (Italy), for their courageous adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s novel, presenting a horrifyingly realistic expose of the effect of organized crime on everyday life.

The Silver Plaque is awarded to Nanni Moretti, Laura Paolucci and Francesco Piccolo for their sensitive adaptation of Sandro Veronesi’s Quiet Chaos (Italy/UK).

The Main Feature Film Jury includes Mihai Chirilov (Romania), Andy Gillet (France), Ted Kim (USA), Denise Robert (Canada), Yu Nan (China), and David Robinson (UK).


The Gold Hugo is awarded to:
The Dead Girl's Feast, directed by Matheus Nachtergaele, for transporting us to an unfamiliar world and fully embracing the freedoms that should characterize a first feature.

The Silver Hugo is awarded to:
King of Ping Pong (Sweden), directed by Jens Jonsson, for its humorous defense of an egalitarian sport and its atypical lead characters.

The New Directors Jury includes Dr. Yael Munk (Israel), Lisa Nesselson (USA/France), Joe Swanberg (USA), and John Russell Taylor (UK).


The Gold Hugo for Best Short Film is awarded to :
Man (USA) directed by Myna Joseph.

The Silver Hugo for Best Animated Short Film is awarded to:
Lies (Sweden), directed by Jonas Odell.


The Gold Hugo for Best Documentary is awarded to:
Valentino: The Last Emperor (USA), directed by Matt Tyrnauer, for its ability to entertain and educate, to reveal character, and to move us through images and editing.

The Silver Hugo is awarded to:
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (USA), directed by Sacha Gervasi, which provides a rich character study of a decades-long friendship and celebrates the perseverance of the artistic impulse on an emotionally satisfying journey.

The Silver Hugo is awarded to:
They Killed Sister Dorothy (USA/Brazil), directed by Daniel Junge, for the suspense of a thriller that begins with a terrible crime and discovers unexpected complexities.

The Documentary Jury includes Richard Knight, Jr. (Windy City Times, USA), Claude Nouchi (Colifilms Diffusion, France) and Hank Sartin (Time Out Chicago, USA).


As part of the Chicago International Film Festival’s special section focusing on local filmmakers, the Chicago Award is presented to a Chicago or Illinois artist for the best feature film, short film, or documentary. The Chicago Award applauds and celebrates the tireless efforts of regional talents who are devotees to the art of cinema and for their contributions to the medium.

This year’s Gold Hugo for the Chicago Award goes to Wesley Willis’s Joyrides(Dirs. Chris Bagley and Kim Shively, USA)

The Silver Hugo for a Special Mention is Microphysics (Dir. Joan Carles Martorell)

The Chicago Award Jury includes: Matty Robinson (Filmspotting) and Clayton Brown (137 Films).


On October 17, 2008, Director Mike Leigh was presented with a Career Achievement Award preceding the screening of his film, Happy-Go-Lucky.

On October 18, 2008, Academy Award® winning-actor Sidney Poitier was presented with a Gold Hugo, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Academy Award® winning-actress Jennifer Hudson was presented with an Artistic Achievement Award during the 12th Annual Black Perspectives Tribute.

On October 29, 2008, Academy Award® nominee Viggo Mortensen will be presented with a Career Achievement Award preceding the screening of the U.S. Premiere of GOOD.


The two winners were chosen after audiences cast ballots for their favorites during the 14-day Festival (October 16-29, 2008).

Slumdog Millionaire (UK/USA) – Director Danny Boyle presents the story of Jamal Malik, an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (UK/USA) – Based on John Boyne’s best-selling eponymous novel, Mark Herman’s film is a powerful fictional story of a forbidden friendship that forms between Bruno, the son of Nazi commandant, and Shmuel, a Jewish boy held captive in a concentration camp.

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