The United States film Nine Lives, by Rodrigo Garcia, has won this year's Golden Leopard for best film at the Locarno Film Festival.
The film, which features big names such as Glenn Close and Holly Hunter, explores the lives of nine very different women in separate but loosely connected vignettes.
Nine Lives also received the best actress award, to be shared among the nine principal actresses in the film. In addition to Close and Hunter, this included Robin Wright Penn and Sissy Spacek.
The president of the international competition jury, Vittorio Storaro, praised the film's dramatic and stylistic qualities, adding that Garcia was a director with vision.
"Rodrigo Garcia's direction was extraordinary, he really did what a director should be doing, directing," said Storaro.
Accepting his Golden Leopard to enthusiastic applause at the award ceremony on Saturday night, Garcia thanked the jury and festival for his prize.
He also thanked his producers, the director of photography and finally his cast, "without whom this film couldn't exist".
The film gives a 12-minute glimpse into the lives of the nine women, often at emotional turning points which are not always resolved. The characters often reappear in the other snap-shots in secondary roles.
Each woman appears to be faced with a dilemma – Diana, played by Wright Penn, is confronted with a former lover just as she has got over him. Sonia (Hunter) is embarrassed as her boyfriend reveals the couple's intimate secrets to their close friends.
Despite the presence of well-known actresses, the film was made on a small budget and filmed in just 18 days.
It had, however, been considered one of the most prominent entries in the international competition, which this year featured 17 films from 12 countries.
The rest of the prizes were shared between several films. The Silver Leopard for the second best film went to Fratricide, a coproduction between Germany, Luxembourg and France.
Two Silver Leopards, for best first or second feature film, were given to Germany's 3 Grad kälter (3 degrees colder) and Iran's Ma Hameh Khoubim (We are all fine).
Un Couple Parfait, a Japanese and French coproduction, received the Special Jury Prize.
On the acting side, the best actor award went to Patrick Drolet for the Canadian film, La Neuvaine, while two young actors, Marco Grieco (La Guerra di Mario) and Xevat Gectan (Fratricide), also received special mentions.
However, Snow White, by Swiss-Iraqi director, Samir – the only Swiss entry in the competition – went away empty-handed.
The film had received a mainly positive echo after its premiere in Locarno. It is due to be released in Switzerland in September.
The award ceremony, which traditionally marks the end of the festival, was also an occasion for the event to bid farewell to Irene Bignardi – its director who is leaving after five years at the helm.
Both Bignardi and Teresa Cavina, her deputy who is also leaving, received a Swiss crystal to commemorate their time at Locarno.
To a standing ovation, a visibly moved Bignardi said she would miss the festival and its public. But she said she hoped to come back next year to see everyone again.
swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson in Locarno
The 58th Locarno Film Festival ran from 3-13 August.
38 countries were represented at the festival.
17 films took part in the international competition.
18 films were shown on the Piazza Grande, the giant outdoor screen.
Leopards of honour went to Wim Wenders, Terry Gilliam and Abbas Kiarostami. The prizes for excellence to John Malkovich and Vittorio Storaro.
The Golden Leopard for the best film went to Rodrigo Garcia's Nine Lives.
The Silver Leopard for second best film: Fratricide by Yilmaz Arslan.
Silver Leopard for best first or second feature film: 3 Grad kälter by Florian Hoffmeister and Ma Hameh Khoubim by Bizhan Mirbaqeri.
The Special Jury Prize was given to Nobuhiro Suwa's Un Couple Parfait.
The Best Actor: Patrick Drolet for La Neuvaine and Best Actress: the nine main actresses in Nine Lives.