British-Brazilian film 'Trash' wins top prize at Rome film fest

British director Stephen Daldry holds the BNL People Choice award for his movie "Trash" at the Rome Film Festival, on Oct 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
British director Stephen Daldry holds the BNL People Choice award for his movie "Trash" at the Rome Film Festival, on Oct 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

ROME (AFP) - British director Stephen Daldry, of "Billy Elliot" and "The Reader" fame, won the Rome Film Festival's top prize Saturday with his adventure thriller "Trash" set in Brazilian favelas.

The film about children who forage in landfills for a living until they come across a wallet and key sought after by a corrupt police officer edged out 17 other contenders at the ninth edition of the festival, with prizes decided for the first time by the viewing public.

Starring a trio of youngsters with no previous acting experience, the film sees the boys race to try and solve the riddle before the police can, helped along by an American priest and an aid worker, played by Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara.

Richard Curtis, the man behind "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Notting Hill", wrote the script, based on Andy Mulligan's novel of the same name.

Chinese director Xu Ang scooped the People's Choice Award for Cinema Today with his latest film "12 Citizens", inspired by the 1957 Hollywood classic "Twelve Angry Men".

The Genre Award went to "Haider", a 2014 Hindi drama directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, who completes his Shakespearean trilogy with this flick, a modern-day adaptation of Hamlet, set against the Kashmir conflicts of 1995.

The annual festival this year hosted 51 feature-length films from 21 countries, 24 of them making their international premieres.

Festival-goers were asked to vote for the top awards for the first time this year in a bid to cut down the cash-strapped festival's expenses.