American movie Nine Lives has won the coveted Golden Leopard prize at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.

Director Rodrigo Garcia's film, which stars Glenn Close, Holly Hunter and Sissy Spacek, beat out competition from 17 other movies to claim the festival's top award on Saturday (13AUG05).

Cinematographer VITTORIO STORARO, who headed the Locarno jury, said, "The directing of the film is extraordinary."

Silver Leopards were handed out to MA HAMEH KHOUBIM (WE ARE ALL FINE), by Iranian director BIZHAN MIRBAQERI; FRATRICIDE, by Turkish film-maker YILMAZ ARSLAN; and THREE FRA KAELTER (THREE DEGREES COLDER), by German director FLORIAN HOFFMEISTER.

PATRICK DROLET won Best Actor for his performance in LE NEUVAINE, while the Best Actress prize was handed out to an ensemble of actresses in Nine Lives, which includes Kathy Baker and Robin Wright PENN as well as Close, Hunter and Spacek.