A screenshot from the award-winning film "Apartments in Athens."

A screenshot from the award-winning film "Apartments in Athens." (Photo by Emanuela Scarpa / May 4, 2012)

The foreign feature film "Apartment in Athens" won big during the 13th annual Newport Beach Film Festival juried competition, taking away four awards in multiple categories.

The film, also known as "Appartamento ad Atene," won for Best Feature Length Film, Best Actor (Gerasimos Skiadaresis), Best Cinematography (Vladen Radovic) and Best Screenplay (Ruggero Dipaola, Heldrun Schleef).

"It is an immense joy, both for me and the screenplay [writer], the director of photography and the actor," Dipaola, the film's director and co-writer, said via email from Italy on Thursday. "It's a shame we weren't present."

This is not the first time that the 2011 Italian film, in both Greek and German with English subtitles, has received recognition at film festivals.

"Apartment in Athens" took home Best Picture recognition in the 2011 Rome International Film Festival, 2011 Foggia Independent Film Festival, 2012 Sudestival, 2012 Cape Winelands Film Festival, 2012 Busto Arsizio Film Festival, 2012 Phoenix Film Festival and others, Dipaola said.

The film follows an Athenian family during the Nazi occupation of 1943, whose home a German officer has commandeered. The ensuing drama threatens the relationship between father and son and challenges the choices a family must make to survive.

"I wanted to recount the conflict between Nazis and Greeks enclosed within four domestic walls," Dipaola said. "A place where the characters would get the upper hand over history. A relevant theme of the movie is undoubtedly resistance told in its multiple forms."

The screenplay is based on the novel by the same name by Glenway Wescott, a letter of deportee soon to be executed and tales from his own mother who was forced to house a German soldier during the occupation, Dipaola said.

"Apartment in Athens" will next be screened at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival, June 2 at the Linwood Dunn Theater, and Dipaola aims to have the film in USA theaters between September 2012 and January 2013.

Another feature film, "The Day I Saw Your Heart," directed by Jennifer Devoldère, also won two awards during the NBFF. The French film won for Best Director and Best Actress (Mélanie Laurent).

Other awards went to "The War Around Us" for Best Feature Length Documentary, "Interview for Best Narrative Short, "Lioness" for Best Short Documentary and "The Maker" for Best Short Animation.

sarah.peters@latimes.com

Twitter: @speters01