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A Cry from the Grave, a sobering documentary investigating the slaughter of 7,000 Bosnian Muslim refugees in Srebrenica, picked up the top prize at the Banff Rockie Awards last night.

The awards, designed to honour the world's best television programs, were handed out at a gala reception as part of the week-long Banff Television Festival, which began yesterday.

Documentary programs also dominated the festival's awards show.

A Cry from the Grave, a British/American/Dutch co-production, produced in part by the BBC and PBS station Thirteen-WNET, won the Air Canada Grand Prize as well as the Best History and Biography Program honour.

A seven-member international jury, headed by Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, unanimously selected the film from a field of 84 nominees in 14 categories. The nominees were distilled from more than 1,000 television programs from around the world.

The award for best continuing series went to the American pay-TV channel HBO for The Sopranos, its drama about a manic-depressive mob boss. CTV will begin broadcasting it this fall.

HBO also won the award for best made-for-TV movie with A Lesson Before Dying. Starring Cicely Tyson, the film is based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines about the relationship between a teacher and a death-row inmate.

Indeed, American and British programs dominated the evening, with the United States enjoying its best showing in the festival's history.

The National Film Board of Canada was the sole Canadian winner in the international competition. When the Day Breaks walked away with the best-animation-program prize.

Two special jury prizes were awarded, to Britain's Granada TV for The Murder of Stephen Lawrence and to the makers of Pink Triangle, an HBO Cinemax production documenting the treatment of Germany's homosexual population under the Nazis.

Round the Twist: Whirling Derfish, an Australian show featuring a boy whose penis spins like a propeller, won as best children's program.

Telefilm Canada also presented two separate awards. CTV's The Sheldon Kennedy Story, based on the true story of the NHL player who went public with the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his junior hockey coach, won for best independent Canadian production. The TV movie's producer, Sarrazin-Couture Productions, will receive a $20,000 development grant from Telefilm.

Radio-Canada's Albertine, en cinq temps, based on the play by Michel Tremblay, won the award for best independent Canadian production in French.

Earlier in the day, the festival honoured Law and Order producer Dick Wolf with the festival's Award of Excellence. Wolf was honoured for his extensive career in television, which has included Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice and Law & Order, now in its 10th season.

Wolf was interviewed by Pamela Wallin, and previewed Deadline, his new series about a columnist at a New York newspaper.

Also yesterday, multitalented British actress Tracey Ullman received the Sir Peter Ustinov Comedy Network Award. Past recipients of the award include Martin Short, Bob Newhart and John Candy.

More than 2,000 television broadcasters, distributors and producers have converged on this Alberta resort town for the festival's 21st edition. They are here to make deals, honour their achievements and gauge the state of the international television industry.

Canadian industry players are not only pitching, buying and selling television programs, but are once again debating the government's controversial process for funding Canadian television programs.