Award Recipients: Jury Comments
Prizes for the International Competition
Alain Bergala (President), Christine Choy, Amir Naderi,
Anand Patwardhan, Takamine Go
The Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize (The Grand Prize)
Tie Xi Qu: West of Tracks
- CHINA / 2003 / Chinese / Color / Video / 545 min
Dir: Wang Bing
The jury was totally unanimous about this film. It is, perhaps, the first time that a filmmaker has made full use of new light and portable equipment to imagine a project that is truly innovative in its shooting conditions, and in its cinematographic language.
With a minimal technical setup and a crew comprised only of himself, the director immerses himself with passion into the world he chose to film, like a fish in water. He succeeds in capturing the intertwining lives of more than a hundred characters, a feat reminiscent of the great Russian novels or the works of Emile Zola; he also manages to portray the realities and landscapes of China, the socio-economical changes following the decay of an industrial area, and their effects on individual lives. Without pathos, the film embodies the sadness of the industrial wastelands that have been created all over the world by globalization.
Finally we witness the “growing-up” of the filmmaker, who evolves from one episode to another and who, in the eyes of the jury, is a young man full of promise for the future.
The Mayors Prize (Prize of Excellence)
- USA / 2002 / English / Color / 35mm / 145 min
Dir: Steve James
In this film the jury found the most touching female characters of the festival, in particular Stevie’s fiancee, who eventually is perhaps the true main character of the film.
Despite the title, we believe that Stevie’s character is not a unique case, but rather a symptom of the crises and failures in modern American society. The film shows the serious disfunctions of the suburban white poor middle class through a family crisis involving immature adults.
The jury appreciated the way in which the filmmaker is directly and personally implicated in the story he is telling, and the fact that we see his doubts and hesitations on the screen.
Gift of Life
- TAIWAN / 2003 / Chinese, Taiwanese / Color / Video / 148 min
Dir: Wu Yii-feng
The jury were very sensitive to the fact that in this totally contemporary film, a thousand-year-old philosophy is seen to be resurfacing in the consciousnesses of people confronted with a deadly natural disaster: in this case an earthquake.
In this film we feel the tangible presence of invisible forces, of the dead addressing the living through dreams, at a time when they must learn how to survive and to reconcile themselves with the disappearance and subsequent absence of homes, personal belongings and kin.
We also pay tribute to the “musicality” of the film, which has a vast and stratified structure that offers a very appropriate rhythmic interpretation of the mourning process with its recoveries, its relapses, and its rebirths.
Lastly, it is a very optimistic film about the return to life, and the return of life.
S21, the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
- FRANCE / 2002 / Cambodian / Color / Video / 101 min
Dir: Rithy Panh
There have already been many films made about genocide, but until now none have ever shown us the perpetrators of these horrors in such close proximity. The horror is expressed through physical and verbal reenaction, helping us to approach that which can never be understood: that ordinary people could become machines, killing without emotion or conscience. All these elements contribute to the creation of a truly educational film about “ordinary executioners,” and their involvement in mass exterminations.
- ISRAEL / 2002 / Hebrew, English / Color / Video / 63 min
Dir: Anat Zuria
All members of the jury were touched by this pure, limpid, and honest film, which immediately sets its totally personal rhythm; that of its author. The serious and important subject is conveyed by a soft and calm voice, which does not need to raise its tone to talk forcefully. The film shows us the impact of fundamentalism and masculine pressure on the personal and intimate aspects of women’s life, whatever religion is concerned.
New Asian Currents Awards
Jury: Kim Dong-won, Kawase Naomi
Ogawa Shinsuke Prize
- CHINA / 2002 / Chinese / Color / Video / 49 min
Dir: Sha Qing
Finely tuned, yet neither clinical nor patronizing, the camera eye reveals the filmmaker’s solid relation with his subjects. The cooperation and conflicts that the family experience while taking care of a disabled child under economically difficult conditions invite empathy. The very striking ending expresses hope, as a bucket of water is drawn from a partially dried-up well.
Award of Excellence
Hard Good Life
- TAIWAN / 2003 / Taiwanese, Mandarin / Color / Video / 43 min
Dir: Hsu Hui-ju
The film quietly conveys the daily life of an elderly man. There are no interviews or descriptive narration. After visiting the grave of the deceased mother, a few gentle words are communicated from father to daughter. When we discover the gentleness seeping out from this taciturn world, we are moved by an undescribable intense emotion.
Award of Excellence
The Old Man of Hara
- IRAN / 2001 / No dialogue / Color / Video / 30 min
Dir: Mahvash Sheikholeslami
One monotonous day in the life of a solitary old man is beautifully depicted using outstanding cinematography. It seems as if all important elements of life are included in this old man’s single day. Everyday sounds such as water leave a strong impression.
The Big Durian
- MALAYSIA / 2003 / Malay, English, Cantonese, Hokkien / Color, B&W / Video / 75 min
Dir: Amir Muhammad
While taking up a historical incident of superficially little relevance, the film reveals a deep social consciousness through a non-serious filmic style. The director uses his eccentric imagination and variety-full means of expression to reach a politically apathetic young audience.
A Short Journey
- THAILAND / 2003 / Thai / Color / Video / 5 min
Dir: Tanon Sattarujawong
Despite the film’s very short length, the audience is tempted to pursue the outcome of reality as imagined from the world it depicts. We anticipate the bright future of this director from the way he relates to his film’s subjects, the selected editing decisions, and his sense of structure.
- Dir: Anat Zuria
- Three-Five People
- CHINA, USA / 2001 / English, Chinese / Color / Video / 85 min
Dir: Li Lin
The director’s commitment and courage in exposing a contemporary social problem and her attempt to present a solution.
A Short Journey
- Dir: Tanon Sattarujawong
All the elements of a human drama are captured in this five-minute documentary.
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