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Golden Apricot Awards, Yerevan 2017

by Alex Deleon


Winning film director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan expressing his surprise and gratitude as Jury president High Hudson looks on


The Awards accorded by the International jury at Yerevan 2017 proved once again that festival prizes like Hollywood Oscars are next to meaningless. A Gold plated jury consisting of emminent filmmakers  such as Hugh Hudson of England, Aniko Enyedi of Hungary, and Ciro Guerra of Columbia, named a piece of cinematic trash, the Indian film "Sexy Durga" as Best Film and another Study in Boredom, "A Man of Integrity", from Iran, was awarded a Silver Apricot by the Fipresci Jury of international film critics.

Sexy Durga

The audience voted with their feet

What the most unsexy and extremely dreary Malayalam language film "Sexy Durga" did receive from the film savvy Yerevan audience was the largest number of walkouts of the week. After a very badly filmed overly long opening sequence of the colorful masochistic Durga festival in Kerala the movie settles into an endlessly dim all nighttime road movie with a young couple of northerners trying to hitchhike to the train station to get back home while constantly being threatened and terrorized by the local scum who pick them up and by other scum they encounter along the way. All this filmed in semi or total darkness with a level of adeptness and treatment of material far below that of UCLA or USC student films.  Realizing that this attempt at bludgeoning an audience into awareness of a major Indian social problem, public unpunished rape, was basically going nowhere and was extremely unpleasant to watch, I joined the steady stream of walkouts after maybe forty minutes. I can imagine that the only people left in the theater at the bitter end were the dutiful handful of jury assessors.

Jurist Ciro Guerra (last years Golden Apricot winner for "Embrace of the Serpent") stated that the justification for the award was that this film courageously draws attention to a major social problem, the public abuse and rape of woman that is rampant and more or less taken for granted in India today.  Definitely a national disgrace that needs to be addressed, but not by a film that is so badly made it drives people out of the theater in droves long before it's over. 

Malayalam director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan taking the stage to express his thanks and to receive his traditional basket of apricots seemed to be as surprised, if not as amazed, as the closing ceremony audience that his dull unpleasant film had been named as Golden Apricot Best Film.  It was obviously programmed because it had received a similar award at Rotterdam in January by a similarly dazed jury.  The award here in Yerevan was clearly for the human rights Intentions of the director rather than for his filmmaking expertise which was painfully absent throughout.


As for FIPRESCI awardee, the Iranian film "A Man of Integrity" I saw it in Cannes together with Indian actress/director Bijaya Jena who served on the Yerevan jury here two years ago, and we both agreed that it was terribly, but terribly, dull. This was another heavy handed message film about social problems, in this case political corruption, which a French jury unconcerned with the effect of a film on an audience, awarded a Best Director's prize.

I have never placed much stock in Fipresci awards.

One prize which was, however, richly deserved was the prestigious Parajanov Thaler award which went to American director Joe Berlinger for his outstanding documentary about Turkish Genocide denial "Intent to Destroy"  the closing film of the festival following the awards ceremony. Intent to Destroy will be reviewed separately.

There were a large number of other prizes for various Armenian films in various categories which will probably never be seen outside of Armenia. 

Jury topper Hugh Hudson emphasized the international scope of this festival in his opening address by pointing out that the twelve films in competition were from twelve different countries and that the jury members were all from different countries.

All in all the fourteenth Golden Apricot film festival was a resounding success and received nothing but praise from all foreign visitors and participants.

Comments (1)

Now, I want to see this film Sexy Durga!

Now, I want to see this film Sexy Durga to find out the merits.There was a Kerala film called Unto the dusk which started of well with necrophilia and after 40mts went into imageries meandering the script.It received awards in Kerala,Bangalore.I met the first time director and told him my feelings.In fact he said that one US critic was promoting him in Europe.

It seems we have not improved in story telling since the cinema art form started(first being The Story of Kelly Gang in 1906).

Regards Bijaya Jena


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