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HKIFF41 honors filmmakers with awards of five competition sections and the Audience Choice Award

At Awards Gala at Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the 41st Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF41) revealed the winning films for five award categories, in recognition of filmmakers’ outstanding achievement. These include the “Young Cinema Competition”, the “Documentary Competition” and the “Short Film Competition” under the Firebird Award Competition, as well as the “FIPRESCI Prize” and the “SIGNIS Award”. Winner of the newly added “Audience Choice Award”, supported by Hearts On Fire, was also announced today.

Each competition was judged by an independent jury, consisting of renowned industry figures. Distinguished Polish director, Agnieszka HOLLAND, who won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for her film Spoor at the Berlin International Film Festival 2017, led the jury for the Firebird Young Cinema Competition. Other jurors including Colin GEDDES, ex-programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival; Thomas SOTINEL of prestigious French newspaper Le Monde; local acclaimed actor Anthony WONG; Mary STEPHEN, the film editor for French New Wave director Éric ROHMER and Canadian director Ann Marie FLEMING (see Appendix for complete list of jurors). Director JIA Zhangke, the founder of JIA Screen, also joined the Gala to present the award of “Short Film Competition”. The Firebird Awards trophy is re-designed by HKIFF41 key art designer WONG San Mun this year, giving a fresh image to this notable award.

The Young Cinema Competition is set up to encourage young filmmakers to explore the potential of the cinema of our times. Eight films from a range of countries including South Korea, Georgia, India, France, Portugal, France, the USA, China and Japan competed for the awards. The coveted Firebird Award was given to My Happy Family, directed by Nana & Simon. The jurors praised the film “for its sensitive portrait of the social and psychological changes that are influencing the gender roles in traditional society. Both subtle and truthful, the directors crafted a realistic family dynamic with a talented ensemble of actors.” Amit V MASURKAR’s Newton won the Jury Prize this year, “for the intelligent and human presentation of a political situation in a divided country. The film balances the humour, disillusion and – against all odds – a steadfast belief in the meaning of democracy,” as commented by the jurors.

Filmmakers around the world embrace the documentary genre to reflect aspects of reality and address social issues. The Documentary Competition was set up to recognize filmmakers for their devotion and contribution in creating documentaries that inspire audiences. The jury unanimously Aawards the Firebird prize to House in the Fields, directed by Tala HADID: "The film celebrates two young women in Northern Morocco who share their aspirations for their lives. The director Tala HADID achieves beautiful balance in form and content to give audiences access to an otherwise isolated world." The Jury Prize was awarded to MA Li’s Inmates. The jurors cited “The director displays discretion, respect and patience in telling the stories of the inmates. MA Li leads us into the mental world of the patients, and manages to move the viewer deeply with a very subtle approach.”

Short film is a unique genre for filmmakers to express their creativity and to experiment with the possibilities in filmmaking. The Short Film Competition offers a platform for directors to exchange visions and ideas. The Festival selected 20 entries this year, among which Gabrielle LISSOT’s Jukai won the Firebird Award. The jurors praised “this beautiful film makes excellent use of every element – sound, design, colour, movement – to paint a poignant portrait of the connectedness of life and shows how even the delicate strings of hope that may not save us from our own despair can still nurture new generations.” Nishikawa Tomonari’s Ten Mornings Ten Evenings and One Horizon was awarded the Jury Prize. The jurors recognized this film for its “multiple-layered meanings, regarding but not limited to temporality, spatiality, spirituality and the plastic materiality of film in representing and at the same time distorting reality, can be inferred from this simple 16mm experimental film using seemingly anachronistic yet timeless and effective analogue technology.” David OREILLY’s Everything received Special Mention. The jurors spoke highly of its creativity: “A 360 degree animation experiment, from our planet to the universe. With good use of audio of old narration which fits in the main concept of the work, leading to a multi-perspectives visual journey.”

FIPRESCI is an association of the national organizations of professional film critics and film journalists from around the world. The FIPRESCI Prize recognizes enterprising filmmaking and promotes young talent in Asian cinema. The award this year went to LEE Seung-won’s Happy Bus Day, “for its satirical interpretation of Korean TV dramas full of black humor and unconventional ideas” as complimented by the jurors.

Established in 2004 and co-organized by the HKIFF and SIGNIS Hong Kong, the SIGNIS Award salutes films that fully express social and humanitarian concerns, as well as spiritual and artistic values. MORI Yoshitaka’s Satoshi: A Move For Tomorrow won the SIGNIS Award, “for its vivid depiction of a contemporary 'tragic hero', who was bound by the 'win-lose' game, missing all beautiful things in life. The film reflects on the meaning of life - beyond materialistic gains, there is also love and passion.” And Jan H?EBEJK’s The Teacher received the Commendation, which jurors praised “for its portrait of a secondary school teacher's exploitation of the students and their parents. A realistic reflection of our society, the film makes us contemplate the ways of facing conflict and injustice under different political systems, so that we may live our lives with dignity.”

An “Audience Choice Award” is newly added this year, with the support from premium sponsor Hearts On Fire. Mad World, directed by WONG Chun, obtained the highest voting score from the audience, and won the debut “Audience Choice Award”. An audience member who voted for it was selected from the lucky draw and won the 2018 Cine Fan Patron Privilege worth HK$10,000. 



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