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Singapore's Boo Junfeng scoops two awards in Hanoi

HANOI ~ Rooky director Boo Junfeng (pictured left) has won Best Feature Film and Best Director at the inaugural Vietnam International Film Festival (VNIFF).

Announcing Junfeng's win at a star-studded awards ceremony on Friday, head juryman, Phillip Noyce, said the jury had discussed the 10 entries in the feature film competition for several hours, but it "gradually become clear we were all talking about the same film, “Sandcastle” by Boo Junfeng.

Other members of the jury included the director of the Venice International Film Festival, Marco Mueller; Vietnamese director Dang Nhat Minh; Korean actress Kang Su Yeon; and Francois Cantonne who was the cinematographer on Indochine.

“We have been surprised by the cinematic verve and high quality of the entries…but the unanimous decision of the jury for Best Feature film is “Sandcastle” from Singapore,” Noyce told an audience of some 2,800 at the closing ceremony of the festival, the first ever truly international film festival to be staged in Vietnam.

“Sandcastle” portrays a series of events and disclosures that take place immediately prior to 18-year-old En’s enlistment into the Singaporean army to do national service. The film, Junfeng’s first feature, was well received in Cannes and Pusan and already the 28-year-old is being hailed as the most promising director to emerge from the island state for many years.

Awards were also made for best documentary, best actor and best actress.

Best documentary went to the host country for 27-year-old Nguyen Thi Kim Hai’s “Always Beside You” which traces the struggle of a young boy suffering from leukemia.

Head of the documentaries jury, the well-respected executive director of Finland’s Tampere Film Festival, Juhani Alanen, described “Always Beside You” as “a worthy winner from a small number of entrants”. But, whilst lauding the talent of Nguyen Thi Kim Hai, he told FilmFestivals.Com he was disappointed not to have seen Thailand’s entry “Agrarian Utopia” which apparently did not arrive in time for its scheduled screening.

Alanen was also on the jury for short films, along with Vietnamese documentary film-maker Bui Dinh Hac and French cinematographer Matthieu Poirot-Delpech. It seems that the entries were not up to international standard and no prize was awarded in this category.

Best Actress was co-awarded to Fiona Sit for her part in “Break-Up Club” (Hong Kong), and Nhat Kim Anh for “The Fate of a Songstress in Thang Long” (Vietnam). The Best Actor award went to Ah Niu for his role in “Ice Kacang Puppy Love” (Malaysia).

The film festival was staged to coincide with celebrations to mark the 1,000 year anniversary of the founding of Hanoi, Vietnam’s rapidly developing capital city.
Jeremy Colson

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