Indian film takes top honours at SGIFF Silver Screen Awards

Indian film takes top honours at SGIFF Silver Screen Awards
David Beckham and George Tanasijevich, CEO of Marina Bay Sands giving out the Best Director award. Accepting the award was the producer of the film as the director was unable to attend. Photo: Genevieve Loh/TODAY
David Beckham also hands out Best Director Award to Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Published: 8:00 PM, December 5, 2015
Updated: 11:02 AM, December 6, 2015

SINGAPORE – Indian film The Fourth Direction, based on two short stories by Waryam Singh Sandhu won Best Film at the 26th Singapore International Film Festival’s (SGIFF) Silver Screen Awards tonight (Dec 5).

Director Gurvinder Singh’s sophomore feature film, set during the historical conflict between Sikh separatists and the military, was said to have impressed the jury with its masterful execution and made them “experience the fear and tension of the era and how the political situation is influencing the life of this family”.

Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi won Best Director for Happy Hour, his first fiction film in three years, which offers an intimate gaze into a close group of friends as they pass through the joys and tribulations of mid-life.

He was presented the award by former Manchester United and Real Madrid star David Beckham and CEO of Marina Bay Sands, George Tanasijevich.

The Turkish cast Taha Tegin Ozdemir, Yakup Ozgur Kurtaal and Omer Uluc walked away with Best Performance for their roles in Snow Pirates by Faruk Kacihafizoglu. Set against the 1980 coup d’etat in Turkey, the film tells the story of three teenage friends who spend their school holidays trying to find coal for warmth against all odds, while sharing their personal stories and dreams.

All the winners of the Asian Feature Film Competition were selected by a jury panel headed by award-winning Filipino film-maker Brilliante Mendoza.

Mendoza’s debut film won the Golden Leopard Award at the 2005 Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, and paved the way for the rise of alternative cinema in the Philippines.

He is also the only Filipino director that has been accorded the singular distinction of the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) from the French government.

Other jury members include managing director and producer of Irresistible Films Ivy Ho; the European Film Academy’s Karel Och and South Korean producer Oh Jung-wan.

The South-east Asian Short Film competition (SASFC), which was introduced to the Silver Screen Awards last year, saw Indonesian film The Fox Exploits The Tiger’s Might walking away with two big prizes: Best South-east Asian Short Film and Best Director (Lucky Kuswandi, one of Indonesia’s most exciting young directors).

The jury found the story of two pre-teen boys discovering the relation between power and sex amid their burgeoning sexuality to be thought-provoking on issues of race and repression.

Its “strong visual language and a deft use of sexual tension” and the director’s strong direction evident in the cast’s performance – proved vital in “telling a story that is layered, provocative and entertaining at the same time”.

The jury for this competition was headed by award-winning Singaporean film-maker Boo Junfeng, and included Malaysian actress and film-maker Sharifah Amani, and chairman of the Association of Indonesian Film Producers, Sheila Timothy.

The jury shared that all the films shortlisted for this year’s SASFC “had something the film-makers wanted to say about the cultures, societies and the world they live in”.

“The diversity of the perspectives and genres makes the selection this year a very interesting one,” they added.

Emerging Singaporean film-maker He Shuming nabbing The Most Promising Project of the Southeast Asian Film Lab, an SGIFF initiative to nurture the future of South-east Asian film-making.

His project, A-Joom-Ma (Auntie), tells the story of a Korean drama-obsessed widow who learns to find her way home after getting lost on her first trip to Seoul.

This was awarded after a six-day story development lab attended by 11 young talents and a pitch in front of an industry panel including Terence Chang and Cora Yim, vice president for Chinese Movie & Entertainment Channels at FOX International Channels.

The panel shared that the project “strikes a chord across cultures through a relatable character that is crafted in a personal and very familiar manner", adding that they hoped this film would "take the Southeast Asian experience beyond our shores”.

The Best Singapore Short Film prize went to Gladys Ng’s My Father After Dinner, which shares the nuances of Asian familial love through the story of a father who prepares dinner while waiting for his children to return home.

Participants of the Youth Jury & Critics Programme, an SGIFF initiative to nurture critical cinema writers for the region, also selected this year’s Youth Jury Prize for the best South-east Asian short film, which was presented to Cambodian offering, Three Wheels, by Kavich Neang.

The festival, which ends tomorrow (Dec 6), also presented an Honorary Award to acclaimed Iranian film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, in recognition of his lifelong dedication and contribution to cinema.

The man who gave films such as The Gardener and his latest feature, The President, was presented with the award by Yuni Hadi, executive director of SGIFF. However, Mohsen asked Kim Ji-Seok, founding member of Busan International Film Festival and SGIFF’s International Advisory Board member, to get onstage and handed him the award instead, calling Kim a mentor and saying that Kim deserved it more than he did.

Internationally acclaimed actress and producer Michelle Yeoh was also conferred the inaugural Cinema Legend Award, which recognises Asian actors and their outstanding achievements in bringing Asia’s story to life on screen.

"I would like really like say a big thank you to the SGIFF team, for the wonderful work you are doing here, especially for the region," said Yeoh. "We need to bring more international film-makers here, and we need international audiences to see our local movies, our Asian talent. Because they are quite brilliant!" 

Yeoh also got teary-eyed throughout her speech and dedicated her award to her father, who, she said, taught her that imagination knows no bounds and to live life to the fullest . 

“The Silver Screen Awards has always been a key component of the SGIFF," said Yuni, who added that it is “one such platform to chart the rise of Asian cinema and recognise the talents of film-makers ... many of whom become the most prominent film-makers of our time”.

She continued: “We look forward to discovering and showcasing more quality works with innovative cinematic presentations, and rich perspectives from the regional cinema next year.”

The Fourth Direction will be re-screened at the National Museum of Singapore tomorrow, together with the winning film of the Audience Choice Award to be announced tomorrow morning.

SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by Media Development Authority (Singapore).