We present the list of awards for the 15th Osaka Asian Film Festival, which took place from March 6th – 15th, in Osaka, Japan.
About the festival:
The Osaka Asian Film Festival aims to facilitate human resources development and exchange, to invigorate the Osaka economy, and to increase the city’s appeal, through providing opportunities to watch excellent Asian films, supporting filmmaking in Osaka and attracting filmmakers from Asian countries and regions to Osaka. Promoting Osaka worldwide as a gateway city for Asian films, and engaging with many people from the fields of culture, art, education, tourism and business, from Osaka and all of Asia, OAFF works as an open platform to contribute to the development of Osaka and cinema.
Grand Prix (Best Picture Award)
After spending time in Sweden, Jean returns to Thailand with a madness for minimalism and the desire to convert her house into a home office. It will be a big task because the space she uses is a former music studio that her brother and mother still live in so there are three lifetimes worth of objects to remove and Jean has to go through everything. Our mini-Marie Kondo gets off to a ruthless start but soon begins to analyse the value of various items and this is where the drama comes in as she comes across items that belong to her family and friends and ex-boyfriend, and those items bring back memories. “More emo, more problems”, Jean says as she tries to junk stuff but this film shows with rich detail in props and set design, perfect framing and editing, a modern life with all its ties and characteristics, warmth and sadness, and how these qualities in an item cannot be trashed so easily. (Jason Maher)
Displaying Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s outstanding originality and his unique modern film style, “Happy Old Year” captivates the audience. It deals first with the theme of discarding things — a universal, everyday problem which confronts all humans living in the civilized world, then the film expands to an in-depth exploration of many other issues. The entire cinematic vision is extraordinary.
Most Promising Talent Award
Jeong-won and her husband Sang-u are a happily married couple who are about to move into a new home and welcome a child into the world. Their happiness begins to crack when Jeong-won receives a call from the police informing her that the man who sexually assaulted her ten years ago has been caught. Jeong-won had kept this incident a secret from Sang-u but now her peaceful life begins to buckle as her past comes back to disrupt the relationships with those around her.
Director PARK uses great restraint to tell a realistic story of a person who uses distance to protect herself and others from a horrific crime finally turning around confronting it. As hard as this is for the main character, she shows great bravery and has support from those around her in a moving and constructive drama about how such a trauma can be overcome. (Jason Maher)
Time, as depicted in “Way Back Home”, especially the time which heals the heroine’s trauma, flows slowly like water, beautifully providing catharsis. The film encourages us to look forward to director PARK Sun-joo’s future work.
Following the death of her mother, high school girl Sora’s closest contact is with her grandfather. That relationship is far deeper than her one with her distant father. When the old man dies, Sora is left bereft and with nobody to talk to but her discovery of his wartime diary offers her some form of escape because it hints at a treasure buried in a local forest. Just as the old man departs, a mysterious vagrant appears in town. Mute and only walking backwards, he crashes into Sora’s life and his presence forces a change in the relationship between daughter and father.
Majestically shot with beautiful black and white visuals and graceful camerawork, mystery and profound emotions in this story and moving performances make this a distinct and compelling film as audiences will be guided into the lives of the characters, accompanying them on a satisfying emotional journey. (Jason Maher)
Personifying, with great intensity, the madness which pervades the entire film, MASE Hidemasa leaves a deep impact on viewers.
ABC Tv Award
A newbie female writer who loves writing mainstream romantic stories manages to sell a one to a film studio but the producers ask her to redevelop the script and make it less formulaic. Enter a male writer. Slightly older and more experienced, he lives by the principles of independent filmmaking. The two start to collaborate on the story of an office slave named Marco and a musician named Joyce. One month and a shared Google doc, both writers launch into the rewrite, their efforts are shown in on-screen text that changes with every edit and, most potently, through actors who portray the characters. As they work together, they begin to reveal more about themselves, their insecurities and histories, and to make the best ultimate love story they can, it seems like they will embark on their own.
A romantic comedy that operates as a deconstruction of romantic comedies with the technical aspects of storytelling laid bare, the film is an enjoyable discourse on love as well as the romance of making films. (Jason Maher)
It is a wonderful comedy that is bright and energetic to watch even though it incorporates serious themes. The technical aspects of the film are elaborate as reflected in the aspect ratio. Scenes taking place in the real world are shot in 4☓3, the movie scenes are 16☓9, and eventually the two worlds are mixed.
Yakushi Pearl Award
In 1988, martial law ends in Taiwan and two schoolboys, A-han and Birdy, are about to enter into an illicit love affair after meeting in the school band led by a Canadian priest named Oliver. While the whole country commemorates the late president, the two boys bask in each other’s presence as A-han’s affection for Birdy is awakened. However, society is homophobic and the threat of violence and social shaming enacted by adults and their fellow teens causes the two to come into conflict as they edge closer to physically enacting on their passions for each other. Birdy pushes A-han away by pretending to fall in love with a girl and this misunderstanding separates them. In desperation, A-han confessed to Father Oliver about his sexuality, only to be cut off again but love knows no bounds and the boys are meant to be together… Inspired by real events, the film is emblematic of the changes in Taiwan which became the first country in Asia to legalise gay marriage. (OAFF 2020)
Delivering a convincing performance with delicacy and meticulously controlled emotion, Leon DAI, as the middle-aged protagonist, gave “Your Name Engraved Herein” an essential profundity and texture. There is no doubt that his performance in the film will open new horizons in his acting career.
JAPAN CUTS Award
Four young men, Shun, Tomoki, Kazuya, and Eita, have been friend since their childhood and now work together for the construction company run by Kazuya’s family. Their lives are mostly carefree in the quiet town of Oiso until Kazuya’s uncle, their former teacher, is found dead. Hitherto unseen cracks emerge between the boys and their intimate relationship is threatened as secrets are revealed, not least the uncle has a beautiful young widow nobody knows about and the construction company is subject to a certain criminality. This is just one example of trust betrayed as everyday corruption and crime is brought out into the light in this sleepy town in a film that is a slice-of-life drama with noirish shading. (Jason Maher)
This unflinching examination of small-town corruption, toxic masculinity and the angst of youth stood out from the Indie Forum section as an exceptionally well-crafted drama that exhibits director MISAWA Takuya’s keen eye for creative narrative construction and an impressive control of film language. “The Murders of Oiso” is a refreshingly bold and assured work that makes us excited for the director’s future projects and the potential of Japanese independent cinema as a dynamic and critical force. We are very happy to recognize MISAWA’s film with this award.
House Short Film Award
After Kentaro’s death, his only daughter Kanae (6) was brought up with care by her grandmother Kaoru (73). One day in August during the Obon (festival of the dead) week, her mother Momoko (39) comes back to Japan with an American man Adam (50) and his son Joseph (10). Momoko is thrilled to see her daughter and suggests her to move to the U.S. and live together with them, but Kanae refuses. Adam tries to open her heart in various ways. Kanae soon begins to show her smile and that day’s dinner became a cheerful one with lots of laughter. However, Momoko still had a sad expression on her face. The next day, Momoko and Adam was at the ocean. Momoko starts to speak about the strange sight she saw at Abraham’s grave. (OAFF 2020)
Mostly shot inside a house “Hammock” is that rare short film which reflects big human tragedies and feelings like loss, memories, dreams and hopes in a perfect combination through the perspective of a child who hardly speaks a word in the film. “Hammock” is a multi-layered emotional drama which should be made into a feature film.
Aspiring to enter a top national school as a way out of poverty, straight-A student Chen Nian works hard to pass the Gaokao ‒ China’s tough college entrance exam ‒ but she is the target of bullying from the richer kids. When Chen helps out another victim, the bullying intensifies. Her only source of relief is the help of an orphaned street kid named Bei who defends her and the two get closer and it seems that love will be the light to get them through their darkest hour but when there is a deadly accident involving a classmate, the dreams and sacrifices the two are prepared to make aren’t enough to protect them from reality…
Widely regarded as one of the best films of 2019, “Better Days” features a stirring performance by lead actress ZHOU Dongyu who is at the centre of a realistic, harrowing and gritty tale of bullying that is sure to leave audiences disturbed and moved.