We present the winners of the 4th SeaShorts Film Festival (from Malaysia), which took place Online from September 12th – 20th (2020).
About the Festival:
The SeaShorts Film Festival was originally founded by award-winning filmmaker Tan Chui Mui in 2017 as an event to screen Southeast Asian short films and it has since grown into a notable regional film event. In its past three editions, it has been held in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Malacca, in Malaysia. With a programme of handpicked and curated short films, as well as forums and masterclasses, it showcases Southeast Asia’s stories and emerging filmmaking talents by bringing together the arts and cultural community from the region. It is also a platform for regional exchange and learning, talent recognition, networking and collaboration.
Sea Shorts Award for Best Film
‘Peon’ is a true story told through a delivery rider’s phone screen. An order comes in to deliver passports. On his way, he receives a voice message offering him money to send it to a different address. He finds out that the passports belong to a group of Bangladeshi workers.
Jury remarks: The unanimous favourite, Peon reinvented form and content to tell a story of the times. A very engaging ride that is acted so naturally, with technical aspects on par with its excellent storytelling. A breath of fresh air.
Next New Wave Award for Best Malaysian Film
Jury remarks: Stimulating, exciting, engaging, surprising, playful, innovative—and above all, the great quality of being unlike anything else. But it wouldn’t completely work without the real emotion at the end, conveyed by masterful narrative suspense.
Best Director Award
On a street corner a mysterious conversation among three young men at a street stalls. Meanwhile a traffic accident on a motorbike. The night brings together a sketch, a multicolor frame of reality.
Jury remarks: Beautifully shot, acted, written, and executed. Culture, socio-economic class, poetry, and violence combine in a single shot, a single night, a single breath. An exquisite mix of detailed direction and raw unpredictability. A tour de force and a stunning work of art.
Best Screenplay Award
When they lose their wallet during a picnic, a husband and wife rediscover the beauty in their romance through conversation of life, Jakarta, rich people and cheap shoes.
Jury remarks: So elaborate in its dialogue and writing that the words and scenes seem to unfold naturally and effortlessly.
Best Cinematography Award
In the early stages of the political transition in 1998, rumours of black-clad ninjas terrorises the Tapal Kuda region of East Java. These ninjas come out during the night targeting Koran teachers and clerics. Moslem scholars (santri) take guard duties to protect their teachers at night. During this tense situation, one santri leaves his guard duty to meet with his lover.
Jury remarks: Even with limited resources, the cinematography is beautifully and intricately mounted to help the story move forward and convey characters’ emotions without showing too much. The camerawork is riveting, invoking the audience to quietly contemplate on their inner guilt as they have their expectations subverted.
Best Sound Award
Jury remarks: The sound design and mixing is crisp and balanced, weaved so well that they become an integral part of the narrative progression. Emotions were heightened and subdued with every audio cue, conveying a tumultuous story and implying violence in a way that feels raw and real.
Best Editing Award
Best Performance Award
When her grandfather becomes terminally ill, Xiao Le, a young Christian woman, faces a critical decision over whether she should intervene with her family’s Taoist rituals. Driven by a desire to save his soul, she begins secretly praying by his bedside. When her mother discovers her deceit, she is devastated.
Jury remarks: The intensity and accurateness of the two leads’ performance greatly serve the complex conflict at the heart of the story. Voices and eyes light up with emotional restraint. The audience is drawn into their world as they expose convoluted and suppressed depths of human nature.
Jury remarks: A courageous and important film, which touched upon an important episode of Indonesian history and dealt with issues of violence, fear, and anxiety with considerable sophistication. An important voice that needs to be heard.
Special Mention Award
6-year old Stanley has a year left to be Disney’s Queen Elsa to his heart’s content, before formal education starts.
Jury remarks: Strong, impactful, and meaningful message stemming from a simple idea and great use of emotion.
Audience Choice Award