Awards

46th Hong Kong International Film Festival – Awards 2022

These are the winners of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which took place from August 15 -31, 2022.

Young Cinema Competition (Chinese Language)

Firebird Award

A New Old Play by Qiu Jiongjiong – Hong Kong, France | 2021

After dying in an accident, celebrated clown actor Qiu Fu is escorted to the Underworld where he bears witness to his long and eventful life. Qiu’s fantastical and nostalgic odyssey recalls the work of Frank Capra, while his revealing tracking shots and fastidiously composed tableaux are evocative of traditional Sichuan Opera. Unfolding against the backdrop of nearly a century of tumultuous Chinese history, the film is testament to the resilience of the creative spirit. Special Jury Prize, Locarno International Film Festival.

Jury’s Coimments:
This film has a distinctive narrative structure and fantastical imagery.  Through a family of Sichuan Opera artists, who goes through trials and tribulations in a tumultuous era, it paints a scroll of history spanning half a century, embodying the joy and tragedy of man’s fate.  It is one of this year’s most distinguished Chinese language films, both creatively and artistically.

Clip:

Best Actress

Ailiya *for her role in Journey to the West (dir. Kong Dashan) – China | 2021
*Not in picture

This film may share the same title as the Chinese literary classic, but its ragtag team of travellers is searching for something even more profound than Buddhist sutras. This mockumentary follows the alien-obsessed editor of Space Exploration magazine, who leads a team on a search (or wild goose chase) for aliens and ultimately the meaning of our existence in the universe. A clever genre hybrid packed with dry humour, this offbeat low-tech comedy strikes the perfect balance between absurdity, philosophy, and heart.

Jury’s Comments:
In a film that centres on Tang Zhijun’s quixotic search for alien life in outer space, Chinese actress Ailiya holds her own despite it being a supporting role in a film singularly focused on its main protagonist. With the overall tone of the film leaning on the farcical, she has managed to still bring to her role truth, nuance, and compassion, creating a character that is compelling to watch.

Trailer:

Best Actor

Mak Pui-tung* for his role in The Sparring Partner (dir. Ho Cheuk-tin) – Hong Kong | 2022
*Not in picture

Adapted from a sensational real-life case in 2013, the intricate story begins when a young man partners with his friend to murder and dismember his parents. Pleading not guilty, the defense attorneys soon turn on each other, as the defendants play the devil and idiot game. Meanwhile, heated debates emerge inside the jury room, where nine jurors grapple with the truth. Crafting a complex, multi-layered narrative with surprising twists and turns, Ho Cheuk-tin sets himself a formidable challenge in this directorial debut.

Jury’s Comments:
An actor who can manoeuvre the viewers’ emotions and perception of the character to a complete reversal, turning everyone’s sentiments upside down and getting entangled.  He delivers a touching performance and brilliantly expresses a sense of helplessness, walking between good and evil on thin ice.

Young Cinema Competition (World)

Firebird Award

Mediterranean Fever by Maha Haj – Palestine, Germany, France, Cyrus | 2022

Waleed is a middle-aged family man with aspirations to be a writer, if only he could shake off his depression. A new neighbour makes for a welcome distraction, and when Waleed learns that Jalal is a small-time crook, he probes him for criminal details he can use in his novel. Haj’s follow-up to Personal Affairs (41st) is a jocular black comedy about an unlikely friendship, deftly skirting around the issue of being Palestinian in modern-day Haifa. Best Screenplay, Un Certain Regard, Cannes.

Jury’s Comments:
This is an all-rounded gem of a film that is at once a thriller, social comedy, and odd couple bromance that depicts mental health, religion, masculinity, and historical-political identities with astute observation and wry humour.

Trailer:

Best Director

Emmanuelle Nicot for Love According to Dalva – Belgium, France | 2022

After the police storm her home, Dalva is torn from the arms of the only man she has loved, and placed in a home populated by troubled children from broken homes. The man was her father and over time, 12-year-old Dalva comes to understand that the relationship they shared was scandalous, and that she has lived her life as a victim. Nicot’s heart-wrenching debut is a searing examination of ritualised abuse, drawn from years of research and painful first-hand experience. FIPRESCI Prize, Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes.

Jury’s Comments:
It is a multi-layered film which impresses with its complex social observation.  It is a movie that surprises you by showing a society is not always black and white.  It also consists of other colours if you look closely.  It shows us the true colours in a detailed and realistic way.

Best Actress

Zelda Samson for her role in Love According to Dalva (dir. Emmanuelle Nicot) – Belgium, France | 2022

Jury’s Comments:
It is a realistic portrayal of an innocent yet saint-like character of a young girl, who was abused by the wild world. This actress shows her bravery to act in this role, with a sensuality and truthfulness that makes you believe such a pure soul exist in the real world, which is amazing. It was a difficult performance of a neurotic and complex character.

Best Actor

Moritz Treuenfels for his role in Axiom (dir. Jöns Jönsson) – Germany | 2022 – 112 minutes

The perfect cautionary tale for these spurious times, as we are bombarded by stories of fake billionaires and phoney business gurus, channeling Thomas Ripley and Anna Delvey, chanting “fake it til you make it” through a smokescreen of lies. Jönsson presents us with Julius, an eloquent and charismatic young man, who invites his museum colleagues on a sailing trip. Once aboard his family’s luxurious vessel, his carefully constructed web of deceit begins to unravel, as Julius is exposed to be a far cry from what he claims to be.

Jury’s Comments:
This is an unsettling portrayal of a pathological liar who lives his life by borrowing others’ lives. Once in a while, however, cracks do appear briefly enough so that we can actually glimpse into the humanity inside this troubled yet fascinating young man.

Clip:

Documentary Competition

Firebird Award

All that Breathes by Shaunak Sen – India, USA, UK | 2022

Worsening air pollution makes daily life in Delhi an uphill struggle, for the city’s human population as well as its diverse birdlife. Brothers Mohammad Saud and Nadeem Shehzad have committed themselves to saving one such species, the Black Kite, who are literally falling from the sky. It is a plight that somewhat mirrors their own, as Muslims living in a climate of escalating civil unrest. Sen’s remarkable documentary paints a vivid portrait of a community on the brink, deservedly winning L’OEil d’Or for Best Documentary, Cannes, and Grand Jury Prize for World Documentary, Sundance.

Jury’s Comments:
It is a film with exquisite and poetic cinematography.  It prompts its audience to give more profound thoughts about the living conditions of different races and animals.

Clip:

Jury Prize

Children of the Mist by Ha Le Diem – Vietnam | 2021

Set in the north of her homeland, Vietnam, Ha Le Diem’s compelling debut, which won the Best Directing award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, depicts the controversial tradition of “bride-kidnapping” in rural villages. At the centre of Diem’s film is the conflicted life of Di, a 12-year-old Hmong girl, torn between deep-rooted customs of adolescent marriage and the modern freedoms presented to her via social media. On the brink of an underage marriage, Di explores her sense of self and independent notion of womanhood.

Jury’s Comments:
This is a documentary made by a very talented first-time director with exceptional access, a well-crafted dramaturgy, and some of the most heart-breaking scenes in recent documentary memory.

Trailer:

Short Film Competition

Firebird Award

Bestia by Hugo Covarrubias – Chile | 2021

Based on true events, Bestia explores the life of a secret police agent during the military dictatorship in Chile. Her relationship with her dog, her body, her fears and frustrations reveal a grim fracture of her mind and the country.

Jury’s Comments:
It is a film of sheer power.  The director crafts it with distinctive animation aesthetics to portray the complex inner world of a real-life figure living under a totalitarian regime.  Conceived with reticent yet compelling strokes, each moment is replete with intense, disturbing emotions.  It is a magnificent work taken to new heights.

Trailer:

Jury Prize

The Bones by Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña – Chile | 2021

The Bones is a false discovery of global audiovisual culture, highlighting both the morbidity of the animation technique, as well as the radical transformation of Chile’s political and social contingency. The Bones emerges as the country drafts a new Constitution, eliminating the one that Guzmán himself drafted in 1980, which thrust Chile into a failed neoliberal experiment and culminated in the social revolt of October 18th, 2019

Jury’s Comments:
It is a story spinning off a three-tier narrative. The animation’s micro-narrative resurrects the magical character of a moving image in its inaugural stage, around 1900.  National and media history, and folk customs, are all unveiled during the exorcism performance.

Trailer:

Special Mention

Sideral by Carlos Segundo – Brazil, France | 2021

In Natal, on the Brazilian north coast, the country is preparing to launch its first manned space rocket into space. A couple lives with their two children near the space centre, she is a cleaner and he is a mechanic, but she dreams of other horizons

Jury’s Comments:
Its minimalistic black-and-white imagery lays a realist undertone of the everyday mundane.  Restrained performances by the actors convey the intricate emotions of the characters.  The audiences are, unexpectedly, drawn to the characters, facing life’s impermanence and absurdity, while experiencing the centrifugal force at once.

Trailer:

FIPRESCI Prize

A New Old Play by Qiu Jiongjiong – Hong Kong, France | 2021

Jury’s Comments:
For its masterful approach and inventive visual style in blending Chinese Sichuan classical opera into a unique cinematic experience, in which a mixture of farce and tragedy, political melodrama and historical epic, individual recollection and collective memory are presented in a meticulously contrived mise-en-scène to convey the major upheavals of Twentieth-century China.

Categories: Awards

Tagged as: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.