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Five Asian films were awarded at the 44th Festival des 3 Continents

Five Asian films were awarded at the Festival des 3 Continents (France) which took place from November 18 – 27, 2022 in Nantes and across the Loire-Atlantique region.

Montgolfière d’or

Glorious Ashes by Chuyên Bui Thac – France, Vietnam, Singapore | 2022 – 106 minutes

Pregnant Hau marries the taciturn fisherman Duong, but he is madly in love with Nhan, who had chosen to marry Tam. The two couples, soon to become two families, are neighbours living on either side of the canals that run through the village, between the lagoon and the mangrove… The geography of the place takes hold of the imagination and the mise en scène. Director Bui Thac Chuyên brings to life his romantic theatre, often with humour, when small boats are manoeuvred or scooters break down, and shows the symbiotic relationship of bodies to their environment. A fire is smouldering below the still waters (the peaceful village activity is filmed only briefly). But also, this powerful daydream of space and the elements – water, fire, silt – nourishes the interplay of passions. The gaze, invited to physically cross through this world, catches, at each temporal ellipsis, the feverish obsession of characters bewitched. FM

Jury Comments: “We gave the award to this film for the poetic beauty of the world the film portrays, which is both shimmering and bewitching, as well as for the loving and very mischievous portrayal of its three heroines.”

Montgolfière d’argent

Scent of Wind by Hadi Mohaghegh – Iran | 2022 – 90 minutes

An electrician is dispatched to repair a failed transformer near the isolated house of a disabled man and his bed-ridden son. One part is lacking and the technician sets off to find it. Based on this modest story, Hadi Mohaghegh, who plays the lead character, elaborates a miniature epic. Pitfalls and solutions, financial transactions and mutual aid, fill the duration and silences of what gradually becomes a meditation on goodness. Patiently filming everything that can be bought and sold, the filmmaker contrasts this by gently, unobtrusively and almost secretly magnifying things that have no price: an outstretched hand, a service that expects no reward, the time needed to take care of others, even strangers. There is no gesture of gratitude in Scent of Wind because the film wants us to re-learn that there is no need to wait for gratitude in order to give some. AR

Jury Comments “The greatness and tenderness of this philosophical fable that succeeds in embodying, with total freedom, the main character’s perseverance in the sumptuous yet perilous Iranian mountains.”

Special Mention

Jet Lag by Xinyuan Zheng Lu – Switzerland, Austria | 2022 – 111 minutes

What is the substance of Jet Lag? Does it lie in the geographical and temporal comings and goings that lead the filmmaker from a return trip to China mid-pandemic to the memory of a earlier trip to Myanmar, with her family – and incidentally, from a plane to a hot air balloon. Is it in the evocation not only of family relationships, following the footsteps of a great grandfather who went missing and a grandmother whose disappearance she fears, but also in the love relationship with her girlfriend whose body is sometimes close, sometimes distant? In the texture of black and white and in the prolific video material that captures a thousand bursts of ordinary and at times sublime beauty, as in the captivating scenes of intimacy? In evaporated memories or the news of a political revolution? A filmed diary with endless displacements, constantly decentred, Jet Lag nonetheless weaves a form where the world’s vibrations become organised, albeit mysteriously. FM

Jury Comments: “for the freedom and inventiveness displayed in the portrayal of this inner journey during which bursts of reality outline a contemporary era that is burningly subversive.”

The Young Jury Award

Shivamma by Jaishankar Aryar – India | 2022 – 104 minutes

It might be tempting to question a very contemporary tendency of India’s young indie cinema to revive a neorealist vein. For all that, Shivamma did not steal a bicycle. A poor middle-aged and unedu- cated woman, she dreams somewhat ingenuously of a little justice and is seduced by the direct marketing methods of the Nuracle energy drink. She glimpses the hope of improving her precarious day-to-day life. “I will do it!” becomes her creed… we need to believe in something. Somewhat cantankerous and stubborn, Shivamma’s determination soon becomes the sign of her blindness. Refusing to idealise the figure of the poor, Jaishankar Aryar takes Shivamma’s naivety as the starting point of a subtle moral tale, in which the non-professional actors could well be the real protagonists. JB

Jury Comments: “Shivamma touched us with its sincerity both in its directing and acting, and promises a bright future. It is set in a culture we know little about, but the issues that poison it are universal. Thankfully, this film is so uplifting, it could cure anything… even hair loss!”

Audience Award

The Winter Within by Aamir Bashir – India, France, Qatar | 2022 – 99 minutes

This winter, however in-season it appears given its concrete presence in the landscape, seems interminable to those experiencing it – generation after generation in this region of the world, Kashmir. A way of indicating the noman’s land in which a population finds itself a hostage of the tensions between India, Pakistan and China. No sign of a thaw here, just the inextricable reality of lives written in a context of arbitrary violence that gnaws away at inner life with the callous precision of the cold. Aamir Bashir’s previous film bore the title Autumn, a way perhaps of warding off the inexorable approach of a winter now turned into a film. But what can be said? In this Winter Within, there is a shift in scale starting from the vital tenacity of Nargis to find her husband, and translating into the filmmaker’s need to give a face to this reality, as well as the difficulty of finding the words that could serve as a balm. JB

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