Iranian film wins Best Film at Silver Screen Awards

Carlo Francisco Manatad gestures after winning the best Southeast Asian Short Film for Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month.
Carlo Francisco Manatad gestures after winning the best Southeast Asian Short Film for Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Thai film-maker Sorayos Prapapan won Best Director and Youth Jury Prize for comedy Death Of The Sound Man (Awasarn Sound Man).
Thai film-maker Sorayos Prapapan won Best Director and Youth Jury Prize for comedy Death Of The Sound Man (Awasarn Sound Man).ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The most promising film-makers from across the region were celebrated at the Silver Screen Awards at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre on Saturday night(Dec2).

The top accolade of Best Film in the Asian Feature Film Competition segment went to Iranian film Disappearance (Napadid Shodan) by Ali Asgari, a drama which follows the trials of a young couple over the course of one night. Actress Sadaf Asgari, who plays one of the protagonists, won Best Performance.

Both Disappearance's director and actress were not present and the awards were received by screenwriter, Farnoosh Samadi, who said the wins were "important for Iranian film-makers".

The film will be rescreened at the National Museum of Singapore on Dec 3.

As for Singaporean winners, film-maker Tan Wei Keong took home the Best Singapore Short Film award for Between Us Two, an animated film centred around a gay son's conversation with his dead mother.

Tan was not present to collect the prize, but said in pre-recorded video: "I couldn't express my gratitude enough to say how honoured and happy I am, to receive this award from the festival I love and respect so much.

"Animation is an understated medium in Southeast Asian films, so I am truly excited to receive support and recognition at SGIFF, to be showcased amongst other incredible films."

But his work fell short of clinching the Best South-east Asian Short Film prize which went to Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee Of The Month, a dark comedy about a a gas station attendant's last day on the job by Filipino film-maker Carlo Francisco Manatad.

The 30-year-old told The Sunday Times that the win came as a surprise. "This award lets my voice be heard as a film-maker but I'm also happy to share this win with the rest of the short film directors throughout Southeast Asia."

Other Southeast Asian short film award winners were Thai film-maker Sorayos Prapapan, who won Best Director and Youth Jury Prize for comedy Death Of The Sound Man (Awasarn Sound Man), and Indonesian film-maker Makbul Mubarak's The Malediction, a drama which won Special Mention.

And in the Asian Feature Film Competition segment, winners included Thai film-maker Anucha Boonyawatana, who won Best Director for Malila: The Farewell Flower, centred around a terminally ill man, and Scaffolding (Pigumim), a story about an impulsive teenager by Israeli writer-director Matan Yair which picked up the Special Mention award.

The awards are part of the 28th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), which kicked off on Nov 23 and ends on Sunday (Dec 3).

The festival is part of the fourth edition of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF), which is hosted by the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA).

The Silver Screen ceremony also paid tribute to two veterans of Asian cinema.

Indonesian film-maker Garin Nugroho, acclaimed for films like Opera Jawa (2006), was conferred the Honorary Award while prolific Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, who starred in films like The Eel (1997), Memoirs Of A Geisha (2005) and Babel (2006), was given the Cinema Legend Award.

A new accolade, the Inspiring Woman In Film Award was given to Georgian director Ana Urushadze, who directed Scary Mother (2017). Nanyang Technological University student Joshua Ng Jun Hao picked up the Youth Critic Award, which is given to budding film critics.

Winners were decided by a panel of acclaimed film-makers from across the world.

These include award-winning Indian director Shekhar Kapur, known for films like Bandit Queen (1994) and Elizabeth (1998) and American director Ana Lily Amirpour, known for A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) and The Bad Batch (2016).

The Southeast Asian Short Film Competition Jury is headed by veteran Japanese film critic Kenji Ishizaka and includes Singapore film-maker K. Rajagopal (A Yellow Bird, 2016) and Indonesian actress Marsha Timothy (Nada Untuk Asa, 2015).