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Wednesday , October 21 2020

‘Scales’ Saudi feminist film named best picture in Singapore

Mexico’s ‘I’m No Longer Here’, Tunisia’s ‘A Son’ win at Cairo fest


LOS ANGELES, Nov 30, (RTRS): “Scales” (aka “Sayidat Al Bahr”), directed by Saudi Arabian first-time filmmaker, Shahad Ameen, was named as the best film in the Asian feature competition at the 30th edition of the Singapore International Film Festival.

 The tale of a young girl who defies her village’s harsh and chauvinistic traditions to prove her worth, collected the festival’s Silver Screen Award on Saturday at a ceremony held in the National Museum of Singapore.

 The blue carpet event welcomed local figures Boo Junfeng, Royston Tan, and Tan Pin Pin, as well as film industry officials Joachim Ng, and Howie Lau. Chinese acting star Yao Chen (“Lost, Found”, “Send Me to the Clouds”) and Japanese director Miike Takashi were also present to pick up special awards. Yao spiced up proceedings, with a throw-away comment: “Recently I have been able to play several characters who found the strength to go after the love and sex that they wanted.”

 Anthony Chen, whose film “Wet Season” opened the festival a week earlier, returned to Singapore having fitted in a round Asia trip that included the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, and the Filmex festival in Tokyo.

 “Singapore is making some very amazing films,” said Chen. “But Singapore cinema cannot be sustainable if audiences don’t go and see them.”

 “Scales” recounts a story of a fishing village which believes that every family should sacrifice a daughter in order to appease sea monsters and guarantee a good catch. The 12 year-old girl is saved from ritual sacrifice by her father and, rather than live with the shame of being spared, sets out to slay some other monsters. The jury found it to be a “very original and strong film from a first-time filmmaker who speaks about patriarchy with the simplicity of a fable.”

 “I’m No Longer Here”, a drama about immigration and identity by young Mexican director Fernando Frias, was the big winner at the Cairo Film Festival, which wrapped Friday.

“I’m No Longer Here”, which turns on a 17-year-old urban tribe leader forced by conflict with a cartel to leave Mexico for Queens, scooped Cairo’s top prize, the Golden Pyramid, for best film. It also took acting honors for newcomer Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino, who plays Ulises Sampiero, leader of Los Terkos, who are known for their dance moves and extravagant hairstyles. In Queens, Ulises winds up either sparking hostility from other immigrants or being treated as a fashion curiosity. The pic, which launched internationally in Cairo, is generating buzz after recently scoring the top prize at the Morelia fest in Mexico.

The Cairo jury, headed by Oscar-winning US writer-director Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”), awarded the Silver Pyramid to “Ghost Tropic” by Belgian helmer Bas Devos, in which a lady of Maghrebi origins meanders through multicultural Brussels one night after oversleeping on the subway.

Two films tied for the Bronze Pyramid for best first or second work: Chinese directorial duo Zhang Chong and Zhang Bo’s “The Fourth Wall”, a portrayal of two damaged people with a shared past who live in alternate fantasy worlds that eventually overlap, and Czech director Michal Hogenauer’s stylish psychological thriller, “A Certain Kind of Silence”.

The screenplay award went to Palestinian writer-director Najwa Nadir for his divorce amid diaspora drama “Between Heaven and Earth”, which world-premiered in the international competition section.

The prize for best actress went to Filipina film and TV star and social media queen Judy Ann Santos for her unglamorous role as the anguished mother of a sick child in melodrama “Mindanao”, the latest from prolific Filipino director Brillante Mendoza. “Mindanao” also scored the prize for best artistic contribution.

The big winner in Cairo’s separate Arab competition strand was Tunisian director Mahdi Barsaoui’s debut feature, “A Son”, about a father whose world is shattered when his son is injured in a terrorist shootout. “A Son” scored a rare double whammy, scooping both the Best Arab Film prize and the Special Jury Award. The pic has been making a splash since launching from Venice, where it the won best actor in the Horizons section for Sami Bouajila, who plays the father.

Iraqi director Mohanad Hayal’s drama “Haifa Street”, which is set in one of the most dangerous locations during the civil war in Baghdad in 2006, also scored two prizes: the award for best Arab director and acting honors for Ali Thamer, who plays a sniper. The film recently won a prize in Busan.

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