In Amsterdam, Four Asian docs win awards at 24th IDFA

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The winners of the various IDFA competition programs were just announced in Escape, during the awards ceremony of the 24th International Documentary Festival Amsterdam / IDFA. 4 docs about and from Asia received award.


(“The vanishing spring light”, “Bitter seeds”) 

Seung-Jun Yi’s “Planet of Snail” (South Korea) won the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary. The Special Jury Award went to 5 Broken Cameras (Palestine/Israel) by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, who also won the Publieke Omroep IDFA Audience Award.

. VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary
The VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary (consisting of a sculpture and € 12,500) went to Seung-Jun Yi for “Planet of Snail” (South Korea), which depicts the everyday life of deaf & blind Young-Chan and the love of his life, Soon-Ho.
Planet of Snail was pitched at the FORUM 2010.

Film presentation on IDFA website

Comments from the jury: “Sight and sound are the senses we rely on as cinemagoers, but in telling the story of a man who has been deaf and blind from childhood, Planet of Snail is an intimate and deeply moving portrait of love and compassion that reaffirms the power of the senses. Deeply connected to his subjects, director Seung-Jun Yi shows them in everyday moments so closely observed they become almost magical. He keeps himself as a respectful distance from his protagonists but also regards them with great tenderness.”

. IDFA Award for First Appearance
The IDFA Award for First Appearance (€ 5,000) was presented to Xun Yu for “The Vanishing Spring Light” (China/Canada), which documents the life of the residents of West Street in Dujiangyan City.

Jury report: “On the cusp of a major development project that will radically transform an ancient Chinese province, a close-knit community responds to its impending loss, as realised through its main subject, Grandma Jiang, who feels neglected by her children, even after she suffers from a bad fall and a stroke. Full of quiet moments, skilfully and fluidly recorded by Xun Yu with deliberate precision, the film remains always engrossing, creating an unforgettable exploration of the dynamics of family life. About the winner: “Showing a remarkably clear purpose in his debut film, the first in a series of films about modernisation, the winner expertly reveals the personalities of its main subject and her extended social network of family, friends, and neighbours. The director/cinematographer also doesn’t hesitate to become personally involved in the film in a brief but natural, and touching, manner. Demonstrating the influence of traditional Chinese society and philosophy even against the encroachment of more modern hectic life, the film addresses universal truths of love, loss, and death. For these reasons, the jury is unanimous in its decision to recognise Xun Yu’s THE VANISHING SPRING LIGHT as the winner of the First Appearance Competition.”

Film presentation on IMDB website Video excerpts of the film

Review by Variety

. BlackBerry IDFA DOC U Award
The BlackBerry IDFA DOC U Award – a € 1,500 prize awarded by an independent youth jury – went to “The Last Days of Winter” (Iran) by Mehrdad Oskouei.

The film is a portrait of seven Iranian boys in a youth detention centre, who talk candidly about their lives.

Jury report: “A touching portrait of seven Iranian boys in a youth detention center, talking candidly about ther lives. A Heart warming and genuine film. Despite of the hard conditions they live in, the boys are not pitiable. The interaction between film maker and the characters is straight forward and humurous but most of all shows us the strength and honesty of the boys.”

Film presentation on IDFA website Film presentation on dreamlabfilms website

Review on NY Times

. IDFA Award for Best Green Screen Documentary
The IDFA Award for Best Green Screen Documentary (€ 2,500) went to “Bitter Seeds” (USA/India) by Micha X. Peled. Filmmaker Peled investigates why every thirty minutes an Indian cotton farmer commits suicide, and follows one such farmer on his journey to the edge of the abyss.

Jury report: “A deeply affecting, character-driven film exposing the issues surrounding a rash of farmer suicides in India, BITTER SEEDS masterfully weaves a rich tapestry of compelling human stories and subplots, that allows you to enter a world that is both personal and profound” 

Bitter Seeds (USA/India) by Micha X. Peled also received the Oxfam Global Justice Award during the IDFA Talkshow on Thursday, November 24.

Film presentation on IDFA website

Facts and figures about the festival:
Although the festival runs until Sunday, we can justifiably say that the festival will by then have attracted more visitors than last year. If the trend continues over the next three days, the number of visits will have increased from 180,000 in 2010 to over 200,000. Net takings will have risen from € 850,000 in 2010 to over € 1.000,000 this year. The number of Dutch and international guests increased in relation to 2010: to 2,670 from 2,477.  Some 5,200 school students from primary and secondary schools visited the schools’ screenings during the past week.



. Seung-Jun Yi On His IDFA Award Winning “Planet of Snail” 28/11/11

. ‘Planet of Snail’ Wins Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival
THR (27/11/11) 

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