HK Film ‘Isabella’ Bags Top Honour

Hong Kong’s "Isabella" yesterday won Best Film in the World Film Festival of Bangkok for its outstanding performances, while the festival director was happy with an event that received warm reviews from film-makers, the media and viewers.

An eminent jury comprised of Iranian director Tahmineh Milani, Turkish actress Meltum Cumbul, Austrian film-maker Dr Titus Leber and Polish poster-designer Rafal Olbinski an-nounced the prize-winning films of the event, held from October 11 to 23.

The festival, now in its fourth year, is co-organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways, Major Cineplex and The Nation newspaper.

"Isabella", a Berlin Festival entry directed by Pang Ho-Cheung, focuses on a new-found relationship between a father and his long-lost daughter, who he initially picks up as a one-night stand.

According to the jury, the film was tops among the entries in many aspects, including a powerful performance by the lead actress and dynamic directing as well as its visual arts and story development.

Festival director Kriengsak "Victor" Silakong said this year’s event enjoyed greater success with viewers seemingly more aware of the festival, which is now expected around this time of year. Despite the growth in numbers, guests still felt the warmth of a small festival. They were co-operative and content, often helping to solve small problems that occurred instead of complaining.

Local distributors also gave the festival more support. "The Banquet", for example, premiered as the festival’s opening film ahead of its scheduled showing in theatres.

While the number of viewers increased a little, the ticket booking and management went better than last year, Kriengsak said.

The Best Script award went to "Seeds of Doubt" (Germany), the first feature of young Arab-German director Samir Nasr, which won two prizes at the Cairo film festival. It centres on the effects of 9/11 on the marriage of an Arab man and German girl and is told with compelling intensity.

Upon receiving the prize, Samir thanked his two stars who, in their first leading roles, delivered powerful performances that made viewers cry and the film a success.

The Best Cinematography award went to "Climate" (Turkey) by brilliant director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, screened at Cannes where his earlier film "Distance" won two prizes. "Climate" is about the break-up of a marriage, during which the seasons outside reflect the turmoil of the protagonists, played by none other than the director and his wife.

The Special Jury Prize went to "12:08 East of Bucharest" (Romania), which won the Camera d’ Or Award at Cannes for its portrayal of the ousting of Romanian dictator Ceausescu as seen through the eyes of two ordinary individuals on a TV talk show.

The People’s Choice award went to "The Banquet" (China), the opening film of the festival that had a record 70 per cent capacity audience at both of its screenings.

Meanwhile, the Produire Au Sud film work-shop, which consisted of six film-maker teams from Southeast Asia, awarded Best Script to the young producer-director team of John Babalu Matulatan and Lucky Kuswandi from Indonesia for their script "In the Absence of the Sun".

The duo will attend a workshop at the prestigious Nantes Festival in France, where they will get the opportunity to meet sales agents and funding companies from Europe.

The fourth World Film Festival of Bangkok screened more than 70 films from 30 countries at the Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and Central World cinemas.

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