'Four Minutes' takes home top kudo

SHANGHAI — The Shanghai International Film Festival (June 17-25) ended less with a bang than a whimper on Sunday night.

Despite the presence of a host of international and domestic stars many of them on the jury the awards ceremony topped off what has been a week of ups and downs for mainland China’s only international film event.

In the end, German film “Four Minutes,” directed by Chris Kraus, took home the biggest prize of the night, the Jin Jue Best Film award. Best Actor went to Olivier Gourmet for his performance in French film “Burnt Out” and Best Actress went to Els Dotterman for her turn in Belgian picture “Love Belongs to Everyone”.

“Burnt Out” and “Love Belongs to Everyone” also took home, respectively, the Best Director and Best Screenplay gongs. Chinese film “The Forest Ranger” got the Jury Grand Prix. In competition were 17 films chosen this year from a total of 764 applications.

Helmer Chris Kraus was effusive in his acceptance speech, expressing surprise at winning the award in such great competition. Embarrassingly though, he was the only award winner at the event, the rest of the prizes being collected by increasingly humble “representatives” who traipsed on stage and said a quick thanks before dashing off.

For an event that aims to be international, Chinese-English translation — performed by the hosts of the show — was also poor and very slow. In a particularly awkward moment, the opening remarks of a Spanish jury member (in Spanish) completely baffled the hosts who asked a Chinese member of the jury if she knew what he had meant. She clearly didn’t.

With global stars including Catherine Deneuve (who also picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award), Luc Besson (chairman of the jury) and Ed Norton in the audience, alongside some of China’s biggest film names (amongst them helmers Feng Xiaogang and Chen Kaige, and multihyphenate Xu Jinglei), hopes for this year’s event were high.

Norton, who presented the Best Actress award, perhaps best summed up the disappointment. Asked whether he had enjoyed working in China recently — he has been shooting “The Painted Veil” — he replied, “Making a film is much more fun than this.” His comments were not translated into Chinese.

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