Feature wins top honors at festival

NEW DELHI — Korea-France co-production “Desert Dream” (Hyazgar), helmer Zhang Lu’s depiction of the plight of North Korean refugees wandering across Mongolia, won best film at the 9th Osian Cinefan Festival of Asian & Arab Cinema in New Delhi on Sunday.

Pic has trekked through a number of fests since unspooling in Berlin in February, receiving critical approval but no prizes until now.

Osian’s main competition, which had been expanded this year to include Arabic films, made for a much wider field and a more diversified and politically charged cultural mix.

The Asian-Arab Competition jury was similarly diverse. Included on the jury were helmers from Egypt (Hala Khalil), China (Wu Tianming), India (Saeed Mirza) and Thailand (Apichatpong Weerasethakul). Rounding out the jury was former Cannes fest programmer Francois Da Silva.

Iranian meller “Lonesome Trees” and dynamic Tunisian film “Making Of,” which preemed at Tribeca and recently won best picture at Taormina, split a special jury award.

Depicting a rebellious dancer tempted by fundamentalism, “Making Of” also won the actor nod for Lofti Abdelli.

Actress award went to Filipino vet Cherry Pie Picache for her role in Brillante Mendoza’s meller “Foster Child,” about a woman who prepares a child for adoption to an American family.

Fest’s Indian competition jury, led by Bengali actress Roopa Ganguly and Filipino film academic Nick Deocampo, gave actress and pic nods to Tamil film “Paruthiveeran” and its lead Priyamani who played the Juliet-styled role in a yarn about two star-crossed lovers in rural India.

Actor nod went to Kay Kay Menon for his role as a cricket champion accused of match-fixing in Hindi film “Zero Zone” (Shoonya).

A first features award went to Filipino digital pic “Woven Stories of the Other” (Huling balyan ng buhi), which dramatizes a turf war between jungle tribes in the Southern Philippines.

Fipresci critics’ award was handed to helmer Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s meditation on jealousy and eroticism, “Ploy.”

The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (Netpac) jury awarded its prize to the Malaysian meller “Dancing Bells” (Chalanggai), about an aspirant hoofer. The film scored a special mention at Rotterdam’s NETPAC jury in January.

Awards ceremony was followed by the screening of fest closer “Cut and Paste” (Qas wi lask) from Egyptian juror Hala Khalil.

Fest marked the swan song of artistic director, prexy and Cinefan and Netpac founder Aruna Vasudev.

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