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‘Wonderful Town’ wins at Rotterdam

VPRO Tiger Awards announced

For Thai filmmaker Aditya Assarat, Rotterdam truly was a “Wonderful Town” as his film of the same name scored one of three major prizes at the fest’s VPRO Tiger Awards. Pic about the aftermath of the 2005 tsunami on a town in southern Thailand was heralded for its “fresh perspective” and unconventional ending.

Other Tiger winners were the Danish film “Go With Peace Jamal,” about Middle Eastern refugees in Copenhagen that made a splash at Sundance, and Liew Seng Tat’s “Flower in the Pocket,” which continues Rotterdam’s unwavering support for Malaysia’s digital New Wave.

Each film scoops up e15,000 ($22,215) and a guaranteed screening on Dutch VPRO pubcaster network.

Presided over by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, the jury consisted of Singaporean auteur Royston Tan; Russian multihyphenate Renata Litvinova; Rieks Hadders, former deputy director of Amsterdam’s Filmmuseum; and one-time deputy director of the Locarno Fest, Tiziana Finzi.

“Wonderful Town” had been supported by the fest’s Hubert Bals Fund.

A second jury, composed of former Hubert Bals Fund manager Marianne Bhalotra, Sarajevo’s Cinelink program manager Amra Baksic Camo and Malaysian filmmaker Ho Yuhang, examined the 22 films funded by the Hubert Bals Fund and gave the inaugural Dioraphte Award for best Hubert Bals funded film award to the Brazilian/French co-production “Mutum” directed by Sandra Kogut and based on a popular Brazilian novel of the same name.

The Netpac Award for the promotion of Asian Cinema was given to the self-referential mockumentary “What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?!”, directed by Taiwanese thesp and tyro helmer Niu Chen-zer.

Fipresci elected Chilean filmmaker Jose Luis Torres Leiva’s poetic drama about lonely island dwellers in Chile’s south, “El cielo, la tierra, y la lluvia” (The Sky, the Earth and the Rain) as the winner of its prize. Leiva’s film had also been a recipient of Hubert Bals funding.

In the short film categories, the festival’s Tiger Awards were issued to three filmmakers: the U.K.’s Ben Rivers for his film “Ah, Liberty!”, Malaysia’s Ho Yuhang for his “As I Lay Dying,” and Jeanne Liotta from the U.S. for “Observando el cielo.”

The European Film Academy and UIP’s Prix for short film was awarded to Blighty filmmakers Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy for their one-take film “Joy,” which addresses the abduction of vulnerable children.

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