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Singaporean filmmaker, Yeo Siew Hua’s “A Land Imagined” added another award to its bulging kitty by winning best picture at the Singapore International Film Festival’s Asian feature film competition. It is the first time in the festival’s 29 editions that a Singaporean film has won the accolade.

“A Land Imagined” is a noir film where an insomniac policeman investigates the disappearance of a Chinese migrant worker. The film premiered at Locarno, where it won three awards, including the Golden Leopard. It festival tour yielded further awards at El Gouna, Pingyao, QCinema, Valladolid and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

The jury, headed by Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Kwan, said that the film “combined clear and original vision, strong storytelling, and technical achievement in addressing an increasingly important issue not only to Singapore but to the world”.

Pham Thu Hang won best director for her feature documentary “The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil,” about the dark shadows of war and death in Vietnam. Manoranjan Das won best performance for Rima Das’ Indian coming of age tale “Bulbul Can Sing.” Behrouz Nooranipour’s “Dayan,” about ISIS operations in Iranian Kurdistan, was accorded a jury special mention.

Danech San’s Cambodian film “A Million Years” won the best Southeast Asian short award. Also in the shorts category, Indonesian filmmaker Aditya Ahmad’s “Kado” won best director and the youth jury prize. Chiang Wei Liang’s “Luzon” won the award for best Singaporean short. Thai director Korakrit Arunanondchai’s short “With History In A Room Filled With People With Funny Names 4” received a jury special mention.

Cambodian veteran Rithy Panh was presented the festival’s honorary award. Actress and filmmaker Joan Chen was presented the Cinema Legend award. “A Land Imagined” actress Luna Kwok was given the SGIFF’s Swarovski Inspiring Woman in Film award during the festival.

“Never Been Kissed” by Dao Thi Minh Trang was awarded the Most Promising Project of the Southeast Asian Film Lab.

“It has been a heartening experience to see SGIFF quickly establishing itself as the epicenter where some of the most talented independent filmmakers and producers from Southeast Asia congregate to share creative ideas and to continue inspiring each other. The Silver Screen Awards will continue to cement its position as an inspiring space for the industry to explore and recognize a stellar body of cinematic works emerging from across the region; and at the same time continue our commitment to nurture and champion next-generation filmmaking talents, celebrating their bold artistry and storytelling,” said Yuni Hadi, executive director, SGIFF.

SGIFF is an event of the Singapore Media Festival, hosted by the Info-communications Media Development Authority.