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Berlin: Asian Brilliant Stars Hands out Talent Awards

Israel’s Samuel Maoz was named as best director on Wednesday evening at the Asian Brilliant Stars Awards in Berlin.

The event was a smoother presentation than the first edition, held on the margins of the Berlin Film Festival last year, but currently lacks obvious impact.

Organizers, from China’s Movie View International publication, suggest that the show is Asia’s equivalent of the EU-backed European Shooting Stars. That is an annual series of events that aim to elevate Asian film making talent to greater international prominence.

An afternoon press conference was followed by a panel discussion about the difference between commercial and art-house cinema. Meet the press talent interviews followed.

The awards show and gala dinner, in Berlin’s Meistersaal, was only slightly less China-centric than the 2017 edition. Two of the seven awards went to newcomers, while five went to established names.

Veteran Chinese director Feng Xiaogang, who recently enjoyed another smash hit with “Youth,” received a special jury prize. The film’s very well established, Berlin-based, scriptwriter Yan Geling, won a prize for best screenplay. And, young actress Elane Zhong Chuxi, whose performance in “Youth” has earned her two other best newcomer nominations, was named as best new talent.

Chang Chen, the Chinese actor whose career stretches past roles in “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and “Red Cliff” was named best actor.

Thailand’s Chutimon Cheungcharoensukying was named best actress, for her role in “Bad Genius.” The school exams drama was a hit across parts of Asia and earned the majority of its box office in a $40 million run in China. In December, Variety and the International Film Festival and Awards Macao, named Cheungcharoensukying in its talent to watch list.

Accepting his award, Maoz delivered a speech that is almost certain to be cut from any mainland Chinese broadcast of the ceremony. His “Foxtrot” was selected as Israel’s foreign-language Oscar candidate, but has been repeatedly criticized by Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev, for depicting soldiers covering up the deaths of Palestinians teenagers.

“My film deals with an open wound in our society. The struggle for freedom of speech and expression. It is a basic and necessary condition of human existence that you can criticize. If I criticize my country I do it from concern, I do it from love,” he said.

At the earlier panel discussion, Maoz excoriated Regev who last year boasted that she had never read the works of Anton Chekov, and recently announced the boycott of an Israeli film festival in Paris that plans to show “Foxtrot.” “The minister is like a character from Chekov. Everything she sets out to do, she achieves the opposite.”

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