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Pingyao International Film Festival Garlands Brazil’s ‘The Fever,’ Singapore’s ‘Wet Season’

The Pingyao International Film Festival on Wednesday crowned “The Fever” by Maya Da-Rin as best film in its international category and “Wet Season” by Anthony Chen as the top title in its Chinese-language section.

The Roberto Rossellini Awards at the festival go to the top international directorial debuts or second features. Taking to the stage at the awards ceremony, Brazil’s Da-Rin said the prize was “a great honor.”

“This film has been made through seven years of a lot of work of a lot of people — people who give their lives to cinema and believe that through cinema we can think about our world,” she said. “The Fever” also won Best Actor and the FIPRESCI prize at Locarno this year.

Two other Roberto Rossellini Awards were handed out: the jury award to Chinese helmer Liang Ming for his debut, “Wisdom Tooth,” and the prize for best director to the Belgium-based Guatemalan director Cesar Diaz for his debut, “Our Mothers,” which also won the Camera d’Or at Cannes this year, where it screened in Critics’ Week. The latter tells the story of a young forensic anthropologist who goes digging into the disappearance of his father, a guerrilla fighter who vanished in the 1980s.

The section was judged by 2019 Cannes Jury Prize-winning Brazilian director Kelber Mendonca Filho (“Bacurau”), Indian director Ivan Ayr (“Soni”), Chinese directors Bai Xue (“The Crossing”) and Guan Hu (“The Eight Hundred”), and Kong Jinglei.

Pingyao also gave out a series of Fei Mu Awards to the top talent in debut or second feature films in Chinese. They honored “Wet Season” by Singaporean Chen as best film.  It debuted last month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Chen’s first feature, “Ilo Ilo,” premiered as part of Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2013, where it won the Camera d’Or. “Wet Season” also nabbed Pingyao’s Cinephilia Critics’ Award.

Liang also took home a best director Fei Mu prize for “Wisdom Tooth.” The coming-of-age tale tells the story of a young girl in cold northeastern China whose close relationship with her brother changes after he encounters a love interest and an ocean oil spill puts his work as a fishmonger on hold.

Wang Xuebing won best actor for his work in Ju Anqi’s “A Trophy on the Sea,” while Malaysia’s Yeo Yann Yann won best actress for her second collaboration with Chen in “Wet Season.” The category was judged by Berlin Film Festival artistic director Carlo Chatrian, actress and director Joan Chen, Italy’s Giorgio Gosetti, and China’s Huo Meng and Zhang Yibai.

Ju’s “A Trophy on the Sea” also nabbed a Fei Mu Award special mention, as well as the Youth Jury Award.

Pingyao also honored longtime Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi with its International Contribution to Chinese Cinema Award and director Zhang Yimou with its Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon East-West Award for his “contributions to the development of East-West film culture.” Zhang was present on day two of the festival to give a public master class that was swarmed with acolytes and young film buffs.

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