Derek Tsang’s youth drama “Better Days” was awarded the top prize, a Golden Mulberry, at the Festival of Far East Film in Udine, northern Italy. The festival was largely online, and the prizes selected by an audience which both viewed the films and voted electronically.

Some 25,000 votes were cast for the audience award, by 3,000 accredited pass holders in 45 countries. And “Better Days” also collected the Black Mulberry prize, voted on by Shogun or hard-core festival attendees.

Other prizes went to: Malaysian director Layla Ji’s debut film “Victim(s),” which had its world premiere at the festival; Taiwanese pop fairy tale “I WeirDo,” by Liao Ming-yi, which collected the Crystal Mulberry and Mymovies Purple Mulberry awards; and Lee Sang-geun’s South Korean action-comedy “Exit,” which was named as best first film and collected a White Mulberry award.

The festival had been planned as a conventional festival beginning in late April. But the coronavirus outbreak forced organizers first to postpone and then to convert to a virtual event.

They used the commercial Mymovies.it platform to screen films and a local hotel in Udine as a base to stream 45 live events and press conferences. The Mymovies platform also carried video messages from 38 film directors. A campus for aspiring film journalists was run using the Zoom app.

Organizers report that 90% of FEFF’s virtual audience chose the Festival’s daily calendar option, over the on-demand library. They say that “shows that the public understood and appreciated the risk the organizers took in completely re-imagining the festival.”

“We dreamed up and created an actual festival, even if it was online. We managed to put together a lineup featuring some extremely important films, many first features and numerous female directors. We sought to maintain the atmosphere that can usually be found in Udine, where for over twenty years an international community has been gathering for the nine days of the festival,” said Sabrina Baracetti and Thomas Bertacche, the festival’s co-directors.

“We will treasure the things we’ve learnt from this experience, which it might be more accurate to call an “experiment,” and we’ll keep them close to our hearts when we start on FEFF 2021. In real life, this time,” the pair said. The festival announced that next year’s edition will be held April 23-May 1, 2021.