HONG KONG – Zheng Lu Xinyuan’s The Cloud in Her Room and Lemohang Jeremiah Moses’s This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection have been named best films of the 44th Hong Kong International Film Festival’s Firebird Young Cinema Competitions.
Both films also won the Best Actress awards in their respective section, with Mosese’s film notching a third win by capturing the FIPRESCI Prize.
The 13 winners announced today by the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society (HKIFFS) include The Painter and the Thief, which won the Firebird Award for Documentary, with Genius Loci taking home the prestigious award for Short Film.
Despite the cancellation of the 44th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF44) last month due to an upsurge in COVID-19 pandemic, HKIFF44’s Firebird competitions continued with online judging.
The jury for Young Cinema Competition (Chinese Language) commended Zheng Lu Xinyuan’s The Cloud in Her Room for “weaving a girl’s private diary into a moving ode in a witty, minimalist style with maturity”. Jin Jing, who stars as the director’s alter ego, was awarded Best Actress for her stunning debut performance. Liang Ming and Wu Xiaoliang garnered Best Director and Best Actor awards respectively for the multi-layered, allegorical Wisdom Tooth. The film demonstrates the director’s naturalistic aesthetics and the lead actor’s strength that comes from his tender heart.
Mosese’s This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection, the first feature film shot entirely in his native Lesotho, was chosen as the Firebird Award winner of Young Cinema Competition (World) for crafting “a universal story of an African village caught between its history, tradition and the encroachment of the 21st century”. The late Mary Twala Mhlongo, who plays the fearless widow in the film, was also named Best Actress. Indian filmmaker Pushpendra Singh received Best Director for deftly employing magical realism in The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs. The Best Actor award went to Bakhtiyar Panjeei of Iranian film The Alien, and Greek director Janis Rafa received a Special Mention for her debut feature, Kala Azar.
In the Documentary Competition, the jury unanimously awarded the Firebird Award to The Painter and the Thief by Norwegian director Benjamin Ree, commending it for “extremely cinematic…mirroring the process of the painter’s search for realistic creativity”. French filmmaker Emmanuel Cappelin took the Jury Prize for Once You Know.
In the Short Film Competition, the jury selected French animation Genius Loci by Adrien Merigeau for the Firebird Award, praising it “unique in its artistic vision, its style and form also coherent with the content”. Chinese filmmaker Yuan Yuan received the Jury Prize for Heading South.
This year’s FIPRESCI Prize went to Mosese’s This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection. The film received a commendation from the jury for “its highly original combination of approaches…that invokes ancient storytelling traditions for its modern tale of grief channeled into social action”.
HKIFF44 was slated to run from 18th to 31st August 2020. The original programme can be accessed here