The 22nd Singapore International Film Festival has awarded its top honour, the Silver Screen Awards’Best Asian Feature Film, to Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi’s Laila’s Birthday.

The Palestine-Tunisia-Netherlands co-production stars well-known Palestinian actor Mohammad Bakri as a cab driver in the occupied territory having a chaotic day, but determined to get home for his daughter’s birthday.

After its 12-day run, the festival closed Friday with the Turkish playwright/director Semih Kaplanoglu’s Milk, a poetic film about a milkman and his mother as they struggle to make ends meet.

SIFF screened 193 films from 34 countries with 25 world premieres and 34 Asian premieres, and recorded an overall audience capacity of 70%.

The festival said that Singapore features and short films enjoyed strong attendance, with sold-out screenings for most of the local films. Other sold-out films included Promised Land (Israel); Bastardy (Australia); How To Be (UK); Girl Inside (Canada) and Sell Out! (Malaysia).

Guests at the festival this year included Israeli director Amos Gitai, actor Peter Fonda, and well-known director Oliver Stone, who since last year has been artistic director to NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts Asia which opened in Singapore in 2007.

SIFF’s Silver Screen Awards encompasses the Asian Feature Film Competition for first and second feature films by Asian directors, as well as the inaugural Singapore Film Awards.

In the Asian Feature Film competition, best director went to Rasoul Sadr Ameli for Iranian film Every Night, Loneliness; while best performance went to Yang Ik-june who starred in and directed Korean film Breathless. Best cinematography went to Zhang Yi for Zhao Ye’s Chinese film Jalainur.

In the Singapore Film Awards, best film went to Singapore-Hong Kong co-production Rule#1, directed by Kelvin Tong. Best director went to Royston Tan for 12 Lotus, best screenplay to Sherman Ong, writer and director of Hashi, and best performance to Mark Lee in Jack Neo’s Money No Enough 2.

Best cinematography went to a group of cinematographers who worked in the experimental omnibus Lucky 7 – Roszali Samad, Brian Gothong Tan, Sharon Loh, Jaye Neo, Cain Chui, Andrew Mark Sobrielo, Chris Yeo and Adrian Lo.

The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award went to Jalainur with a special mention to Indonesian director Edwin’s Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly.