Malaysian director Liew Seng Tat's feature debut Flower In The Pocket was awarded the Grand Prix - the Regard d'Or - at this year's Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF), the first edition under the new artistic director Eduoard Waintrop.
The story about two small boys growing up without their mother and neglected by their father had screened in the Berlinale's Kplus competition last month and Seng Tat was praised by the FIFF's International Jury for managing 'to take a tender and poetic look at a complex and rich particularity of his society without forgetting the cinematograhic adventure.'
At the awards ceremony on Saturday evening, the jury also made a special mention of South Korean Jeon Soo-il's With The Girl of Black Soil which picked up the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize and the IFFS Jury's Don Quixote Award, while Costa Rica's Ishtar Yasin Gutierrez received the Special International Jury Award and the Ecumenical Jury Award for her debut El Camino about the odyssey of a young girl from Nicaragua escaping from sexual violence.
In addition, Wang Bing's documentary He Fengming portraying half a century of Maoist China won the Swiss Oikocredit Award and two special mentions from the IFFS and Ecumenical juries. The Audience Award went to Mexican director Rodrigo Pla's thriller La Zona set within a gated community in Mexico City, which will be released theatrically in Switzerland by Frenetic Films.
Meanwhile, this year saw Waintrop launching a new initiative to give visiting producers and directors of films in the FIFF programme the opportunity to present new projects in development to potential co-producers, distributors and funding institutions over three mornings during the festival.
The six projects selected were:
Argentine filmmaker Celina Murga's third feature, $814,000 (Euros 530,000) The School focussing on the lives of teenagers in a small town in the province of Entre Rios, to be produced by her Buenos Aires-based company Tresmilmundos Cine;
Hard Labor, the $ 1.45m (Euros 950,000) feature debut by the Sao Paulo University Film School graduates Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, to be produced by Sara Silveira of Dezenove Som e Imagens;
Jordanian-born Mahmoud Al Massad's second feature film, the $614,000 (Euros 400,000) Jackie And The Yellow Cabs, inspired by the real-life experiences of Jackie Sawiris, a Jordanian actress raised in America, which is to be produced by al Massad and Leanne Westerink's iSee Film Productions with Amsterdam-based Olivant Film Productions and Amman's JO Image;
Kazakh filmmaker Zhanabek Zhetiruov's second feature, $4.6m (Euros 3m) Un Oiseau Blanc about a young girl Ak-kiz whose body is half swan, half human, to be shot by Zhetiruov's production outfit Zhana-Gassyr in Kazakhstan's Altai Mountains.
Ralston G. Joyer's $307,000 (Euros 200,000) feature debut Bakal Boys about two days in the life of two young metal divers from the slums of the Philippines' Baseco, to be produced by Mitchelle Moreno's 8Glasses Productions with James Amparo's Quezon City-based Bigfish Productions;
andJim Libiran's second feature Strykr about poor street kids playing football against a 'rich boys' team in the harsh environment of Tondo. The $614,000 (Euros 400,000) project reunites Libiran with 8Glasses Productions which also produced his debut Tribu that screened in this year's Forum and Fribourg's International Competition.