The Village Album, from Japanese director Mitsuhiro Mihara, picked upbest film and best actor in the main competition of the Shanghai InternationalFilm Festival (SIFF) on Sunday night.
Produced by Japan's WakoCompany, the film tells the story of a father and son who photograph theinhabitants of a village that is about to be swallowed by a dam. Tatsuya Fuji,who plays the father, was awarded best actor.
Appropriately, in thecentennial year of Chinese cinema, the two Chinese films in competition were awardedthree prizes. Huang Jianxin's Gimme Kudos scooped both the Jury Grand Prix and best script for Huang Xin and YiFan. Huo Jianqi's A Time To Lovepicked up best actress for Zhao Wei. Both films were late additions to thecompetition line-up.
Denmark's Rumle Hammerichwas awarded best director for Young Andersen while New Zealand drama In My Father's Den won best cinematography and Vietnamese-Frenchco-production A Time Far Past wonbest music.
The evening had a fair shareof glitter with Morgan Freeman and Brendan Fraser on hand to give out prizes inaddition to Chinese stars such as Joan Chen and Karen Mok. Freeman was in townfor the China premiere of Batman Begins which the festival co-hosted with Warner Bros on Saturday.
Fraser also took to thestage at the Asian New Talent Awards on Saturday night. The second edition ofthe awards featured 10 films by up-and-coming directors from Asia and theMiddle East. The Rainmaker, fromIndonesian director Ravi Bharwari, was awarded best film while Iran's HassanYektapanah won best director for Story Undone. Both filmmakers were awarded RMB150,000.
Now in its 8thedition, SIFF has traditionally had problems attracting world premieres andinternational stars - partly because China's film import restrictions reduceits value as a platform to launch new films. However events such as the BatmanBegins premiere seem to signal aglitzier future.
This year's SIFF alsoattracted high-profile industry figures such as Harvey Weinstein to its "JinJue International Film Forum" discussions along with auteurs such as VolkerSchloendorff. Indeed, festival director Chen Xiaomeng is keen to increaseSIFF's influence - which is feasible as it's the leading international filmfestival in a potentially huge market. Although much depends on how the Chinesegovernment views the event.
Meanwhile, Shanghaicinema-goers are continuing to support the festival. Box office this year wasthe biggest ever at RMB7m compared to RMB6m in 2004.