The jury said the film was chosenfor its important and timely universal message about the misuse of religion.
Water's producer David Hamilton had come under pressure to withdraw the filmfrom Thailand's major film festival from its local distributor, Sahamongkol,which supports the Thai Film Federation's controversial last-minute boycott of the event. The federation believes it was excluced from the planning of this year's festival. Hamilton is now seekingalternative distribution.
Horror Art of the Devil II was the only local film to beawarded at the ceremony, taking the People's Choice Award for Best ThaiFilm. Just one local film competedin the International Competition, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's InvisibleWaves, which also opened the film festival.
Awardswere presented by Princess Ubolratana who gave the only speech at the galadinner. Following royal protocol, awardwinners were not permitted to make their own speeches to the assembled audienceof visiting filmmakers.
Theinternational jury did make their own break with protocol during the ceremony,presenting an unscheduled Special Jury Prize to Turkey's omnibus feature Istanbul Tales, which explores theuniversality of fairy tales.
Withoutvisible high-profile guests, the ceremony was less glamorous than previousyears with few award-winners present at the ceremony to receive their goldenstatues. The five-course meal wasaccompanied by a live orchestra, Thai silk fashion show and traditional puppetdance.
Duringthe ceremony, lifetime achievement awards were presented to Catherine Deneuveand Sombat Metanee. The Thaiaction star has appeared in 617 feature films opposite 80 leading ladies, onceearning a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most prolificactor.
Attoday's international jury's press conference, local director and producerPantham Thongsang suggested that the festival's budget would be better spentdirectly on developing the local industry rather than on only glamorous events.
Awards in full
Water (Dir: Deepa Mehta)
Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance )
Presley Chweneyagaw (Tsotsi )
Felicity Huffman (Transamerica )
Best Int'l Documentary
Rize (Dir: David LaChapelle)
Best ASEAN Film
Bride of Silence (Dirs: Doan Minh Phuong & Doan Thanh Nghia)
Best New Voices Award
Kept & Dreamless (Dirs: Vera Fogwill and Martin DeSalvo)
Jameson Best Asian Short
Under Construction (Dir: Lee Hyung-suk)
Jameson People's Choice Award
Art of the Devil II (Dir: Ronin Team)
Crystal Lens Award
Anthony Dod Mantle
Asian Perspectives Award
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Catherine Deneuve and Sombat Metanee
Merit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema