The hottest new cinematic talent from Pacific Asia, including directors, actors, producers, and various film crew members, all converged at the Vogue Theatre on Thursday night (October 6). What was the occasion? Why, it was none other than the presentation of the 18th annual Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema at the Vancouver International Film Festival's gala screening of the Japanese film Mitsuko Delivers.
The award is bestowed annually upon a burgeoning filmmaker, who has not garnered international recognition, from Pacific Asia.
Eight films in this year's Dragons and Tigers program were nominated for the award. The contenders included:
• Eduardo Roy Jr.'s Baby Factory (Philippines);
• Kim Dongmyung's Fatigue (South Korea);
• Oh Youngdoo's Invasion of Alien Bikini (South Korea);
• Iizuka Kashou's Our Future (Japan);
• Nagano Yoshihiro's Recreation (Japan);
• Vincent Sandoval's Señorita (Philippines);
• Sonthar Gyal's The Sun-Beaten Path (China);
• Marlon N. Rivera's Woman in a Septic Tank (Philippines).
The jury consisted of Hong Kong director Ann Hui, whose own film, A Simple Life, also screened at the festival; Simon Field, former head of cinema at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) and coproducer Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and South Korean director Yang Ikjune, whose short film "Immature" screens in the A Time to Love program.
Two honorable mentions were named.
Yang announced that Eduardo Roy Jr.'s Baby Factory (Philippines), which takes place in a Manila hospital's maternity ward prior to Christmas, was recognized for its fusion of documentary and fiction.
"The film addresses the cruel realities of overpopulation in a country where birth control is neither taught nor freely available, and we salute it for its candour and directness," Yang said with the assistance of a translator. "It was such an eye-opening film for me."
Roy accepted the award with his editor, Charliebebs Gohetia (whose own film The Natural Phenomenon of Madness also played at the festival).
Hui then announced that Nagano Yoshihiro's Recreation (Japan), which focused on teen delinquency and youth crime, was chosen to receive special mention for its mix of ennui and apprehension.
"Strangely enough, given the cruelty and desperation of the story, the film never for a moment loses its sympathy for the characters," she said.
"I am from Fukuoka in southern part of Kyushu where it is said that the juvenile crime is number one in Japan," Nagano said through a translator. "My intention isn't particularly to teach people but to make people aware, for people to see this film and to have their own thoughts towards it and perhaps some action can be taken from that. If that is possible, then I will have done my job."
Field introduced the winner of the award on behalf of the jury.
"The jury admired its remarkable cinematic qualities and its ability to tell a moving story with complex emotions through one face and one landscape," Field said. "We were also impressed by the way the film draws such distinctive characters and by its persuasive evocation of Tibetan culture. It brings us a powerful voice from a new ethnic cinema."
Tibetan director Sonthar Gyal won the $10,000 cash prize for his road-trip film The Sun-Beaten Path.
"It took a long time from the very beginning when I had the idea of making this film to actually making the film," Gyal said through a translator. "It was quite a difficult process as well."
"To have this nod is not only an honour for myself, it's also an honour for my nation," Gyal said.
The Sun-Beaten Path will have an additional screening on Saturday (October 8) at 4 p.m. at the Vancity Theatre. The festival continues until October 14.
You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig.