"The Missing" Among Top Winners at 2004 IFFR
by Eugene Hernandez
The International Film Festival Rotterdam's awards ceremony was held Friday night, with the presentation of the VPRO Tiger Awards to Lee Kang-sheng's "Bu Jian" (The Missing) from Taiwan, Jan Kruger's "Unterwegs" (En Route) from Germany, and Srdjan Vulectic's "Ljeto Zlatnojdolnini" (Summer in the Golden Valley) from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The festival's audience prize was awarded on Saturday night to Marco Tullio Giordana's six-hour epic, "La Meglio Gioventu" (The Best of Youth).
The KNF, an association of Dutch critics, presented their prize to "The Missing," with a special mention for Jang Jun-Hwan's "Save The Green Planet" (Ji-Gu-Reul Ji-Kyeo-Ra!). "The Missing" was also awarded the NETPAC prize from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema. The MovieZone youth jury honored "Summer In the Golden Valley." The festival's FIPRESCI Award went to "Peep 'TV' Show" by Tsuchiya Yukata from Japan, which was one of the films in the Tiger Awards competition.
The Prince Claus Fund Film Grant for a 2004 CineMart project went to "The Abandoned Land" by Vimukhti Jayasundara from Sri Lanka. The Amnesty International-DOEN Award went to Alexei German Jr.'s "The Last Train" (Poslednypoezd), with a special mention for "Uniform" (Zhifu) from China by Diao Yinan.
The Tiger Awards are presented to first or second time filmmakers. This year's movies were judged by Brazilian filmmaker Júlio Bressane, Chris Dercon, writer Mr. Hafid Bouazza, filmmaker Ms. Claire Denis, and South Korean filmmaker Mr. Jang Sun-Woo. Each Tiger Award includes a Euro 10,000 award and a broadcast on Dutch public television.
"It is apparent that precise inertia still exerts a magic attraction in film," the jury said about "The Missing," "Lee Kang-sheng does not eschew the metaphor in portraying the story of split families in the modern city in a melancholy, humorous way. The liberating effect of the provisional innocence of the child plays an important role in this film too." In their statement about "En Route" they said, "Jan Kruger uses a raw and unconventional film style to portray a contemporary virus, namely fear of the unknown and the dislocating effect of the alien. In the end everyone is left behind alone - even the viewer of this fairytale about good and evil". And with regard to "Summer in the Golden Valley," the jury said, "In sparkling dialogues and an attractive narrative rhythm, Srdjan Vuletic shows that self-deprecating humour has a salutary effect on coping with the traumas of war. The film is discordant and about discord. Only individuals can stay on their feet. But who can really survive?"
IFFR director Simon Field was awarded the Wolfert van Borselen Medal at the ceremony, recognizing his work for the festival over the years. He was also presented the 'Officier dans l'ordre des Arts et Lettres' by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication for his commitment to French culture. The festival also marked Field's departure with clips from some of his favorite filmmakers, including Kitano Takeshi (Japan), Jan Svankmajer (Czech Republic), Catherine Breillat (France), Patrick Keiller (UK), Abolfazl Jalili (Iran), Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan), Kees Hin (The Netherlands) and Kawase Naomi (Japan).