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Final Thoughts from the TIFF

Final Thoughts from the TIFF

Final Thoughts from the TIFF

by Andrew Thomas

TIFF wound up Sunday with the honours recognizing the quality films presented. The Grand Prix went to Jan Sverak’s wonderful “Kolya“, with his father and lead actor Zdenek Sverak picking up the award for Best Screenplay. This was unanimously recognised as the justified ‘winner’ – if there has to be one – by myself and fellow cine buffs/after hours drinkers. “King of Masks” from China picked-up Best Director for Wu Tian-Ming and Best Actor for the remarkable Zhu Xu. As a political film it certainly pulls its punches, though this isn’t surprising given the highly sensitive
situation in China, but for its cinematography and humanity it is superb. Special Jury prizes were awarded jointly to Vicente Aranda for the Spanish Civil War drama “Liberterias” and to Krzysztof Zanussi’s “In Full Gallop” both representing the turmoil, pain and absurdity of life during times of political struggle. The Best Actress award went jointly to Hildegunn Riise and Marie Theisen from Norway for “The Other Side of Sunday” and Artistic Contribution awards went to Iran’s Mohsen Makhmalbaf for the poetic “Gabbeh” and Japanese director Masahisa Sadanaga for his period drama “Ryohkan“.

In the Young Cinema competition there was a surprise Gold
medal awarded to Amir Karakulov for his film “Last Holiday“, the 20 million
Yen prize money would I guess be difficult to raise in Kazakhstan, so it
seemed like a “donation” award. Taiwan’s Lin Cheng-sheng won silver for “A Drifting Life” which was well received, and adds to Taiwan cinema’s growing
reputation, but for me the Bronze awarded to John Schultz for “Bandwagon” was
especially pleasing. I discussed the film with Schultz – a refreshingly
modest man, inspired by the desire to make movies of independent spirit – and
hope that it’ll go down a storm with audiences in the US when released early
next year.

I look back over a week of really enjoyable and interestingly diverse films
that in form and theme seem to be linked by the common thread of ‘independent
individuality’. Many films deal with issues of liberty in life, and the
freedom to choose your destiny within the confines of the immediate community
or socio-political situation, to explore human nature and
the spirit of adventure. On the whole a positive and impressive
message and vibe for the future.

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