Jesse Eisenberg and an array of local stars, including Yao Chen and Ma Yili, walked the red carpet at the closing ceremony for China’s premier film festival.
Out of Paradise, the first feature from Mongolian director Batbayar Chogsom, was awarded the Best Film prize at a glitzy closing ceremony for the Shanghai International Film Festival on Sunday.
A road movie of sorts, the film follows a nomadic couple in need of a caesarean section who travel from the remote steppes to the big city of Ulaanbaatar. The Shanghai jury, chaired by veteran Chinese director Jiang Wen, praised the films as “plain but not simple, honest and poetic.”
As is customary in Shanghai, the best film winner became the festival’s closing film and was re-screened after the ceremony.
SIFF’s closing ceremony red carpet was walked by an array of international celebrities, such as Jesse Eisenberg, Japanese actress Ayami Nakajo and Chinese stars Yao Chen, Ma Yili and Du Juan, among others. A total of 13 films were screened in Shanghai’s main international competition category this year.
The Best Director prize also went to a feature debut: A Translator (Un Traductor), from sibling filmmakers Rodrigo and Sebastian Barriuso. Based on real events, the film centers on a Russian literature professor at the University of Havana who is ordered to work as a translator for child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster when they are sent to Cuba for medical treatment. “We made this film because we want to inspire people and share the story with the world,” Rodrigo Barriuso said when accepting the award. “To hear this amazing response from SIFF is incredible for us — thanks to China.”
American actor Tye Sheridan, star of A.J. Edwards’ young adult drama Friday’s Child, was named Best Actor in Shanghai (Sheridan’s “calm presentation of internal feelings sets a model for young actors,” the SIFF Jury said), while Quebecois actress Isabelle Blais took the Best Actress honor for her work in Canadian drama Tadoussac. Edwards’ cinematographer also won the Best Cinematography award for his “consistent and highly expressive” work on Friday’s Child.
Chinese film Ala Changso, directed by Tibetan filmmaker Sonthar Gyal, won both the Jury Grand Prix (SIFF’s second-place prize) and the Best Screenplay award. The director dedicated both awards to his homeland, in which the film is set, saying, “this piece of land gave me all of my inspiration.”
The honors for Best Animation went to Japanese anime Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, directed by Mari Okada, a rare female voice in Japan’s male-dominated animation industry. Best Documentary, meanwhile, was handed out to Dutch director Leonard Retel Helmrich for his film The Long Season, about daily life inside a Syrian camp in Lebanon.
Established in 1993, SIFF is China’s only A-category international film festival. Organizers say some a total of 3,447 films from 108 countries and regions were submitted for consideration by the festival’s selection committee this year. During the event, just over 500 Chinese and international films were screened at 45 cinemas in Shanghai.