International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has announced the award winners of its 49th edition. Chinese filmmaker Zheng Lu Xinyuan won the Tiger Award for her film The Cloud in Her Room. South Korean filmmaker Kim Yonghoon won the Special Jury Award for Beasts Clawing at Straws. South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite (B&W Version) was the audience favourite and won the BankGiro Loterij Audience Award. The VPRO Big Screen Award was awarded to A Perfectly Normal Family by Danish filmmaker Malou Reymann.
Moving On by Yoon Dan-bi won the Bright Future Award for best feature-film debut. The Bright Future Competition jury gave a special mention to Isabella Rinaldi, Cristina Hanes and Arya Rothe for their film A Rifle and a Bag.
Festival Bero Beyer congratulated all winners and said: “We are incredibly impressed with the quality of this year’s Tiger Competition, which in many cases spurred significant festival buzz. We thank all filmmakers for their ambitious and creative approaches to cinema. Remember these names, because we’re sure to see much more of them in the future.”
The FIPRESCI Award from the international film critics went to Only You Alone by Zhou Zhou. The KNF Award, presented by the Circle of Dutch Film Journalists, went to Kala azar by Janis Rafa (also in Tiger Competition).
The Tiger Competition-selected film Nasir by Arun Karthick won the NETPAC Award for best Asian film premiering at the festival. The winner of the IFFR Youth Jury Award is Les misérables by Ladj Ly. Laurence Attali won the Voices Short Award for his short film Tabaski, while My Mexican Bretzel by Nuria Giménez won the Found Footage Award.
The Tiger Award is IFFR’s most prestigious award and includes a prize of €40,000 to be divided between filmmaker and producer. The Tiger jury also chooses an outstanding artistic achievement within the Tiger competition to receive a Special Jury Award worth €10,000.
Jury report: “The jury was unanimously impressed by the innovative personal language, which coherently succeeds through various approaches and forms in conveying subjectivity and duality, and in exploring the fantasy of cinema. In a precisely framed urban landscape, it gracefully portrays a certain global generation paralysed by modern alienation and capitalism.”
Jury report: “With the Special Jury Award we want to acknowledge a strong first film which is resolutely inscribed in an existing genre but demonstrates undeniable craftsmanship – from the screenplay to the performance to the temporal flexibility of structure – and engages with the current disparity of class.”
The winner of the VPRO Big Screen Award is chosen by an audience jury of five film fanatics. The film wins a guaranteed release in Dutch theatres and will be broadcast on Dutch public television channel NPO 2. Of the €30,000 in prize money, €15,000 is spent on the winning film’s theatrical release and €15,000 goes towards the production of the filmmaker’s next project.
Jury report: “A truly moving film that goes beyond the sensitive subject of gender reassignment. The film shows family struggles that are relatable to anyone. At the heart of the film is the amazing lead performance by 11-year-old Kaya Toft Loholt. As the unconditional love between father and daughter is challenged by her father’s transitioning, the film closely captures, in intimate detail, all the different phases the young girl has to go through. The film gives rise to many emotions and considerations. It surely deserves to be experienced by a wider audience.”
The Bright Future Competition comprises a selection of fifteen debut feature-length films from all over the world, presented at IFFR in world or international premiere, as part of the Bright Future programme. The award is accompanied by a €10,000 prize.
Jury report: “Three generations of the same family gather at very different crossroads in their lives. They are challenged to recreate their family ties in the presence of imminent death, broken hearts and financial instability. When the threshold arrives, everyone is pushed to grow, individually and as a family. The filmmaker accomplishes a precise and powerful script, embodied by a fantastic cast, with a refined sense for rhythm and detail. She creates a thoughtful portrait, that goes straight to the heart of human relations and emotions, and thus enriches the cinematic tradition of family drama remarkably. This is a bright future for a great talent, indeed!”
Jury report: “We want to recognise this triple co-directing effort. The creators achieve a masterfully crafted documentary, with humble, curious and frank determination. The existence of this young couple of ex-Naxalite guerillas is determined by the Indian caste system. They sacrifice their political ideals for property and education rights in hopes of a better life for their two young children. How to keep dignity and tenderness in a situation like this? While we bear witness to these lives, many daily and existential questions arise and give cinematographic form to the potent human energy that this family shares, creating a complex and intimate portrait of a marginalised family. We hope to keep encountering such collective sensitivity in the future.”
Using tear-to-vote cards, visitors rate the films after the screening. The film with the highest rating at the end of the festival wins the BankGiro Loterij Audience Award worth €10,000.
The Voices Short Award is for narrative-driven short films from the festival’s Voices section. IFFR 2020 screened five different Voices Short compilations, totalling 19 films. The audience chose the winner (prize money €2,500) using voting cards.
The FIPRESCI Award is awarded to the best world premiere in Bright Future Main Programme and Voices Main Programme, chosen by a jury of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique (FIPRESCI).
Jury report: “A film which brings a touching story about loneliness and daring to be different in modern Chinese society. A portrait of a young woman, brilliantly played by Chi Ying, who tries to find her way in an unsympathetic and intolerant world.”
Jury: Luciana Costa Alves de Almeida, Albert Gabay, Mátyás Gyözö, Salome Kikaleishvili, Clementine van Wijngaarden
The NETPAC Award is awarded to the best Asian feature film world premiering at IFFR 2020 by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema.
Jury report: “A film that is a frightfully universal story of an everyday protagonist who undergoes a fate that can happen to any of us, and whose love for his family, poetry, and his country is depicted with incredible restraint and a patient accretion of visual and aural details. Borrowing freely from classical fiction cinema and observational-documentary techniques, this moving letter to and from the oppressed Muslim minority in Mother India is eerily prescient of the ongoing rise of Hindu nationalism in India today. May Nasir rise again.”
The KNF Award is given to the best Dutch, or Dutch co-produced, feature film at IFFR. The winner is selected by a jury of the Circle of Dutch Film Journalists.
Jury report: "Two films deserve an honourable mention, because their unique stories kept resonating in our minds long after we watched them. They are Mother by Kristof Bilsen and Drama Girl by Vincent Boy Kars.
A third film turned out to be the winner: Kala azar by Janis Rafa. This film handed us the key to understanding the main themes running throughout the competition. Like most of the films in the selection, it is about imbalance, conflict and worlds in a state of decay. It is a requiem of humans for animals, and maybe even a requiem of animals for humanity. It reveals a story in a way that only the visual language of film can master. On top of this, the film contained some of our favorite scenes of the festival, including a haunting scene in a chicken barn, the bathing of a dog, and a moving scene about roller skating. The film creates its own surreal universe, which allows the filmmaker to comment subtly on the sickness of the world and the ecological collapse we are all facing.”
The film that makes the biggest impression on this jury of young people is awarded the IFFR Youth Jury Award.
Jury report: “The film communicates a difficult theme from many different perspectives and feels realistic. It gives you an understanding of the dynamics between groups in a suburban area. We liked the use of the good cop/bad cop formula with a twist, the camerawork and the streetcasting. Overall, we think the film is nicely put together.”
The Found Footage Award is granted to a filmmaker who has made outstanding use of archive material. The award, worth €2,500, is supported by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.
Jury report: “We were floored by the film’s unique use of sound, its luxurious spaciousness, its courage in embracing silence. The Kodachrome home movies were beautifully shot, as if by a professional amateur: detailed, exact, finding the right frame again and again. But most of all it was the literary script, filled with lies and loneliness, heartbreak and death, that carried us through a travelogue of longing up to the final stunning twist which had been saved for the closing credits.”
The winners of the Ammodo Tiger Short Competition were announced on Sunday 26 January. They are Apparition by Ismaïl Bahri, Communicating Vessels by Maïder Fortuné and Annie MacDonell, and Sun Dog by Dorian Jespers. Click here to read the jury reports.
Cinematographer Diego García was at IFFR 2020 to receive the first annual Robby Müller Award on Monday 27 January 2020. Click here to read more.
On Wednesday 29 January, IFFR Pro Days 2020 came to a close. Awards were handed out to the most promising projects in the making. Click here to read more about the winners of the IFFR Pro Awards.