Post Gujarat riots film wins at AFff 2009

Firaaq, an Indian film about sectarian violence in Gujarat, took centre stage at the Asian Festival of 1st Films (AFFF) sweeping the awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay and the Foreign Correspondents Association Purple Orchid Award for Best Film. The film is the directorial debut of award winning Indian actress, Nandita Das. In the film, Das examines the theme of sectarian violence, looking at the impact it has on ordinary people a month after the riots in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002. Dante Nico Garcia of the Philippines was named best director for Ploning. The film is also The Philippines entry for next year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film. China’s Jia Xuhua was named best actress for The Mountain and the Song, while real-life magician Bosco Francis was named best actor for playing a magician in My Magic, by Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo. The awards night was attended by several of the first-time filmmakers including Das, William Ho-Hon Tam (first-time producer from Hong Kong), along with the jury members for this year’s festival, Yim Ho, (award-winning director from Hong Kong), Tikoy Aguiluz, a leading figure in the alternative cinema movement in the Philippines, and Nadia Tass, a multi-award winning director and one of Australia’s most respected and unique filmmakers. The Asian Festival of 1st Films (AFFF) celebrates first time filmmakers of Asia Pacific origin with winning selections awarded by an international celebrity jury and selection committee. The event is organised by Teamwork Productions in partnership with Singapore’s Media Development Authority, as part of the Asia Media Festival 2008. The festival was held in Singapore from 4 – 10 December 2008. Guest of honour for the awards, Ms Cassandra Tay, director (Communications and Community & International Relations), MDA, commented, “Once again Asian Festival of 1st Films has successfully showcased the exceptional film talent in Asia, and celebrates these first-time film-makers. I would like to extend my congratulations to all winners and nominees of this year’s Festival. I hope that the Festival will be a spring board for all to be recognised in the international film industry, and I wish them every success in their future projects”. Sanjoy Roy, festival director, talking about this year’s awards noted, “It was a challenge to choose a winner in each category as the quality of this year’s nominations were outstanding. Our film makers have shared with us their stories and allowed us a glimpse in to their unique world, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the Tibetan Plateau, in an incredible outpouring of talent and creativity.” Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, who headed the Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA) jury for the FCA Purple Orchid Award, commented: “We were once again impressed by the overall level of entries, many of which will appeal to a broad international audience. That said, one film really stood out for its tight directing and thought-provoking storyline and we had a clear winner for the FCA Purple Orchid Award for Best Film in Firaaq.” ASIAIMAGE

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