During the Awards Ceremony on Friday 2 February, IFFR announced the winner of the Hivos Tiger Competition 2018: The Widowed Witch by Cai Chengjie. Rami Alayan was awarded the Special Jury Award for exceptional artistic achievement for his screenplay of Muayad Alayan’s film The Reports on Sarah and Saleem. Polls showed Gustav Möller’s The Guilty was the audience favourite, and therefore winner of the IFFR Audience Award. The Bright Future Award was picked up by Tiago Melo for his film Azougue Nazaré.
This year’s VPRO Big Screen Award went to Nina by Olga Chajdas; the film therefore will be broadcast on Dutch TV and released in Dutch theatres. All Hubert Bals Fund-supported films screening at IFFR 2018 were eligible for the Hubert Bals Fund Audience Award. This year, The Reports on Sarah and Saleem by Muayad Alayan received the highest audience rating.
In congratulating all winners, Festival Director Bero Beyer said: “We’re very happy that the strong winners represent the bold spirit of the festival’s entire programming. They are filmmakers, both emerging and established, who use their talent to deliver a new view on our world. As diverse as they are, there seems to be a common thread: the beautiful and human thread of cinema!
Two new awards were presented in 2018. Newsreel 63 – The Train of Shadows by Nika Autor won the Found Footage Award and Joy in People by Oscar Hudson won the Voices Short Audience Award.
Two awards from critics’ organisations were presented. The FIPRESCI Award went to Balekempa by Ere Gowda. The KNF Award, given by the Circle of Dutch Film Journalists, was won by Zama by Lucrecia Martel.
Nervous Translation by Shireen Seno won the NETPAC Award for best Asian film and the winner of the IFFR Youth Jury Award is The Guilty by Gustav Möller.
“We’re very happy that the strong winners represent the bold spirit of the festival’s entire programming.” – Festival Director Bero Beyer
Complete list of award winners and jury reports
Hivos Tiger Competition
The Hivos Tiger Award is IFFR’s main, most prestigious award and includes a cash 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.
Winner Hivos Tiger Award: The Widowed Witch by Cai Chengjie
Jury report: “This year’s Hivos Tiger Award winner is a film of epic dimensions with a narrative that is greater than one person or moment. It takes a feminist viewpoint with a strong central character, who refuses to be a victim. The struggle of her journey is framed in an emotional way that depicts her complexity, while never becoming sentimental, and the film even contains a laconic sense of humour. Its bold vision, created by a lyrical layering of cinematographic elements, makes this film stand out.”
The Widowed WitchCai Chengjie 120′
Is there any hope in Erhao’s unfortunate life following the death of her third husband, when fellow villagers in rural China accuse her of having supernatural powers? Daring black-and-white drama with an unusual fatalistic/comedic worldview which also displays a neorealistic empathy for the victims of power and other unavoidable misery.
Winner Special Jury Award: the screenplay of The Reports on Sarah and Saleem written by Rami Alayan (dir. Muayad Alayan)
Jury report: “This well-crafted screenplay shows us four humans, each with their own flaws and desires, who have to face the consequences of their actions in a complicated, divided world. The screenplay intertwines the personal and the political and manages to balance a complex plot with convincing characters. This proves to be the basis for a strong film by a talented director and an excellent cast.”
Jury: Anthea Kennedy, Paula Astorga, Job ter Burg, Valeska Grisebach and Kim Kyungmook.
The Reports on Sarah and SaleemMuayad Alayan 127′
By having an affair, Jewish Sarah and Palestinian Saleem risk much more than just their marriages. Their relationship attracts attention from the security services on both sides of the Israeli 'wall', who are convinced there’s more to it than mutual attraction.
Bright Future Award
Filmmakers presenting the world or international premiere of their first feature-length film in the Bright Future Main Programme are eligible for the Bright Future Award worth €10,000.
Winner: Azougue Nazaré by Tiago Melo
Jury report: “For its singular vision, electrifying cinematic language, depiction of the explosive coexistence between good and evil, and for its ability to incorporate supernatural elements in an almost anthropological portrait of a small community, we proudly present the Bright Future Award to Tiago Melo for his film Azougue Nazaré.”
Special mention: “What begins as a personal quest gradually transforms into a reflection on loneliness, belonging, and existential homecoming. For this reason, the jury felt compelled to give a special mention to Malene Choi Jensen’s The Return.”
Jury: Ania Trzebiatowska, Nathalie Alonse Casale and Ryan Krivoshey.
Azougue NazaréTiago Melo 80′
A feature debut, fresh and cheerful in tone, from the Brazilian state if Pernambuco, where IFFR finds so many beautiful films. Mysterious events and religious conflicts influence love and relationships in the sugarcane fields around the town of Nazaré. A conflict emerges between the recent wave of evangelicals and the carnivalesque African traditions of maracatu rural.
VPRO Big Screen Award
The winner of the VPRO Big Screen Award is chosen by an audience jury of five enthusiastic film-lovers. 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.
Winner: Nina by Olga Chajdas
Jury report: “It was a close call and we'd like to give a special mention to the runner-up, The Guilty by Gustav Möller. But another film ultimately connected with us in a more instinctive way. The winning film is a universal story about love, identity and hope. It's about internalising society's expectations and struggling to break free and be true to yourself. The story avoids easy solutions and gives us a somewhat idealised version of the world, thereby avoiding the stereotypical struggles and making it a more personal experience. It's also visually beautiful with lingering and intimate shots and gives us wonderful performances by the main actors.”
Jury: Miriam van den Brink, Nazanin Hedayati, Jasper Jacobs, Mees van Rooij and Tessa Verrijp.
NinaOlga Chajdas 130′
Masterful and sensuous drama about thirty something Nina, who is looking for a surrogate mother for the child she and her longtime husband desperately long for. Young, independent Magda looks like a suitable candidate. But everything changes when Nina unexpectedly gets attracted to her. A turbulent love story with a strong vibe.
IFFR Audience Award
Using tear-to-vote slips, visitors can rate the films they’ve watched. The film with the highest rating at the end of the festival wins the IFFR Audience Award, worth €10,000.
Winner: The Guilty by Gustav Möller
Hubert Bals Fund Audience Award
The highest-rated film supported by the Hubert Bals Fund wins the Hubert Bals Fund Audience Award, worth €10,000.
Winner: The Reports on Sarah and Saleem by Muayad Alayan
Voices Short Audience Award
The new Voices Short Audience Award is for narrative-driven short films from the festival’s Voices section. IFFR 2018 has screened five different Voices Short compilations, totalling over 20 films from 18 countries. The audience chose the winner (prize money €2,500) using voting cards after each screening.
Winner: Joy in People by Oscar Hudson
The FIPRESCI Award is given to the filmmaker of the best film among all the world premieres in Bright Future (excluding the Hivos Tiger Competition), by the jury of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique (FIPRESCI).
Winner: Balekempa by Ere Gowda
Jury report: “For its subtle and delightful portrayal of a universal theme against the background of a rich local culture.”
Jury: Beáta-Hajnalka Berecki, Andrea Crozzoli, Paul Van Es, Fahmim Ferdous, Tara Judah, Paige Lim, Flavio Lira, Wilfred Okiche, Eithne Mary O’Neill and Héctor Oyarzún Galaz.
BalekempaEre Gowda 103′
A village bangle seller and his wife cannot conceive a child. The villagers gossip. In this close-knit patriarchal community in South India, hidden desires and relationships find a way to exist. Will the husband's secret ever come out? An intriguing narrative in an elegantly directed debut with exceptional camera work.
The KNF Award is given to the best Dutch, or Dutch co-produced, feature film that is selected for IFFR 2018, as awarded by a jury from the Circle of Dutch Film Journalists.
Winner: Zama by Lucrecia Martel
Jury report: “This bold project illustrates how co-producing can allow an immensely gifted filmmaker to enter different territory, just as the film itself transports the audience to an alien world. Without signposts or hand-holding, viewers are challenged to use all their senses in order to navigate this foreign land. The filmmaker’s sensory approach to cinema also poses a challenge to us critics; we’ve been struggling to find words that do justice to a film that ultimately can only be experienced.”
Jury: Elise van Dam, Hedwig van Driel, Fritz de Jong, Sasja Koetsier and Sabeth Snijders.
ZamaLucrecia Martel 115′
At the end of the eighteenth century Zama, a servant of the Spanish crown, whiles away his time on the banks of a South American river waiting for a letter from the king to reunite him with his wife – and civilisation. Martel’s film is an enchanting and original masterpiece that seems to have been made in a different era.
The NETPAC Award is presented to the best Asian feature film world premiering at IFFR by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema.
Winner: Nervous Translation by Shireen Seno
Jury report: “For its singularly original representation of childhood that beautifully captures a unique view of the world – one that is full of contradictory interactions, introspection, social and political dissonance, and disquietude. With this film, the director has succeeded in creating an unforgettable cinematic universe.”
Jury: Susanna Harutyunyan, Sonali Joshi and Andrei Vasilenko.
Nervous TranslationShireen Seno 90′
Sensitive, sparkling film that captures the confusing and magical moments alike in the life of a child who, while preferring to be by herself, deep down also longs to be heard. The events of 1987 in the Philippines play a role in the background, but shy Yael is more concerned with her absent father, her uncle who is a rock star and a pen with special powers.
IFFR Youth Jury Award
The film that makes the biggest impression on this jury of young people is awarded the IFFR Youth Jury Award.
Winner: The Guilty by Gustav Möller
Jury report: “This film captivated us from beginning to end and was able to make the audience aware of its own preconceived notions of reality. The director deliberately withholds information from the audience, thereby creating uncertainty which leaves room for imagination. The film is a masterclass in suspense; it managed to keep our eyes glued to the screen throughout the entire film. Furthermore, we believe that this film will be attractive to a younger audience, as it is a good introduction into arthouse cinema.”
Jury: Borah Spoorenberg, Jan van der Meer, Lana Kujundzic, Noah Bos, Rahab Ahmend and Tsania Hisbaron.
The GuiltyGustav Möller 85′
A single space, a great lead, a compelling script and a nail-biting soundtrack is all debut director Gustav Möller needs to captivate his audience for 90 minutes. Asger Holm is fabulous as the tortured, headstrong cop hell bent on solving a disturbing phone call during a shift manning the emergency line.
Found Footage Award
The new 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.
Winner: Newsreel 63 – The Train of Shadows by Nika Autor
Jury report: “This film convincingly introduces a new critical paradigm in which every new image questions the entire history of film as a medium and its role within society. It does so through brilliant use of the train as a rich metaphor for human aspiration and technological advancement, connecting the first Lumière film all the way through to the current practice of shooting smartphone footage to document refugees on their quest for a better life.”
Jury: Nicole Brenez, Maarten Brinkerink and John Goff.
Ammodo Tiger Short Competition
The winning films of the equal awards each worth €5,000 are Mountain Plain Mountain by Araki Yu and Daniel Jacoby, Rose Gold by Sara Cwynar and With History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 4 by Korakrit Arunanondchai. The jury also nominated WHAT’S THE DAMAGE by Heather Phillipson to compete in the short film category of the European Film Awards (EFA) later this year.
Want to know more about the winners?
On Sunday 28 January 2018, a three person professional jury announced the three winners of this year’s Ammodo Tiger Short Competition at IFFR.Click here
Photo in header: Photo: Bram Belloni