Skip to content
30 Jan – 9 Feb 2025

Top prizes in Karlovy Vary for supported filmmakers

Published on:

Two filmmakers supported by the Hubert Bals Fund, Nelicia Low and Zhengfan Yang, were amongst the top prize winners at the 2024 edition of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic. Low, director of the atmospheric thriller Pierce, picked up the Best Director Award in the main Crustal Globe Competition, while Zhengfan Yang won the Grand Prize in the Proxima Competition for Stranger.

Two filmmakers display their prizes in Karlovy Vary.
Zhengfan Yang (left) and Nelicia Low (right) pick up their prizes, courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

Nelicia Low wins Best Director for Pierce

For her debut feature, Singaporean filmmaker Nelicia Low drew on her former career as a fencer during which she represented Singapore at the 2010 Asian Games. Pierce is the story of two brothers, one of which is just released from juvenile prison for killing his opponent in a fencing match.

Film still: Pierce

He convinces his brother of his innocence, but less so the audience. The film, according to the festival, becomes “a nerve-wracking duel between the ideals of brotherly love and the illusions that we project onto those close to us.” 

Pierce tells a gripping story in a coolly stylish fashion” said Screen International, praising the use of the “lightning-fast sport” as an effective metaphor that gives the film its unique razor-sharp edge. The Best Director prize for Low rounds-off a fantastic achievement for the team. 

The Hubert Bals Fund supported the project with HBF+Europe: Minority Co-production Support funding, supported by the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. 

Proxima Competition Grand Prize for Stranger

Zhengfan Yang’s Stranger is composed of seven “absurd, darkly humorous, poignant, and mysterious stories,” all set in a hotel. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Yang said, “I see the hotel room as a device that signifies the state of a stranger.” The film addresses both Yang’s personal experience living between the US and China, and a broader universal experience of loneliness and isolation.

Film still: Stranger

Stranger won the top prize in the Proxima Competition for adventurous new voices. Yang’s previous film, Where Are You Going (2016), had its world premiere at IFFR, and he frequently collaborates with Shengze Zhu, the producer of Stranger. Zhu’s Present.Perfect (2019) won the Tiger Award, with Yang serving as producer – as he also does on A Distant House Smokes on the Horizon which was presented at CineMart in 2024.

Stranger was supported by the Hubert Bals Fund in development, with HBF+Europe co-production funds, and participated in the BoostNL development programme.

The HBF+Europe programmes are supported by Creative Europe MEDIA

A list with articles