We present the winners of the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF).

Young Cinema Competition
Firebird Award

Life After Life movie still
Life After Life by Zhang Hanyi – Hong Kong | 2016 – 80 min.
The spirit of a deceased mother takes over her son’s body in order to oversee the task of replanting a very important tree, only after which it will be able to leave the earthly limits.

Jury Prize

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Tomcat by Händl Klaus – Austria | 2016 – 114 min.
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Andreas and Stefan lead a happy life: Together with their beloved tomcat Moses, they live in a beautiful old house in Vienna’s vineyards. They work as a musician and as a scheduler in the same orchestra and they love their large circle of friends. An unexpected and inexplicable outburst of violence suddenly shakes up the relationship and calls everything into question – the blind spot that resides in all of us.

Documentary Competition
Firebird Award

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Behemoth by Zhao Liang – Hong Kong | 2015 – 90 min.
In the sunlight, crisp grasslands are about to be buried by mines. Proceeding as a dream-voyage, the film wander from coal mines, to an iron smelter, to a steel factory, and then to Ordos, a ghost city. In the course of tracing this supply chain, we grow more attentive to industrial workers and to the catastrophic impact of accelerated development on people and the environment—in order to reflect on how humankind is conducting itself at this moment in history. A film with narration, no dialoguef

Jury Prize

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Under the Sun by Vitaly Mansky – Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Latvia, North Korea | 2015 – 110 min.

This is a film about the ideal life in an ideal country – North Korea. We see a girl in an ideal school, the daughter of ideal parents, working at ideal factories, living in an ideal apartment in the center of the capital. We can see how much effort the North Korean people have to undertake to make this ideal world work. The girl is being prepared to enter the children’s union to be a part of the ideal society, living in the eternal rays of the sun, the symbol of the great leader of the people, Kim Il-sung.

Short Film Competition
Firebird Award

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Batrachians Ballad by Leonor Teles – Portugal | 2016 – 11 min.

“Once upon a time, before people came along, all the creatures were free and able to be with one another”, narrates the voiceover. “All the animals danced together and were immeasurably happy. There was only one who wasn’t invited to the celebration – the frog. In his rage about the injustice, he committed suicide.” Something Romani and frogs have in common is that they will never be unseen, or stay unnoticed. In her film, young director Leonor Teles weaves the life circumstance of Romani in Portugal today with the recollections of a yesterday. Anything but a passive observer, Teles consciously decides to participate and take up position. As a third pillar, she establishes an active applied performance art that becomes integrated in the cinematic narrative. Thereby transforming “once upon a time” into “there is”. “Afterwards, nothing will be as it was and the melody of life will have changed”, explains a voice off-camera.

Jury Prize

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Prelude to the General by Pimpaka Towira – Thailand | 2016 – 11 min.

“I have always felt that I live in a country, in which it is not possible to speak about everything. Unconsciously, we all carry the awareness of the impossibility of speaking about this ‘it’ inside us. It should stay forever a secret”, is what director Pimpaka Towira says of her country. Two women face one another. Two worlds touch. Past and presence. The young woman warns the older woman. Something terrible will happen. The older woman massages the general. She knows the general’s secret. She wanders through empty rooms. Rooms coated with a patina of secrecy. The warning hangs in the air. The young woman doesn’t have a chance.

FIPRESCI Prize

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The Island Funeral by Pimpaka Towira – Thailand | 2015 – 105 min.

Laila goes to southern Thailand to say hi to her aunt who she hasn’t seen for a long time and has never visited before. As travel partners she’s brought her brother and his friend along. A city-dweller, Laila isn’t fully aware of the extent of the armed conflicts that have taken place there in Pattani. The road to her aunt includes a boat trip to the island that was long a paradise, but the military has now come to search for rebels and there are soldiers everywhere. What her aunt wanted to tell her about was a dream about a land of milk and honey where all faiths can live together—which now seems utopian. The Island Funeral was filmed with striking beauty and balances, as so often in Thai film, in a state between dream and reality.

SIGNIS Section
SIGNIS Award

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Land of Mine by Martin Zandvliet – Denmark, Germany | 2015 – 100 min.

In this based-on-fact war drama, a group of German POWs are put to work by the Allies defusing their own landmines on the west coast of Denmark in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

Special Mention

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Truman by Cesc Gay – Spain, Argentina | 2015 – 108 min.
Julián receives an unexpected visit from his friend Tomás, who lives in Canada. The two men, accompanied by Julián’s faithful dog, Truman, will share emotional and surprising moments.