• Festivals

Identity is the Winner at the 18th Taipei Film Festival

It’s another big victory for Uisenma Borchu as her drama Don’t Look At Me That Way  (Schau mich nicht an ) wins the Grand Prize of the International New Talent Competition at the 18th Taipei Film Festival. The Award Ceremony was held at the historic Zhongshan Hall. Jury Chair, Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hungs, handed the Award to Uisenma remarking that the jury’s vote went to  Schau mich nicht an because of its “vitality, audacity and mysterious beauty.” An overwhelmed Uisenma Borchu accepted the trophy together with her partner, cameraman Sven Zellner. “I am in shock” admits the director, writer and actress who recently was voted Mongolian Woman of the Year by the Association for Development of the Mongolian Women in Europe.

Schau mich nicht an is the first feature film of the Mongolian born-German based artist. And it has already caused quite a controversy in Germany, where it was labeled as “arthouse porn”, and Uisenma Borchu  struggled to receive funds for the project.  “It’s been quite a journey and the success is hugely inspiring” Borchu told us. “I am interested in female empowerment, soul searching and finding your own sexual identity.”

The Special Jury Prize went to Guillaume Senez for his film Keeper, a Belgian, French and Swiss production which has been shown at 40 Film Festivals around the globe. “I am amazed, did not expect that at all because the Asian culture is very different from the European taste, which makes me even more appreciative of this Award,” said the Belgian-French director Senez in his first reaction. “The award gives me the confidence to finally say: I am a filmmaker!” Senez is currently working on his second feature film.

Taiwanese director Laha Mebow walked away with the  Audience Award for her film Lokah Laqi (Hang in There Kids). “Winning the Audience Award means the world to me, because I am the first aboriginal female Taiwenese director. In Lokah Laqi I depict a story that deals with my own identity and stories about our tribes are very unpopular in Taiwan. Not only nobody wants to talk about the tribes, no one also wants to finance stories that tell our own history and culture. The award encourages me to continue speaking with my own voice and showing the variety and diversity of Taiwanese tribes.”

The Jury consisting of Tran Anh Hung, Taiwanese actress/producer Lee Lieh, Japanese critic Udagawa Koyo, Taiwanese director Tom Shu-Yu Lin, and program director of Singapore International Film Festival Zhang Wenjie also created a Special Mention Prize for Israeli director Elite Zexer and her first feature film Sand Storm. Like Mebow, Elite Zexer tells a story that deals with a reality in Bedouin lives: arranged marriages. Sand Storm was a hit at Sundance and Elite Zexer has continued since then her string of success. The jury at the International New Talent Competition concluded Elite Zexer “shows confident control in every aspect of filmmaking. For a first feature, to use the words “great potential” would be an understatement to the achievements of this film.”

388 films were submitted to the International New Talent Competition, 12 films nominated as finalists and it took the jury four and a half hours to reach their decision. Tran Anh Hung praised the talents saying: “The jury was impressed by the high level of quality.”

This year’s International New Talent Competition has a significant number of filmmakers such as Nepali director Min Bahadur Bham depicting stories with autobiographical references combined with social, cultural and historical background. His movie The Black Hen is based on his childhood experiences. Bham used local villagers instead of professional actors, a choice that was only partly voluntary –  "Given the fact The Black Hen is my first production, I was not granted any financial support. In hindsight using local villagers was the best choice because it most certainly contributes to the authenticity and honesty of the narration.“

The 18th Taipei Film Festival ends on July 16th, 2016.