SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, March 8 (Xinhua) — The Sharm el-Sheikh Asian Film Festival (SAFF) closed on Friday with a feature movie from Afghanistan, Rona Azim’s Mother, winning the best prize.
The closing and award ceremony of the SAFF took place in the coastal Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh with the attendance of filmmakers and critics from countries across Asia.
Altogether 58 films from 26 countries have competed for nine awards in five competitions.
Leon Le received the best director for his Vietnamese Song Lang.
A Song Lang is a musical instrument, a little percussion used in Vietnamese traditional music to keep the tempo for the musicians and the performers and to guide the artists, Leon told Xinhua.
The director left Saigon when he was 13 to go and live in California with his family and “Song Lang” is his debut feature after two U.S.-produced short movies, an elaboration of his interrupted upbringing in Vietnam.
“The film is also a tribute to his beloved Vietnamese traditional folk opera,” Leon said, noting his movie has won 12 other prizes.
He added his movie is a passionate love letter to his teenage time in Saigon in the 1980’s, his tape cassettes and the way art influences life and vice versa.
Leon said he was very happy to win the best director from a festival in Egypt because one of his dreams to visit the most populous Arab country finally came true.
He said the movie is a message to young people to always fulfill their dreams no matter what obstacles hinder them.
The prize of the best animation movie went to the Iranian movie “Last Fiction” while Syrian-Lebanese-Tunisian joint production movie “Travelers of War” won the best Arab movie.
Chinese renowned filmmaker Xie Fei, head juror at the festival, has been honored by a certificate of appreciation at the closing ceremony.
Magdi Ahmed Ali, president of the SAFF, said “the festival is a base for promoting Asian movies in Egypt.”
He added the festival aims at attracting more Asian movies, events and cultures in the next year edition.
Though the festival included varied Asian films, Ali hoped the coming years will see more participations from the Asian filmmakers, adding Egypt is a good market for promoting the cinema production.
Magdi al-Tayyeb, head of the critics committee, agreed with Ali, saying “it’s a new thing to turn towards Asian cinema and it’s essential to support such festivals, as it’s one of Egypt’s soft power.”
The Asian cinema has been barely known for the Egyptian audience, he told Xinhua, and expected the SAFF will attract more movies that will inspire the Arab and Asian people.
He hoped the festival will encourage the cinema distributers to start displaying Asian movies in Egypt after they saw positive reactions from the Egyptians about such new kind of films.
The Noon Foundation for the Arts which organized the SAFF stated “it is our duty to give Egyptian and international artists venues and opportunities to inspire and in turn be inspired by each other, and build a sustainable friendship between Egypt and the rest of the world.”
The foundation will also organize the 2020 edition of the SAFF.