2 local films also get awards
Youth is directed by Feng Xiaogang and written by Geling Yan. The film chronicles the lives of a group of idealistic adolescents who take part in an army art troupe and learn about love and the growing pains of entering adulthood.
Feng’s work on Youth bagged him Best Director, while Na Hyeon’s work on The Prison earned him the Best Directorial Debut award.
Two local films also bagged trophies during the awards ceremony as Oral Cancer Documentary: Chew and We Drank Our Tears: Francisco Babauta Story won the inaugural MIFF’s Special Committee Contribution awards.
MIFF’s Best Actor went to Ma Yue for Country Far Away, while the Best Actress award went to Yan Ni for her performance in Relocate.
Best Supporting Actor went to Zhang Han (Wolf Warriors), while Youth’s Oraphan Saithong was Best Supporting Actress.
Sunshine That Can Move Mountains won Best Cinematography (Wei Shijie) and Best Screenplay (Wang Qiang), while Ha Heon-jin took home the Best Music award for Merry Christmas Mr. Mo.
Youth had another award as Elaine Zhong snagged the Best New Artist Award. Other winners were Yellow (Special Jury Award), Six Years, Six Days’ Wu Gang (Special Committee Award for Performing Art Contribution), Confidential Assignment’s Lim Yoona (Best Popular Asian Actress), Doctor’s Mind’s Li Muzi (Best Progress Award), and Relocate’s Huang Dan, Feng Mengyao, and Liang Shuang (Best Creative Screenplay Award).
Over 500 international stars and filmmakers from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, U.K., and the CNMI took part in the inaugural MIFF, which adopted the theme peace and love.
The films featured in the festival were: Taxi Driver (Korea), Country Far Away (China), 3904 Feet (Taiwan), We Drank Our Tears: Francisco Babauta Story (CNMI), Canola (Korea), Doctor’s Mind (China), Six Years, Six Days (China), The Prison (Korea), Oral Cancer Documentary: Chew (CNMI), Relocate (China), Merry Christmas Mr. Mio (Korea), Sunshine That Can Move A Mountain (China), Old Bicycle (Korea), The Beautiful Fantastic (UK), and Final Redemption (China)
Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, who graced the event with other political CNMI leaders, said that the event was the product of a promise.
“I was at the last film festival in Shanghai and I witnessed the commitment that the announcement of the film festival participants will be in Shanghai, China, but the selection of winners will be held on the island of Saipan and today they made good of that promise and commitment,” he said.
“This is an opportunity to share their stories about their people and language that will create everlasting connection between countries and the CNMI. I encourage everyone to continue to come to the island of Saipan and we hope these filmmakers will also go to Rota, Tinian, and on the islands north of Saipan to make movies or films to showcase the CNMI to the rest of the world,” he added.
The red carpet and awards night held last Friday at the opulent lobby of the Imperial Pacific Resort was a glimpse of Hollywood brought to Saipan where stars and filmmakers walked the red carpet in support of their films.
Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC chair Mark Brown said he is pleased with how the almost weeklong First Marianas International Film Festival turned out.
“I could not be happier to be able to bring the very first international film festival on Saipan and we thank the people who participated and who actually came. Many of them have never been here before and they love the island, the people, where they are staying. We heard feedback saying everyone is so nice, and the business people of the island came out in full force and support to help everyone so it’s great event,” he said.
Hosting the actors and filmmakers were spread out among the different establishments on island, making this event an “island effort.”
“We are supporting the islands as we hosted dinner for filmmakers and actors last Thursday at Aqua Resort Club. After the awards, we went go to Fiesta Resort & Spa [Saipan] for a beach dinner and came back here (IPI) for the after-party. It is wonderful, supporting the island and supporting other businesses. We rented buses, cars, and vans to take visitors around to see the beautiful spots of the islands, which made their stay more enjoyable,” Brown said.
“Eventually when the (IPI Resort) building is done, we are going to have many more functions like this,” Brown added.
Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion said an event of this caliber is significant to the CNMI.
“Filmmakers and celebrities around Asia are here not only to participate in this first ever Marianas Film Festival, but also to see the beautiful islands of the CNMI. I expect that the profile of the Marianas will increase exponentially because of all the international media present here,” he said.
“The exposure that the Marianas is going to get from this is going to be tremendous, something for which the value the MVA could not afford. We want to extend our sincere thank you to IPI, the committee that put this together, the people behind the scenes and the people who are actually here to witness this event,” he added.
The Marianas Film Festival will be an annual event for the next four years and more international filmmakers and actors are expected to join.