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Japan scored a one-two finish at Italy’s Far East Film Festival, with Uchida Eiji’s transgender drama Midnight Swan winning the coveted Golden Mulberry and Maeda Koji’s comedy You’re Not Normal, Either! taking the Silver Mulberry.
Midnight Swan, also written by Eiji, stars Tsuyoshi Kusanagi as Nagisa, a transgender woman living in Tokyo who unexpectedly takes in her niece Ichika (Misaki Hattori), the two then go on to form a mother-daughter bond.
Koji’s comedy stars Ryo Narita as an unlucky-in-love math teacher who engages his student (Kaya Kiyohara) to teach him how to be normal.
The third prize, the Crystal Mulberry, went to the Taiwanese fantasy love story My Missing Valentine. Directed by Chen Yu-hsun, My Missing Valentine was also voted top film by FEFF’s Black Dragon pass holders. MYmovies readers voted for Soi Cheang’s Hong Kong thriller Limbo as their favorite.
The Golden, Silver and Crystal Mulberry awards are audience awards.
Elsewhere, the White Mulberry jury prize for first feature went to Hong Kong director Chan Kin-Long for his noir Hand Rolled Cigarette. The film’s success comes on the heels of seven nominations at the 57th Golden Horse Awards, including best picture.
Chinese director Cao Jinling’s exquisitely shot lumberjack drama Anima received a special mention.
The 23rd FEFF bucked the pandemic-era trend with some in-person screening, a welcome change from the virtual-only festival last year. The organizers say this year’s event, which takes place in the picaresque Italian town of Udine just north of Venice, welcomed 10,000 in-person visitors as well as 15,000 digital attendees from 38 different countries. The festival boasts that one million minutes of content was streamed throughout this year’s edition.
FEFF was also able to hold its Focus Asia market this year, with 55 industry professionals making the journey to Italy despite restricted travel around the world.
Dates for the 24th FEFF have already been sent with the festival running from April 22-30, 2022.
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