Brazil’s 'Fever,' Guatemalan Director Cesar Diaz Take Top Awards at Pingyao Film Festival

The Fever Still 1 - Locarno Film Festival Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Locarno Film Festival

China’s annual showcase and celebration of art house cinema cast its net far and wide in handing out the this year's Roberto Rossellini prizes.

The 3rd Pingyao International Film Festival has awarded its main Roberto Rossellini prizes to Brazilian director Maya Da-Rin’s The Fever, a film that follows the plight of a “urban indigenous’ worker, and to Guatemalan director Cesar Diaz, who traveled to the central Chinese event with his civil war drama Our Mothers.

Da-Rin thanked the fest for reaching out to films from the other side of the world and said the experience of making The Fever had been life-changing.

“For me it is a great honor,” she said upon receiving best film honors. “This film has been made through seven years of a lot of work of a lot of people — people who gives their lives to cinema and believe that through cinema we can think about our world and we can talk about the world in which we live.”

The Fever previously won two prizes at Locarno, including a best actor nod for Regis Myrupu.

Diaz was tapped as best director for his film Our Mothers, which has screened to sold-out audiences in Pingyao and had earlier picked up two awards — including the Golden Camera — at Cannes.

The jury prize went to Chinese director Liang Ming’s coming-of-age drama Wisdom Tooth.

Pingyao’s Roberto Rossellini awards were selected from a field of 10 international films screening under its Crouching Tigers program.

The festival also hands out the Fei Mu Awards, presented to Chinese-language films by first- or second-time directors and which screened in either the Crouching Tigers or the Hidden Dragons programs. Singaporean director Anthony Chen’s fraught drama-romance Wet Season picked up best film honors, as well as a best actress nod for Yeo Yann Yann; Wisdom Tooth’s Liang was atapped as best director; and Wang Xuebing was named best actor for his role in Ju Anqi’s dark comedy A Trophy on the Sea.

Ju provided a touching moment upon being given a special mention prize by the jury by saying the recognition would ensure he stuck “to my way of creating.”

The 10-day Pingyao festival is the brainchild of Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke — an international fest favorite noted for his socially edged dramas The World and A Touch of Sin — and veteran festival head Marco Muller, who serves here as artistic director.

Hong Kong producer Nansun Shi was handed the International Contribution to Chinese Cinema Award for her continued contribution to Chinese-language film. She was behind the rise of both the Cinema City and Film Workshop in Hong Kong and has produced a string of blockbusters, including The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 3D.

The fest earlier presented its Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon East-West Award — for the development of film culture — to veteran Chinese helmer Zhang Yimou, who also hosted a master class while in attendance.

The Pingyao International Film Festival runs through Saturday.