Singapore Film Fest Awards: Late Filipino Star Kristoffer King Wins Best Performance Prize for Final Role

'Verdict' Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of SGIFF

At Saturday's Silver Screen Awards ceremony, 'Verdict' director Raymund Ribay Gutierrez paid an emotional tribute to King, who died in February. Elsewhere, Saudi film 'Scales' won best film and Israel’s Oren Gerner won best director for 'Africa.'

The late Kristoffer King’s powerful — and final — role as an abusive husband in the Philippines’ Oscar hope Verdict won the best performance prize at the Singapore International Film Festival Silver Screen Awards.

At Saturday's ceremony, held at the National Museum of Singapore, Verdict director Raymund Ribay Gutierrez paid an emotional tribute to his friend and leading man, who died in February at age 36 after complications due to diabetes.

“After all the violence in the film Kristoffer King would always try to laugh with the other actors afterwards. He was a very gentle man,” Gutierrez said. “The good thing and the bad thing about him was as an artist he had no limits. I think that made him sick. It was a big loss.”

Verdict was the prolific King's final role, after starring in more than 50 films and television series, He had previously won acclaim for his work with Cannes best director winner Brillante Mendoza (Kinatay), including Service (2008), the first film from the Philippines to compete for the coveted Palm D’or.

Gutierrez’s film — an up-close and unnerving look into domestic abuse and how it is handled by the Philippine legal system — has been put forward as the country’s submission for the best international feature film Oscar, following its Special Jury Prize win at Venice. 

Gutierrez revealed he was in post-production on the film and had been trying to call King to get him in for sound when he learned of the actor’s death after a long fight with health problems.

“The first take was almost always enough with him,” said Gutierrez. “It was like he was sleep and then he would wake up to act. It was instinctive with him. Today is very emotional."

SGIFF’s Silver Screen Awards jury, led by veteran Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, praised King for his “nuanced, outstanding performance [which] provided insight into the mind of a perpetrator.”

Debut Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen’s tale of female empowerment Scales was handed the Silver Screen for best film at Saturday’s ceremony.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Ameen said. “I really fought for the film to be here. The film is a woman’s statement and that is very relative right now. I wanted this film to be symbolic of something bigger.”

Ameen’s fable-like film follows the story of a young girl who fights against the chauvinistic traditions of the village in which she is raised.

The Silver Screen Award for best director went to Israel’s Oren Gerner for his work on Africa, in which he used his own family as actors to tell the tale of an aging man raging against life and the world.

Japanese cult cinema king Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer) was on hand to pick up the festival’s honorary award for “exceptional and enduring contributions to Asian cinema” while Chinese actress Yao Chen (All Is Well) collected the cinema icon award.

The nod for the most promising project to come out of SGIFF’s Southeast Asian Film Lab went to Singaporean director Tan Siyou for Amoeba — a look inside her city’s school system — with the jury praising its “fresh perspective of one's journey to self-discovery.”

The 30th edition of SGIFF closed Sunday with Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth.

SGIFF kicked off the annual Singapore Media Festival, which will continue across the upcoming week with staging of the Asia TV Forum & Market/ScreenSingapore, the Asian Academy Creative Awards, Singapore Comic Con and the Vidcon Asia Summit.

The SGIFF's Silver Screen Awards full winners list: 

Best Film 

Scales (Saudi Arabia)

Best Director

Oren Gerner for Africa

Best Performance

Kristoffer King for Verdict

Special Mention

Passed by Censor directed by Serhat Karaaslan

Best Southeast Asian Short Film

I’m Not Your F---ing Stereotype directed by Hesome Chemamah

Best Singaporean Short Film

Adam directed by Shoki Lin

Special Mention (short film)

California Dreaming directed by Sreylin Meas

Best Director (short film)

Zaw Bo Bo Hein for Sick

Youth Jury Prize (short film)

Sweet, Salty directed by Duong Dieu Linh

Honorary Award

Takashi Miike

Cinema Icon Award

Yao Chen

Southeast Asian Film Lab – Most Promising Project

Amoeba by Tan Siyou

Southeast Asian Film Lab – Residency Award

Bing.Bong.Bang by Kristin Parreno Barrameda

Youth Jury and Critics’ Program – Young Critic Award

Lee Sze Wei