'Hyazgar' tops Cinefan fest


NEW DELHI -- Honoring the best of Asian and Arab cinema, the ninth annual Osian's Cinefan festival concluded Sunday with an awards ceremony that saw a best film nod for Korean director Zhang Lu's "Hyazgar" (Desert Dream).

Centering on the plight of North Korean refugees in Mongolia, the jury's citation heralded the film "for the conviction with which Zhang Lu depicts the contemporary crisis of our time."

Best actress went to Filipino veteran Cherry Pie Picache for her role as a mother who prepares her child for adoption by an American family in Brillante Mendoza's "Foster Child."

Lofto Abdelli picked up best actor for Nouri Bouzid's Tunisian film "Making Of" (Akher), which also shared a special jury award in the Asian & Arab competition section with Iranian film "Lonesome Trees" by Saeed Ebrahamifar.

The Indian competition section saw "Paruthiveeran" by Ameer Sultan pick up best film, while its leading lady, Priyamani, won best actress in the same section. Filmed in the South Indian Tamil language, "Paruthiveeran" explores the relationship between a small-time criminal and a girl from a respectable background. Kay Kay Menon bagged best actor for his portrayal of a cricket player accused of match fixing in "Shoonya" (Zero Zone).

The special jury award went to black and white film "Frozen" by debutant helmer Shivajee Chandrabhushan "for pushing boundaries on various levels." The film depicts a tale of displaced people set against the rugged Himalayan location of Ladakh.

The FIPRESCI Award (International Critics Award) went to Thai film Pen-ek Ratanaruang's "Ploy," the story of a middle-aged couple who question their relationship after seven years.

"Dancing Bells" by Deepak Kumaran Menon secured the NETPAC Award (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema).

The conflict in Iraq depicted in Shawkat Amin Korki's "Crossing the Dust" yielded a special jury mention in the First Features section, which awarded its best film prize to tribal-war drama "Woven Stories of the Other" by Sherad Anthony Sanchez from the Philippines.

The 10-day festival closed with "Qas Wi Lask" (Cut and Paste), Egyptian helmer Hala Khalil's tale of a working class couple planning to emigrate. Khalil also served as a jury member in the Asian & Arab competition section.