'Opera Jawa' tops at Singapore fest


HONG KONG -- Indonesian director Garin Nugroho's musical feature, "Opera Jawa," won the Silver Screen award for best film Friday night as the 20th annual Singapore International Film Festival came to a close.

Inspired by the abduction scene in the classic Sanskrit epic, "Jawa" is a story of love, betrayal and seduction with strong comment on political oppression and religious extremism.

"Film is a statement of what happens in our lives," Nugroho said shortly after accepting the award.

Best director went to Iraqi filmmaker Shawkat Amin Korki for "Crossing the Dust," set amid the violent conflict of post-Saddam Iraq. Korki's feature debut, "Dust" was shot in Iraq shortly after American troops arrived in Baghdad. The film tells the story of two Kurdish solders and a lost five-year-old Iraqi boy called Saddam whom they come across on the side of the road.

The special jury prize was awarded to Ying Liang's "The Other Half," a docudrama portrait of social change in a rapidly industrializing society.

In the short film category, the top prize went to "Conversations," while Kirsten Tan Keng Ing won best director for her short film "Fonzi," the story of a movie character that wants to be a real person.

Tan Wei Keong was given a special achievement award for the stop-action animated short "White," about a man who exchanges his simple cube-shaped head for a fancy one in the name of self improvement, only to find himself unwilling to deal with the consequences.

Boo Junfeng won the special jury prize for his short film "Katong Fugue," about a son with a hidden life and a mother trying desperately to reach out to him.