2023 Kaohsiung Film Festival International Short Film Competition winners announced
The 2023 Kaohsiung Film Festival International Short Film Competition Awards Ceremony kicked off at 6pm this evening (October 15) at the Kaohsiung Public Library. The 13th edition of the KFF International Short Film Competition received a total of 2,260 outstanding short films submissions from 91 countries around the world, and ultimately selected 63 international shorts and 16 XR works. With more than 30 foreign and 100 Taiwanese filmmakers in participation, it is Taiwan’s largest international short film competition and only international XR competition event.
Christopher Lane DAVIS, who won last year’s XR Golden Fireball Award for Gumball Dreams, captivated the audience in Marilyn MONROE-style drag, while festival ambassador TSENG Ching-hua, dressed in a dashing suit, joined director HSIE Pei-ju to present the Taiwan Student Award, creating the highlights of the night.
The 15 awards of the International Section, Taiwan Section, and XR Section were announced one after another by the Short Film Competition final-stage jury comprising Venice Film Festival-winning director Singing CHEN, Golden Bell Award-winning actress Ivy YIN, Oscar-nominated filmmakers Basil KHALIL and Nik Amir MUSTAPHA, and renowned local Kaohsiung director CHENG Wen-tang, as well as the XR Competition final-stage jury comprising Meta’s VR for Good executive producer Amy SEIDENWURM, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival XR curator Jay KIM, and veteran Taiwanese VR producer Estela VALDIVIESO CHEN. The biggest prize of each of the three sections, the Golden Fireball Award, went to 48 Hours (International), A Night with Moosina (Taiwan), and Jailbirds (XR).
Echoing current global trends in political, human rights, and ethnic issues, the International Section Golden Fireball Award was won by the Iranian short 48 Hours. The film approaches the weighty issue of political prisoners through the lens of a family, demonstrating remarkably mature and subtle storytelling, cinematography and editing, with a brilliant performance by the child actor. Director Azadeh MOUSSAVI thanked everyone for listening to her voice, saying, “This film is based on memories from my childhood, and I really love to tell my story. Several members of our crew didn’t accept money because they thought the story is valuable, and they wanted to help me to make this film. I’ve learned that, when you are going to tell a story with all your heart, and others think that your story is worth it, they’ll help you and they’ll come to be a part of your story and your voice. I think stories are very powerful, since they are the only way to overcome barriers and share peace in the world.”
The International Section Jury Award was won by the Philippine short Cross My Heart and Hope to Die, with director Sam MANASCA accepting her first award for the film in person. Meanwhile, the Luxembourg short The Red Suitcase, which explores the “disappearing” of Iranian women for pursuing freedom and not wearing their veil correctly, won the International Section Special Mention.
The Taiwan Section had two major awards that were claimed by films supported by the “Kaohsiung Shorts” grant program, and featured many high-quality Taiwanese animated shorts that offered refreshing experiences. The Taiwan Section Golden Fireball Award was won by A Night with Moosina, a film that combines a rich spiritual atmosphere with animal welfare awareness to showcase the interdependence between rural society and animals. Director TSAI Shiu-cheng said in his acceptance speech: “I’m from Kaohsiung, so it feels like coming home. I’d like to thank Kaohsiung Film Festival and the jury for their recognition, and the partners who were willing to make A Night with Moosina with me. I hope we can treat our non-human species with a gentler approach.”
The Taiwan Section Jury Award went to The Egret River. Director LIU Wan-ling thanked Kaohsiung for giving birth to this story and shared the honor with this land. Compound Eyes of Tropical, winner of the Golden Horse Award for Best Animated Short Film, took home the Taiwan Section Special Mention. Director ZHANG XU Zhen was delighted with the win as this was his third time competing at KFF, saying, “I finally won!” On the other hand, the Taiwan Student Award went to Before the Military Drill, in which director WANG Chun-wei uses the sensitive political issue of a Taiwanese military exercise to effectively reflect cross-straight tensions.
The Asian New Wave Award was won by the Iranian-Canadian short Silkworm. The film cleverly uses the smartphone as a metaphor symbolizing class reversal and to challenge issues of human nature, delivering a vivid portrayal of a coming-of-age story. Director Amir HONARMAND thanked his outstanding crew for their efforts and Kaohsiung Film Festival for providing a platform, as well as audiences for their support and encouragement.
The Formosa Human Rights Award was claimed by the Turkish short Things Unheard Of. The film highlights how the government attempts to weaken ethnic identity by controlling language and news, offering a glimpse into the current social conditions of Islamic society. Director Ramazan KILIÇ sent his greetings from Turkey, thanking the jury and Kaohsiung Film Festival for bringing his work to Taiwanese audiences.
The XR Golden Fireball Award, one of the most important awards in the XR ecosystem, went to Jailbirds. The jury called the film a magical journey of human resilience, and a combination of great character building and storytelling. Director Thomas VILLEPOUX received the award from last year’s winner, Christopher Lane DAVIS, and joked that he will follow in his predecessor’s footsteps by moving to Taiwan.
The XR Immersive Award was captured by the Hungarian-New Zealand interactive VR animation Missing 10 Hours, a response to the global “Me Too” movement. Director Fanni FAZAKAS said her film is based on the real-life experience of a friend, and hopes that it can raise awareness about the risks of drink-spiking and date rape. The VR360 Narrative Award was won by Riverbed Theater director Craig QUINTERO’s All That Remains, making it the second year in a row that a Taiwanese VR film took home the award following Singing CHEN’s win last year for The Man Who Couldn’t Leave. QUINTERO said that he formed Riverbed Theater 25 years ago but did not venture into VR until last year, adding that it is an honor to win the award. The XR Special Mention went to the British work Consensus Gentium. Director Karen PALMER said her project is about pressure from the government, society, surveillance and AI, and believes the work resonates with what is happening in Taiwan and around the world.
The Children’s Jury Grand Award went to the Taiwanese short The Secret of Time, with the jury noting that film touched the majority of their hearts to receive more than half the votes, while the Children’s Jury Special Award went to the German animation Town Hall Square. The Art Inspired by Art: Audience Choice Award was won by LIANG Chia-yu, whose artwork was inspired by the short Eggs, with the Art Inspired by Art: Grand Award going to HUANG Yung-han for her colorful artwork inspired by the short Compound Eyes of Tropical.
The Kaohsiung Film Festival is being held from October 7 (Sat) to October 22 (Sun) across various locations, including Kaohsiung Public Main Library, Kaohsiung Film Archive, Neiwei Arts Center, VR Film Lab, and Kaohsiung Music Center. To purchase Kaohsiung Film Festival tickets, please visit the OPENTIX platform. For more information, please visit Kaohsiung Film Festival’s official website (www.kff.tw), Instagram, and Facebook.