FESTIVALS: Manchurian Tiger takes top prize in Shanghai

Chinese filmmaker Geng Jun’s dark comedy Manchurian Tiger won the top prize, the Golden Goblet, in the closing ceremony of this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF, June 11-20). 

Set in north-east China, the film revolves around a truck driver, his wife, his girlfriend and a poet recovering from mental ilness who are all caught up in a chain of calamities connected to an upaid debt and the death of a dog. Geng previously directed Free And Easy, about a travelling salesman who becomes embroiled in a small-town crime, which won a special jury prize at Sundance Film Festival. 

Barbarian Invasion, a Hong Kong-Malaysia co-production directed by Malaysian filmmaker Tan Chui Mui, was awarded with the Grand Jury Prize. The film tells the story of a divorced and exhausted, retired actress who is offered the chance of a comeback as the lead of a do-your-own stunts martial arts film.

Russian drama The Conscience, directed by Alexey Viktorovich Kozlov, was awarded best screenplay, best cinematography and the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award. The Countrary Route, from currently jailed Iranian director Abolfazl Jalili, took best director and best actor for Pouyan Shekari’s performance (see full list of winners below). 

This year’s SIFF was held in a physical format, with screenings taking place in theatres that were complying with China’s Covid-19 safety measures. The accompanying film market took place as a hybrid event with both physical and online elements. The festival opened with patriotic historical drama 1921, directed by Huang Jianxin and Zheng Dasheng, which portrays the founding days of the Chinese Communist Party.

Huang was also president of the competition jury, which also included Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen, Chinese actor-director Deng Chao, Chinese actor Song Jia, veteran festival director Marco Mueller and China-based French producer Natacha Devillers.

SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2021:

Best Feature Film: Manchurian Tiger (China)

Jury Grand Prix: Barbarian Invasion (Malaysia)

Best Director: Abolfazl Jalili, The Contrary Route (Iran)

Best Screenplay: Alexey Viktorovich Kozlov, The Conscience (Russia)

Best Actress: Marzena Gajewska, Amateurs (Poland)

Best Actor: Pouyan Shekari, The Contrary Route (Iran)

Outstanding Artistic Achievement: The Conscience (Russia)

Best Cinematography: Vyacheslav Tuyrin, The Conscience (Russia)

Best Documentary Film: Sisyphus (Mexico)

Best Animation Film: Even Mice Belong In Heaven (Czech Republic, France, Poland)

Best Live Action Short Film: Double Helix (China)

Best Animated Short Film: Mild Madness, Lasting Lunacy (France)