Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 – Awards Ceremony Report

The Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019 (OAFF 2019) ended on March 17th with the award ceremony and the Japanese premiere of the Vietnamese comedy, Daddy Issues. Events took place at the ABC Hall in front of a packed audience who discovered which of the filmmakers who had competed across various sections such as the Competition and Indie Forum would take away awards. Winners came from across Asia, from Sri Lanka to China, allowing the festival to truly live up to its name and its ideal, from “Osaka to all of Asia”.

The list of winners include some of the most exciting new directors to make debuts over the last few months, including Oliver Siu Kuen Chan, director of Still Human, who recently took away the Best New Director trophy at the Asian Film Awards. She was joined by another recently highly feted director, Yi Ok-seop, whose film Maggie won a slew of awards at the Busan International Film Festival 2018 including CGV Art House Award and Citizens’ Critic Award. The two ladies took home the OAFF 2019 Audience Award and Grand Prix respectively.

Indeed, what was most notable about the night was the success of films by female directors whose works made up more than half of the Competition selection and took away many awards. Notable names next to Oliver Siu Kuen Chan were Paulie Huang Chih-Chia from Taiwan with her exquisite short, Till Next Time, and Han Ka-ram from South Korea with her debut feature Our Body, another film that had critics talking at last year’s Busan International Film Festival. This is something of an upward trend  in quality and opportunities for female filmmakers rather than anything artificial considering the success they have earned at other festivals.

Another highlight was seeing Demolition Girl take the JAPAN CUTS Award. It’s a compelling tale of a working-class girl from a rural city digging her way out of poverty from indie director Genta Matsugami. Alongside the short Whole, it was a socially conscious film that looks at the youth of Japan through highly political lenses of class and race. Demolition Girl will be screened at JAPAN CUTS 2019.

Earlier at OAFF, Taiwanese actor, Roy Chiu, received the Osaka Asia Star Award at a ceremony held on March 14th at Cine Libre Umeda. The award is given to people in the Asian film industry who are considered to have made a big impact and will continue to push boundaries of the definition of cinema. Roy Chiu had been selected on that basis. He had been in Osaka to take part in celebrations of Taiwanese cinema as well as Q&A sessions connected to his most recent film, Dear Ex, a dramedy in which he takes on a gay role for the first time in his 15-year career as an actor. The film had played to sold-out screenings at the festival as audiences came out in force to watch him break away from safe roles.

Here is the full list of winners:

Grand Prix (Best Picture Award) – Maggie (Yi Ok-seop, South Korea)

Most Promising Talent Award – Bai Xue, director of The Crossing (China)

Special Mentions – Bulbul Can Sing (Rima Das, India) and Han Ka-ram, director of Our Body (South Korea)

ABC Award – Aruna & Her Palate (EDWIN, Indonesia)

Yakushi Pearl Award – Nilmini Sigera, actress in Asandhimitta (Sri Lanka)

JAPAN CUTS Award – Demolition Girl (Genta Matsugami, Japan)

JAPAN CUTS Award Honorable Mention Whole (Bilal Kawazoe, Japan)

Housen Short Film Award – Till Next Time (Paulie Huang Chih-Chia, Taiwan)

Housen Short Film Award Special Mention – 2923 (Sunny Yu,Taiwan)

Audience AwardStill Human (Oliver Siu Kuen Chan. Hong Kong)

Star Asia Award – Roy Chiu