Iranian and Turkish movies win most of the awards

The Iranian and Turkish movies shown during the 17th edition of Beirut International Film Festival have won four out of the five prizes awarded on Thursday night, for the categories of documentaries and short movies. The fifth prize was awarded to a Saudi movie.

After the distribution of the awards of the 17th edition of Beirut International Film Festival, BIFF closed the shows with “Loving Vincent” by British Director Hugh Welchman and Polish Director Dorota Kobiela. Welchman attended the screening and presented his movie about the last days in the life of the painter Vincent Van Gogh prior to his suicide. It took seven years, 125 painters from all over the world and 65,000 hand-painted frames to turn a live-action feature into a one-of-kind animated film.

French Actress Vahina Giocante announced the results on behalf of the jury, which was chaired by American director Jonathan Nossiter and Argentinean director Santiago Amigorena and also included, in addition to Giocante, Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri.

The jury awarded “A Girl in the Room” by Iranian director Karim Lakazdeh the SGBL Award for the Best Short Film. This film tells the story of an elderly man working at a guesthouse with his friends whose daughter comes to visit him after having lived in Germany for 25 years: a funny, touching and innovative movie at the same time, whether regarding the scenario or the film language it makes use of.

The Aleph for Second Best Short Film went to “Passenger” (Yolcu) by Turkish director CemÖzay, which is about a truck driver living with his son in a truck, after the imprisonment of his ex-wife. This film presents some of the most beautiful shots we have seen during this festival.

The Aleph for Third Best Short Film went to “The Guy Came on Horseback” by Iranian director Hossein Rabiei, a film that relates the story of a disabled young man who falls in love with the daughter of his neighbor, causing conflict between both families: a movie that touched us with its exquisite gentleness and a sweet naivety which, in the form, pairs perfectly well with the topic.

The Jury Special prize for a Short Film was given to “The Bliss of Being No One” by Saudi director Bader Alhoumoud. This film tells the story of an unexpected encounter between a young man who lost his family and a one-eyed old man. It is a movie which enchanted us with the originality of its story and with the audacious and professional way which was used to make the main two characters evolve.

The jury voted unanimously for “No Place for Tears” (Gözyaşina Yer Yok) by Turkish director Reyan Tuvi, as the Best Documentary. The jury stated: What can we ask from a documentary? To teach us things. To teach us things that we don’t know about the world – about a social, environmental, political or geographical situation – and about ourselves – about the human beings that we are, about what makes us similar or different to the others. No place for tears by Reyan Tuvi does all that perfectly well. For this reason, we have unanimously decided to award it the best documentary prize, a documentary which is about the war in the city of Kobane and its people’s longing for return and revival.

“I Am Not Your Negro” by Haitian director Raoul Peck, won the audience vote prize for Best Feature Film. It revisits the social and political struggles of African-Americans in these last decades, through the words and writings of the Black American Writer James Baldwin.

The closing film

Shortly before the screening of the closing movie, “Loving Vincent”, the co-director Hugh Welchman picked out three random winners from the Festival’s tombola tickets who won prizes offered by Royal Talens, the oldest oil paint company, which paints were used by Van Gogh himself. The 65,000 panels of Loving Vincent were painted with the Van Gogh series of paints.

The first winner received a Van Gogh wooden Oil Color Superior Box, the second runner-up will receive a Van Gogh wooden Oil Color Inspiration Box, and the third runner-up will receive a Van Gogh wooden Oil Color Basic box.