At long last (after exactly 4 months), this 2017 Women’s Cinema Festival has come to its end. In the process, 28 films had been reviewed – 20 in the Main Competition, 8 films Out of Competition. Overall, it was an enjoyable ride. While many films I intended to check out (see day 13 for more details) aren’t available online, the selection has no real bomb except for Ava (which I can still argue it’s worth the watch). Let’s go through them once again before we get to the awards announcement.
Day 14 (closing film)
The one thing I need to underline is when it comes to pick awards from the selection, there is no exact science. Movies with higher grades don’t necessarily mean it can win the awards (although it certainly helps). I tend to pick the less obvious choices, but as you see below it’s a mix of no-brainer and underdog-for-the-win. Without further ado, let’s see the winners for 2017 Women’s Cinema Festival:
- Agnes Varda & JR (FACES, PLACES)
For making a film that looks deceitfully simple but it works on so many level. On one level, Faces Places is about the creativity itself. On second level, Faces Places is also about the duo’s fascinated about the lives of people in the rural area across France and on the most surface level, Faces Places is a breezy road trip film about a mismatched duo who carry a surprisingly strong chemistry (for a documentary) and overall a pleasure to watch.
Note: other two long shots for this award are The Rider (for its perfect blend between truth and fiction) and Laby Bird (for delicious dialogues). Nothing come close to the winner, however.
Best Ensemble Acting:
- the cast in SUMMER, 1993
The respect for the kid’s perspective isn’t restricted only to the story, but also in the way Simon believes in her child actresses. There are many long, unbroken scenes with the two kids as the center, and it doesn’t feel like they’re acting at all. The adults are all fine by all mean but it’s the children (Laia Artigas and Paula Robles as Anna) who are the heart and soul and they carry the movie wonderfully.
Note: It’s an unanimous win for Summer, 1993
Best Female Acting:
- Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Christine’s role feels like a breakout performance from a newbie who gives this role their all. The fact that it comes from a twice Oscar-nominated star Saoirse Ronan who goes back to her root is even more impressive.
Note: the girls in Angels Wear White and Sylvia Chang in Love Education are both strong contenders.
- Ildikó Enyedi (On Body and Soul)
While the story department is somewhat lacking, On Body and Soul benefits from the director’s strong vision and smart framing. lose your eyes, think of this movie and there are many memorable moments that come directly to mind.
Note: This is the category that was the closest in term of picking out winners. Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled), Lucrecia Martel (Zama) and Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here) all had a good shots of this. Even less obvious choices like Chloe Zhao (The Rider) and Kamila Andini (The Seen and Unseen) were all good alternatives. My second choice is Chloe Zhao
Best Debut Feature:
- I am Not a Witch (Rungano Nyoni)
I am Not a Witch is a bold and confident debut from Zambian/Welsh Rungano Nyoni, whose singular voice makes this film a tragicomedy in a same sense of humor of The Lobster, and that is the best compliment I could muster.
Note: It’s a three-way war between this film, Summer 1993 and Lady Bird. I am Not a Witch edged out because it had the boldest voice and vision.
Best Critic Choice:
- You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)
Ramsay’s interested in the void in-between each action, on the power of what we can’t see instead of what appeared on screen, on the power of inner scream than the dialogues the characters say. All these make the film, an otherwise B-quality thin plot, a cinematic treat with one of the most vibrant character in years that gets under your skin and refuses to leave there.
Note: Well, it’s the highest rated film so it handily wins this award. It’s science after all!!!
The Golden Moon (Women Cinema Top Prize)
- Angels Wear White (Vivian Wu)
In lesser hands, Angels Wear White could have been a straight noir-crime about the investigation or a heavy crime procedure, or an overdraught message piece that stab at the corruption and holes in Chinese’s Justice, but for Vivian Qu, her lenses of focus is definite: it’s about these young girls and how they experience after that dreadful sexual assault carried out by none other than their God father, a high-ranking police official.
Note: For the Top Award, in the end it was a fierce battle between Angels Wear White and Lady Bird. While people could argue that Lady Bird is a better film and Angels Wear White is somewhat less restrain in its approach, it’s that very fact – 2017 was an angry year for women in cinema industry. So, congrats to Angels Wear White again for taking a top prize of this 2017 edition. I will see you shortly for the year 2016.