Lebanese and Thai films share top award at Busan festival

36 is a low-budget, experimental production from Thailand while Kayan tells the story of a Lebanese women juggling the demands of business and family in a foreign country

Kayan tells the story of a Lebanese woman juggling life in a foreign land. Courtesy Mehr Studio
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A low-budget, experimental production from Thailand and a gripping Lebanese drama shared the main award at Asia's largest film festival, which closed yesterday.

Jurors for the New Currents award at the Busan International Film Festival described the first-time Thai director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's 36 as "breathtaking" and praised the "extraordinary sympathy" director Maryam Najafi was able to draw from the audience throughout her entry Kayan.

Both productions received US$30,000 (Dh110,100) for the award, which offers two first prizes and is open to first- or second-time Asian filmmakers.

Nawapol's film is set around 36 static images and tells the story of a young woman struggling to relate to her own memories.

"The first time I screened this film it was in a conference room for about 20 people, so I was honoured to be invited to Busan," said Nawapol.

The New Currents jury, headed by the veteran Hungarian director Béla Tarr, celebrated Nawapol's work for creating his "own film language".

Praise came also for the first-time director Najafi's portrayal of a Lebanese woman trying to juggle the twin demands of business and family in a foreign country and for the filmmaker's ability "to go from emotion to analysis in the acute portrait of a woman fighting to keep a new life going".

"We did everything you are not supposed to do with this film - from using child actors to borrowing sets - but we persevered," said Najafi.

The 10-day festival closed yesterday with the world premiere of the Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's comedy-drama Television, which is set in a rural village and focuses on the clash among generations.

Festival organisers said more than 220,000 people attended this year's 17th edition of the festival, a record for the event. - AFP