Stonewalling stole the limelight at the 47th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF47) taking home three Firebird Awards at the award ceremony.
Co-directed by Huang Ji and Otsuka Ryuji, Stonewalling was named Best Film for the Young Cinema Competition (Chinese Language). The jury commended it for “reminding us of the confusion, difficulty and suffering women face nowadays, and the inescapable responsibilities they have to shoulder”. The film’s two female leads, Huang Xiaoxiong and Yao Honggui, respectively playing the mother and the daughter, jointly received the Best Actress award for their performances.
In the same category, Macau’s Hong Heng-fai won the Best Director award with Kissing the Ground You Walked On for ‘brilliantly using the image and sound design to craft a complex narrative in a well-organized structure.’ The Best Actor award went to veteran actor Li Xuejian who impressed the jury with his acting depth and charisma in every scene in To Love Again.The jury also concurred to award a Special Mention to Bad Education, the debut feature of actor-turned-director Kai Ko.
Of the eight films vying in the Young Cinema Competition (World) category, Mexican director Lila Avilés’s Totem was chosen as the Firebird Award winner for its ‘totality, a unique experience of time and space.’ For his ‘sure-handed subtle directional debut,’ Argentine director Martín Benchimol garnered the Best Director award with The Castle. The Best Actor award went to young Mirko Giannini, who played a tormented adopted child in Astrakan, for ‘bringing this peculiar quality of unexpected strangeness to his first performance.’ To celebrate their brilliantly nuanced and varied performances, the female ensemble cast of 20,000 Species of Bees collectively won the Best Actress award.
In the Documentary Competition, the jury unanimously awarded the Firebird Award to Apolonia, Apolonia by Danish director Lea Glob, commending it for ‘chanting out the body and soul, revealing its pleasure, melancholy, suspicion, pain, perseverance, resistance and growth, at once lyrically, tenderly and steadfastly.’ Polish filmmakers Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski took the Jury Prize with The Hamlet Syndrome for creating an extraordinary perspective and its deep humanity and emotionality.
Exploring male gaze and voyeuristic violence, Swiss filmmaker Morgane Frund received the Firebird Award in the Short Film Competition with her graduation project, Bear, for its ‘exceptional editing and a conceptual sleight-of-hand.’ The Jury Prize went to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, a black comedy by Singaporean director Alvin Lee, which presents the absurdity of funeral practice with exquisite camerawork and precise pacing.
Besides winning the Firebird Award, Huang Ji and Otsuka Ryuji’s Stonewalling was also the pick of the FIPRESCI Prize jury for its profound cinematic portrayal of a young woman who finds inner power that intensely connects audiences.
Complete List of Award Winners of 2023 Hong Kong International Film Festival
Young Cinema Competition (Chinese Language)
Jurors: Hsu Hsiao-Ming (director and producer), Zhang Lu (director), and Mary Stephen (film editor)
Huang Ji, Otsuka Ryuji
Kissing the Ground You Walked On
To Love Again
Huang Xiaoxiong, Yao Honggui
Ensemble Female Cast
Young Cinema Competition (World)
20,000 Species of Bees
The Hamlet Syndrome
Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosołowski
Short Film Competition
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Huang Ji, Otsuka Ryuji