Chinese Docudrama THREE SISTERS Grabs 4 Prizes at Fribourg Film Fest

Wang Bing's Chinese docudrama Three Sisters, which premiered at last year's Venice International Film Festival, has triumphed at the 27th Fribourg International Film Festival by picking up four awards, including the Regard d'Or, the fest's top prize worth a whopping 30,000CHF ($32,000). It also won the Don Quijote Award from the International Federation of Film Societies (FICC/IFFS), the E-Changer Award from the Youth Jury and the Ecumenical Jury Award.

I spent most of my childhood in Fribourg and while it wasn't always the greatest place to live, there are two things I could never deny: it is a beautiful medieval town located at the base of the Alps and its festival boasts some of the best programming in the world. With a main competition dedicated to cinema from South America, Africa and Asia, FIFF has a particularly eclectic mix of films.

Among other things, this year featured a masterclass from Im Sang-soo (The Housemaid, The Taste of Money), a retrospective on Uzbeki cinema and a program on sports films from around the world.

For all of this year's winners. check out FIFF's official press release below:

At 17:00 tonight, this year's international competition prizes were awarded at Fribourg International Film Festival. The documentary film THREE SISTERS from the Chinese director Wang Bing won the "Regard d'or", which is endowed with 30,000 CHF, as well as three additional prizes. The highly endowed prizes Talent Tape Award and the Special Jury Prize went to IT'S A DREAM by Iranian filmmaker Mahmoud Ghaffari and LOS SALVAJES by Argentinian filmmaker Alejandro Fadel respectively. The audience have also voted for their favourite: WADJDA from Saudi director Haifa Al-Mansour received the Audience Award. In total, prize money valued at around 65,000CHF was awarded. With more than 36,000 audience members, FIFF 2013 broke a record for the number of attendees, outdoing the record-holding anniversary year in 2011 by far.

The 153-minute documentary film THREE SISTERS (France, Hong Kong 2012) from Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing is a sensitive and moving portrait of people who commonly remain invisible. Wang Bing captures the daily life of a family in a small mountain village in the centre of China. Through haunting images, he shows poverty, misery, and the challenges that even children must face. The international jury describes Wang Bing's work as absolutely singular and awards the big prize with great respect and admiration: "The ultimate goal of any art form is to awaken the viewer or its audience in some way. The most miraculous thing about this film is the way in which it avoids prescribing and articulating sentiments and messages for the viewer but awakens an individual awareness within each viewer. This is the highest goal of any artwork and the highest accomplishment."

Wang Bing was present at Fribourg and personally accepted a total of four prizes - including the Regard d'or, which is endowed with 30,000CHF. At the same time, he also received the Don Quijote Award from the International Federation of Film Societies (FICC/IFFS), the E-Changer Award from the Youth Jury as well as the Ecumenical Jury Award.

The Special Jury Prize with 10,000CHF was awarded to the debut feature LOS SALVAJES (Argentina, Netherlands 2012) by the Argentinian director Alejandro Fadel. The film employs an unusually creative, cinematic vocabulary to narrate an impressionistic fable that traverses the borders of humanity to visit places where love no longer exists.

The Talent Tape Award valued at 9,000CHF was given to the producers of IT'S A DREAM (Iran 2012), directed by the Iranian filmmaker Mahmoud Ghaffari. With an accomplished mise-en-scène, the film takes us through a country whose culture is generally closed to us.

The Audience Award, valued at 5,000CHF, was given to WADJDA (Saudi Arabia, Germany 2012) by Haifa Al-Mansour, the first female director to film in Saudi Arabia. WADJDA will be debuting in Romandie cinemas on April 3rd, 2013 and in German-speaking Switzerland on April 11th, 2013.

The FIPRESCI Jury (International Federation of the Cinematic Press) selected the 270-minute thriller PENANCE (Japan 2012) by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

The film WATCHTOWER (Turkey 2012) by Pelin Esmer received two laudatory mentions from the Ecumenical Jury as well as the FICC Jury (International Federation of Film Societies).

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