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Singaporean wins best director at Czechia int'l film festival, thanks Taiwan

07/07/2024 01:44 PM
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Singaporean director Nelicia Low delivers her acceptance speech during the awards ceremony of the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary July 7, 2024
Singaporean director Nelicia Low delivers her acceptance speech during the awards ceremony of the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary July 7, 2024

Karlovy Vary, July 7 (CNA) Singaporean director Nelicia Low (劉慧伶) appreciated Taiwan for its assistance in film production when she received the Best Director Award for her debut feature film at the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) in the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Selected as the only Chinese-language film for the top-ranked Crystal Globe Competition at the festival, "Pierce" (刺心切骨) was produced by Taiwanese, Singaporean and Polish production companies. It tells the story of an ex-convict in Taiwan who tries to reconnect with his younger brother through the sport of fencing, while exploring themes of truth, doubt and familial ties.

When delivering her acceptance speech during the closing ceremony of this year's KVIFF, Low mostly spoke in English, but switched to Mandarin when mentioning "all the team members and actors from Taiwan."

She expressed gratitude to important individuals involved in making the film, such as Golden Horse Award-winning sound designers Tu Duu-chih (杜篤之) and Wu Shu-yao (吳書瑤).

The former national fencer for Singapore then thanked members from the Taiwanese fencing community for coming on set to be extras in the film, before moving on to thank her family.

"Thank you for traveling to be with me here tonight," Low said with a choked voice, referring to her mother, father, and older brother. The 33-year-old director then apologized to her parents for being "a rebel daughter" as a filmmaker and hoped that they "don't have to worry about me so much from now on."

Film director Nelicia Low (second left) is pictured with producers of her film "Pierce" -- Evril Kuo (left), Patrick Mao Huang (second right), and Sam Chua Weishi at the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday. CNA photo July 7, 2024
Film director Nelicia Low (second left) is pictured with producers of her film "Pierce" -- Evril Kuo (left), Patrick Mao Huang (second right), and Sam Chua Weishi at the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday. CNA photo July 7, 2024

After the closing ceremony, Low told CNA that it was "hard to believe" that she had received the Best Director Award at KVIFF, and said she was still overwhelmed by the mixed emotions and had a bit of blankness in her mind.

Having started shooting her first short film "FREAK" in Taiwan in 2014, Low said that over the past years, she has known many partners in Taiwan who are suitable to work with artistically, making her feel "very blessed" to have had the opportunity to shoot her first feature film in Taiwan with the grants from the city governments of Taipei, Taoyuan, and Taichung.

Regarding the assistance from the Taiwanese fencing community mentioned in the acceptance speech, Low added that many schools and fencing clubs in Taiwan contributed to the film's production by sending fencers as extras on set, demonstrating an example of higher appreciation for art among the general public in Taiwan compared to other places.

"If the Taiwanese people didn't have such a great appreciation for films, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to make this film well," she said. "It is because of the help from so many people that this film exists -- I am very grateful."

Further elaborating on this topic, the award-winning director said that many Taiwanese have developed a deep appreciation for films due to Taiwan's long cinematic history, and they therefore view art as something worth pursuing and are willing to help filmmakers to achieve their visions.

"Because of this, I feel that shooting ("Pierce") in Taiwan was a very good decision," Low said.

Source: Magnify Films

"Pierce" received a three-minute standing ovation at its world premiere at KVIFF on July 3.

It features Taiwanese actors Tsao Yu-ning (曹佑寧), Liu Hsiu-fu (劉修甫), and Ding Ning (丁寧) in the lead roles.

KVIFF is one of 14 "A-list" competitive feature film festivals listed by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), along with the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice International Film Festival, according to the FIAPF.

At the KVIFF closing ceremony, the grand prize "Crystal Globe" went to "A Sudden Glimpse to Deeper Things" from the United Kingdom, with the Norwegian film "Loveable" winning the Special Jury Prize.

(By Sunny Lai)

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Photo courtesy of film producer Patrick Mao Huang July 7, 2024
Photo courtesy of film producer Patrick Mao Huang July 7, 2024
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