The eighth annual Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) announced its competition winners at a star-studded event on Saturday night at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills.
17 films screened in competition, and India’s The Last Film Show, directed by Pan Nalin, won the Snow Leopard Award for Best Film, while Mohsen Tanabandeh won Best Actor for World War III (Iran), and Hui Fang Hong won Best Actress for Ajoomma (Singapore). The festival ran from Nov. 9-18 and featured 20 submissions for the Best International Feature Film Oscar.
The Snow Leopard Special Jury Award went to World War III, directed by Houman Seyed, and the Snow Leopard Audience Award to Aurora’s Sunrise (Armenia), directed by Inna Sahakyan. In a first for the AWFF, excellence in cinematography was honored, as Kerr (Turkey) DP Andreas Sinanos received the Panavision Best Cinematography Award along with a $60,000 Panavision Camera Grant of cutting-edge filmmaking equipment.
Short films and the talent behind them were also recognized at the event. The Hollywood Foreign Press (HFPA), which hosted the AWFF’s short film competition, bestowed the HFPA Scholarship Best Short Award of $5,000 upon director Dania Bdeir for Warsha (Lebanon/France). HFPA runner-up Adilet Karzhoev, director of Burul (Kyrgyzstan), was honored with the StarsCollective Emerging Filmmaker Award of $2,000. Additionally, the Panavision Award for Short Film Cinematography, plus a $15,000 camera grant, was bestowed upon Amirhossein Khoshbin, director of photography on the Iranian film Deer.
“In this, our eighth annual AWFF, we have exemplified the good fortune of the number eight by screening an amazing bounty of cinematic riches,” AWFF executive director Georges N. Chamchoum said in a statement. “We exhibited films from more than 50 nations, and each in their own way was emblematic of the value of Asian voices to the industry and to audiences. The awards reflect the spirit of AWFF and the essence of what the festival stands for!”
The competition and previously announced honorary awards were delivered during a music-filled ceremony hosted by actress, philanthropist, and founder of the One Heart Movement, Krista Kleiner, and actor, writer, and producer Jeff Locker. The evening’s internationally recognized performers included singer-songwriter Dam Vinh Hung and Ha Phuong, singer, actress, and founder of Ha Phuong Foundation — both of whom were born in South Vietnam.
The complete awards list is as follows:
AWFF Competition Winners
- Snow Leopard for Best Film – The Last Film Show (India), Pan Nalin, director
- Snow Leopard for Best Actor – Mohsen Tanabandeh, World War III (Iran)
- Snow Leopard for Best Actress – Hui Fang Hong, Ajoomma (Singapore)
- Snow Leopard Audience Award – Aurora’s Sunrise (Armenia), Inna Sahakyan, director
- Snow Leopard Special Jury Award – World War III(Iran), Houman Seyedi, director
- Panavision Best Cinematography Award and Panavision Camera Grant – Andreas Sinanos, cinematographer, Kerr (Turkey)
- Hollywood Foreign Press Association Scholarship Award of $5000 – Warsha (Lebanon/France), Dania Bdeir, director
- StarsCollective Emerging Filmmaker Award – Adilet Karzhoev, director, Burul (Kyrgyzstan)
- Panavision Award for Short Film Cinematography – Amirhossein Khoshbin, cinematographer, Deer (Iran)
AWFF Honorees (Previously Announced)
- Snow Leopard Award for Outstanding Cinematic Achievement – Park Chan-wook, writer, director, producer
- Snow Leopard Lifetime Achievement Award – Albert S. Ruddy, producer
- Snow Leopard Rising Star Award – Desmond Chiam, actor, writer, producer
- The Bruce Lee Award, in partnership with the Bruce Lee Foundation – Daniel Wu, actor, martial artist, director, producer
- Ladies Tiffany Circle American Red Cross Courage to Dream Award – Dr. Michael Dao and Dr. Linh Bui, physicians and philanthropists
- Winn Slavin Humanitarian Award – Truong Ngoc Anh, philanthropist
- One Heart Award – Love Life Learning Foundation, cofounders Alan Vo Ford and Jenny Ai Trinh Thai
- Angel Benefactor Award – Jennifer McCormick and Lani Netter, Ladies Tiffany Circle American Red Cross
- Angel Benefactor Award – Raghu Kilambi, CEO/CFO, Power Tap Hydrogen Fueling Corporation
Serving on the competition jury were: Truong Ngoc Anh, actress, model, singer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist (President); Janet Hsieh, actor, television presenter, author, and musician; Jongman Kim, actor; Arawinda Kirana, actress and filmmaker; Janet Nepales, journalist; Pitof, director, producer and visual effects supervisor; and Bryan Sipe, screenwriter.
The HPFA short film competition jury was comprised of: Yong Chavez, TV correspondent (President); C-Tru, musician, music producer, and entertainment executive; Sam Kadi, filmmaker; Long Nguyen, actor; Minnie Nguyen, entertainment executive and producer; Miyuki Matsunaga, actress and performer.
Founded by Kyrgyz public figure Sadyk Sher-Niyaz, the Asian World Film Festival brings the best of a broad selection of Asian world cinema to Los Angeles to draw greater recognition to the region’s wealth of filmmakers and to strengthen ties between the Asian and Hollywood film industries. Uniting through cross-cultural collaboration, the Festival champions films from more than 50 countries, and all participating films are provided with the unique opportunity to be guided through the challenging awards season. They’re also showcased to Motion Picture Academy members, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and the entertainment guilds for enhanced exposure, media attention, and awards consideration. The Snow Leopard Awards were bestowed in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust to raise awareness for the endangered snow leopard and their Asian ecosystem.