Friday, July 3, 2009

“Disgrace” wins big honor in New Talent Competition at 2009 Taipei Film Festival

By Nancy T. Lu

"Disgrace” proved a motion picture not to be ashamed of. In fact, director Steve Jacobs in absentia ran away with the Grand Prize in the New Talent Competition at the 2009 Taipei Film Festival. Jane Yu, the film festival program director, received it on his behalf. This is only the 42-year-old Jacobs’ second full-length feature film.

The Australian movie entry tells the story of David Lurie, a divorced Cape Town university white professor, who gets sexually involved with his student in poetry class and ends up punished with dismissal from his post for his indiscretion. The 52-year-old unrepentant character moves to the countryside where his lesbian daughter Lucy lives as a farmer. In post-apartheid South Africa, she seeks to his father's chagrin the protection of her black South African neighbor Petrus. One day, however, while he is away, father and daughter are viciously attacked by three black youngsters. One of them is even a relative of Petrus’ wife. Lucy, a rape victim, gets pregnant but decides to keep the baby.

Chung Mong-hong’s “Parking” came out winner of the Special Jury Prize. Taiwanese director Chung was also not around to receive the honor at a ceremony held on July 3 at the Red Playhouse in Ximending. Perhaps he went looking again for the driver of the double-parked car in his movie.

Honorable mention went to Sebastian Silva’s “The Maid.” The 30-year-old Chilean filmmaker tries to show the insecurity of Raquel, a household help who has been serving one family for many years. Every extra helper hired by her employer to lighten her burden gets tortured by her. The director puts every maid in the movie through a shower scene to undress her. Even the adult male characters are not spared from total nudity in front of the camera.

Yang Ik-June’s “Breathless” and Naito Takatsugu’s “The Dark Harbor” likewise won honorable mention. The Korean director of “Breathless” remarked that after 35 years of exposure to a violent environment, he made the movie as an emotional outlet for himself. He, thus, filled it with dirty slang.

Japanese director Takatsugu grew up in a fishing village. He, therefore, draws from his own background in creating the simple and naïve bachelor fisherman Manzo in “The Dark Harbor.” This is a very sweet and lovable character.

The Audience Choice Awards went to Sebastian Silva’s “The Maid,” Stephan Komandarev’s “The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner” and Cheng Yu-chieh’s “Yang Yang.”

Helma Sanders-Brahms, Yasmin Ahmad, Liang Hsiu-shen, Tetsujiro Yamagami, and Oliver Chen made up the jury panel this year.

Photo taken by Nancy T. Lu shows eight directors and one actress posing for a souvenir picture with Hou Hsiao-hsien, president of the Taipei Film Festival.

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