Udine Asian Film Festival: ‘Midnight Swan’ Wins Best Picture Award

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Transgender drama “Midnight Swan” was named as the best film on Saturday at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy. The Golden Mulberry prize was awarded by an audience poll after the film’s online screening.

The film, directed by Uchida Eiji, is the story of an adolescent girl who moves in with her transgender aunt. She finds salvation from loneliness through dance, but the decision does not sit easily with her relative who is struggling to be accepted as a woman. The film previously won the best film prize at the Japan Academy.

Second prize also went to a Japanese-made title, Maeda Koji’s comedy “You’re Not Normal Either!”. Taiwanese hit “My Missing Valentine,” directed by Chen Yu-hsun claimed the third prize.

Among the festival’s season ticket holders, its black dragon pass holders also chose “My Missing Valentine” as their top film, while MYmovies readers opted for Soi Cheang’s fierce Hong Kong thriller “Limbo.”

Hong Kong film noir “Hand Rolled Cigarette” won the White Mulberry prize, awarded by a three-person jury for best first film. It was directed by Chan Kin-long. Chinese ecological fable “Anima” by Cao Jingling earned a special mention.

Responding to COVID conditions, the festival was held as a hybrid event that combined in-person screenings and seminars with others that were online only. In certain cases, the festival obtained multi-territory rights and was able to screen titles outside Italy in other parts of Europe. This allowed the festival to expand its reach despite the public health obstacles and enduring travel restrictions.

Organizers said that the festival welcomed 10,000 visitors on site in Udine and a further 15,000 digital participants from 38 countries. In total they streamed over a million minutes of content.

“The public understood and enthusiastically supported the opening plan (which it might be more accurate to call a “battle plan” (that was) devised after an interminable period of restrictions. In fact, accessibility to the FEFF multiplied for the very first time, with an in-the-flesh version (an outdoor arena with 400 seats and a series of 5 screening rooms) and a digital version (the online platform curated with the technical support of MYmovies),” organizers said.

They also put on 14 livestreaming events with Asia and held five press conferences via Google Meet. The festival’s industry support sections, Focus Asia and Ties That Bind, were able to welcome 55 executives from Europe and the U.S.