Rotterdam Winners: Toshihiko Tanaka’s ‘Rei’ & Oktay Baraheni’s ‘The Old Bachelor’ Scoop Top Prizes

Japanese actor and director Toshihiko Tanaka’s human relationships drama Rei and Iranian filmmaker Oktay Baraheni’s tale of identity and society The Old Bachelor have won the top awards at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Rei won the €40,000 ($43,000) Tiger Award in the main Competition.

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The drama revolves around a woman in her early thirties in a company job in Tokyo who is struggling to understand the value of her life until she meets a deaf landscape photographer living deep in the mountains of Hokkaido.

“The jury decided to give the Tiger Award to a burgeoning film director who chose to develop his debut film in a loose and unbounded environment,” said the jury consisting of Marco Müller, Ena Sendijarević, Nadia Turincev, Billy Woodberry and Herman Yau.

The two Special Jury Awards, worth €10,000 ($10,800) each, went to Indian director Midhun Murali’s Kiss Wagon, a political drama shot with a shadow play technique, and Australian filmmaker Jaydon Martin’s Flathead, a hybrid work exploring blue collar life in Australia.

Baraheni’s The Old Batchelor won top the €30,000 ($32,000) VPRO Big Screen Award 2024, which is shared equally between the filmmaker and the producer.

The Big Screen competition showcased 12 titles bridging the gap between popular, classic and arthouse cinema

“Exploring powerful themes of patriarchy, misogyny, love, violence and tragedy, this film is a masterclass in storytelling, through its gripping, nuanced dialogue, exquisite attention to detail and its development of tension, which simmers throughout the film until it reaches boiling point in the final, explosive act,” said the jury consisting of Samina Khan, Sylvie de Leeuwe, Lisa van der Loos,  Marcos Silva and Ella de Bruijn.

Murali’s Kiss Wagon also won the FIPRESCI Award for its “sheer spunk and freshness in approaching the grave issue of lack of liberties and of sexual and gender repression in a manner that combines humour, spectacle and intrigue.”

This FIPRESCI jury comprised Ela Bittencourt, Dārta Ceriņa, Panagiotis Kotzathanasis, Antonios Lagarias and Ronald Rovers.

The NETPAC Award for the best Asian feature film, awarded by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, went to Ishan Shukla’s Indian director dystopian animated feature Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust.

“It is a film with a universal approach, done in a spectacular style with a clear vision, with a lot of astonishing ideas and  with a great sense of humour,” said the jury consisting of Elena Larionova Haug, Donsaron Kovitvanitcha and Andreas Ungerböck.

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