The 5th Beijing International Film Festival closed on Thursday night in Beijing, handing out the festival's top honor to Mexican movie "El Comienzo del Tiempo" while recognizing six other films from various countries.
Hong Kong star Jackie Chan (left) and French veteran filmmaker Luc Besson with Bernardo Arellano (center), director of Mexican movie "The Beginning of Time," which won the Tiantan Award at the Beijing International Film Festival. [Photo/Xinhua]
"El Comienzo del Tiempo (The Beginning of Time)," directed by Bernardo Arellano, won the Best Picture award at the Tiantan Awards ceremony during the festival's closing gala.
The feature-length drama -- a dark comedy depicting the troubled life of a 90-year-old odd couple and their sons who have been missing for years -- beat 14 other rivals selected from 930 candidates from 90 countries and regions.
Chinese kungfu megastar Jackie Chan presented Arellano with the Best Picture award as Arellano explained that the story's characters really made the film.
"I spent a lot of time doing my cast -- I think that was the key, because I looked for the human beings. I love to look inside life, inside their spirit, inside their soul. I looked at special characters who represent the words I want to express in cinematographic language."
Luc Besson led the seven-member jury, which awarded the Best Director prize to French director Jean-Jacques Annaud for his works in the Sino-French co-production "Wolf Totem," which was filmed with real wolves over the course of seven years. The wildlife featured in "Wolf Totem" also won the Best Visual Effects award.
While on stage at the closing ceremony, Besson mentioned that "Wolf Totem" was his personal selection for Best Picture and expressed hopes that more excellent co-productions can be made in the future.
Annaud made a touching speech when he accepted his award, presented to him by the jury's Chinese director, Peter Chan, and Russian director Fyodor Bondarchuk.
"To succeed, you need the talent of your cast, the courage of your producer and the determination of a great crew. I want to say this movie is entirely made in China, with a wonderful, wonderful crew and cast, so I am extremely touched for all the people who worked so hard on this movie."
There was clearly no big winner to collect all the biggest awards, but the Slovakian and Czech Republic film "Deti (Children)," directed by Jaroslav Vojtek, won the three smaller awards of Best Screenplay (Marek Lescak), Best Cinematography (Tomas Stanek) and Best Supporting Actress (Eva Bandor), the greatest number of awards won by a single film at this year's festival.
The Best Actor award was handed to Artyom Tsypin for his portrayal of private detective "Igor" in the Russian film "Belaya Belaya Noch (A White, White Night)," while the Best Actress award went to Yulia Peresild for her role as a female sniper in the Russian and Ukrainian co-production "Bitva za Sevastopol (Battle for Sevastopol)."
Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Ka-fai won the Best Supporting Actor award for his portrayal of a ruthless bandit villain in "The Taking of Tiger Mountain" directed by Tsui Hark, one of the highest-grossing Chinese films of all time.
The Best Music award was given to composers Florian Blauensteiner and Florian Horwath for their score in the Austrian film "Gruber Geht."
The Beijing International Film Festival, which aims to become the top film event in Asia, also turned into a carnival for movie fans.
According to the China Film Archive, the festival attracted 210,000 moviegoers to about 900 screenings of 360 films at 23 cinemas and eight universities throughout Beijing. The film festival also saw the signing of record-breaking contracts involving more than 13.845 billion yuan (US$2.23 billion) during its Beijing Film Market event. The value of these contracts exceeded that of contracts signed at last year's event by 32 percent and was greater than the value of contracts signed at any other film festival in Asia.