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'27 Steps of May' grabs top prize at JAFF

Bambang Muryanto

The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta  /  Thu, December 6, 2018  /  09:32 am
'27 Steps of May' grabs top prize at JAFF

Helping hand: 27 Steps of May, which follows a rape survivor’s struggle to overcome her painful memories with the help of a magician living next door, won the prestigious Golden Hanoman Award at the 13th Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival (JAFF). (Courtesy of Green Glow pictures/-)

Drama 27 Steps of May, a film that follows a rape victim’s struggle to overcome the tragedy, received the prestigious Golden Hanoman Award at the 13th Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival (JAFF).

The awarding took place during the JAFF closing ceremony at the Jogja National Museum in Yogyakarta on Tuesday night.

The 120-minute drama, directed by Ravi Bharwani, outshined 18 other films competing for the Golden Hanoman Award, which recognizes the best Asian film in the Asian Feature category.

One of the judges, acclaimed Indonesian director Joko Anwar, said 27 Steps of May showed many different elements, such as comedy, action and drama.

The film centers on May, who endured the painful experience of being raped when she was 14 years old. May’s father watches her helplessly, venting his anger through fighting. May hardly comes out of her room until she sees the performance of a magician living next door.

The second prize, the Silver Hanoman Award, went to Nervous Translation by Filipina artist and filmmaker Shireen Seno.

Set in the Philippines in the late 1980s, Nervous Translation centers on introverted 8-year-old Yael and her mother. She loves listening to cassette tapes recorded by her father, a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia.

JAFF’s program director, Ismail Basbeth, in his note underlined that JAFF’s Asia Feature program signified the festival’s commitment to promote Asian films to audiences in the region.

“We strive to keep on promoting the idea of Asia for Asia,” he wrote.

Other awards presented on the awards night included the Netpac Award, which is bestowed on an Asian filmmaker who gives an important contribution to Asia’s new cinema movement. Indonesian filmmaker Yuda Kurniawan received the award for Nyanyian Akar Rumput (The Song of Grassroots), a documentary on Fajar Merah, the son of worker activist Wiji Thukul, who disappeared in 1998.

In the Asian short film category, Facing Death with Wirecutter by Iraqi filmmaker Sarwar Abdullah received JAFF’s Blencong Award. Meanwhile, Passage of Life by Japanese filmmaker Akio Fujimoto received the Geber Award after receiving the most votes from film communities across Indonesia.

Noted Indonesian actor Reza Rahadian was named the festival’s best actor, while renowned and productive Indonesian filmmaker Hanung Bramantyo was named JAFF’s best film director.

The awards ceremony was followed by the closing gala, which screened Sri Lankan Asoka Handagama’s anthology film Thundenek (Her. Him. The Other). The film revolves around three separate stories linked to postwar experiences and ethnic conflict in Sri Lankan society.

JAFF’s festival director, Ifa Isfansyah, said this year’s JAFF was the most successful edition since the festival started in 2006.

“We welcomed more than 14,000 audience members at the festival from its first day until the closing night,” Ifa said.

A total of 138 films comprising documentaries, short films and feature movies were screened throughout the week-long festival. Aside from the screenings, JAFF also held a number of supporting events, including the festival’s first ever filmmaking education program.

Another supporting event was Focus on Garin, which includes the screenings of films directed by JAFF cofounder Garin Nugroho. There is also an exhibition, which, among others, showcases the films’ costumes, props and documentations.

The exhibited items include the old-fashioned costumes and a set of Beber puppets featured in historical drama Guru Bangsa Tjokroaminoto (Teacher of the Nation Tjokroaminoto). The exhibition also showcased the behind-the-scene photos of Setan Jawa (Javanese Satan), Soegija and musical film Slank.