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Filipino movie wins top award at Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia

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A film by a Filipino director that depicts the social divisions of society won the top prize on Monday at one of Asia’s largest short film festivals.

The film titled “Filipiniana” by Rafael Manuel received the George Lucas Award, or the Grand Prix award, at this year’s Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, which ended after running for over a week in a hybrid format in Tokyo and online.

The roughly 24-minute film tells the story of a young girl newly employed at a golf course and her attempts to find loopholes to challenge the system.

In an online acceptance speech at the festival’s closing ceremony, Manuel said he is “grateful” for receiving this award and that “we need cinema to remind us of the empathy and patience that is required for us to stay connected” now more than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival is the only international short film festival in Asia that is eligible to nominate four films to compete in the following year’s Oscar awards.

The event kicked off on June 11, combining screenings at venues in Tokyo and online. It has been held annually since it was founded by actor Tetsuya Bessho in 1999.

An award recognizing films shot on smartphones was given to “viewers:1” directed by Yosuke Kobayashi and Daigo Hariya, under a new competition category established by the festival for the first time this year.

The film tells the story of a man who video streams himself in solitude after “something” happens to the human race, wandering about city ruins for his lone viewer.

The animated film “Picnic,” which follows the disastrous events that unfold after a rabbit arrives at a picnic on a warm and beautiful day, received an award given to recognize young, promising filmmakers in Japan. Its director, Yuki Kusama, said he wants to someday work in Hollywood.

Celebrities who attended the ceremony included Japanese film director Naomi Kawase, winner of several Cannes awards.

Online screenings of some short films are slated to last through June 30.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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