Danish World War II epic "Into The Darkness" won the top honour of Golden Peacock Award at the closing ceremony of the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which was pared down considerably due to the coronavirus pandemic. Director Anders Refn's "Into the Darkness" chronicles the complex, emotional turmoil of the Danish people during the Nazi occupation of the country. The award consists of a cash prize of RS 40 lakh, to be shared equally between Refn and producer Lene Borglum. The duo, however, were not present.
Mandarin drama, "The Silent Forest", bagged two top honours- best actor male and best director. Taiwanese actor Tzu-Chuan Liu, 17, was honoured with 'Silver Peacock for Best Actor' for his role of a hearing impaired in the film while Taiwanese filmmaker Chen-Nien Ko won the best director award for her "heart-wrenching exposition of the systemic sexual abuse" happening in a school for children with special needs.
The Silver Peacock for best actor – female was awarded to Polish actor Zofia Stafiej, for her role in director Piotr Domalewski’s "I Never Cry" at the ceremony held at the .
The film explores the journey of a daughter who has to navigate the maze of bureaucracy in a foreign country to bring back the body of her dead father.
Stafiej, who wasn't present at event as well, would receive a certificate and cash award of RS 10 lakh.
The IFFI 51 'Special Jury Award' was bagged by Bulgarian director Kamin Kalev's 2020 film "February", while the best debut director award went to Brazilian filmmaker Cassio Pereira dos Santos, for his 2020 Portugese drama "Valentina".
The film tells the story of a 17-year-old transgender Brazilian girl aspiring for a normal life.
The ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Award—given to a film that reflects Mahatma Gandhi's ideals of peace, tolerance and non-violence—was awarded to Ameen Nayfeh’s 2020 Arabic film "200 Meters".
The award consists of a certificate and a medal. It is given as part of IFFI’s collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT) Paris.
The winners were decided by the International Jury, comprising Argentine director Pablo Cesar as Chairman, Prasanna Vithanage (Sri Lanka), Abu Bakr Shawky (Austria), Indian filmmaker Priyadarshan and Rubaiyat Hossain from Bangladesh.
Cesar, who could not be present at the event, said in a video message, that the festival offered the jury varied themes of films to choose from.
"Especially those that make us reflect on individual freedoms, rights of children and all the people of this world, empowerment of women and memories of things that same people have done which we are sure we never want to happen again. Thank you IFFI for selection of films which are rich in content and aesthetic search," he added.
Three Indian films -- Assam-set "Bridge" by Kripal Kalita, "A Dog And His Man" by Siddharth Tripathy and Ganesh Vinayakan's "Thaen" -- were nominated in the International competition line up, which consisted 15 features from across the globe.
Only "Bridge", however, managed to take home the 'Special Mention' honour. Veteran actor Zeenat Aman and actor-politician Ravi Kishan were the guests of honour at the ceremony held at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium.
Aman, 69, lauded the festival for managing to invite cinema talent from across the world even in its slimmed down avatar. "As we journey towards the post pandemic world, a glimpse of it can be felt today with this excellent gathering of film lovers. I am certain all the films selected are backed with immense hope for a world with better understanding towards multiple issues, cultures, society or an individual unit," she said.
Union minister and singer Babul Supriyo and veteran actor Biswajit Chatterjee, who was conferred the ''Indian Personality of the Year'' award at IFFI, were also in attendence along with Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Goa governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Sawant lauded the efforts of everyone for making IFFI a success at a time when many film festivals were called of due to COVID-19. "I have full faith that the next edition of the festival will be better than this. I thank our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, our Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar ji. No film festivals were held because of the pandemic, but we took the lead and ran it successfully in a hybrid manner," he said.
A total of 224 films were screened under different sections at the 51st edition of the festival which was pushed by two months from its original November show.
The hybrid-mode festival organised online streaming of masterclasses by filmmakers Shekhar Kapur, Chaitanya Tamhane and Subhash Ghai. Apart from the opening and closing ceremony, which was live telecast, few World Panorama films were also streamed online.
Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg's "Another Round" opened the festival, while Japanese historical drama "Wife of a Spy" by Kiyoshi Kurosawa was the closing film.
The nine-day festival was conducted jointly by the Directorate of Film Festivals (under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) and Goa government.