FESTIVALS: Paz Encina’s Eami takes Rotterdam Tiger Award

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Eami by Paraguayan filmmaker Paz Encina took the Tiger Award at this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), which took place virtually from January 26 to February 6. 

The magic realist fable follows a young girl from the indigenous Ayoreo-Totobiegosode people who wanders in the jungle when her village is destroyed and her community disintegrates. The film is a co-production between Paraguay, Germany, Argentina, Netherlands, France and the US. 

The jury said in a statement: “We were unanimously affected by the powerful film created by the director and the team that succeeds in building a strong narrative that not only sustains itself visually, politically and also poetically, putting the lights on the global massacres of indigenous tribes, through the cry of the Paraguayan Ayoreo-Totobiegosode. This film gave us the opportunity to dream and at the same time the chance to wake up.”

The Special Jury Awards in the Tiger Competition went to Excess Will Save Us, directed by French filmmaker Morgane Dziurla-Petit, and To Love Again from China’s Gao Linyang, with the latter film also taking the FIPRESCI award. The Tiger Competition jury included Zsuzsi Bankuti, Gust Van den Berghe, Tatiana Leite, Thekla Reuten and Farid Tabarki. 

The VPRO Big Screen Award went to Kung Fu Zohra, directed by French filmmaker Mabrouk El Mechri, about a woman who learns martial arts to protect herself from domestic violence. The award comes with a guaranteed theatrical release in the Netherlands, along with broadcast on Dutch TV by VPRO and NPO.

The Ammodo Tiger Short Awards went to Becoming Male In The Middle Ages, directed by Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Neves Marques; Nazarbazi, from Iranian director Maryam Tafakory, and Nosferasta: First Bite by American filmmakers Bayley Sweitzer and Adam Khalil.  IFFR additionally nominated Becoming Male In The Middle Ages to the short film category of the European Film Awards (EFA).

The third annual Robby Müller Award was received by Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. The KNF Award went to American filmmaker Jon Rafman for his short film Punctured Sky.

The festival closed on February 6 with a screening of a restored version of King Hu’s Dragon Inn and the launch of 25 Encounters, a curated publication, series of 25 conversations with filmmakers and accompanying film programme on IFFR Unleashed. It was also revealed on the closing night that Freaks Out by Gabriele Mainetti had won the festival’s  VriendenLoterij Audience Award. 

Filmmakers participating in 25 Encounters include Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Christine Vachon, Olivier Assayas, Ayoka Chenzira, Ester Martin Bergsmark, Costa-Gavras and Yuasa Masaaki.

The competition selections, which have been exclusively screening online for press and industry guests during the festival, will screen in cinemas for audiences later in the year.