When The Seedlings Grow

‘When The Seedlings Grow’ Wins Grand Prize At Japan’s Skip City Festival

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Syrian drama When The Seedlings Grow, filmed by Turkish director Rêger Azad Kaya in northern Syria, won the Grand Prize at this year’s Skip City International D-Cinema Festival in Saitama, Japan. 

The film, which received it Asian premiere at Skip City, follows a yoghurt seller who takes his daughter on a road trip to deliver yoghurt and meets a lost young boy who joins the father and daughter on their journey.

Kaya made the film under strict budgetary restrictions as a collaboration with filmmakers in Rojava, Syria. The two children are played by non-professional actors, real-life siblings, who lost their father in the Battle of Aleppo in 2016.

Also in Skip City’s international competition, Pablo Solarz won the best director prize for I Woke Up with a Dream, a co-production between Argentina and Uruguay; and Six Weeks, directed by Hungary’s Noémi Veronika Szakonyi, received the Special Jury Prize. 

This year’s jury was headed by Asmik Ace producer Masao Teshima and also included producer Naomi Akashi (Egoist) and French producer Patrice Nezan, whose credits include Skip City 2019 award winner The Tower, directed by Mats Grorud. 

In the Japanese Film Competition, Yoshiki Matsumoto’s feature debut Alien’s Daydream was awarded best picture, as well as the Skip City Award, which considers all the Japanese films across both the Japanese and international competitions. The film follows a sceptical reporter investigating a story about an university student being abducted by aliens. 

Hunting Results, directed by Minami Ikemoto, won best short in the Japanese competition, while Akihiro Takahama’s Mimic was given a Special Mention. 

Director Ryota Nakano (The Asadas) headed the jury for the Japanese competition, which also included actress Misa Wada and journalist and programmer Mark Schilling.

In addition, Midwives, directed by France’s Léa Fehner, won the Audience Award in the international competition, while Kazuomi Makita’s Hierophanie won the same honours in the Japanese competition (feature length) and Daichi Amano’s Don’t Go won the Audience Award among Japanese shorts. 

The festival took place in Saitama prefecture, on the outskirts of Tokyo, as an in-person event from July 15 to 23 and virtually from July 22 to July 26.