‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ Tops First Niigata International Animation Film Festival
Pierre Földes’ Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman continued its impressive festival run by taking the Grand Prix at this year’s inaugural Niigata International Animation Film Festival.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is Földes’ directorial debut, adapted from several short stories by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. It will get a U.S. theatrical run next month after being picked up by Zeitgeist films.
Niigata’s Kabuku award, recognizing a film that shirks conventional values, went to Khaled Chiheb’s Algerian film Khamsa – The Well Of Oblivion. The film tells the story of an amnesiac boy named Adi who tries to get his memories back with the help of two strange creatures. It previously screened in competition at Annecy and Ottawa.
Thee Wreckers Tetralogy from Dutch artist Rosto, no stranger to festival recognition during his lifetime, won the Evolve award for works that help to evolve the animation artform. Over the course of his impressive career, Rosto won prizes at Cannes, Clermont-Ferrand, Hiroshima, and Ottawa, among others. Sadly, the filmmaker, fine artist, and musician died from lung cancer in 2019.
Ryôtarô Makihara’s Vampire in the Garden: The Movie, available on Netflix as a series in the U.S., received an honorable mention from the jury.
Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii, who presided over this year’s jury, explained the group’s choices, saying:
Animation expression is inherently diverse. And there is always a style that fits each work. For this year’s festival, the criteria for judging were somewhat different from those of a normal film festival, based on whether there was a style that best suited the intended message of the work. The three awards, with the exception of the Grand Prix, were newly invented in discussions amongst the jury members and are, so to speak, unprecedented awards. Each of these awards symbolizes the current position of the work or the expression of animation and the position it is in today.
2023 Niigata International Animation Film Festival Awards
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Pierre Földes
Khamsa – The Well of Oblivion, Khaled Chiheb
Thee Wreckers Tetralogy, Rosto
Vampire in the Garden: The Movie, Ryôtarô Makihara
Pictured at top: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman