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‘Neighbours’ wins Best Picture at Gangneung International Film Festival

A scene from “Neighbours,” directed by Mano Khalil (Gangneung International Film Festival)
A scene from “Neighbours,” directed by Mano Khalil (Gangneung International Film Festival)

“Neighbours,” a film by Kurdish Swiss director Mano Khalil, won the Best Picture Award at the Gangneung International Film Festival, which ended Sunday.

During the 10-day festival, which kicked off Oct. 22 with Albert Birney’s “Strawberry Mansion,” 116 films from 42 countries were screened at five theaters in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on South Korea’s east coast.
 
The closing ceremony of the third Gangneung International Film Festival takes place Sunday at CGV Gangneung in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. (Gangneung International Film Festival)
The closing ceremony of the third Gangneung International Film Festival takes place Sunday at CGV Gangneung in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. (Gangneung International Film Festival)

The winners of the International Narrative Competition Awards, created last year, were announced during the closing ceremony at CGV Gangneung on Sunday. The award for Best Director went to “Natural Light” director Denes Nagy, and Best Screenplay went to “Botox,” directed by Kaveh Mazaheri.

Ten films were selected to compete for the awards, out of the 547 features submitted.

Khalil received 20 million won ($16,982) in prize money, while Nagy and Mazaheri were awarded 10 million won each.
 
“Neighbours” director Mano Khalil speaks during the closing ceremony of the third Gangneung International Film Festival, Sunday at CGV Gangneung in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. (Gangneung International Film Festival)
“Neighbours” director Mano Khalil speaks during the closing ceremony of the third Gangneung International Film Festival, Sunday at CGV Gangneung in Gangneung, Gangwon Province. (Gangneung International Film Festival)

“Neighbours” was inspired by the director’s experience. It is set in a Syrian border village in the 1980s and centers on a young Kurdish boy, Sero, who goes to school for the first time. At the school, Sero meets an oppressive teacher who wants to indoctrinate Kurdish children with a Pan-Arab mindset. The teacher forbids the students from using the Kurdish language and teaches them to hate Jews. Sero, who is close with a neighboring Jewish family, is confused.

The recipients of the GIFF Short Film Fund, which received 10 million won in funding each, were also announced during the closing ceremony.

They were “Girl’s Friend,” directed by Song Jee-yeon; “The Long and Winding Road,” directed by Lee Nam-ju; and “Distance,” directed by Yoo Seung-heon. The short films will be screened at next year’s Gangneung International Film Festival as well.

This year, a total of 62 films applied for the GIFF Short Film Fund, which aims to support Gangneung’s film industry, according to the festival organizer.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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