A wave of joy rolled over the T-theatre in Nantes after the jury announced their top prize winner. Tao Gu, from Sichuan in China, won the Golden Air Ballon trophy for his first feature-length movie about his friend Dong, who was at the award ceremony along with other team members.
Dong is trying to find a way to live in a society whose values aren’t the same as his. A key phrase in the film is where Dong tells a friend during dinner that "love is what it’s all about - not money". Since the film was made, Dong has turned to Buddhism.
Tao Gu was overwhelmed and thanked the festival organizers who selected his film which had its world première recently in Switzerland.
"My mind is numb.They are so brave to take this film and to encourage me to be more brave and more free to create art in cinema. I dedicate this film to those who never give up defending their free spirit and humanity."
It was a special evening for another Chinese filmmaker, established director and producer Viviane Qu who won the second prize, the Silver air balloonfor her Angels Wear White.
The film follows a group of teenagers in China who become victims of, or party to crime, while the adults are wrapped up with their lives, or too busy making money and climbing ladders of success. What a week for Qu who also won one of Taiwan’s Golden Horse awards.
The audience award went unsurprisingly to Amit V Masurkar for Newton, which asks questions about absolutist attitudes towards elections and democracy, and the kind of mistakes made in trying to impose them. Newton is the Indian candidate for the best foreign language Oscar.
Last but not least, the youth jury chose to give its award to an engaging and poetical first feature film shot in Chile by Iranian director Alireza Khatami, called Oblivion Verses.
"It means a lot to me. The Youth Jury has given me this award. So I'll be getting awards for the next 60 years!"
The 3 Continents Festival competition this year failed to nab any films from Africa or African directors.
However, the festival can still live up to its name as a number of films from Africa were to be found elsewhere in the programme.
They included a 2011 feature called Today, by Berlin Festival prize-winner Alain Gomis, a film for little ones called The Little Sunshine Seller by Senegalese director Djibril Dip Mambety. A South African newcomer’s film which had a received a French grant earmarked for films from the southern hemisphere, John Trengrove’s,The Wound made the selection as well as a first feature film in development in the Festival’s production workship, by Samantha Nell and produced by Bongiwe Selane, also from South Africa.