|Top-prize winner Sothea Ines, center, is flanked by second runner-up winner Ezequial Paolinelli, left, and first runner-up Ly Polen. Photo via TropFest SEA.|
The first Tropfest Southeast Asia was held over the weekend in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, attracting a crowd of more than 4,000 to watch the finalist short films.
Two Cambodians won the top prizes – 24-year-old Sothea Ines took the top prize for Rice and Polen Ly was first runner-up with Duetto. A third prize, second runner-up, went to a Malaysian entry, The Last Flight by Ezequial Paolinelli.
Rice, which took its title from the TropFest SEA "signature item" that all entries had to incorporate, was about boys in a Khmer Rouge camp who collect grains of rice day by day to stave off starvation, but are later caught and punished by the camp commander. The seven minute film, embedded below, is shot in black and white and is entirely without dialogue.
There were 12 finalists, chosen from more than 180 entries from across Southeast Asia. Other finalists were:
- We Need to Break Up, Bradley Liew, Malaysia
- Rice Border Love, Supawit Buaket, Thailand
- The Strange Detective, Chan Kean Wah, Malaysia
- Grateful Moment, Sean Kook, Malaysia
- Chicken, Yihwen Chen, Malaysia
- Surprice, Emmanuel Escalona Jr., Philippines
- Moth in Twilight, J.E. Tiglao, Philippines
- Laek, Mony Kann Darung, Cambodia
- Congee, Tan Chee Meng and Charlotte Lam, Malaysia
Top-prize-winner Sothea receives $10,000 and a five-day immersion trip to Los Angeles, sponsored by the Motion Picture Association. Runner-up prizes to Polen and Paolinelli are all-expenses paid trips to Tropfest Sydney and Tropfest Arabia, respectively.
The panel of judges comprised Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet, Mary and Max), director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Monster-in-Law), Singaporean director Glen Goei, Malaysian actress Sharifah Amani and Roger Garcia, director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
John Polson, the founder and director of Tropfest, announced in a pre-recorded clip from New York that the "TropFest signature item" (TSI) for next year will be "wheel".
Meanwhile, there's still a chance to see the shorts and vote on them in the Audience Choice Award at Viddsee, the new online portal for Asian films. The voting runs until February 9, with the director of the winning film receiving $500 and a 4D3N luxury cruise to Krabi, Thailand, sponsored by Star Cruises.