Singapore: Indian filmmaker Chaitanya Tamhane won the Best Film and the Best Director awards at the Singapore Silver Screen Awards for his first feature film 'Court', which centres around the justice system in the country.
"This glittering gem dazzles with its simplicity, elegance and breathtaking naturalism. Every facet of this film shines, from the humanity of its screenplay, to the originality of its structure, to the assuredness of its direction.
"A brilliant achievement," reads the jury citation of the Tamhane film presented last night at the 25th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF).
'Court' follows the trial of an outcaste Dalit folk singer and unveils the power structures of society and prejudices of the court. The film features trial of the ageing singer for abetting the suicide of a sewerage worker with an inflammatory song.
Written and directed by Tamhane, 'Court', a multilingual drama featuring actor-producer Vivek Gomber in the lead role, has already won a number of other awards at international cinematographic events.
Two other short films, highlighting the plight of South Asians, also won awards at the annual festival.
'Dahdi' (Granny), directed by New York-based Kristen Tan, won the Best South-east Asian Short Film Award.
The film by 33-year old Tan was inspired by a 2012-event where 40 boat people were picked up by a Vietnamese ship denied entry into Singapore. They were believed to be Rohingya refugees escaping violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state.
Tan said her film is set on a Singapore islet and involves a Rohingya girl looking for refuge, who drops in on an elderly widow. Dahdi took in the girl seeking asylum.
"I felt like I wanted to do a film where there's a conflict between moral and legal responsibilities," The Sunday Times quoted Tan as saying.
'Not Working Today' by Singaporean Shijie Tan won Best Singapore Short Film Award for featuring the plight of a foreign worker here.
The film is about a foreign worker who decides not to go to work one day, making his way instead to the authorities to ask for redress for the wages owed to him.
In all, 11 feature films and 19 short films were nominated for the awards at the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore since 1987 which focuses on groundbreaking Asian cinema and discovering new film talents from South-east Asia.