Ethereal Vietnamese Short ‘BINH’ Wins Top Prize At SeaShorts Film Festival 20213 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
The SeaShorts Film Festival, an annual celebration of Southeast Asian short film, concluded its fifth edition on 2 September with the announcement of its SeaShorts Award winner, Bình by Vietnamese filmmaker Ostin Fam, beating 20 nominees from eight different countries throughout the Southeast Asian region.
The ethereal short depicts an alien arriving on Earth seeking assistance to rebuild his home. Arriving at a Vietnamese construction site for the biggest temple in the world, he meets several individuals exchanging their different ideas of home.
As the SeaShorts Award winner, Ostin Fam and his team will be receiving 10,000 MYR sponsored by Da Huang Pictures, an Aputure 120D II Light and Light Dome II sponsored by Aputure, a Zoom H8 Recorder sponsored by CK Music and Zoom, and a S-MIC 2 Shotgun Microphone sponsored by Deity Microphones.
Please… See Us directed by Chaweng Chaiyawan was also given a Special Mention. While not an award, the film’s Special Mention acknowledges the urgent and important message it brings to light about the displacement of ethnic minorities in Thailand. The film follows a Lahu couple who have struggled to improve the opportunities in their lives, but are caught in the grip of powerful forces around them.
The 2021 Jury consisted of producer and film festival programmer Raymond Phathanavirangoon (Thailand), producer Meiske Taurisia (Indonesia), director Phan Dang Di (Vietnam), playwright and poet Alfian Sa’at (Singapore), and artist and illustrator Sonny Liew (Malaysia/Singapore). Raymond Phathanavirangoon served as the Head of Jury, bringing years of experience to the table.
This year’s versatile film selections saw works by Southeast Asian filmmakers from all over the region, with stories ranging from slice-of-life narratives to commentaries on political and societal issues. Jury Member Phan Dang Di shares that SeaShorts has provided him a great connection to short films, allowing him to explore and discover Southeast Asian countries through this short form medium. He explains “ I totally felt what happened in each country. Many films showed a diversity of modern, liberal, cinematic language.”
“Watching these films managed to cure a certain wanderlust in me. I found myself transported to various countries in Southeast Asia, but not just geographically. I felt myself transported into the various mindscapes of filmmakers. What was wonderful for me was not all the films were social realist ones, there were some very lyrical ones, some how you would describe poetic cinema. There were a lot of unforgettable images in those films,” adds fellow Jury Member Alfian Sa’at.
While the festival has tried its best to find its footing with the online setting for a second time, Festival
Director Tan Chui Mui hopes to return to in-person runs of SeaShorts in the near future. “For the next edition, we would like to go back to a physical festival, where we can watch films on a big screen together, in the same room. We need the communal experience of discussion between screenings, having discourse about film, and celebrating Southeast Asian cinema together. If physical events are not allowed in Malaysia by next year August, hopefully we can hold it in other Southeast Asian countries,” said Tan.
This year’s festival wouldn’t have been possible without the support of The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur (JFKL), Da Huang Pictures, Sinema, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, Ministry of Culture of Taiwan (Republic of China), Yayasan Sime Darby, Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur and Embassy of France in Malaysia.