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Zeng Zi’s Friday, Funfair Wins Asian New Talents Prize at Shanghai

Zeng Zi’s Friday, Funfair Wins Asian New Talents Prize at Shanghai

Chinese drama Friday, Funfair, directed by Zeng Zi, was named best film of the 26th Shanghai International Film Festival’s Asian New Talent section, which honors distinguished works by emerging filmmakers from across the Asia-Pacific region.

The film is in tune with a recent trend in Chinese cinema of tackling the pressures and hardships women face in society. Zeng’s first feature, Friday, Funfair follows a female protagonist (Ying Ze) who is overwhelmed by her life’s daily grind — her husband left her, her mother seems to have aged suddenly, and her daughter is facing imminent surgery, among other challenges. But Friday is her daughter’s birthday — and everything comes to a head at an amusement park where they go to celebrate.

The Asian New Talent section’s only double award winner this year was the black-and-white Indian social drama In the Name of the Fire. The film’s self-taught director, Abhilash Sharma, won the best director prize, while his star, Satya Ranjan, took best actor honors. Set in the rural east Indian state of Bihar, where the director and his cast are from, the film focuses on a struggling family and explores how their caste and religion weigh heavily on their daily existence. The film is told in the region’s ancient Magahi language.

‘Friday Funfair’ wins best film at the 2024 Shanghai International Film Festival.

Shanghai International Film Festival

“We have no professional film industry or distribution system for films told in this language, so as an independent filmmaker, this award means a lot,” said Sharma. “It provides us with a kind of window and the possibility that we can find distribution and the film can be more widely seen by audiences.”

Shanghai’s Asian New Talent prize for best actress went to another Indian emerging talent, Jayashri, star of Bird Of A Different Feather. Directed by 22-year-old filmmaker Manohara K, the movie is based on the autobiography of Sonia S and tells the coming-of-age story of a 12-year-old girl with albinism.

“I just hope that this story gives hope and inspiration to people who struggle with any kind of adversity, because there is always hope and there is always light at the end of the tunnel,” said Sonia S, who also wrote the film’s screenplay. “Spreading that inspiration is the main theme of the film.”

Shanghai’s main competition jury, headed by Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung, will hand out the festival’s top-prize Golden Goblet Awards on Saturday.

The full list of Shanghai’s 2024 Asian New Talents winners is below.

Best Film
Friday, Funfair, directed by Zeng Zi (China)

See Also

Best Director 
Abhilash Sharma for In The Name Of Fire (India)

Best Actor 
Satya Ranjan for In The Name Of Fire (India)

Best Actress
Jayashri for Bird Of A Different Feather (India)

Best Screenplay
Zhang Xuyu for Fishbone (China)

Best Cinematography 
Huang Shaohui for Habitat (China)

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