Copyright MediaConnex Asia 2017

South Asian Films Dominate at Fribourg International Film Festival 2017

Singapore, Bhutan, and Nepal sweep top prizes in worldwide competition.


The Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) 2017 celebrated a monumental moment in its 31-year history last night, 8th of April, when South Asian cinema conquered the closing ceremony, and the festival’s top prizes were swept up by films from Singapore, Bhutan, and Nepal. FIFF, a top-tier festival happening annually at picturesque, northeastern Fribourg in Switzerland, brought together 12 films from 12 countries in its International Competition category.

Winning the coveted FIFF Grand Prix award is Singaporean Boo Junfeng with his prison drama/thriller, Apprentice. The prize comes with a hefty CHF 30,000 (approximately US $29,900) cash award, courtesy of the State and City of Fribourg. Apprentice is the harrowing story of a prison executioner and his new trainee who discovers a dark secret connecting them to an old crime. FIFF is Apprentice’s 60th film festival attendance, and aside from the grand prize, Junfeng also bagged the Critics’ Choice Award at FIFF.

Bhutan’s Honeygiver Among The Dogs, directed by Dechen Roder, raked in the Special Jury Award with a cash prize of CHF 10,000 (US $9,900). Honeygiver Among The Dogs is also a historic film in itself, being the first feature film made by a female, Bhutanese filmmaker to ever come out of the last, great Himalayan frontier. The poetic thriller about a detective’s investigation into the case of a missing monk and a mythological demon also won the Youth Jury Award COMUNDO (CHF 5,000, equivalent to US $4,900) , and rounded out with a Special Mention from the International Federation of Film Societies.

Deepak Rauniyar of Nepal collected a record number of 4 awards for White Sun, his 2nd directorial feature about a former Maoist guerrilla still coping with the effects of war and his reluctant journey back home to his village after his father suddenly dies. White Sun was prominently featured in the “New Territory” category of FIFF and took home the following awards – the Ecumenical Jury Award (CHF 5,000, equivalent to US $4,900), the Don Quijote Award from the International Federation of Film Societies (IFFS), the Public Prize (CHF 5,000, equivalent to US $4,900), and the Special Mention from the International Jury.

Thierry Jobin, Artistic Director of FIFF, comments on the top 3 winning films selected by the jury, “The sparks we’ve seen in South Asia since the rise of digital media and how easy it has made filmmaking is becoming a steady flame: we haven’t heard the last from this part of the world and are set to see the emergence of more great filmmakers like those who have just been celebrated in Fribourg.”


The complete list of FIFF 2017 winners are listed below:

International Competition for Feature-length Films

Grand Prix – Apprentice by Boo Junfeng (Singapore)
Special Jury Award – Honeygiver Among The Dogs by Dechen Roder (Bhutan)
Audience Award – White Sun by Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal)
The Youth Jury Award COMUNDO – Honeygiver Among The Dogs by Dechen Roder (Bhutan)
Critics’ Choice Award – Apprentice by Boo Junfeng (Singapore)
The Don Quijote Award – White Sun by Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal)
The Ecumenical Jury Award – White Sun by Deepak Rauniyar (Nepal)

International Competition for Short Films

Best International Short Film Award – Salam by Raed Rafai (Lebanon)
CH Cinema Network Prize – Samedi Cinéma by Mamadou Dia (Senegal)
Special Mention for New Territory category – Wo der Euphrat in da sava mündet by Andreas Muggli (Switzerland)
Foreign Visa Prize – Millimeterle by Pascal Reinmann (Switzerland)

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Janice freelances as a Screenwriter and Director in the Philippines and the U.S., but her first, great love will always be Creative Writing. She's contributed for dailies and magazines in her island hometown of Cebu from the age of 14. One of her most exciting writing gigs was in the Film section of the now-defunct lifestyle webzine, Limité, in which she got to interview one of her filmmaker heroes, Richard Linklater in New York City in 2012. When she's not writing or daydreaming up stories, Janice loves to go backpacking around small islands, making driftwood art, and playing with her Shih-Poo dog, Brandy.

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