The NETPAC award was established at the second edition of the Hainan Island International Film Festival (2020 HIIFF) held from December 1 - 8 2019 in the coastal city of Sanya in the island province of Hainan in Southern China.
HIIFF is one of the leading projects of the island province in building a free trade pilot zone and a free trade port with Chinese characteristics.
The award was inaugurated at 2020 HIIFF through the good offices of NETPAC board member Prof Xie Fei.
The NETPAC jury was composed of Wong Tuck Cheong (Malaysia) (Chair) Ed Lejano (Philippines) Cao Liuying (China)
The eight films nominated for the NETPAC award were:
1. Lhamo and Skalbe (Sonthar Gyal), China 2. About Love (Archana Atul Phadke), India 3. Wild Swords (Li Yunbo), China 4. Verdict (Raymund Ribay Gutierrez), Philippines 5. About Him or How He Did Not Fear the Bear (Nariné Mkrtchyan, Arsen Azatyan), Armenia 6. All This Victory (Ahmad Ghossein), Lebanon 7. Haifa Street (Mohanad Hayal), Iraq 8. Beneath the Shadow (Keishi Ohtomo), Japan
for its masterful portrayal of domestic violence in a gritty, polarizing drama with intense lead performances, where the legal system protects yet somehow perpetuates the status quo of the lower class", the award was given to the legal drama Verdict.
Through Joy, a battered wife, and her six-year-old daughter Angel, Verdict explores the theme of domestic violence and the protracted process of a flawed legal system that increasingly appears to threaten rather than protect her. It is to debut feature director Gutierrez’s credit that through the use of extreme close-ups and hand-held cameras, the film achieves an unsettling realism as justice appears to be receding from Joy’s reach.
Produced by Brillante Mendoza, it stars award-winning actors Max Eigenmann (as Joy) and the late Kristoffer King (as her husband Dante). Verdict was the Philippines’s submission to the 2019 Academy Awards.
Also at 2HIIFF was NETPAC founder Aruna Vasudev sitting on the international jury for the inaugural Golden Coconut Award for best film.
Raymund Ribay Gutierrez is the latest Philippine winner of the award. Past winners include well known filmmakers Lav Diaz, Brillante Mendoza and Raya Martin.
HIIFF is a potent signal of an ambitious future for the film industry in China, which has become the world's second-largest movie market.
Among the ambitious list of activities this year, HIIFF introduced two new platforms - H!Market and H!Action - for film marketing and production investment. There are also plans to explore new business models for the whole film production chain in the future to help turn Hainan into a "film island", according to Fu Xuanguo, executive vice minister of Publicity Department of CPC Hainan Provincial Committee and secretary general of the organizing committee of HIIFF.
by Wong Tuck Cheong