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GPIFF 2016 Awards Ceremony celebrates filmmaking talents

The 4th Golden Panda International Short Film Festival (GPIFF) Awards Ceremony took place on Dec. 2, 2016 at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Close to 1,000 esteemed guests, film professionals and audience joined for a night recognizing talented young filmmakers from across the world.

Sid Ganis, motion picture producer, past president of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, attended the festival. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Zhang Huijun, president of Beijing Film Academy, joined as president of the GPIFF 2016 Jury. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Zhang Huijun, president of Beijing Film Academy, joined as president of the GPIFF 2016 Jury. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Ellen Seiter, professor of University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, member of the GPIFF 2016 Jury. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Christopher Lane, professor of Toronto Film School, member of the GPIFF 2016 Jury. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Robert Lundberg, COO of China Lion Film Distribution, member of the GPIFF 2016 Jury. (Photo credit: Maggie Lai)

(L – R) Ju Wenpei, China Movie Channel Hostess, Best Actress Award-winner at the 2010 Chinese American Film Festival; Huang Lian, editor-in-chief of chinafilm.com; Jiayang Sangzhu, project development supervisor of Copyright Management Dept. of China Film Group Marketing Corporation. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Six outstanding films selected by the GPIFF 2016 Jury were awarded during the ceremony.

They are:

Best Picture

The Orchid Season (China), dir. Du Jinsui

Xiaolan, a 70 year-old medical professor, one day welcomed an old man home and took care of him as his wife.

Best Director

A Beautiful Mess (United Arab Emirates), dir. Shahir Zag

A maid takes the break up of the family she works for very personally.

Best Screenplay

I Heard the Flowers Blooming When I was Eighty (United States of America), dir. Pan Zhen

Larry, the lonely old man, bothers the town for a day when he seeks to fulfill his wish of a solo piano concert.

Best Animated Short Film

Where have the flowers gone? (Hong Kong), dir. Chan Sin-hong

A piggy pursuing dream in the big factory but in reality all efforts seemed powerless and even kill himself.

Best Humanistic Vision

Sociopaths (Japan), dir. Takeshi Asai

A girl encounters an android on the street. She finds something strange about the experience and decides to follow the android to give it a ‘message.’

Special Jury Award

A Children’s Song (United States of America), dir. Shayna Cohen

A young Jewish European boy is taken in by a Chinese family in Shanghai towards the end of World War II.

Depicting a touching story of salvation and hope when more than 20,000 Jews emigrated to Shanghai during the Second World War, short film A Children’s Song won Special Jury Award in this year’s GPIFF.

Zhang Huijun and Ju Wenpei presented Special Jury Award to Shayna Cohen, director of A Children’s Song. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Shayna Cohen gave an acceptance speech. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

“… from the very beginning, passionate Chinese and American filmmakers came together both behind and in front of the camera,” Special Jury Award-winner Shayna Cohen said during the acceptance speech. “We went to great length to work together and give the authenticity and respect to both Chinese and Jewish cultures during this incredible chapter of our history.”

Distinguished guests, including legendary motion picture producer, past president of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sid Ganis, president of Beijing Film Academy Zhang Huijun, chair of Directors Guild of Great Britain Ivor Benjamin, professor of University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts Ellen Seiter, professor of Toronto Film School Christopher Lane, COO of China Lion Film Distribution Robert Lundberg attended the ceremony and presented awards to winning filmmakers.

“I want to once more thank the organizers because of the wonderful work they have done,” Sid Ganis said during his speech. “What I learned over the years is it’s hard to pick the best movie. It’s all about this art form that many of you are very interested in. I’m here to say have a good night today. Thanks and have fun.”

Apart from award presentations, the ceremony also brought to the audience incredible art performances based on the themes of Engage, Act, Create and Rise, together with screenings of three award-winning films at this year’s GPIFF.

Local music band Parallel 3 brought the audience into the world of filmmaking through a medley of classic movie theme songs from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Bridges of Madison County, Armageddon and Tarzan. Following the music was an elaborately choreographed dance and sand drawing performance titled “The Climb”.

Parallel 3 performed a medley of classic movie theme songs. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Former GPIFF award winner, U.S.-based actor and writer Gabriel Furman shared his journey as a young filmmaker in the third chapter Create. Despite having played alongside Academy and Golden Globe winner Melissa Leo in the short film Mother’s Day, which also won the Special Jury Award in the 3rd GPIFF, Furman’s experience working in the highly competitive film industry has resonated with many filmmakers attending the ceremony.

Filmmaker Gabriel Furman shared his story with the audience. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

“In my career, there are lot of challenges that I faced, budget, scheduling, all those things, specifically with Mother’s Day,” Furman said. “But there is a little voice in my heart that says ‘Don’t worry, just make it.’ If it’s what’s inside you, just make it. At that moment, I’m starting to understand what a film is.”

Don Davis, member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway, spoke highly of GPIFF’s effort on providing a great platform for filmmakers. He mentioned British Columbia is the third largest film production centre in North America with various beneficial policies for filmmakers and encouraged more film professionals to pursue their careers in Vancouver.

Don Davies, member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

Taking place over a time span of more than six months, this year’s GPIFF received a total number of 376 submissions from 38 countries, including the United States, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and many more. Falling into different categories spanning from animations, science fictions to dramas and documentaries, all festival entries managed to showcase the creativity and talents of the filmmakers.

Other guests attending the ceremony include Teresa Wat, B.C.’s minister of International Trade and minister responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, representatives from Vancouver Economic Commission, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Film School, China Film Co., Beijing Film Academy, Cultural Investment Holdings Co., Zhongguancun Development Group as well as many other film-related organizations, companies and institutions.

Teresa Wat, B.C.’s minister of International Trade and minister responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism. (Photo credit: Liu Yaxin)

The ceremony wrapped up in the inspirational melody of You Raise Me Up, which also marks the successful ending for this year’s festival.