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‘Le Spectre de Boko Haram’ Wins Rotterdam Festival

Political dramas and documentaries were the big winners at this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), as socially-relevant features from Africa, Sri Lanka and the Middle East coming away with the top honors.

Cyrielle Raingou’s Le Spectre De Boko Haram, a documentary that follows a group of children living in the far north region of Cameroon whose lives are overshadowed by the threat of Islamist terrorist organisation Boko Haram, won the main prize, the 2023 Tiger Award, which comes with $43, 000 (€40,000) in prize money, announced at a gala ceremony in Rotterdam Friday night.

Endless Borders, a minimalist thriller from Iranian director Abbas Amini, the story of an exiled Iranian teacher living in a border village between Iran and Afghanistan, won the IFFR’s Big Screen Award for best film in the IFFR’s main sidebar section.

The award came just hours after dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi was released from prison in Iran, following a 9 month incarceration.

“It’s a great coincidence that Jafar was release on the same day our film won,” Endless Borders‘ producer Farzad Pak told The Hollywood Reporter. “The film is dedicated to all the mothers who are mourning for their lost and imprisoned children.”

Special jury awards went to Visakesa Chandrasekaram’s Munnel, a feature on the post-war life of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, and to the pandemic comedy New Strains from U.S. filmmakers Artemis Shaw and Prashanth Kamalakanthan. Each received a €10,000 ($10,800) cash prize.

La Palisiada, the feature debut of Ukrainian filmmaker Philip Sotnychenko, which looks at post-Soviet life in 1990s Ukraine, took the Fipresci Award presented by the international film critics’ association.

Earlier, the IFFR announced the winners of this year’s industry honors, the Eurimages Co-production Development Award, which comes with a €20,000 ($21,600) bursary, and which went to Italy-France co-production Heads Or Tails.

Full list of 2023 IFFR winners below.

Tiger Competition Award
Le Spectre De Boko Haram, dir. Cyrielle Raingou

Special Jury Award
Munnel, dir. Visakesa Chandrasekaram

New Strains, Dirs. Artemis Shaw, Prashanth Kamalakanthan

VPRO Big Screen Award
Endless Borders, dir. Abbas Amini

Fipresci Award
La Palisiada, dir. Philip Sotnychenko

NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award
Whispering Mountains, dir.Jagath Manuwarna



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