India’s ‘Last Film Show’ Wins Top Prize at Asian World Film Festival

“Last Film Show” (aka “Chhello Show”), India’s Oscar contender, was this weekend named winner of the Asian World Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Writer-director Pan Nalin and producer Dheer Momaya were presented with the Snow Leopard trophy at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills.

“The best movie encompasses everything we want to see in a great film: good storytelling, moving performances, technically appealing, visually intoxicating and heartfelt connectivity to audiences. We received a line of very good movies this year and it was a tough decision. But this film reminded us of why we loved cinema. It reminded us of cinema’s ability to both enchant and inspire. It is a love letter to cinema to light and to life itself,” said festival jurors Janet Nepales and Pitof Jean-Christophe.

The film has been on the festival circuit for over a year, since debuting in in June 2021 at the Tribeca Film Festival. It is finally approaching a commercial release in the U.S. which may help its visibility while campaigning for a nomination in the best international feature category. Samuel Goldwyn Films has set a Dec. 2 release date. It had a commercial release in Gujarat, India on Oct. 14, 2022, giving it the necessary qualifying theatrical run in its home territory.

“This Award comes at right time while we are occupied with the screenings for 95th Academy Awards Oscars,” said Momaya. “For one year we have insisted in keeping ‘Last Film Show’ [as an] in theaters-only experience.”

Inspired by director Pan Nalin’s own childhood, the film follows the dreams and aspirations of a nine-year-old boy, Samay (portrayed by Bhavin Rabari), in rural Gujarat. Obsessed with watching movies on the big screen, Samay’s life takes a dramatic turn when his beloved neighbourhood cinema is converted from 35 mm to digital.

Other winners at the Asian World Film Festival included Iranian director Houman Seyedi’s “World War III,” which premiered at the Venice festival and will next be seen at the Hainan Island Film Festival. At the AWFF, it earned a special jury award and the best actor prize for Mohsen Tanabandeh.

The Snow Leopard award for best actress went to Singapore’s Hong Huifang for “Ajoomma,” He Shuming’s drama about a middle-aged woman obsessed with Korean contemporary culture, which premiered last month in Busan.

Asian World Film Festival: 2022 Winners and Honorees

Best film: “The Last Film Show,” directed by Pan Nalin (India)
Best actor: Mohsen Tanabandeh for “World War III” (Iran).
Best actress: Hui Fang Hong for “Ajoomma” (Singapore).
Special jury award: “World War III” (Iran)
Audience award: “Aurora’s Sunrise” (Armenia) dir. Inna Sahakyan.
Hollywood Foreign Press Association scholarship award of $5,000: “Warsha” (Lebanon-France) dir. Dania Bdeir.
Panavision $60K grant for best feature cinematography: “Kerr” (Turkey) (Andreas Sinanos, director of photography).
Panavision $15,000 grant for best HFPA short cinematography: “Deer” (Iran) dir. Hadi Babaeifar.
Stars Collective emerging filmmaker award of $2,000: “Burul” (Kyrgyzstan) dir. Adilet Karzhoev.
The Bruce Lee Award: Daniel Wu, actor, martial artist, director and producer.
Snow Leopard Award for outstanding cinematic achievement: Park Chan-wook, writer, director, and producer of “Decision to Leave.”
Snow Leopard lifetime achievement award: Albert S. Ruddy, producer.
Snow Leopard rising star award: Desmond Chiam, actor, writer, and producer.

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