The Singaporean film, Sand Castle , won Best Feature Film and Best Director at the Vietnam International Film Festival in Hanoi which concluded on October 21.

Sand Castle tells the story of a family in Singapore which head of the jury board Australian director Phillip Noyce says represented many families and described a period in the country's history.

Ten films in the "In Competition Programme", with various styles and genres, from eight countries in East and Southeast Asia , created a portrait of special and modern societies and helped draw international filmmakers to the region, Noyce says.

"Five days of screenings allowed us to view the finest of new Asian, Vietnamese and French films, while also affording an overview of independent contemporary cinema."

The jury for feature films gathered filmmakers, including Francois Catonne from France, Marco Mueller from Italy , Kang Soo-yeon from the Republic of Korea and Dang Nhat Minh from Vietnam .

"Congratulations on the first edition of the festival," Kang says. "A film festival is more than just screening films from other countries, but sharing various cultures and understanding their differences."

Best Actress prize went to two contenders because of their excellence: Nhat Kim Anh of Vietnam and Fiona Sit of Hongkong ( China ).

"To play my role in The Fate of a Songstress in Thang Long, I had to learn a lot," Anh says, "such as playing a 16-chord zither, singing ceremonial songs and expressing the character's inner feeling through crying with only one eye.
"I felt I grew up in this film and I'm proud of the role," she says.

The Documentary and Short Film Jury included Matthieu Poirot-Delpech from France , Juhani Alanen from Finland , and Vietnamese director Bui Dinh Hac.

"I really like Asian short films," says Alanen. "For me, Asian short films are windows to Asian countries. They tell me something about Asia that you cannot find from news or television."

They granted the prize to the Vietnamese documentary Always Beside You, a debut for young director Nguyen Thi Kim Hai.

The festival focused on East Asian and Southeast Asian films and attracted filmmakers, producers and businessmen from 30 countries and territories./.