'A Land Imagined' Wins Golden Lion at Locarno


Powerful depiction of Singapore’s migrant workers takes first prize at legendary film festival; preparations begin for the Cinema For Peace 2019 Awards Gala

The 71st instalment of the Locarno film festival wound up last weekend, with the Golden Leopard going to Yeo Siew Hua for his mesmerising A Land Imagined. The Singaporean director’s sophomore feature, it tells the story of Detective Lok (Peter Yu) who is charged with tracking down a missing migrant, Wang Bi Cheng (Liu Xiaoyi), a worker at a land reclaiming plant.

The film takes place against the backdrop of a Singapore that is rapidly expanding, thanks to massive terraforming projects that cannibalise sand from coastlines of other countries in the region. The city state has increased its landmass by more than 20% since the 1960s, devastating its natural ecosystems in the process. “I remember this was all sea thirty years ago,“ Detective Lok says at one point, gazing into the distance. “Who remembers what it was like thirty years ago?“ his partner laconically replies.

As varied as the city itself, A Land Imagined deploys a powerful and unsettling mix of registers to address themes of migration, exploitative labor and ecological destruction. It is sure to feature in the roster of many more film festivals this year.

Here at the Cinema for Peace Foundation we have already begun to put together the longlist for our 2019 Gala. Our categories are Most Valuable Film of the Year, Most Valuable Documentary of the Year, the International Green Film Award, and the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice. A Land Imagined is certainly a contender!

Another film that we have loved this year is What Will They Say, a powerful new movie from Iram Haq. The follow up to her acclaimed 2013 debut I Am Yours, it depicts a young Norwegian–Pakistani girl’s struggle to negotiate her two identities.

The Cinema for Peace Foundation has partnered with women's organization Tehrik-e-Niswan to organise a screening of What Will They Say on August 19th in Karachi, Pakistan. Please check this wonderful organization’s webpage for more details!

Cinema Peace