Our regular readers would probably know that I live in a sunny city far, far away from New York, but it doesn't stop me being jealous of those of you who live in New York and get to go to the excellent NYAFF every year. The line-up of films is always so fantastic, and offers a useful guide for my own selection of films to see at the various film festivals that I get to attend (such as the Sydney Film Festival, Japanese Film Festival and Korean Film Festival in Australia). So I read with great interest the list of audience award winners at this year's NYAFF (10th Anniversary!) that have just been announced.
Here is what Subway Cinema, the organisers of the NYAFF, have to say:
After every screening we give the audience little tiny ballots and they mark how they felt about the film on a scale of 1 - 5, with 1 representing a feeling along the lines of "Why did you screen this horrible movie? Now I am going to kill you." and 5 representing, "Best movie I've seen in my life. I am reborn!" This is very scientific. We then use "math" and "counting" to come up with a list of average scores in a top secret lab deep underneath the Anthology Film Archives. The highest average is the winner.
And so without further ado, the winner of this year's NYAFF Audience Award is....drum roll, please.....
A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI
This is exactly the kind of crowd-pleasing, family-friendly, heartfelt, non-ironic movie that we all love and we're glad that you guys love it, too. In an age when every crummy horror and action movie somehow finds a distributor, it's nice to see that a movie that just makes you laugh and feel good can take home the Audience Award.
GANTZ and GANTZ: PERFECT ANSWER
Coming close on its heels, literally just a few decimal points away, is GANTZ in second place. And when we say "GANTZ" we mean both GANTZ movies (GANTZ and GANTZ: PERFECT ANSWER), since we screened them back-to-back and only took up Audience Award ballots for both movies.
In third place is another touching family-friendly film...OCEAN HEAVEN, starring Jet Li in his first non-action role.
REIGN OF ASSASSINS
In fourth place is Su Chao-pin's funny, moving, intense wu xia film with Michelle Yeoh in the lead role, REIGN OF ASSASSINS.
Those movies were all clustered very tightly together. A bit further down the scale came the fifth place winner, which was a huge surprise for us.....HEAVENS STORY?!? Who'd've thunk that a 4 and a half hour epic about death, pain, grief and suffering would be so popular with our audience?
Interestingly, the two GANTZ movies, REIGN OF ASSASSINS and OCEAN HEAVEN all have US distributors. We've also got a special category here for three other movies that scored very, very high, but because they were older films that had already received a US theatrical or DVD release, we kept them out of the voting. They are:
13 ASSASSINS: DIRECTOR'S CUT (it would have snagged the number one spot)
THE CHASER (it would have come in somewhere around the number 4 spot)
THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (it would have replaced HEAVENS STORY as number 5)
It's amazing to all of us that these three movies, which are on Netflix and had big advertising campaigns already, all sold as many tickets as they did (MAN and 13 ASSASSINS both sold out their screenings), and almost nobody in our audience had seen them before. Distributors - are you paying attention? There are people out there who are not hearing about your movies when you release them! There's a bigger audience out there than the one you're finding. Which is a good thing!
Thanks to everyone who voted. Every year our Audience Award goes to a movie that surprises us, and that just means that you guys all have great taste! See you in 2012! Unless the world ends first!