The Jury watched 8 Asian films in the competition section. The most interesting experience at the festival was the opening up of the Central Asian Cinemas and the contacts that the Jury was able to create with Film Festival organizers from different parts of this region. The Central Asian Republics are now rediscovering their voices after many years of being in the Soviet Union. This reigniting of culture is leading to a strong reemergence of local cinema.
Kazakhstan has always had a cinema loving public and a strong filmmaking culture, even during the Soviet Regime. This love for cinema is now transforming into a national resurgence of film. Many of the films are thematically rooted in Kazak contemporary life, and find audiences within the country. There is also a deliberate plan to market these films outside the country. Kazakhstan is also looking to open up its film production to foreigners, through location hire etc. There is therefore a very robust Film Industry with young producers involved in various forms of production.
Thematically the films from Central Asia were varied: contemporary life, dealing with the past, historical films etc. The film that was chosen for the Award, Suleiman Mountain directed by Elizaveta Stishova from Kyrgystan, was particularly interesting since it was an intersection of modern life and traditional beliefs. The film was powerful and well made.
The festival was well organized. There is a genuine commitment to NETPAC and it is possible that more Central Asian Countries will be interested in association with NETPAC for the setting up of Juries. The two other jury members this year were Anne Demy- Geroe and Kanat Torebay.
Report by Bina Paul (India), Chairperson, NETPAC jury
Edited by Latika Padgaonkar