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Festival Reports

42nd Hawaiʻi International Film Festival: November 3- 27, 2022

Mrudula Monday February 6, 2023
Producer Kerry Warkia of KĀINGA accepts the NETPAC Award from HIFF Executive Director Beckie Stocketti, with   Pacific Islander in Communication Executive Director Cheryl Hirasa
Producer Kerry Warkia of KĀINGA accepts the NETPAC Award from HIFF Executive Director Beckie Stocketti, with Pacific Islander in Communication Executive Director Cheryl Hirasa

The 42nd annual Hawaiʻi International Film Festival (“HIFF”) presented by Halekulani took place November 3- 27, 2022 with a multitude of film screenings, events, and programs, and the honoring of invited filmmakers that included “102 features, 124 shorts, and seven nominated film programs. Among the lineup were 111 Hawai‘i premieres, 69 world premieres, 14 U.S. premieres, 10 North American premieres and 7 international premieres from 37 countries.”  This festival, HIFF honored accomplished filmmakers with awards that included a total of $21,500 in cash prizes; (info provided by HIFF). 

The well attended festival opened with a celebration of Hawaiʻi cinema by featuring outdoor community-based screenings at Bishop Museum of two feature films, THE WIND AND THE RECKONING and THE STORY OF EVERYTHING.  Such locally-produced films had a growing presence in this year’s festival with the collection of notably strong nominated films in the Made in Hawaiʻi award categories.  This year’s HIFF Made in Hawaiʻi films are eligible to be submitted for Academy Award considerations.  These awards were won by: THE WIND AND THE RECKONING (directed by David L. Cunningham) for Best Made in Hawai‘i Feature and INHERITANCE (directed by Erin Lau) for Best Made in Hawai‘i Short.

MAKAWALU crew at the HIFF panel event with HIFF Executive Director Beckie Stocketti with Kerry Warkia, Kiel McNaughton, Producers of KĀINGA
MAKAWALU crew at the HIFF panel event with HIFF Executive Director Beckie Stocketti with Kerry Warkia, Kiel McNaughton, Producers of KĀINGA

Other HIFF awards were presented to: THE RED SUITCASE (directed by Cyrus Neshvad) for HIFF Best Short Film Award, BAD AXE (directed by David Siev) for Kau Ka Hōkū Grand Jury Award Winner, and WHINA (directed by James Napier Robertson, Paula Whetu Jones) for the Pasifika Award.

This year, the NETPAC Award was presented to KĀINGA, directed by Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, Nahyeon Lee, Angeline Loo, HASH (Hash Perambalam), Asuka Sylvie, Yamin Tun, Julie Zhu, Michelle Ang; produced by Kerry Warkia, Kiel McNaughton, Shuchi Kothari.  Producers Warkia and McNaighton were in attendance to accept the award.  KĀINGA, is an impressive omnibus film which brought together the work of underrepresented Asian filmmakers with eight diverse stories of Asians assimilating in Aotearoa New Zealand through five decades. The jury shared, “Not only were we impressed by the seamless flow of the unique stories across time, we were touched by the magic that each of the stories brings and recognize the way this form of anthology film reflects the communal nature of native cultures – some of our strongest works come through collective action.”  

The other notable, eclectic array of films that were eligible and considered for the NETPAC award at HIFF 2022 are:

GAGA (directed by Laha Mebow, the first female indigenous director in Taiwan),  LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE (directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar, Philippines),  NEXT SOHEE (directed by Jung Ju-ri, S. Korea), ONE AND FOUR (directed by first-time Tibetan director Jigme Trinley),  PLAN 75 (directed by Chie Hayakawa, Japan),  and, WE ARE STILL HERE (an omnibus film directed by Beck Cole, Dena Curtis, Tracey Rigney, Danielle MacLean, Tim Worrall, Renae Maihi, Miki Magasiva, Mario Gaoa, Richard Curtis, Chantelle Burgoyne, Australia, New Zealand.)

The 2022 NETPAC Jurors included: ​​Elizabeth Daley, former dean of the University of Southern California School (USC) of Cinematic Arts for 30 years, currently the executive director of the USC Institute for Multimedia Literacy; Vilsoni Hereniko, filmmaker, professor at the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; Anne Misawa, filmmaker, professor at the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  

HIFF Audience Awards were voted on by enthused audience members and went to:

DEALING WITH DAD (directed by Tom Huang) for the Narrative Feature Audience Award, THROUGH THE DOGGY DOOR (directed by Joe Alani) for the Documentary Feature Audience Award, E MĀLAMA PONO, WILLY BOY (directed by Scott Kekama Amona) for the Short Film Audience Award, and AGENT ROVER (directed by Gino Caruso) for the Student Short Film Audience Award.

Still from the film, KĀINGA
Still from the film, KĀINGA

For a full list of awardees and more details, please refer to the HIFF site-- https://hiff.org/hiff42-announces-jury-award-winners-honorees/

HIFF highlights included, but not limited to: BROKER, Cannes premiered film, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (MABOROSI, SHOPLIFTERS) and his attendance at the festival to accept the Halekulani Vision in Film Award; the attendance of Jung Woo-Sung, actor (of many iconic Korean films) and director of A MAN OF REASON honored with the Halekulani Golden Maile for Career Achievement Award; attendance of Auliʻi Cravalho (lead in the animated MOANA and recipient of the HIFF Halekulani Vangaurd Award) at the HIFF Future Filmmaker event; the PASIFIKA FILMMAKING: IN CONVERSATION WITH KĀINGA & MAKAWALU Filmmakers with producers Kerry Warkia (the recipient of the Leanne K. Ferrer Trailblazer Award) and Kiel McNaughton, (WARU, VAI); the Spotlight of Hong Kong Honoree event to highlight Actress Josie Ho, featured in her doc FINDING BLISS: FIRE AND ICE; the New American’s Perspective’s program industry panel with Deborah Chow (OBI-WAN KENOBI), Laurent Barthelemy (FINDING SATOSHI), Ellie Foumbi (OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL), Nardeep Khurmi (LAND OF GOLD), and Rena Owen (WHINA), amongst many other HIFF screenings, special events and industry panels.

NETPAC jury: Vilsoni Hereniko, Elizabeth Daley, Anne Misawa
NETPAC jury: Vilsoni Hereniko, Elizabeth Daley, Anne Misawa

The 42nd HIFF had an extremely strong educational component to its festival. This year, HIFF had several educational programs including a HIFF Online Creators & Critics Immersive which selected local emerging creators and critics to learn from industry mentors such as David Chen (host and producer of podcasts), Patrick Willems (filmmaker and video essayist), Taylor Ramos & Tony Zhou, (Vancouver-based filmmaking partnership), and Kirsten Stevens & Duncan Caillard, (researchers and film programmers).  HIFF Education programs also promoted the work or emerging filmmakers and included a HIFF Youth Series, Future Filmmaker Series as well as a Guest Filmmaker Series in which invited accomplished filmmakers visited classrooms K-12 and a unique venture that involved Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students in a “HIFFternship” with the HIFF organization during the planning and event activities of the film festival.

Prof. Anne Misawa (Hawaii/USA) – Chairperson of NETPAC Jury


Other jury members:

Ms. Elizabeth Daley (USA) & Vilsoni Hereniko (President, NETPAC / USA)

The 27th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK)

Mrudula Monday January 16, 2023

The 27th IFFK was held in Trivandrum from 9th December to 16th December 2022. It was an amazing feat, accomplished so successfully by the organizers and the newly appointed Artistic Director, Deepika Susleean.  Amazing as both the 26th and 27th editions of IFFK were held in the same year - 2022.

On the right: NETPAC Jury members  Indu Shrikent, Dr. Nina Kochelyaeva and Jayasree Bhattacharyya. On the left: NETPAC Jury with veteran filmmaker Béla Tarr.
On the right: NETPAC Jury members Indu Shrikent, Dr. Nina Kochelyaeva and Jayasree Bhattacharyya. On the left: NETPAC Jury with veteran filmmaker Béla Tarr.
 

Kudos to Deepika who in a span of 4 months was able to put together a robust programme of nearly 200 outstanding films, inviting several film personalities, and hosting interesting panel discussions and events to enthrall the 15 thousand delegates.  She gave a great deal of importance to restoration of films and the restored ‘Silent’ films presented with live music by Johnny Best generated a lot of interest. 

The legendary Hungarian director, Bela Tarr delivered the Aravindan Memorial Lecture, it was wonderful to be in the presence of this filmmaker extraordinaire. Bela Tarr was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Iranian filmmaker and women’s right activist, Mahnaz Mohammad was conferred the ‘Spirit of Cinema’ award. Mahnaz had been arrested several times in Iran, the last time while demanding justice for Amini. She could not be present as her passport was expiring so she sent a lock of her hair with her acceptance speech, this gesture was very effective and dramatic at the Opening Ceremony. 

Serbia was Country in Focus and Emir Kusturica was honored with his films in the section ‘Chaos and Control: Films of Emir Kusturica’. 

The other special sections were ‘The Surreal Cinema of Allejandro Jodorowsky’; ‘Retrospective of Paul Schrader’; 50 years of ‘Swayamvaram’ by Adoor Gopalakrishnan; Restored Classics; and ‘Light & Shadows of F.W. Murnau’ among others. The festival opened with the heartwarming film Tori and Lokita by Dardenne brothers. The Best film Award went to Utama, a gem, by Alejandro Laoayza Grisi from Bolivia.

Still from the NETPAC Award winner movie Alam
Still from the NETPAC Award winner movie Alam

 

Some outstanding films by Asian filmmakers were presented in the Auteur Odes section. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker; Call of God, the last film by the hero of IFFK, Kim Ki-duk; No Bears by Jafar Panahi; the roller coaster adventures of Giwar ‘Xatar’ Hajabi in the biopic, Rheingold by Fatih Akin; two films by the prolific Korean filmmaker Hong Sang Soo, The Novelist’s Film (winner of the Silver Bear Grand Jury Award, Berlinale 2022) and Walk Up; Lav Diaz’s When the Waves are Gone.
The award winning film Kerr by Tayfun Pirselmoglu was a visual delight, each frame a painting. It is the first time that the director adapted one of his own books which he had written in 2014. It won the Best Director award. Another film which needs to be commended is A Place of Our Own (Ek Jagah Apni) by Ektara Collective. Aa strong film about two trans gender women, the challenges they face as they struggle to be accepted by society, which will not let go of the strong stigma it holds against therm. Manisha Soni and Muskan (lead actors) of the film received Special Mention from the main Jury for their natural and powerful acting, and a Special Mention from FFSI Jury.


The films for the NETPAC jury were eclectic and diverse representing their respective regions with vivid descriptions of the problems people face in daily life, about migration and relationships. Out of the 10 films in the Asian Competition, six were debut, some films in the Malayalam Cinema today were also debut films. In total there were 24 films to judge and that is a large number for any jury! 

A still from the NETPAC Award winning movie Alam
A still from the NETPAC Award winning movie Alam

 

Our jury gave the NETPAC award to Alam Firas Khoury’s debut film.  The film about the coming of age and political awakening of the Palestinian protagonist living in Israel, is extremely well acted by Mahmood Bakri. Alam was also awarded the Best Debut Director by the main Jury.

The NETPAC Special Mention went to Our Home (Eikhoigi Yum). A family living on the picturesque Loktak Lake in Manipur and barely surviving on fishing is given an eviction notice by the Government. The repercussions of this notice on the family and their livelihood have been captured realistically by the director as he highlights the disasters of globalisation. Our Home also won the FIPRESCI Award, International Competition Section.

The movie Declaration won the NETPAC Award for the best Malayalam Film
The movie Declaration won the NETPAC Award for the best Malayalam Film

 

We awarded Declaration (Ariyippu) the Best Malayalam Film award. The trials and tribulations of a family from Kerala working in a factory in North India. The film makes a powerful statement about the plight of women both at work and at home and migration per se.

Our difficult task of seeing 24 films was made easy by the wonderful hospitality extended by the IFFK team! Nina and Jayasree will join me in saying that being on the NETPAC Jury at the 27th IFFK was an exhilarating experience!

 

Written by Indu Shrikent (India) – Chairperson NETPAC Jury
Other Jury Members:
Dr. Nina Kochelyaeva (Russian Federation) – NETPAC Member
Jayasree Bhattacharyya (India)

28th Kolkata International Film Festival: 15 – 22 December 2022

Mrudula Monday January 2, 2023

Light, sound, colour, action defined the 28th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF). Serpentine queues outside cinema halls, talk shows, press conferences, exhibitions, master classes - a city come alive with eager, thronging crowds everywhere, with enormous KIFF posters, and, not the least, with Christmas exuberance, Kolkata displayed a delightful year-end extravaganza.

A star-studded opening ceremony on 15 December 2022 evening brought together high-level politicians, government officials, artists and festival guests: the Governor of West Bengal, Dr C V Ananda Bose, Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, and Bollywood big-wigs Amitabh and Jaya Bahchchan, Rani Mukherjee, Shatrughan Sinha and Shah Rukh Khan – all were in their element, exuding friendship and goodwill – and reflection too, on the current climate. In his speech as Chief Guest, Amitabh Bachchan said questions were being raised on civil liberties and freedom of expression. “Let us demolish the differences that divide us…let us build a monolith in our diversity.” Shah Rukh Khan spoke of cinema as a narrative that brings to the fore humanity’s capacity for compassion and brotherhood. Well-known filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt also mentioned the importance of inclusivity – to the large audience’s enthusiastic applause.

From left to right: Italo Spinelli, Dr. Latika Padgaonkar and Supriya Suri
From left to right: Italo Spinelli, Dr. Latika Padgaonkar and Supriya Suri

 

The opening ceremony was followed by the screening of a 1973 Amitabh-Jaya film, Abhiman, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

A total of 183 films from 42 countries were screened at ten halls spread across the city. These included 130 features and 52 shorts and documentaries. The national and international competitions had 14 films each, while 8 were in the NETPAC competition, 20 in the short film and 10 in the documentary competitions.

Two major exhibitions held at two venues drew capacity crowds: “Amitabh Bachchan: A Living Legend” (with a retrospective of his films) and “Jean-Luc Godard: The ‘Immortal’ Object of Art” (Godard was a pioneer of the French New Wave). Both were superbly curated with an excellent choice of image and text, explaining why and how these two cinema champions defined their times and the cinemas of their countries.

And there was more to savour: centenary tributes paid to directors Alain Resnais (France), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy), Michael Cacoyannis (Greek-Cypriot) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee, K Asif, and Asit Sen (India); actress Bharati Devi, sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan and actor Dilip Kumar. Not to forget the special tributes to director Tarun Majumdar, actors Angela Lansbury and Pradeep Mukherjee, and to the famous santoor player Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. And the crowning glory (one can call it that, given that FIFA matches were being held then) – to celebrate  the spirit of sportsmanship – KIFF plans to introduce a “Game On” section next year, dedicated to youth and sports.

Shaji N Karun’s Masterclass on “Visual Metaphors and Moving Images” and Sudeep Chatterjee’s “How an Idea is transformed into an Image in Filmmaking” were thoughtful meditations on issues that don’t always take centre-stage, yet can define the texture of a film.

Sudhir Mishra minced no words in his Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture on “Understanding Cinema in Changing Times”. His emphasis was on conversation and the audience. “New-age cinema is not just the responsibility of the filmmaker. The audience needs to be loyal as well,” he stated. Referring to Satyajit Ray, he highlighted not just the director’s brilliant way of telling a story, but also the devoted viewers of Kolkata who were devoid of prejudice. “It might be interesting,” he said, to ponder on “what Ray’s condition might have been if he were to pitch Pather Panchali to an OTT production house today. On the one hand, he might have been asked for his biodata and a box-office analysis, on the other hand he might have acquired funds much faster. It is only if the audience’s debilitating addiction to fast-action, high-adrenaline thrillers can be controlled, that that cinema which expands sensibilities can be brought to the forefront.”

Two out-of-competition films – Jafar Panahi’s No Bears (Iran) and Saim Sadiq’s Joyland (Pakistan) – brought in bustling crowds. The former film is shot in a village near the Turkish border where Panahi is directing a film via skype; the latter tells of patriarchy in Pakistan and moves towards a transgender theme.

Poster of Jafar Panahi's "No Bears"
Poster of Jafar Panahi's "No Bears"

 

There was plenty for everyone at KIFF. Take your pick. And Cine Addas where you could attend talks with popular stars were an added attraction. What with the swirling crowds and the immense, artistically conceived hoardings and posters (particularly the one with Charlie Chaplin sitting alongside Satyajit Ray’s young Apu chewing on sugarcane), KIFF certainly blended a twinge of nostalgia with an awareness of pressing matters in today’s cinema.

Awards

International Competition :

Innovation in Moving Images (IMI) -

Upon Entry  by Alejandro Rojas and Juan Sebastian Vasquez (Spain) and

The Golden Wings of Watercocks (Kura Pokkhir Shunye Ura) by Muhammad Quayum (Bangladesh)

Best Director-

Ernesto Ardito and Virna Molina for Hitler’s Witch (La Bruja de Hitler) (Argentina)

Special Jury Mention- 

Silent Glory (Shokouhe Khamoush), by Nahid Hassanzadeh (Iran)

---------------------

Indian Competition :

Best Film-

Muthayya (Muthaya), by Bhaskar Maurya 

Best Director-

Deepankar Prakash for Naanera 

Special Jury Mention- 

Chhaad (The Terrace) by Indrani  and Sikaisal (If Only the Trees Could Talk) by Bobby Sarma Baruah 


Asian Select NETPAC Award-

Dov (Fortune) by Muhiddin Muzaffar (Tajikistan)


Indian Documentary Films

Nybreum (The Unsettled Shade) by Neha ‘Bhavibi’ Sharma

Indian Short Films

Mein, Mehmood (I Am Mehmood) by Prataya Saha


Special Jury Mention

Xunyota (Void) by Nabapan Deka and The Divine Touch  (Haater Sporsho) by Prosenjit Choudhury



-------------
Written by Dr. Latika Padgaonkar (India), Chairperson, NETPAC Jury

Other Jury Members:

Italo Spinelli (Italy)

Supriya Suri (India)

16th Eurasia International Film Festival, Kazakhstan (12-18 December 2022)

Mrudula Monday January 2, 2023

In its sixteenth edition, the Eurasia International Film Festival returned, after an absence of two years due to Covid, from Astana, the capital, to Almaty, its first headquarters. Everything was prepared quickly, in a very short time, and impeccable organization, in order to program films, invite guests, and present daily press conferences with filmmakers and guests from the world of cinema. Conferences not only conduct dialogues with directors about their films, but also discuss issues of National cinema like production and distribution.

The cinema of Kazakhstan is developing and imposing itself more and more on the international scene. Almost half of the annual production is subsidized by the state, represented by the Cinema Support Fund, under whose auspices the festival is also organized. The support was evident from the presence of the Minister of Culture at the opening ceremony and the Director of the Support Authority, which this year provided grants for the production of more than fifty long and short films.

The film industry in Kazakhstan has its origins in the production of documentaries in Alma-Ata (now Almaty) in the 1930s, developed to use as instruments for Soviet propaganda. The first Kazakh feature film, Amangeldy (1939), about the leader of the 1916 revolution, Amangeldy Imanov, was however the work of Lenfilm in Leningrad. Filmmaking in Kazakhstan was given a boost by the dislocations caused by World War II, as the main Soviet film studios, Mosfilm and Lenfilm, were both evacuated to Alma-Ata, where they combined with the Alma-Ata Film Studios to produce the “Central United Film Studio”. As a result, the Central United Film Studio, which continued working in Alma-Ata till 1944, produced 80 percent of all Soviet domestic feature films made during the war. Much of the great Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein's two part epic “Ivan the Terrible” was filmed in the Kazakh SSR. One of the major Soviet film schools, “the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography “(VGIK), was also temporarily relocated to Alma-Ata during the war. This film school became an alma-mater for the most notable Kazakh filmmakers of the 1980s, known as "the new wave". On January 6, 1961, the major Kazakh film company Alma-Ata Film Studios had its name changed to Kazakhfilm by the Ministry of the Culture of the Kazakh SSR.

From left to right: Sultan Usuvaliev, Aizhan Ksymbek (NETPAC Award winner), Nada Azhari Gillon and Dr. Sharofat Arabova
From left to right: Sultan Usuvaliev, Aizhan Ksymbek (NETPAC Award winner), Nada Azhari Gillon and Dr. Sharofat Arabova

 

 

National Competition

Therefore, there was a curiosity to learn more about Kazakhstan's cinema outside the framework of international festivals, movies that are shown in the country and are not "lucky" to be known globally. A competition has been devoted to the national cinema to choose the best film, director, actress and actor with two juries, one of which is international and the second is Asian (NETPAC). 15 fiction features produced in 2021-2022 (2 more were added from the International Competition for NETPAC Jury), some of them have already participated in international festivals. “The Poet by Darghan Amirbayev is the winner of the Tokyo Film Festival, “Scheme” played in Berlin, and “Life” by Amir Baygazin participated in Toronto. They are joined by successful films such as “Fire” by Aizhan Kassymbek, “Dos-Mukasan by Aidyn Sahaman, and others.

Poster of NETPAC Award winning movie “Fire” by Aizhan Kasymbek
Poster of NETPAC Award winning movie “Fire” by Aizhan Kasymbek

 

The programme was also a handshake for generations of great artists. The maître of the Kazakh New Wave Serik Aprymov (“Village”) meets with his young student Alisher Zhadigerov (“Otau”). Bolat Kalymbetov, rethinking the view of history and personality (“Mukagali”) encounters Yana Skopina, who presents her debut film (“The Summer Will End Soon”). The conditional world of the constructed society of Emir Baigazin (“Life”) sits next to the free-spirited, innovative and absurd situations of Eldar Shibanov (“Mountain Onion”). The reality of life depicted by Sharipa Yurazbayev “Red Pomegranate” echoes the family history of Aizhan Kasymbek (“Fire”) with a story of a little man in a big city who burns in a mad rhythm of life everyday. “Fire” won the NETPAC Award for showing that despite the burden of days, the fire of hearts is here.

This programme engages with questions about the issue of ethical, moral responsibility not of a person, but of society before the little man in a changing reality. Movies combine breathtaking visuals with a poetic depiction of life that make it difficult for any jury to choose the best.

Sharipa Yurazbayev's movie “Red Pomegranate”
Sharipa Yurazbayev's movie “Red Pomegranate”

 

International Competition

The 15 films participating in the international competition (from 2021-2022 productions) were mostly from the  former republics of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, such as the Czech Republic and Georgia (directing award is shared equally for “Brighton IV” by Levan Kogashvili and “Cold as Marble” by Asif Rustamov from Azerbaijan), Kyrgyzstan (Best Film Award for “This Is What I Remember” by Aktan Arim Kubat), Estonia, Ukraine and the Republic of Sakha Yakutia in northeastern Siberia (Special Mention for “Don't Bury Me Without Ivan” by Lyubov Borisova), which is one of the most important cultural exports From the post-Soviet Russian Federation, which despite its tiny population (less than a million) compared to its vast area, has managed to build a diverse, vibrant and prolific film industry. And since the festival dedicates itself as a cultural bridge between Europe and Asia, that is, between the West and the East, hence its name "Eurasia", it also screened films from Iceland, Turkey and Iran in its international competition (Acting Award for Navid Mohammadzadeh for his role in "Beyond the Wall" by Wahid Jalilund).


Written by Nada Azhari Gillon, (Syria/France), Chairperson, NETPAC Jury

Other members of the NETPAC Jury:

Dr. Sharofat Arabova (Tajikistan) & Sultan Usuvaliev (Kyrgyztan)

 

38th Warsaw International Film Festival

Mrudula Saturday November 12, 2022

 

A still from the award winning film Ademoka - Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan,France)
A still from the award winning film Ademoka - Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan,France)

 

The NETPAC Award Jury for the 38th Warsaw International Film Festival consisted of two members, Viera Langerova (Czech Republic) and Panagiotis Kotzathanasis (Greece), since the third member never appeared, for reasons we are not sure of. We watched the films in the two venues of the festival, Multikino and Atlantic, from the 14th to the 21st of October.

The competing films varied significantly, as they included both documentaries and fiction, and from regions that ranged from Palestine to Australia, and essentially, everything between. One Chinese film, “Where Nothing Grows” was pulled at the last minute from screening at the competition, for unknown reasons, although it had previously screened in Busan. The only country that was represented with more than one film was Japan, with “New Religion” and “The City”. 

The films eligible for the NETPAC prize were as follows: 

Carbon - Niobe Thompson (Australia,Canada)

Wait For Me - Sari Azoulay Turgeman (Israel)

Ademoka - Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan,France)

Till Love Do Us Part - Ran Li (China)

The City - Katsuki Kuroyanagi (Japan)

Fury - Shlomo Slutzky, Tomer Slutzky (Israel, Argentina) 

Trio - Battumur Dorj (Mongolia) 

New Religion - Keishi Kondo (Japan)

Mediterranean Fever - Maha Haj (France, Germany, Palestine, Cyprus)

New - Normal Jung Bum-shik (South Korea)

Feast - Brillante Ma Mendoza (Hong Kong SAR China, Philippines)

A number of movies left an impression, although for different reasons. Katsuki Kuroyanagi in “The City” tried to experiment with form and immersed his narrative in tension, in a title, though, that was quite difficult to follow. Keishi Kondo in “New Religion” tried to reinvigorate the J-horror genre by including symbolism and intense imagery. In “Trio”, Battumur Dorj tried to combine the issues people with Down Syndrome face with the ancient death rituals of the country that are gradually disappearing. In “New Normal”, Jung Bum-shik incorporated ironic and rather smart humor in order to make a number of pointed social comments. 

A still from the film Mediterranean Fever - Maha Haj (France, Germany, Palestine, Cyprus)
A still from the film Mediterranean Fever - Maha Haj (France, Germany, Palestine, Cyprus)

 

The two films that truly stood out for both of us, however, were Maha Haj’s “Mediterranean Fever” and Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s “Ademoka”. The first one because of its intelligent sense of humor that was highlighted through the differences of two quite different men who end up becoming friends, and for its impressive transition from comedy to drama and vice versa, including a rather shocking end. The latter, which got the award in the end, also featured a very smart and even self-deprecating sense of humor, but also exhibited an astonishing minimalism, particularly in the set design, which also became part of the narrative. The antithesis of the titular character (played by the director’s niece, while the woman who plays her mother is her actual mother) who barely speaks, and Ahab, who never stops talking, also worked excellently.  It is easy to say that “Ademoka” is a masterclass on how to shoot with no budget, even in lockdown circumstances. 
Our citation, which had to be one sentence, was as follows: “For its intelligent satire and the rather artful visual and narrative approach rooted in local culture, we present the NETPAC award to Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s Ademoka’s Education”
In general, and although our choice in the end was relatively easy, the selection was on a very high level, both in terms of quality and diversity. 
To conclude with a personal comment, I have to say that it was a pleasure watching films in cinemas with the audience once again, particularly since the venues of the festival were top-notch. Hospitality was excellent, and the crew of employees and volunteers took care of our every need. In general, the whole thing was a very pleasant and rewarding experience, also because I got to know Viera. 

By Panagiotis Kotzathanasis (Greece) – NETPAC Member

47th Toronto International Film Festival

Mrudula Thursday October 13, 2022

Jub Clerc Director Headshot  

The NETPAC Award Jury for the 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival consisted of two members who worked online throughout the festival’s September 8-18, 2022, run: movie producer, mediamaking mentor, and Bastau International Film Festival Director Diana Ashimova (Kazakhstan), and cinema studies scholar Ida Yoshinaga (Hawai‘i/Atlanta, Georgia) who served as jury chair. 

In recent decades, TIFF has undoubtedly come to represent one of the most industry-driven festivals in the world, with diversely themed sections and a huge audience. NETPAC’s candidates for consideration were drawn from two of TIFF’s more international programs, “Contemporary World Cinema” and “Discovery,” selected largely based on the cultural and/or ethnic backgrounds of the nominated directors reflecting an individual Asian or Pacific origin. 

The 14 scripted films under consideration were from Palestine, New Zealand, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Turkey, Australia, Syria, Canada, Israel, and Cambodia, including two co-productions with Britain and France and at least three Indigenous Pasifika-made projects. 

The films eligible for the NETPAC prize were as follows: 

  • A Gaza weekend by Basil Khalil, Alam (The flag) by Firas Khoury
  • Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak
  • Beyond the wall by Vahid Jalivand
  • Muru by Tearepa Kahi
  • Plan 75 by Chie Hayakawa
  • Snow and the bear by Selcen Ergun
  • Sweet as by Jub Clerc
  • The taste of apples is red by Ehab Tarabieh
  • Valeria is getting married by Michal Vinik
  • Return to Seoul by Davy Chou
  • We are still here by Beck Cole, Danielle MacLean, Dena Curtis, Tim Worrall, Richard Curtis, Miki Magasiva, Mario Gaoa, Chantelle Burgoyne, Tracey Rigney, and Renae Maihi
  • This place by V.T. Nayani, and
  • Zwigato by Nandita Das. 

This wide-ranging program was dynamic and intensive—with cinematic tales from first-, second-, and third-time feature directors touching upon such deep and complicated social, economic, and political issues as the COVID-19 era, Indigenous resistance to colonization and related adaptation efforts, life in occupied or embattled territories, family and peer-youth relationships, micro and macro histories of place, the struggle for various self-identities, exploring various people’s roots/rebellions, and communities’ survival and violence.

Many films were really brave, sharp, experimental, ambitious, humorous, and quite innovative, demonstrating a high level of technical excellence. Solid cinematic talent was evident, with many scenes shot in breathtaking locations as the ideal background against which to feature a great cast in convincing performances. Most candidates exhibited strong narration, so the real treasure of TIFF was our pleasing audio-visual experience of discovering the problems of people who live so far from our parts of the world. 

Of the above 14 movies, the NETPAC TIFF Jury unanimously decided to award a debut film, SWEET AS, by Jub Clerc (Australia), with the following citation:

“A model road film with great locations and a strong cast that convincingly tells the story of an Indigenous girl on a youth-therapy bus tour dealing with family, friendship, inspiration, and self-identity.”

The unpretentiously focused, confident film presented deep content through a well-edited and technically gorgeous story bolstered by engaging performances that felt natural and unforced. Clerc’s creative approach to fictionalizing her own life experience took viewers along on this youth group's journey with a good sense of humorwhile also depicting the real pain of growing up in unsafe families or communities. We found it a masterful first feature for an assured visual auteur with superb storytelling instincts.

We were also happy to recognize this outstanding (and Aboriginal themed) coming-of-age film as one of several Indigenous-director-helmed entries including the dazzling multi-protagonist, multi-genre feature, We are still here. Ten Native directors from different regions colonized by the United Kingdom (including Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand) inventively recalled the past, interrogated the present, and envisioned the future, of the 250-year legacy of Captain James Cook’s arrival in their lands, in this delightfully intertwined anthology. We also enjoyed Muru, a “Black Lives Matter”-era cop thriller directed by Tearepa Kahi (Aotearoa) that blended resistance history with thrilling action sequences, as his story pitted Native Māori community policing against British Commonwealth settler-colonial policing.

Also worth mentioning was the noticeable presence of gifted female filmmakers whose works earned our admiration—beyond Clerc and 6 out of We are still here’s 10 co-directors, women’s cinematic vision characterized an additional 5 of the 14 narratives we considered for TIFF’s NETPAC award. Impressive female-directed entries were Chie Hayakawa’s science-fictional critique of ageism, Plan 75 (Japan); Selcen Ergun’s fairytale-like murder mystery Snow and the bear (Turkey); Michal Vinik’s feminist sisterhood melodrama Valeria is getting married (Israel); V.T. Nayani’s multiracial/transnational lesbian romance This place (Canada); and Nandita Das’s class-conscious satire set in the gig economy, Zwigato (India).

Special thanks go to writer, editor, and expert film curator Aaditya Aggarwal, coordinator of TIFF programming, who facilitated our jury’s decision-making process. 

 

Report co-authored by

Ida Yoshinaga (USA/Hawaii)

Diana Ashimova (Kazakhstan) 

 

 

 

18th Cinemalaya International Film Festival - 2022

System Administrator Friday September 2, 2022
Cinemalaya 18, titled “ Breaking through the noise” , actually offered 11 feature films, and twelve short films , all eagerly awaited by the mainly young audience. Apart from the CCP, all the films are also shown for a week in regular Manila malls ( Ayala and SM only) and will be shown in selected cities in the province, including Dapitan (Zamboanga) for the first time. Also online until October 31.

Interview

Supriya Suri's Interview with Muhiddin Muzaffar

Director Muhiddin Muzaffar (1) 2 Min

1. I entered the cinema through the theatre. I was an actor in our local theatre called Kanibadam, named after Tuhfa Fozilova. After working for five years, I decided to do a theatre director course. I graduated with honors and became a director. We successfully staged performances at international festivals.

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