Festival Reports

The Second Hanoi International Film festival, or How Vietnam Looks at Asian Cinema Today

Aditya Tuesday December 25, 2012
The grayish and cool weather of late November in Hanoi took place the 2nd Hanoi international film festival (November 25 to 29), organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Vietnam Cinema Department, headed by famed Dr (Ms) Ngo Phuong Lan, also director of the festival. Two years after its first edition, it is a good way to remind us that Vietnam is on the map of Asian cinema (even though it doesn't have a very strong place yet), and wants to attract more film-related people and businesses.
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Filipino Film The Woman In The Septic Tank wins Asian Film Prize Asia Pacific Screen Awards NETPAC Prize

Aditya Sunday December 2, 2012

The Asia Pacific Screen Awards announced that the winner of the annual APSA NETPAC Development Prize is Filipino filmmaker Marlon Rivera for his film Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (The Woman in the Septic Tank).
Designed to nurture outstanding talent in the region, a prize of US$5,000 is offered by APSA in collaboration with the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC). All films in competition for APSA are eligible.

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The Refugee Camp: Films from Palestine at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Aditya Thursday November 1, 2012
The refugee camp is innately a temporary home. But thousands of Palestinian refugees living in camps in Jordan, Lebanon or Syria since 1948 still languish in fenced-off precincts. For some, that little square kilometer locale is the past, the present and the future, the home and the world. Films screened at the recently concluded Abu Dhabi Film Festival clearly show how the Palestinian refugee question continues to haunt young filmmakers.
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Asiatica Encounters with Asian Cinema (Oct 5-13 2012)

Aditya Tuesday October 30, 2012


Asiatica Encounters With Asian Cinema (Oct 5 13 2012) 1  

After 13 years of the Asiatica FilmMediale, co-founder Sebastian Shadhauser, reflects on the idealism that made artistic director, Italo Spinelli, and himself, to "encounter" the East. 

When they were children, perhaps some felt their perspective less wide than the infinite and their lives a little longer than eternity. That time of childhood made everything achievable. When they grew up they found that they lived in a country where "reason didn't matter". Through this awareness, one could cross the borders of his own nation, of continent, of his social, political, cultural and religious structures.

The formation of the mind isn't only educational but also environmental.  In many cases, beside being literal, it's also cinematographic. Western movies are deeply influenced by American cinema and sporadically Asian movies appeared in cinemas. But these movies were improperly considered "exotic".
When they were children, perhaps some felt their perspective less wide than the infinite and their lives a little longer than eternity. That time of childhood made everything achievable. When they grew up they found that they lived in a country where "reason didn't matter". Through this awareness, one could cross the borders of his own nation, of continent, of his social, political, cultural and religious structures.

Finding another definition of exotic became one of the reasons that pushed us to create Asiatica Filmmediale and our Encounters with Asian Cinema. They were meant as "Encounters" as it was not just film shows, and not just a film festival. "Encounters" define better the casual opportunities for research, and for understanding to develop. In 2000, after three years of obtaining funds, "Asiatica Filmmediale" was born in Rome.

Italo Spinelli (artistic director and the creator of the meaning and content of "Encounters") selected movies with a primary criterion to find filmmakers and themes that are obscure or unheard of in the West. The other criterion was to show shorts and documentaries, which are not the concern of Western distribution. So films with a deep cultural impact was favoured over the spectacular glamour of red carpets. In this way, these movies gathered a small community of Roman people and Asian ethnic groups living in Rome.

Asiatica Filmmediale also happens to be that rare festival where tickets and the festival's catalogue are free. This is to ensure that the "encounters" are not just for the advantaged, as in many festivals: where business takes over the culture.

During one of our early years, there was a director who used to shake our hands with white gloves. After three days of watching films, talking and eating together, he took off his gloves. He became part of our encounters. Today, Italo often greets people by carrying his hand to his chest and bowing. This is a gesture imported from India. 

In Asian movies, the influence of Western cinema can be seen. It's interesting to observe that the presence of American cinema was filtered through the influence of European cinema. Mostly, Asian films have innovative screenplays that recontextualise Asia, from old-fashioned stereotypes. In Asian movies, the use of scenography and music have a different function from European cinema. In European films, scenography is predominant, and is functional to the narration of the film, while music, which increases or decreases in each sequence of the film, highlights the importance of different moments. In Asian films one notes that scenography gives a highly coloured impact to sequences, and music is used to evoke the cultural traditions of various historical moments.  I think also for this reason the audience in Rome unconsciously became attached to these "encounters". Through the screening of Asian films in Rome, we created a comparison of customs, with Western cultures. 

By comparing customs, morals and ethics, the audience could abandon the absolutism of its own viewpoint and be open to a cultural intertwining without giving up the expression of its own culture. By observing this in the small community of our audience (between 15,000 and 25,000 people), Asiatica Filmmediale has strived for a harmonic balance between different cultures. But if cultural harmony is possible, then why not in politics as well? 

During these 13 years, Asiatica Filmmediale always had a big support from both its audience and embassies of Asian countries, but few acknowledgements from Italian political departments. Without ethical learning from culture, how can those in politics be able to govern their citizens? It's not law that makes a country manageable, but the citizens' conscious adhesion to the law.

Asiatica Filmmediale is dedicated to spreading these films. In the beginning, the dream was also to create an archive of Asian films and Western cinematographic materials. The archive could be freely consulted by everyone; with the possibility to buy films. The Instituto Luce of Cinecittà of Rome is such an archive that can be consulted. But all audio-video material aren't exportable.

It is necessary to be able to exchange films that express artistic content, and the cultures of the world. Film directors observe events, and interpret their country's environment, the particular and global history of nations and communities, with different points of view. Perhaps these films give a vision of how humanity can coexist with contrasts and contradictions, but  without conflicts.

Notes on the competition films 
With only six films in competition, Asiatica FilmMediale vies with the Hawaii Int'l Film Festival for the most compact competition (Hawaii also has six). It does fit the festival's aim of giving viewers a more reflective experience. Yang Yonghi's Our Homeland (Japan) expressed the anguish of re-united Korean families that have been split between North and South. That theme of rootlessness was also evident in Mao Mao's Here Then (China), which follows a group of alienated Beijing youths, looking for emotional connection. In Eytan Fox's Yossi (Israel), the disrupted family is again seen through a gay doctor, who has to confess to his late lover's parents that their son was his romantic partner. In veteran Girish Kasaravalli's The Tortoise, An Incarnation, the importance of the family is set against the duty to the nation, when a man is forced by his loved ones to portray Gandhi in a TV series. In Gao Qunshu's Beijing Blues (China), the cop genre is given a twist when the city's top detective finds himself a captive of his family's emotional turbulence. But the NETPAC prize went to Majid Barzegar's Parviz (Iran), a tale of family breakdown leading to violence. >From the first sequence, the actor, a giant figure silhouetted in semi-dark light, contains in himself the entire story. The images are always a metaphor of the actions played by the actor. There is no psychological introspection. But step by step, image after image, we see him being progressively marginalised, leading to the final disaster. The disaster is the failure of a social community towards a fat, clumsy being who is taken for granted and never really appreciated for his helpfulness. The film described perefectly the absence of love, without any pathos. 

Report by:
Sebastian Shadhauser and Philip Cheah



Hawaii International Film Festival 2012

Aditya Friday October 26, 2012


Hawaii International Film Festival 2012  

Photograph: Apparition (Philippines), by Vincent Sandoval

The 32Image nd Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) was held from 11Image th to 21Image st October 2012 at Honolulu.

The Netpac jury had to evaluate the following seven films :
Apparition (Philippines), by Vincent Sandoval
Bwakaw (Philippines), by Jun Robles Lana
Follow Follow (China), by Peng Lei
It Gets Better (Thailand), by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit
Let Me Out (South Korea), by Chang Lae Kim, Jae Soh
Poor Folk (Myanmar, Taiwan), by Midi Z
The Other Side Of The Mountain (North Korea), by In Hak Jang
The Netpac jury comprised with :
Deng Chaoying (China / Netpac USA)
Vilsoni Hereniko (Hawaii / Netpac USA)
Keoprasith Souvannavong (Laos / France) : Chairperson
The jury decided unanimously to give the award to Apparition, directed by Vincent Sandoval of the Philippines, “for its courageous exploration of religious faith, guilt and forgiveness through masterful storytelling and visual imagery”.

Toronto International Film Festival 2012

Aditya Friday October 26, 2012
 Majority of the films were strong in one or two aspects but generally falling short of a convincing choice. Discussion was narrowed down to The Land of Hope, Bwakaw, Juvenile Offender, A Werewolf Boy, When I Saw You, Watchtower, and The Patience Stone, with Bwakaw, The Land of Hope, and Juvenile Offender at the top.
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17th Busan International Film Festival (4-13 October, 2012)

Aditya Wednesday October 24, 2012

The theme of revenge is one that recurred in many films, in a variety of themes. In Lee Ji-seung’s Azooma (2012), it is a mother who hunts down the man who has raped her school-going daughter. The detective on the job is unable to do much since he has been bought over by the celebrity father of the child, who does not want publicity. The mother plans out a chilling revenge, using her estranged husband’s dentist clinic. Le Roy’s Melo (2012) is a self-reflexive film, using the devices of a melodrama to ponder on the nature of obsessive love. The heroine works as waitress, is a student in ‘a third-rate university’ as she puts it. She is employed as a model by a well-to-do artist who is young and handsome.  The woman, who enjoys sex and sees it as a way out of her mundane life, does not want to give up the man at any cost. She is responsible for the death of his ex-girlfriend who is pregnant with his child; she has the artist crippled by a former boyfriend, when he wants to take a break from his relationship with her; she also kills her former boyfriend and disposes off his body by cutting it into pieces and throwing it into the river.  This possessiveness is as much to do with her obsession for the artist, as well as, the good life he offers her. She tells her ex-lover that she had hated going to cheap motels to have sex with him and had hated clearing up in the morning, before leaving.  She got the artist crippled so that he would be forever dependent on her; this is how she had thought she would exact her revenge for his wanting to leave her. But she enjoys the life of looking after him even though h keeps telling her to leave him alone. Once the police discover the pieces of the ex-lover’s body, she realises that her game will soon be up. The artist, too, realizing that he will never be free of her, and sensing, possibly, that she has broken all taboos in order to stay with him, and realizing that she will probably kill him, not wanting to let him go under any circumstance, acquiesces in her killing him. She kills him and then herself, after painting her own and the artist’s body white and the coverlet they lie on red, offering a high angle view from a ladder placed at a vantage point, to the police who will discover them.  Violence in Korean cinema walks on the fringe of horror. Revenge and horror combine to make the violence cathartic even as it is horrifying. The revenge theme also allows the exposition of the gut-wrenching emotions that make women cross-over into a world of violence. The outstanding film on this theme was Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta (2012) which tells the story of a man, whose job is to collect repayments of loans.  He cripples the people who do not pay up, which is often, since the strata he is dealing with is the poorer section, involved in small-time labour, and collects insurance. He is a sub-human form of organic life, without any human emotions, particularly that of compassion or sensitivity. Into his life comes a woman who insists she is his mother, who is sorry she has abandoned him when he was born.  She passes the most gruesome, painful and wretched tests he sets for her and manages to make a place in his house and heart. It is then that she exacts her revenge for the son Kang-do has maimed and driven to suicide: now that he knows the emotion of love, he will suffer when she exits from this life, by jumping off a building.  The film raises many questions. If Madonna suffers holding her son’s crucified body, here the mother also cries for the evil ‘son’.  She laments before her suicide that she is sad for her real son, but also for Kang-do. She weeps in the end for the suffering of her children, her real son, as well as the evil one. Money is the force that drives people here: those who need it, those who get crippled for it, those who have to collect it. The close-up is used to good effect: the mother who cries in utter sadness and the face of the man who is incapable of emotion. The macabre imagination is also pushed to excess in Jen Kyuwahn’s The Weight (2012).  

The NETPAC Award went to Jiseul, directed by O Muel. The film deals with a chapter of Korea’s post Second World War history, when the Americans military regime unleashed terror in Korea from 1948 to 1954.  The film deals with the Jeju 4.3 Uprising.   A group of villagers hides in a cave, while Koreans collaborating with the Americans hunt out villagers from their homes and indulge in cruelty. The film creates a large gallery of characters, has stunning cinematography that captures objects in their sensuous materiality. The director deals with this episode as a requiem for the victims, creating tableaux with characters that resemble still life. Chung Ji-young’s National Security(2012) is based on the memoir of late Kim Guen-tae, former Minister of Health and Welfare,  who was arrested and tortured for being part of the pro-democracy movement against the military autocracy, by the KCIA. 

Rites of passage and growing up and the stress of doing well in school to getting into good universities were some of the other prominent themes in Korean films. Kim Taegon’s The Sunshine Boys (2012) is about two friends who go to meet a third friend who has joined the army. The short time they spend together reveals their weaknesses and strengths and also makes them ‘grow’. Lee Donku’sFatal (2012) deals with the guilt of a young man who meets the girl he and his classmates had raped in school, when he joins the local church. Shin Su-won’s  Pluto (2012) is about competitiveness among a group of young boys and girls to come first, and the lengths they will go to stay ahead. In this case it is rape and murder.

There a retrospective of Polish classics. Chkheidze’s restored Father of a Soldier (1964) was also screened. World cinema had the latest works by Kiarostami (Something Like Love), Makhmalbaf (The Gardener), Haneke (Love), Taviani Brothers (Caesar Must Die). Oliver Assayas (Something in the Air) and others. From Asia there was a large pick with films from Central Asia, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, China, Hong Kong and omnibus films 10+10 and Beautiful, featuring Hou Hsaio-hsein and Tsai Ming-Liang among many others. The festival also saw the screening of films that had been supported by Busan: the closing film Mustofa Sarwar’sTelevision, Edwin’s Postcards from the Zoo, James Lee’s If Not Now, Then When? 

Cinemalaya Festival 2012: The Show Must Go On!

Aditya Monday October 1, 2012

Cinemalaya Festival 2012 The Show Must Go On!  

Cinemalaya, the Philippines’ Independent Film Festival, held its 8th edition claiming to be in “full force,” despite the early onset of monsoon that brought a heavy downpour during its opening night and which somehow reflected the inner turmoil happening within the festival organization. Its festival director, Nestor Jardin, unexpectedly resigned just before the festival started due to some disagreements with a competing entry.

Determined to get on with the show, it heralded twenty new digital works in competition: ten in the New Breed full-length category, five in the Director's Showcase andten in the Short Film category. With its aim to “discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity,”the festival has undoubtedly broken new grounds despite the odds.

Winners in this year’s festival main competition were Diablo by Mes de Guzman in the New Breed section, Posas directed by Lawrence Fajardo in the Director's Showcase and Victor by Jarell M. Serencio in the Short Film category.

This year, jury members of the NETPAC award, consisting of Max Tessier, Nick Deocampo and Jo Ji-Hoon decided to give two awards to recognize the two major divisions inthe full-length category, giving one award to Bwakaw by Jun Robles Lana in the Director's Showcase and another to Diablo in the New Breed category. Bwakaw got the judges’ nod for its poignant story of an aging gay (played masterfully by veteran actor, Eddie Garcia) who finds happiness in his late life in the company of his close friends and a dog. Diablo was convincingly a winner for its allegorical depiction of Filipino social realities.

Scanning the festival program, the theme of “spiritual crisis” catches one’s attention. It recursin stories whether about religious faith (Aparisyon/Apparition), personal drama (Posas/Shackles) or social drama (Victor). Seen from these films is a Filipino society that is growing materially progressive but whose people are faced with spiritual uncertainties. Spiritual crisis provides not only a dramatic narrative to these films but also a theme upon which toreflect on what is happening to a country. While financial analysts tout the Philippines as economically resilient despite the world economic downturn but the well-being of its people has been affected by a crisis of faith.

A few titles manifest this theme clearly. Mes de Guzman’s Diablo (Devil) represents the most obvious as it tackles the contradiction between faith and materialism, reflecting on family ties becoming dissolved in Filipino society through social pressures brought about by urban materialism or religious fanaticism. Emmanuel Quindo Palo’s Sta. Niña shows the sensational spectacle that can happen when a “miracle” turns into mass hysteria, showing how fanaticism, coupled with unabated materialism, corrupts and corrupts absolutely the characters in the film. Raymond Red’s Kamera Obscura brings this spiritual dilemma to an artistic dimension, where an artist is thwarted in his search for truth by social and political realities surrounding him.

With the coming of the 21st century, the Philippines is a country that seeks its path towards a new future. Past values are put into question as new ones challenge traditional beliefs and practices.

Outside of the main categories, there were equally interesting programs that included an Alternative Cinema Program, Special Screenings, Film Financing Forum, Animation and Gaming Congress and the annual Independent Film Congress.

Vlll Eurasia International Film Festival

Aditya Saturday September 22, 2012


Vlll Eurasia International Film Festival  
Nurlan Baitasov in STUDENT

Clear skies, perfect weather and a clutch of interesting films, particularly and expectedly from Central Asia, were the hallmarks of the Vlll Eurasia International Film Festival in the serenely beautiful, flower-bedecked city of Almaty. This festival has matured in its programming even if the number of films is small and the event lasts a mere four days. No effort is spared to roll out the red carpet and present grandiose opening and closing ceremonies to an elegantly dressed capacity crowd of some 3,000 at the vast Palace of the Republic in the heart of this erstwhile capital. Held under the patronage of the Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Information, Kazakhfilm and the Association of Cinematographers of Kazakhstan, Eurasia is the place to view the best of Central Asian cinema, thanks to a well-knit programme put together mainly by its Artistic Director Gulnara Abikeyeva. A high-voltage audio-visual presentation of guests, organisers and film clips, a wonderful opera performance, Hollywood celebrities (Wolfgang Petersen, Dennis Haysbert), a Special Festival Prize to the legendary National Actor of USSR and winner of the USSR State Prize, Asanali Ashimov – and all this was followed by a gala dinner where guests were treated to traditional song and music, performance by acrobats and a fashion show!
The Opening Film, Virtual Love, by Amir Karakulov, veteran Kazakh director and one of the founders of the country’s New Wave in the 1990s was all about falling in love in the virtual world, so virtual that you have no idea that the object of your affection is actually sitting in the next room. The Internet, the film appears to say, helps erase borders that we ourselves erect in real life. The festival closed with a high-powered, Hollywood-style historical Kazakn drama, Myn Bala: Warriors of the Steppe by Akan Sataev, a story about the bloody wars for the unity of the Kazakhs. A true spectacle, an extraordinary display of heroism, daring, gore, intrigue, spiritedness, love and the endless steppe. Myn Bala is Kazakhstan’s entry for Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars. In between, The Book of Legends: The Mysterious Forest by Akhat Ibraev, an ambitious production and the first Kazakh film in the fairy-tale fantasy genre with CGI and animation.
Eurasia is where you can catch up on Kazakh cinema, the most productive in Central Asia -  seventeen films, including those mentioned above. Eleven of these formed the Dynamic Kazakh Cinema package which consisted of a variety of genres – comedies, romantic melodramas, youth dramas, films about Kazakhstan’s recent history. Others were part of the International Competition, while four films of Ashimov were also screened as a tribute to the well-known actor.
Eleven films from Europe and Asia competed for the international awards but surprisingly no Best Film award was conferred. Instead, two films – Future Lasts Forever by Özcan Alper (Turkey) and Elles by Malgorzata Szumowska (a Germany-France-Poland production) -  shared the prize for Best Director. Anais Demoustier, one of the main actresses in Elles took the Best Actress award while the Best Actor went to Kazakh-born actor Azamat Nigmanov for his role in the Russian film The Convoy by Russian director Alexei Mizgriev. The Convoy also won the FIPRESCI Prize. The NETPAC jury awarded acclaimed director Darejan Omirbaev’s Student, a film that subtly and suitably transposes the moral dilemma in the mind of the central character, Raskolnikov, in Feodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment into present-day Kazakhstan.
A Central Asian Panorama, a programme of films from Azerbaijan and Central Asia (minus Kazakhstan) had seven features and four shorts. A fair selection, demonstrating a certain vitality, some set in urban locations, others in the mountains and the steppe, throwing open the tug of the city and the lure of the countryside.
The NETPAC jury saw eleven films from Central Asia and Azerbaijan: a mix of many moods - from an all’s well that ends well ending (Day of Truth, Uzbekistan) to the inner world of a child (Princess Nazik, Kyrgyzstan), of a student (Student, Kazakhstan), a parable of an old man and his son (Kyrgyzstan I Love You – Socks), death and loneliness (The Telegram, Tajikistan),  familiar and unfamiliar worlds (The Steppe Man, Azerbaijan), shattered hopes of young girls (The Empty Home, Kyrgyzstan, Parizod, Uzbekistan), a short man and his dream (Shorty, Kazakhstan), to doctors and organ donation (Presumed Consent, Tajikistan), and the delivery of coffins of those killed in war to their homes (Mute House, Uzbekistan).
There was more for those who may have missed watching previous award-winners from Berlin (three Golden Bears and one silver) and Pusan (four). The festival programme also included round tables on Eurasian Cinema as reflected in film festivals and Young Eurasian Cinema (with particular reference to pitching proposals) as well as Master Classes. I doff my hat, too, to the handsome festival catalogue.


On the Edge: a film festival between East and West

Aditya Monday September 17, 2012
At the end of August, Sakhalin Island hosted – for the fourth time – the international film festival, “On the Edge.” There were two noteworthy aspects to this film forum: firstly, the festival’s programme director Alexey Medvedev put together a very strong competition programme, and secondly, it was not only Russian films that were screened at the festival but also films from Russia’s far eastern neighbours. 
Let's start at the beginning. The competition programme comprised eleven films, five of them Russian. Notably, the Russian titles were among the best made here this year. The film Test, by Alexander Kott, won the Grand Prix at the Kinotavr Russian Film Festival in Sochi and is a story about nuclear tests carried out in Kazakhstan in 1953. Star, by Anna Melikyan, won Kinotavr's Best Director prize and in my view is an example of brilliant audience-led cinema. The film tells on one hand the story of a young girl who wants to become a film star but on the other hand a story about a not-so-young woman who realizes that she has only a few months to live.  The third film, Corrections Class, by Ivan Tverdovsky, is about a girl with disabilities on the threshold of adulthood and won Kinotavr’s Best Debut prize. The two other films – Another Year, by Oksana Bychkova, and The Winter Will Not Come, by IlyaDemichev – represented a more youthful Russian cinema.
The films from Russia’s continental neighbours were the Georgian Blind Dates, by LevanKoguashvili, which has won prizes for direction in Sofia, Vilnius and Wiesbaden, and Kasakhstan’s The Owners, by AdilkhanYerzhanov, which was featured in this year’s official programme at the Cannes Film Festival. The four films representing Asia were Ship of Theseus, by Anand Gandhi from India, Still The Water, by Naomi Kawase from Japan, The Monk, by The Maw Naing from Myanmar, and From a Pimple to Nirvana, by AmornHarinnitisuk from Thailand. As we can see, the competition was fierce in this programme in and in a quite unusual context too.  
Despite the jury being mainly Russian – director Vadim Abdrashitov, actor Sergei Puskepalis, film critic Sergei Shumakov –  (also present were Indian director Amit Kumar and me, a film expert from Kazakhstan) - Asian films swept the board. Unanimously loved was Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, a philosophical yet visually magnificent film, which won the festival’s Grand Prix. The Best Actor prize went to NeerajKabi from the same film, while Miyuki Matsuda from Still The Water pocketed the Best Actress prize. The Best Director prize was awarded to LevanKoguashvili for Blind Dates – a fine, graceful, unhurried film about a 40-year old school teacher who can’t get married. And only the Special Jury Prize went to a Russian effort – Corrections Class. To be honest, this award could just have easily gone to the Burmese film The Monk or the Kazakh film The Owners for their distinctive cinematic language, or to the Russian Test for its artistic expression. But a competition is a Darwinian beast, and choices must be made. Most importantly, this programme provided an excellent selection of films and provoked much discussion as to which was most worthy.
The second feature of the «On The Edge» festival was that most of the out-of-competition selections were from Russia’s far eastern neighbours, to wit:
Japan: Empire of Passion
Hong Kong: the City Where Cinema Dwells
Korea: Korean Dragon 
Japanese Animation: Miyadzaki and Others
The festival's main guest star was the South Korean actress Moon So-Ri, and some of her selected works – Oasis, Forever The Moment and HAHAHA – were screened in a retrospective. 
Other special screenings included films by Alexander Sokurov, as well as various Asian and European films.
The festival’s thematic documentary strand, “Architecture and Film”, deserves special mention. Seven films told stories that were not so much about architects but about urban planning: about how the urban environment is shaped and what must be done to make a city designed not for cars but for people. The programme was supported with a graduation show featuring work by students of Moscow's leading architecture school, MArchI, which was dedicated to an overhaul of Sakhalin's towns – indeed, during the festival, residents of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk could participate in a workshop on the reconstruction of Gagarin Park. Therefore, “On The Edge” existed not only to give the public a chance to experience the best of art-house cinema, but also as a place for public meetings and debates. It's worth mentioning that the festival had no press conferences, but there were Q&A sessions and meetings of filmmakers and audiences after each screening.
This audience dialogue was actually the third noteworthy feature of the festival. Some amazing statistics: over the nine days of the festival, over 80 films were seen by 21,000 people, which represents 10 per cent of the entire population of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. The regional government financed the festival with a brief not only to liven up the cultural life of the island, but also for the festival to become one of international note. The programme was thoughtful and wide-ranging and the aforementioned international brief was taken into account: films were subtitled in English, the catalogue was printed in English and the festival had a great website at www.sakhalinfilmfestival.ru.  It is therefore time to think about having the NETPAC jury at this festival, especially given that one half of Russia is European and the other Asian.
Since the festival's Honorary President was AllaSurikova, the famed Russian film director, the event took on one more unexpected function – an educational one. For the third year running, a film workshop took place and, as before, the two highest-placed students get to continue their education in Moscow at the Higher Course for Screenwriters and Directors, where Surikova teaches. The regional Governor funds their school fees for the two-year programme – further plans include opening a film studio on Sakhalin.
In fact, the curator of this workshop, entitled «European-Asian», is YuliaLevitskaya, a filmmaker from Kazakhstan. Together with her team she created the festival trailer in which, as in a shadow-play show, a top-hatted European and a straw-hatted Asian take their seats in a screening room to watch a silent film. One takes out a booklet, the other takes out a fan, and between them we see the white space of the screen silhouetted to form the shape of Sakhalin Island.


Congratulations Bong Joon Ho

Congratulations to Bong Joon-ho TXmvGYanrJgMzRNgaSEK The victory of Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, at the 92nd Academy Awards (aka the Oscars), is a clear sign of global change. The history of cinema is being written on our eyes! For the first time, the most prestigious cinema awards were given to one film - the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film festival, the Best Asian film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and the Oscars. For the first time, we see such unanimous acclaim of one film. Read More...