Festival Reports

The 15th edition of Black Nights International Film Festival

Aditya Wednesday December 14, 2011

The 15th edition of Black Nights International Film Festival was held from 18th till 30th November in the historical city of Tallinn.

The Festival includes the following sections:

International competition EuroAsia

Regional competition – HEAVE (i) N Baltic feature film competition

Non-competitive sections 

Additional official awards:

Award for Best Asian film by the jury of Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC)

Audience Award scholarship of 2000 Euros from the city of Tallinn

Lifetime Achievement Award

And it was an opportunity for the films to be studied and discussed by the professionals from different nationalities.

I am always delighted to meet powerful women in the world cinema. The hard efforts of Tiina Lokk, as the director of Black Nights, and her team to hold this festival in its best way was adorable.

This year the festival was acted greatly in selecting the films. The selection includes some outstanding films of the world cinema and even some Oscar nominated films from different countries such as A separation: Nader and Simin from Iran and The Artist from France among the selected films. According to the information written in the catalogue of the festival the films in this festival were mainly the admired films in different worldwide festivals and Black Night made this opportunity for its audiences to watch the most important films of the most famous festivals such as Tree of Life the winner of Palme d’Or Prize in Cannes Festival. 

The variety of documentaries in the Documentary section was from Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog which was 3D to the documentaries made by the local youth of Tallinn. The point about documentary section was that if you had not booked a ticket you would lose the film because it was sold out quickly and that was very interesting.
The selected films for NETPAC section whose jury members were me, Joonas Kiik (Estonia) and Brian Bennet (Thailand) unfortunately were not as good as the brilliant films participating in the festival although there were many very good Asian films in this festival.

Among the films in NETPAC section there were some average films such as A Simple Life from China (Hong Kong). Although it had a slow narration, it is about a sick lady living in a nursing home and her relationship with her son and the other patients. One of the outstanding points in this films is the brilliant acting of the actress in showing her suffer from sickness, her maternity feelings and human relationship.

The other one is Kotoko from Japan which shows a reasonable narration of a full-illusion life of a patient. The film has a good edit and shooting

But the selected film in NETPAC section is Mourning from Iran. It is the story of a deaf and dumb couple who are traveling to another city with their son to participate in a mourning ceremony.

The silence which took some minutes attracted the jury’s attention. On the first sequences of the film a car is riding among the colorful and green background of the roads in the North of Iran without any dialogue. After some minutes it cuts and shows inside the car and you find out that the reason of this silence is their disability to talk and hear and they talk in sign language.

The images were outstanding and it attracted the audiences’ attention with a simple narration.

Festival Report by Marjan Riahi


Aditya Sunday December 4, 2011

It was quite a mix bag from the eight nominated films, with genre films like Enemy at the Dead End (South Korea), a tight and confined revenge thriller, comedy by Malaysian controversial rapper Namewee, Nasi Lemak 2.0 which breaks the box office collections in Malaysia, to pseudo-drama documentary by Midi Z, Return to Burma (Taiwan), documentary Hometown Boy (Taiwan) by Yao Hung-I and from Sri Lanka, Vimukthi’s Chatrak. Most of the works share and threads almost similar themes and subjects back in their own country.

And the other three, which I would like to, delve in a bit more including the recipient of the NETPAC award.

First, Madame X from Indonesia by first time feature director Lucky Kuswandi, star Indonesian comedian Amink and a surprise cameo by filmmaker Joko Anwar in a hilarious supporting role as a transvestite hairdresser. Who said filmmakers can’t have fun? Movie produced by another fellow filmmaker Nia Dinata. It’s amazing to see the effort of the filmmakers contributing and supporting new and young directors. As described by the director before the screening the movie is trashy, campy and fun. Yes, the movie is trashy, campy and fun all in a good way. The movie manages to tackle a sensitive issue in the country or in the South East Asia region, transgender and homosexual rights with the comedy superhero genre, set upon a very realistic backdrop which audiences from the neighboring country would recognizes. Madame X may be the most memorable super hero that has ever come out from the region.

Slapstick Brother a second feature by Shinagawa Hiroshi about a manzai (Japanese stand up comedy) duo comedy team and its struggles to achieve stardom. It’s a well-made feel good comedy and drama, may not be up to par compare to the classic Welcome Back Mr. Mac Donald, but it still manages to holds onto itself. Both films dealt with stories about people who do what they love, in Mr. Mac Donald, characters working in radio plays and in Slapstick Brother, standup comedy. But it’s also how the director manages to incorporate manzai style comedy sequences within the scenes of the movie. For example a scene in the kitchen of Tobio when the two debt collectors come to seeks him and Tobio’s new partner Ryuhei were defending him, it’s execute like a manzai standup comedy. The blocking, timing and repeating of a key word (which is all part of manzai) works perfectly. Slapstick Brother is a good work to remind the international audiences that Japanese films can still be fun, humorous and touching.

And finally Dain Said’s Bunohan, his second feature which eventually is a family drama set in the village of Bunohan. The directions are bold and strong. The shots and editing is an evidence of the director’s control of the medium and the subject and the characters. But even though set in a small un-developed village, the issues brought upon by the film resembles the larger issues the country is facing, corruption, assassination and land grabs. And betrayal is part of the game. The most irony part of the film is we see the inhabitants of the land plotting, scheming and fighting for the deeds and ownership of the land. And in the end the land ends up owning the inhabitants. As the director said the film was shaped and created by the landscape. In this movie the swamps, marshes, beach are not going to be exotic and beautiful like how other films usually portray them, in Bunohan they are alive and filled with dark stories and spirits. Bunohan in my opinion is one of the better films that have ever come out from Malaysia.

Festival Report by: James Lee (Malaysia)

17th Kolkata Film Festival

Aditya Monday November 28, 2011

The 17th Kolkata Film Festival was held from 10th to 17th November 2011 at Nandan Centre. Netac Jury was focused on the section Asian Select which comprised with the following 11 films. 

The Precinct (Azerbaijan) by IlgarSafat
Gueririlla (Bangladesh) by NasiruddinYousuff
Aftershock (China) by FengXiaogang
A Meeting (Iran) by ShapoorGharib, AbbasRafei and HadiMoghadam-Doost
The Story of Balgandharva (India) by Ravi Jadhav
A Beautiful Life (Singapore) by Andrew Lau
Dance Town (Korea) by JeonKyu-hwan
Eternity (Thailand) by SivarojKongsakul
Ok, Enough, Good Bye (Lebanon / UAE) by RaniaAttieh
Bi, Don’t be Afraid! (Vietnam / France / Germany) by Phan Dang Di
The Desire (India) by Nandita Roy

The Netpac Jury comprised with:
Ashley Ratnavibhushana (Sri Lanka) – Chairperson
Ms. Mara Matta (Italy)
Nilotpal Majumdar (India)

Out of the 11 films Netpac Jury was concentrated on "The Precinct", a surrealistic film portrays the life of a photographer during the Soviet Regime of Azerbaijan, "Guerilla", a recreation of the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, "Aftershock" which depicts the story of a family suffered during the devastating earthquake in Tangshan, China in 1976 and "Dance Town" examine the plight of a North Korean girl who illegally migrated to South. 

"Dance Town" is the third film by JeonKyu-Hwan who has made two films earlier "Mozart Town" and "Animal Town"
"Guerrilla" is a landmark of Bangladesh Cinema directed by Nasiruddin Yousuffhas himself been a part of the 1971 war when he was a student at the University of Dhaka. The film captures the bloody war and genocide, which leads to the birth of a nation. Bangladesh has lost more than 3 million of lives and around 2 lakh of women were raped. Director has made this film in commemoration of the 40thAnniversary of the Bangladesh Independence.

The film narrates the tale of Bilkis Banu who turns a guerilla after her journalist husband is abducted and killed by the Pakistani Army in 1971. She leads a unit of freedom fighters, conducts raids on army and police camps, before eventually fleeing to a distant part of East Pakistan where his brother is being held captive. Bilkis is finally captured and killed. Actress Jaya Ahsan played a magnificent role as Bilkis.
Kolkata is a non- competitive film festival since its inception but this year they have decided to institute a Netpac Jury to give the Award for the Best Asian film. By presenting the Netpac Award to "Guerrilla" the jury has mentioned, "for its brave attempt in recreating the untold truth of genocide happened during the Bangladesh Liberation War which has not been depicted so far in Cinema".

This is the first Bangladesh film won a Netpac Award.

Festival Report by: Ashley Ratnavibhushana


Aditya Thursday November 10, 2011

The 27th Warsaw International Film Festival held last October 7-16, 2011 marked the first time that NETPAC participated in the festival. NETPAC jury members included JEFFREY JETURIAN, filmmaker from the PHilippines who was appointed head jury, AMAIA TORRECILLA OLASOLO, from Spain, director and co-founder of the Barcelona Asian Film Festival, and KONRAD WAGROWSKI, from Poland, a film critic and journalist, specializing in popular culture.

Though the festival opened on the 7th of October, the jury started with their chores on the 10th and finished viewing all 15 films lined up in their section on the 14th, after which, they sat down to deliberate on their selection.By night's end of the 14th, the jury have reached a consensus, after weighing all the considerations vis-a-vis the NETPAC rules.

The jury viewed the following films:

FAREWELL LONELINESS, Huai-Syuan Jhuang (Director),Taiwan, 2011
A LETTER TO MOMO, Hiroyuki Okiura (Director), Japan, 2011
HANAAN, Ruslan Pak (Director), South Korea and Uzbekistan, 2011
HAUNTERS, Min-suk Kim (Director), South Korea, 2010
BLOWFISH, Chi Yuarn Lee (Director), Taiwan, 2011
POLICEMAN, Nadav Lapid (Director), Israel, 2011
GAYUMA: PILGRIM LOVERS, Alvin Yapan (Director), Philippines, 2011
LOSING INNOCENCE IN ALMA-ATA, Zhanna Issabayeva(Director),Kazakhstan,2011
QARANTINA, Oday Rasheed (Director), Iraq and Germany, 2011
NO. 89 SHIMEN ROAD, Haolun Shu (Director), Hongkong  and 
Netherlands, 2011
THREE AND A HALF, Naghi Nemati (Director), Iran, 2011
BEING MITSUKO, Kenji Yamauchi (Director), Japan, 2011
A SKY TOO FAR TO SEE, Enomoto Orio (Director), Japan, 2011
CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF MAHJONG, Donald Li (Director), China, 2011
THE BENGALI DETECTIVE, Philip Cox (Director), UK, India and USA, 2011

From among the selection, about a third of the films figured in the deliberations, among them, A Letter To Momo, Hanaan, The Bengali Detective, Policeman, Qarantina and No. 89 Shimen Road. In the end, the jury chose to give the award to No. 89 Shimen Road, directed by Haolun Shu for its poignant depiction of the struggles of a country confronted by a new order and how this change has rendered their "old world" a mere speck of a memory for its people. No. 89 Shimen Road is the story of Shaoli, a young boy from Shanghai who turns 16 in the summer of 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Shaoli's life revolves around his one-room apartment in a beautiful brick house in a picturesque neighborhood, which he shares with his grandfather. His best friend, who is a few years older than him, slowly drifts away from him as she gets lured by the new opportunities which come as China opens up to foreign goods and businessmen.  The 1989 events force Shaoli to grow up and to let go of his teenage dreams.

It is interesting to note that in the screenings that the jury attended, the theaters were generally full, indicative of the western audience's growing interest in Asian films and of the Asian films' growing impact in world cinema. The awarding ceremonies on October 15 was a simple but elegant affair. Director Haolun Shu was present to personally receive the beautiful NETPAC trophy handed out onstage by jury member Amaia Torrecilla Olasolo.

Festival Report by Jeffrey Jeturian

BUSAN 2011

Aditya Saturday November 5, 2011

BUSAN 2011 1  

The 16th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) took place from October 6th through October 14th in Busan, South Korea. As the largest film festival in Asia, BIFF screened 307 films from 70 countries, including 86 world premieres. 8,828 accredited guests and 2,440 accredited press attended the festival. 
2011 marked a new era for the festival. The English name was changed from Pusan to Busan to bring it in line with standard translation. Taking over from the 15-year veteran Kim Dong-ho, new Festival Director Lee Yong-kwan inaugurated the Busan Cinema Center (BCC), a beautiful $157 million-dollar, 30,000 square-meter complex that serves as the exclusive venue for screenings and events for BIFF during the festival period. Additional screening venues include CGV Centum City, LOTTE Cinema Centum City, Community Media Center Haeundae, and Megabox Haeundae, for a total of 36 screens at 5 theatres. Total attendance number was 196,177 or 83% per screen.
The opening film was ALWAYS (South Korea), a melodramatic love story directed by 2001 BIFF New Currents winner SONG Il-gon.
BIFF presented its Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award to director Tsui Hark (Hong Kong). French actress Isabelle Hubert, French director Luc Besson were among the BIFF Master Class speakers. Special retrospective programs were dedicated to Korean director KIM Kee-duk and Hong Kong director Yonfan.
BIFF’s top competition, the New Currents award, were split between Filipino director Loy Arcena’s Niño and Iranian director Morteza Farshbag’s MOURNING.
Selected from the twelve Korean narrative features programmed in the “New Currents” and “Korean Cinema Today: Vision” sections, the NETPAC award were given to THE KING OF PIGS (Dir. Yeun Sang ho, South Korea). A brilliantly stylized animated thriller epitomizing the gruesome social inequality and debased humanity through the eyes of tormented adolescents with invigorating energy, emotional momentum and unsettling honesty, the film also received the Director's Guild of Korea: Best Director award, and the CGV Movie Collage Award.
The 16th BIFF NETPAC jury members were chairperson George Chun Han Wang (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Seok Moon (Chief Editor, Cine21 Magazine, Korea) and Rithdee Kong (film critic, Bangkok Post), plus two Citizen Reviewers jury members: Yun-Seok Jang (Pukyong National University), and Michelle Kim (Ar2Square). 
At the awards ceremony, NETPAC/USA vice president Jeannette Paulson Hereniko joined BIFF NETPAC jury chairperson George Chun Han Wang, to present the NETPAC award trophy and certificate to THE KING OF PIGS director Yuen Sang Ho (pictured).
The festival concluded with the closing film from Japan, CHRONICLE OF MY MOTHER, a touching film based on Yasushi Inoue’s autobiographical novel, directed by Harada Masato.



ASIATICA, ROME, (October 12 to 22, 2011)

Aditya Thursday November 3, 2011
The 12th edition of the "Asiatica Film Mediale", directed by Italo Spinelli, took place in Rome, from October 12 to 22. Due to budget restrictions (in the unfavourable context of the lasting European crisis...), the venue moved from the historical center of Rome and the old Capranica theater to the brand new MACRO (Museum of Contemporary Arts in Rome), in the Testaccio area, with two theaters instead of one, but smaller...
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The 7th Eurasia Film Festival

Aditya Saturday October 1, 2011
 The 7th Eurasia Film Festival was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Nearly 30 countries participated. It was a well-organized festival. As far as the NETPAC competition was concerned, there were 7 films in competition from Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Iran. The films were most interesting and displayed a good understanding of the medium of cinema.
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Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Aditya Saturday October 1, 2011
 Abu Dhabi film festival has two bright characteristics: huge prize fund and brilliant executive director, who had put together a unique festival program. Let’s speak about the second point. Peter Scarlet, a well known artistic director of San-Francisco and Tribeca film festivals, for three year he had worked for ADFF making it range from young to known on cinema map. One of my colleagues Sitora Aliyeva once said: “Everybody wants to be in competition here.” Why so? I think not only by the first reason – huge fund for prizes (there are 9 sections of festival with prizes, totally 1,330,000 USD and in three of them the main prizes are 100,000 USD each) but also because the battle of giants is going on here.
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Karlovy Vary 2011

Aditya Monday August 15, 2011
Despite the unseasonably low temperatures, glamorous strappy cocktail dresses were still the order of the evening for the strictly blacktie opening of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. And the huge fleet of identical black Audis, with their distinctive lights, whisking back and forth along the cobblestoned streets of the beautiful spa town between the cinema and the elegant old Hotel Pupp gave an almost surreal party feel to the town for the duration of the festival. The fest was bookended by the latest filmic version of Jane Eyre (which stars among others Dame Judi Dench, in Karlovy Vary to receive a Crystal Globe for her Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema, and Australian actress Mia Wasikowska) and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, signaling a new Eurocentric feel to the festival.
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Pifan 2011

Aditya Monday August 8, 2011

The world’s latest crop of genre films got its annual boost in the recently-concluded15th Puchon International Fantasy Film Festival. Also called PiFan, the festival, which makes its home in the bustling cultural center of Bucheon, was held from July 14-24, 2011.
The NETPAC juryawarded its Best Film to Hospitalite, directed by Fukuda Koji.The Japanese film was cited“for its subtle use of comedy in portraying the domestic and social impact of foreigners in a small community amidst a rapidly-globalizing world.”

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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...