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.”
The NETPAC Jury at the 33rd Moscow International Film Festival presented its award to The House Under the Water (Khaneye Zire Âb), directed Iranian filmmaker, Sepideh Farsi. In its citation, the jury singled out the film for its "achievement in crafting an intriguing story with social consciousness, ethnical sensibility and visual force".
The House Under the Water is an intricately weaved film noir centred on Morteza (Masoud Raygan), an ex-convict accused of drowning a teenager. Filmmaker Sepideh Farsi questioned the meaning of truth to a disillusioned man haunted by the long shadow of his past.
The following films were nominated for the 2011 NETPAC Award by IFFR held from 26 January to 6 February 2011:
Black Blood by Zhang Miaoyan (China/France)
My Father's House (Jia Yuan) by Zhao Dayong (China/Hong Kong)
Love Addiction (Fuyu no kimono) by Nobuteru Uchida (Japan)
Hot as Hell: The Deadbeat March (Seishun hakaba) by Okuda Yosuke (Japan)
Hospitalité (Kantai) by Koji Fukada (Japan)
Kommander Kulas: The One and Only Concert of the Amazing Kommander Kulas and His Poor Carabao in the Long and Unwinding Road of Kamias by Khav (Philippines)
Presa by Adolfo B Alix Jr (Philippines)
Paradise City (Anyang) by Park Chan-Kyong (South Korea)
Characters by Son Kwangju (South Korea)
Flying Fish (Igillena maluwo) by Sanjeewa Pushpakumara (Sri Lanka)
The Day I Disappeared by Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi, (Iran)
One cannot deny that Pusan film festival has become the premier Asian film festival in the past 10 years. Kim Dong-ho and his colleagues, especially Kim Ji-Seouk, have increased the standards of Korean and Asian cinema through their festival. What festival in Asia and apart from A-caliber events like Cannes, Venice, Berlin and even in other parts of the globe can screen 315 feature films, including 85 world premieres! Everyone once attending Pusan would confess how wonderful is the audience in this festival and this year the audience total hit record levels with a total of 198,818 admissions which proves a seat occupancy rate of 72.3%. The total number of guests, according to festival organizers, reached 11,110, including 3038 domestic guest, 638 international delegates and 1594 media people.
Apart from opening and closing films, there were various sections, including Gala Presentation with 4 Asian films, the non-competitive A Window on Asian Cinema with 50 movies, the competitive New Currents with 14 mostly low-budget independent films from Asian newcomers, Korean Cinema Today included Panorama with 12 mostly established filmmakers and Vision with 8 independent films. The Korean cinema Retrospective showcased 8 films by Han Hyung-mo under the title of The Alchemist of Popular Cinema and two more titles by Kim Ki-young.
The World Cinema's selection consisted of 67 titles and the competitive Wide Angel screened 70 films. The sections including Open Cinema, Flash Forward, Retrospective of Taviani Brothers, Romanian New Wave, Superheroes in Asian, Ani-Asia 2008 Asian Omnibus Collection, Music Videos by Asian Film Directors and Midnight Passion could meet any audiences' expectations.
The Pusan Film Festival has truly become the hub of Asian cinema as this event provides whatever an audience and professional look for! The Asian Film Academy ran from 25th of September till the end of festival and hosted 24 young filmmakers from Asian countries who all attended several courses and workshops by Hou Hsiao Hsien and his colleagues. The 11th Pusan Promotion Plan hosted film directors and producers of 30 selected Asian film projects and Asian Film Market also was held from 3rd to 6th of October with 4640 guests. The Asia-Pacific Film Policy Forum ran for two days on 4 & 5 October and held several conferences on various issues and topics relating to Asian film industry.
The four-member jury of New Currents awarded Korean Land of Scarecrow and Japanese Naked of Defense. NETPAC award went to two films, Members of Funeral and Treeless Mountain. The Korean Cinema Award was presented to Richard Pena, director of New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center and the award for The Asian Filmmaker of the Year was given to Gulnara Sarsenova, director of Kazakhstan's Eurasian Film Festival who has been the first female recipient of this award, however, as a NETPAC member, I believe this award had to go to Aruna Vasudev for her incomparable contribution on Asian cinema in past 30 years.
The 5th Eurasia International Film Festival (Sept 7-13 2008) was given a rebirth in the capital city of Astana, a glittering brand new city, instantly built from scratch, over five years, like a cross between the stately Canberra and the synthetic pomp of Las Vegas.
By the time the wonder of the iconic buildings fade (when you finally get over the fact that the Opening Ceremony takes place in a pyramid-shaped auditorium), you are left with a dedicated programme of Central Asian films, the first time that the festival made their regional cinema the focus of their main competition.
It makes a lot of sense considering that the birth of this region's national cinemas took place during the thaw of the Soviet 60s, then a rebirth at the end of the Soviet era in the 90s, so today, the region is ripe for another make-over.
This was particularly seen in the short film competition where the brave young works left you with many jaw-dropping moments. The rising star must surely be Adilkhan Erzhanov whose two films, Self Portrait and Bakhytzhamal, are an exercise in idiosyncratic filmmaking. Bakhytzhamal, which took the second prize of the Shorts Competition, is particularly powerful in throwing the viewer off-balance by the cranky antics of two friends. It is only later that you realize that one of them is a mental patient who wants to visit the home of his beloved 10 years later but cannot remember where to go. The emotion is surprising but deeply felt, and the shifting tones are a constant surprise.
Akjol Bekbolotov's Everything is OK did not win a prize (though it has won in other festivals) but shows the new sensibility of this generation of new wave directors. Here, the inner world of Krygyz street kids is shown graphically but the film has an unusually gentle heart, unlike most in-your-face street children films.
The NETPAC prize which looks at the main competition features as well as the Central Premieres section, went to second-time director, Daniyar Salamat's Together With Father. It is a simple tale of a young boy with his single-parent father. But the ironic observations of day-to-day urban life in Almaty make this an effective slow burn. From the father's wood-making students who unknowingly provide him extra income when he sells their works, to a bar-girl that he brings home to their one-room apartment, the distance and closeness between father and son are constantly challenged.
But the grand epics are still being made. Satybaldy Narymbetov's Mustafa Shokai, is a big budget biopic on the life of the legendary leader of the Turkic people, who wanted to create a new country called Turkestan. Hounded by the Soviets for his separatist vision, then later manipulated by the Nazis, Shokai maintained his independent spirit till the end. Narymbetov, who directed the famous Story of a Young Accordionist (1994) and recently, Steppe Express (2005), weaves Shokai's story with grand drama and poetic longing.
But if there is any sign that indeed, a new spirit is emerging from Central Asia, it was confirmed in the Opening Film, Sergei Dvortsevoi'sTulpan. Shot over three years by Russian documentarist, Dvortsevoi, this co-production marks his debut feature. About a family of sheep herders in the Steppes, the film pays close attention to the hardships of a very stark life, alleviated only by the romantic hopes of the shepherd's son. The documentary-styled cinematography brings to life the raw beauty and harshness of a poor shepherd's life and each scene is pure distilled drama.
Coupled with the young next-wave generation, it is clear that Central Asian cinema will be making many steppes (sic) forward.
Congratulations to Bong Joon-ho 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...