Festival Reports

21st Asiatica Film Festival - 2020

System Administrator Tuesday January 5, 2021

Who knows what the right decision is?

We all know that the strange year of 2020 and the mysterious virus had the greatest impact on culture and art, especially cinema and film festivals. Many festivals around the world have been cancelled or postponed. We all thought that the outbreak of the virus would be short, but not everything went as we expected. Many festivals waited for a while to make the right decision. Should the festival be held socially-distanced in accordance with health protocols or is it safer to hold a virtual one? Who knows?

This year, for the first time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 21st Asiatica Film Festival which is directed by Italo Spinelli and his collaborators in Rome, was held online from December 18 to 22.

Asiatica - encounters with Asian cinema - was created in 2000, to establish an original channel of communication between Italy and Asia. This festival is one of the most important Asian festivals in Europe, which has always shown different films from Asia. The three jury members of NETPAC, Therese Hayes (USA), Tsengel Davaasambuu (Mongolia) and Marziyeh Riahi (Iran) watched 10 Asian films including eight feature films and two documentaries, in competition. All the films had a successful festival presence and were among the best in Asia. At the same time, the films were very different in terms of genre and cinematic form. 

It was very impressive for me to see two films in this program. A Boarding School by Shalahuddin Siregar (Indonesia) and No Choice by Reza Dormishian (Iran). In A Boarding School, Shalahuddin Siregar as documentary maker was able to get very close to the characters, his camera did not feel present at all and the characters live their lives regardless of the camera. Unlike usual types of documentaries, the documentary filmmaker does not conduct any interviews or narration throughout the film. Yet the film has many bright moments of singing Muslim women in hijab and a girl reciting the Quran like a beautiful song.   Also No Choice, by Reza Dormishian, shows human relationships openly and bitterly to the audience. The film simultaneously tells the story of three women living in three different circumstances in Iran; a homeless girl, a human rights lawyer, and a gynecologist. This film shows that we each think we are making the right decision in the face of a social problem. But who really knows what the right decision is? 


Still from No Choice, Source: Hollywood Reporter
Still from No Choice, Source: Hollywood Reporter



This year, the festival had its first online experience. The judges of different sections and the audience saw all the films online. In addition to the judges, the audience also introduced their favorite film. This is a point of hope for all of us who are involved in cinema. Despite all the restrictions, quarantine, virus pandemic, etc., the cinema is still alive! With the same hope for the future of the world and cinema, the NETPAC award went to No Choice by Reza Dormishian from Iran “for showing the deep human relationships and paying attention to the problems and difficulties of a part of society that receives less attention everywhere in the world”.

-- Marziyeh Riahi (Iran) – NETPAC Jury

-- Edited by Philip Cheah

International Women's Day

We are pleased to bring to you, for the second year, our International Women’s Day screening!

Free online screening | 8th March

IWD theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge. A challenged world is an alert world. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge - Ubolsyn herself completely embraces the theme!

This year we invite you to a special free online screening of ULBOLSYN from director Adilkhan Yerzhanov. Our sincere thanks to the producers, Guillaume de Seille and Olga Khlasheva, for their generosity and their efforts in facilitating the screening.

Ulbolsyn Source Poffdotee

The film tells the story of a girl named Ulbolsyn (Kazakh for ‘let there be a son’) whose little sister Azhar is kidnapped by the regional mayor’s brother Urgen for marital purposes and taken away to his village. Ulbolsyn wants her sister to be free and to enter her into a foreign university so that she can pursue a future career. As soon as she learns about the incident, Ulbolsyn decides to fight for her sister and face down the patriarchal world of the people living in the Karatas village.

The film is the recipient of the NETPAC Award in Tallinn Black Nights and TRT award in CineLink Sarajevo WIP 2020

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