Asian Winners in Cannes

System Administrator Saturday July 15, 2023

The 76th Cannes Film Festival has come to an end. NETPAC board member Ed Lejano noted that five out of ten awards were given to Asian films. In general, in the Main competition, 3 out of 21 films were submitted from Asia, 6 out of 20 in Un Certain Regard, 5 out of 19 in Directors' Fortnight, and 1 out of 7 in Critics' Week. Certainly Asian films demonstrate the power and diversity of Asian cinema, despite the fact that there were not so many Asian films - 15 films out of 67 in the four official programs of Cannes.

NETPAC meeting at Cannes this year for a catch up at the Iranian Independents booth.
NETPAC meeting at Cannes this year for a catch up at the Iranian Independents booth.


Monster by Kore-eda Hirokazu won The Best Screenplay award, which was presented to Yuji Sakamoto. Seventy years later, we have a new version of Rashomon: the story of a teenager at school is told from three points of view: his single mother, who believes that her son at school is being terrorized by a teacher, from the point of view of that teacher - a kind person in essence and through the eyes of the boy himself who lives in the wonderful world of his fantasies and hobbies. Truth does not exist, there is only a point of view. Ruichi Sakomoto wrote a wonderful music for the film - it was his last work in the cinema.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan competed seven times in the main competition of Cannes. Also, like Hirokazu, he was awarded the Palme d'Or in 2014 for the film Winter Sleep. His new film, About Dry Grasses, is a slow, mediatic film about a teacher at a school who is accused of pedophilia. The film won The Best Actress: award for Merve Dizdar, who played a teacher with one artificial leg who the protagonist tries to care for. 

The third Asian prize was also given to actor -  Koji Yakusho for The Best Actor in Wim Wenders' Perfect Days. We remember him very well from the films Eel by Imamura, Babel by Iñarritu and other films. The film was shot in Japan, and just as Wim Wenders once made a film about an Angel over Berlin, so now it’s about an Angel over Tokyo. The hero Koji Yakusho cleans public toilets in the morning, and the rest of the time he observes the beauty of life - just pure zen.

The fourth and fifth prizes went to Vietnamese directors, which, in my opinion, speaks of a new status in the world of Vietnamese cinema.

The Best Director award went to Tran Anh Hung for the French film The Pot-au-Feu, starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel. All critics noted that this is an ideally made film, externally it is about cooking, but internally about love that breaks hearts. Tran Anh Hung has already received such high awards as the Golden Lion of Venice for Cyclo, the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for The Scent of Green Papaya, but the victory at Cannes once again confirmed his high directing level.

The Golden Camera for Best Debut Film was awarded to the Vietnamese film Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell directed by Pham Thien An and screened in the Directors' Fortnight program. Set in the wild and obscure landscapes of Vietnam, this is a stunningly beautiful film about a man named Thien who carries the body of his bride who died in a motorcycle accident to Saigon.

That’s all about the winners. But I also would like to note the Mongolian cinema, which made a breakthrough this year and was shown for the first time in Cannes. Zoljargal Purevdash’s If Only I Could Hibernate  a participant of the "Un Certain Regard" program. A story about how in a poor family a mother with her youngest child leaves to work, and the remaining four children themselves survive in a cold yurt in winter. At the same time, the film has a lot of humor and light.

Written by Gulnara Abikeyeva

Asian highlights from the 76th Cannes Film Festival

System Administrator Saturday July 15, 2023

On Wednesday May 17 at 7pm, Kore-eda Hirokazu's Monster made its world premiere in competition, to thunderous applause. The film's narrative structure uses numerous flashbacks. The originality of this narrative caught the eye of the jury, who awarded the screenplay prize to Sakamoto Yuji, the film's screenwriter. 

On Thursday May 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Critic’s Week, Jordanian director Amjad Al Rasheed's Inchallah a boy was screened, a beautiful portrait of a widow who frees herself from the guardianship of men thanks to her fierce willpower. The Israeli-born Palestinian actress Mouna Hawa, who has already made a name for herself in Maysaloun Hamoud's In Between, gives a remarkable performance.

At 2.30pm, Wang Bing's Youth (Spring) is presented in competition at the Grand Théâtre Lumière. This is the first part of Wang Bing's 3:32-hour documentary on the work of young Chinese textile workers. The length of the work is a trademark, a signature of the great Chinese documentary filmmaker.

At 3pm on Gray d'Albion beach, on the initiative of the CNC and KOFIC, the official launch of the France-Korea Film Academy took place. Kim Dong-ho, co-founder of the Busan Film Festival, was named president of this institution, which will strengthen ties between French and Korean film professionals. The academy will have three components: training, culture and industry.

The various presidents of film institutions in ASEAN member countries were also present. They were invited to discuss future co-production projects. 

At the end of the working session, Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak presented the insignia of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres to KOFIC President Park Ki-yong on behalf of the French Republic. 

During the drink of friendship, representatives of the various government bodies present, notably the FDCP (Film Development Council of Philippines), were able to talk with those present, who were particularly attentive to Asian cinema.

At 5:30 p.m., as part of Cannes Classics at the Salle Buñuel, the 1947 Record of a Tenement Gentleman by Ozu Yasujiro, produced and restored by Shochiku and distributed by Carlotta Films, was screened. The screening was attended by Wim Wenders, the most "Ozuian" of Western directors, and was introduced by Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival.   

The evening of Thursday, March 18, 2023 was rich in events celebrating Asian cinema: at 7pm La Mongolian Cinema Night, at the Croisette Beach, proving the vitality of Mongolian cinema, followed at 8:45pm by Taiwan Cinema Night at Long Beach and finally from 10pm onwards by the Wang Bing evening on the Arte boat. 

On Friday May 19 at 11am in the Salle Buñuel, as part of Cannes Classics, festival-goers were treated to a little gem of Indian cinema, Ishanou - The Chosen One by Aribam Syam Sharma.

At around 12:30 pm, the QCinema luncheon at Long Beach, hosted by Liza Dino and Ed Lejano, brought together the great family of Asian cinema to share moments of fraternal, gastronomic and cinematic conviviality.

At 2.30pm, at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the latest masterpiece from Turkish cinema master Nuri Bilge Ceylan, About Dry Grasses, was screened in competition. This powerful work followed in the footsteps of Erden Kiral's A Season in Hakkari, Eric Rohmer's Ma night at Maud’s, and Abbas Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry us, confirming Nuri Bilge Ceylan's undeniable talent, reaching the pinnacle of his art, that of the Nemrut Dag.

At 4pm, the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Meeting was held in the Iranian Independents Riviera stand at the Marché du Film. It brought together a number of members of this international organization present in Cannes, including KIM Dong-ho, co-founder (Korea), Mohammad Atebbai, vice-president (Iran), Ed Lejano vice-president (Philippines), Martine Thérouanne, board member representing Europe (France), and Gulnara Abikeyeva (Kazkahstan).

Saturday May 20, 2023 at 11 a.m. in the Salle Debussy's Un Certain Regard section, Chinese director Wei Shu Jun presents Only The River Flows, his elegantly shot new crime film. His sense of ellipsis lends added force to his subject. His previous film, Ripples of Live, was selected in 2021 for the Directors' Fortnight.

At 12.45pm, at the CNC meeting on the Gray d'Albion beach, Madame Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak outlined the measures taken by her ministry and the CNC to defend cinema as part of the ongoing defense of the French cultural exception. 

The CNC meeting provided an opportunity for the entire profession to meet up again, in particular to review the distributors taking the risk of releasing Asian films in this post-Covid period.

The remainder of the day was devoted to a series of events offering the opportunity to meet key players in the cultural life of cinema in the Near and Far East: at 4pm, the Arab Cinema Center's awards ceremony, organized by critics from the Arab world, Maghreb and Mashreq, at Plage des Goéland; at 7pm, the El Gouna Festival evening, Yalla Boat, Port Pierre Canto; at 8:30pm, Philippine Cinema Night at Ma Nolan's Irish pub; and at 9:30pm, Korean Movie Night, Plage Vegaluna.

On Sunday May 21, 2023 at 11am in the Salle Debussy, Anthony Chen's long-awaited new film, The Breaking Ice, was screened. This magnificent film, which focuses on the Korean minority of Chinese nationality, contains many cultural keys which unfortunately seem to be understood only by connoisseurs of Asia, and are unlikely to be understood by a large proportion of Western audiences. This sensitive and beautiful film shot in North China, close to the North Korean border, by a director from Singapore, is astonishing and deeply moving.

At 1pm, we meet with Chinese documentary filmmaker Jin Huaqing, whose latest film Dark Red Forest has won awards at numerous international festivals. This feature-length documentary is the fruit of four years' patient and lengthy filming. It offers a glimpse into the daily lives of some 20,000 Buddhist nuns living in the Yarchen monastery in the highlands of Tibet. Jin Huaqing is the author of numerous hard-hitting documentaries on life in China. He has won nearly sixty awards at film festivals around the world. He's a director to watch and encourage.

At 4.15pm, in the Salle Debussy, Mongolian director Zoljargal Purevdash's first film, If Only I could hibernate, will be screened, in selection for Un Certain Regard, competing for the Camera d'Or. This refreshingly funny film will delight young and old alike.

The evening will be packed with meetings at AFCAE's Lucky Time and Marché du Film's Fantastic Fanatic Mixer Party, not to mention Diaphana Distribution's meetings, the 15th anniversary party of the Institut Français' Fabrique de Films and the team party for Anthony Chen's The Breaking Ice.

Monday, May 22, 2023 at 11:30 a.m. screening as part of the quinzaine des cinéastes of Blackbird, Blackbird, Blackberry  by Georgia director Elene Naveriani. The film portrays a single woman in the harsh rural Caucasus. 

Then, still at the Quinzaine des cinéastes, the 3:02 long film by the Vietnamese director of Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, a road movie steeped in mysticism and impeccably photographed, which earned its maker the Camera d'Or.

Tuesday May 23, 2023, screening of the Iranian film in selection at Un Certain Regard Terrestrial Verses by Ali Asgari and Alireza Khatami, a hard-hitting film recounting nine slices of daily life in Teheran.

On the same day, the Cannes Première screening of Takeshi Kitano's Kubi took place. This costume film depicts the historical incident of Honno-ji, a vassal of Oda Nobunaga, who revolted and drove the famous warlord to commit hara-kiri in Kyoto in 1582.

In the evening, at 8.45pm, the festival directors' dinner took place at the Café des Palmes in the Palais des Festivals, at the invitation of Iris Knobloch, new president of the Cannes Festival, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate. As usual, it provided an opportunity for fruitful exchanges between film festival directors from all over the world (Washington, Melbourne, Toronto, Venice, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Istanbul, Vesoul, etc.), and with the new director of the Cannes Film Market, Guillaume Esmiol.

On Wednesday May 24, 2023, at 11am, Kim Chang-hoon's Korean film Hopeless at Un Certain Regard had the unfortunate taste of déjà vu in Korean cinema. At 6:30pm, at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, Tran Anh Hung's The Pot-au-Feu reconciled Asia and the West through gastronomy. This film can be seen as the Westernized version of A la verticale de l'été. As Tran Anh Hung so aptly and beautifully put it, "Cannes allowed me to make the Vietnamese language, my native tongue, and the French language, my adopted language, heard".

Thursday May 25 at 4pm at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, Wim Wenders, with Perfect Days, demonstrated that a Westerner could be even more Japanese than the Japanese. 

Friday May 26, 2023, 11:30 am, Théâtre Croisette, Quinzaine des cinéastes, Hong Sang-soo, with In Our Days proved once again that he is the most "Rohmerian" of Korean directors.

Also in the Directors' Fortnight, Agra by Indian director Kanu Behl, paints a very neo-realistic picture of Indian society.

Saturday, May 27, 2023, closing ceremony at 8.30pm. Before the Palmarès, the last screenings and at 3:30 pm, the Ecumenical Jury Prize for Perfect Days by Wim Wenders, with Japanese actor Koji Yakusho. 

The Cannes Film Festival is the place to meet or meet again as many personalities as possible in the shortest possible time, in order to build future projects.

NETPAC goes to Danang

System Administrator Saturday July 1, 2023

Da Nang, Vietnam, held its first edition this year, Danang Asian Film Festival (DANAFF) (9 – 13 May, 2023). Finally the legislation in Vietnam was changed at the beginning of 2023 – the new Law on Cinema permits the establishment of festivals such as Danang. And NETPAC was proud to be a supporting organisation. As part of this NETPAC members were invited to submit films for selection. Selected were World War III (Iran) and Muru (from New Zealand). Furthermore the two Presidents were invited, Bina Paul selecting to chair the Netpac jury and Anne Demy- Geroe to present at a half day industry seminar on The Japanese Experience, comprised of prominent Vietnamese and Japanese industry figures and chaired by Philip Cheah. 

NETPAC Co-Presidents Bina Paul and Anne Demy-Geroe at Danang Asian Film Festival (DANAFF) (9 – 13 May, 2023)
NETPAC Co-Presidents Bina Paul and Anne Demy-Geroe at Danang Asian Film Festival (DANAFF) (9 – 13 May, 2023)

The festival’s goals are to encourage new Vietnamese and Asian cinema talents through two competitive sections, Asian Film Awards and Vietnam Film Awards. Over these two sections winners in 2023 included documentary Children of the Mist by Vietnamese director Ha Le Diem for best film; Kavich Neang from Cambodia for best director for While Building, Saim Sadiq and Maggie Briggs from Pakistan for best screenplay for Joyland. Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling was named best actress for her role in the Vietnamese drama Glorious Ashes. The NETPAC Award for Best Vietnamese Film went to Memento Mori: Earth directed by Marcus Mang Cuong VU.

Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling in Glorious Ashes directed by Bui Thac Chuyen
Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling in Glorious Ashes directed by Bui Thac Chuyen

Mohsen Tanabandeh with his best actor award and the special jury award for the film, “World War III” at DANAFF in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang. Directed by Hooman Seyyedi, the film was Iran’s submission to the 2023 Oscars. Danang was almost a repeat of Venice -Tanabandeh had already been honoured with the Orizzonti Award for best actor at the 79th Venice International Film Festival and “World War III” had won the Orizzonti Award for best film.

However there was perhaps a particular resonance in the Danang win. The film is about Shakib, a homeless day laborer who has never recovered from the loss of his wife and son in an earthquake years ago. He works on a construction site which is to become the set for a film about the atrocities committed by Hitler during WWII and he himself will have a role. Danang was where, at 9.03am on 8 March 1965, 3,500 US marines disembarked from their landing crafts and waded on to Vietnam's shores, becoming the first American ground troops to arrive in the country for what the Vietnamese call the American War.

Mohsen Tanabandeh in World War III directed by Houman Seyyedi
Mohsen Tanabandeh in World War III directed by Houman Seyyedi
Memento Mori: Earth directed by Marcus Mang Cuong VU.
Memento Mori: Earth directed by Marcus Mang Cuong VU.














Bina Paul: I Am An Argumentative Editor

System Administrator Thursday March 23, 2023
Well, I think the starting point of one of the early films I did was a very important cult film, which you can find on the internet now, called “Amma Ariyan” by John Abraham. Two or three things about that film. One is, of course, it's 35 years old now, but it's one of the most revered films in India. Secondly, the process of making, actually we formed a collective, we collected money.

Supriya Suri's Interview with Muhiddin Muzaffar (Director of the NETPAC Award winning movie Dov)

System Administrator Wednesday May 4, 2022

How did you get into filmmaking? Please tell us something about yourself and your background. 

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. 

I once calculated how much time and effort we spend on preparing for a performance (4-5 months of rehearsals), and how many viewers we will have (maximum 3000). On balance, the first outweighed the second. I wanted to attract more viewers, and cinema was more suitable for this purpose. That's why I started making my films about ordinary people, their problems, moral dilemmas, and about human values. I initiated the opening of my film studio in the Sughd Region with state support. I shot ten films in ten years, mostly full-length feature films, but also some documentaries, a short film and even a TV series. Thereafter, I did the higher course in direction at All-Russian State University of Cinematography named after S. A. Gerasimov (a.k.a. VGIK). Our film Fortune is my thesis. Usually, for a student, a thesis is his first film. Even though I've made 10 films so far, I still feel like a student. Because after studying, I understood a lot, set the high bar for myself and began to create my best film to date - Fortune.

Muhiddin Muzaffar
Muhiddin Muzaffar


Fortune seems a rather difficult film as a first feature since it is set in historical context. How did you choose the subject? 

I already had my own small team of people who went through fire and water with me. We have developed our own thinking and we understand each other completely. I had experience behind me, so I boldly began to realize my old dream - to show the world of my childhood. For me, this is a very personal film. The story of my family was the inspiration for this film. That little boy who rides on the back of the old man is essentially me. 

How long did you take to write the screenplay? Tell us about your writing process.

My faithful co-author of the script, Bakhtiyor Karimov, and I have been writing and finalizing the script for two years.

As a director, whom did you take inspiration from for this film? 

We took inspiration from the works of the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore -  The Legend of 1900 and Cinema Paradiso. We loved the mise-en-scene, the acting, the drama of the male characters and the atmosphere of sad but good nostalgia in his films.

What was your process of conceptualising your shots, mood, overall feel and vision? Do share your journey as a director. How did you work with the actors and cinematographers and how long did you spend on pre-production?

When we began filming, we did not have most of the promised money in hand. But we turned a blind eye to everything and started filming, getting into debt (which we still have to pay off)! We found a town where all the young people had left to work in other countries. Only the old people remained. Much has been preserved in the town from the earlier times: tablets, signs, a post office building, an old factory nearby, a railway and abandoned houses. It was the perfect place to create the atmosphere we needed. Also, some very kind local people helped us in everything, even played as extras (later we arranged a special show for them). Difficulties arose regarding the search for old cars, but even here they offered help. It turned out that old cars were perfectly preserved here. We bought a brand new Moskvich from a local collector, looked for costumes and props, consulted the older generation, borrowed photographs from albums. 

A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)
A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)


Which camera is the film shot on? 

We decided to shoot such an ambitious film on ARRI. In the studio "Tajikfilm" there was such a camera, but another director was using it.  And we have already begun our work. We rented another ARRI camera and started filming with it. Then we received a camera from "Tajikfilm". 

What were the challenges you faced while shooting the film? 

The biggest problem was casting. We travelled to all the theaters in the country, trying to find new talent. The fate of an actor is unenviable in our country. Few films are being made. There remains the theatre, which almost no one goes to. I have worked in the theatre and I know every professional actor in the country. Almost all of them have acted in my films. In this case, it so happened that after we had approved an actor for the role, he told us that he had been offered another role abroad, with a good fee. Two actors died after their roles were confirmed. We decided to smooth out all the shortcomings, using the actors’ potential to the maximum. One of the lead actors broke his nose on the tracks, but he was still happy that we filmed such a difficult scene. Poor actors...

What was the crew size? 

We have a small team  of less than ten people, everyone has to deal with several tasks at once. 

You were the director as well as the producer for the film. How did you manage both tasks? 

Since I am the head of a state-owned film company, during filming I can be asked to attend meetings or write reports. I look for sponsors for our projects myself, I convince the owner of the house where we were allowed to shoot that we would return the house to him safe and sound, I go to another city to pick up the actors; along the way I buy food for the crew, and I also have to see where I can find military men with real automatic firearms. I request my acquaintances to lend me money for a while to cover expenses.  As you know, such multitasking is not good for creativity. This is the case with all members of the film crew. Each person does the work of two and receives a small salary. Those who felt it was not profitable for them, left. Only the enthusiastic ones remained. That's how we live. But no one loses heart, everyone believes that he is doing something important, believes he is contributing to the development of culture.

A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)
A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)


How did you go about raising finance for this film? What was your budget? And how do you plan to recover the money?  Will this film be released in theatres or on OTT in your country? 

For me, Fortune was an important statement. I am interested in the topic of lost generations, of people who cannot realize their potential owing to circumstances beyond their control. I consider this to be a great tragedy in a person's life. Our film talks about such people and about how not to repeat this. There were few viewers in Tajikistan. We barely paid back the invested funds and are now gradually paying back our debts. We want to find a suitable streaming service and make new films with the money we earn. We priced such a complex and costly project at $100,000. Now imagine what we could do if we had a million. Tajikistan is an amazing country with fantastic landscapes, mountains, steppes, deserts, springs, mountain villages, ruins of ancient cities, abandoned industrial towns, colourful people and a rich history. Our task is to inform the world about all this.

Can you tell us little bit about the situation of cinema in your country? 

In Soviet times, cinema and theatre were well developed in Tajikistan, and people often visited them. But then the Soviet Union collapsed and a civil war began. There followed a period of restoration. That's why people were not up to it. Now things are calm, life has begun to improve. But over these 30 years, the culture of going to the cinema and theatre has disappeared. Young people watch Netflix on their smartphones, while older people buy pirated DVDs (which may include eight or more films) for a couple of cents at the local bazaar. In other words, the older people do not care about the quality of the film. They just want them cheap.

What is your next project about? 

The success of Fortune helped the team to become more self-confident, and attracted aspiring directors and screenwriters to the company. We are already seeing their first steps in the cinema. I managed to write two scripts during post-production and now I'm working on them. They will also be about ordinary people who are looking for their place in this world.

How does it feel after winning the NETPAC award at the festival?

The NETPAC Festival is the sixth festival where our film has been shown and the first where we have won. I won't forget that feeling when I sat next to award nominees who had a film budget of millions of dollars, when we had only $100,000. Someone had a premiere in Cannes, someone was on the Oscar shortlist. And here I am, sitting with wonderful directors in the same row ... For me, this was already an award, and the victory in the nomination was a complete surprise for me. When I got on stage, I couldn't find the words, so I just thanked everyone.

We participated in three festivals in different states of India (there are several more to come), and in each we were warmly welcomed and supported. We want to thank all the organizers for the opportunity to show our work in a country with a rich cinema history, and for the high appreciation of our film. We believe that everyone who watches the film will like it and that everyone will find an echo of their story there.

A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)
A still from the movie Dov (Fortune)


Edited by Dr. Latika Padgaonkar





NETPAC strongly condemns the war that the Russian State has launched against the people of Ukraine

System Administrator Monday March 7, 2022
NETPAC strongly condemns the war that the Russian State has launched against the people of Ukraine. As a film community we believe and support communication through art and ideas. Blood and violence never yield results. We support independent persons in  the Russian Cinema community who are raising  their voices against this aggression. 

'More than the King of Tragedy', Dilip Kumar (1922 - 2021) - A Tribute

System Administrator Monday July 12, 2021
It would not be wrong to state that Dilip Kumar, who passed away earlier this week after a long illness related to age issues and pancreatic cancer, will be regarded as the greatest actor Indian cinema has ever produced. One may add that at the jet-paced speed today with which actors come and go, it is doubtful whether any Indian actor will be able to reach the peak that he did.


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.


Featured Report

Show PHP error messages