The 22nd Focus on Asia Film Festival gets underway on the 14th of September. Once the red carpet has been rolled out, the festival will showcase a veritable smorgasbord of Asian cinema to sink your teeth into. From the Philippines to Turkey, 36 films from 15 countries will be involved in this year’s festivities, with all having been hand-picked by festival director Yasuhiro Hariki [梁木 靖弘]. Of the several features of the festival will be an agricultural theme (アグリ・シネマ) featuring three homegrown films to address the global issue of food. There is set to be a broader selection of works from the western reaches of the continent with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India all being represented. Finally, there will be a complete retrospective of the cinema of the Academy-Award winning director of A Separation, Asghar Farhadi – a first for Japan.
Film In Japan will be in the midst of the action, bringing reports, reviews and interviews. Starting with the opening ceremony and the Korean-made opener Dancing Queen on September 14th.
Below are some of our choice picks:
Kahaani – 2012 – India Director: Sujoy Ghosh
A Hitchcockian thriller shot in true Guerilla style in the heart of Kolkata on a shoestring budget and personally recommended by festival director himself Yasuhiro Hariki. Kahaani is somewhat of an original in Bollywoodland. Its divisive depiction of motherhood and feminism notwithstanding, the film was also filmed on the sly in the Guerilla mold of films like Battle of Algiers. The story sees the efforts of a pregnant woman, portrayed by Vidya Balan, on the search for her missing husband during the Durja Puja festival. Already released to wide critical acclaim, and a box-office success in its motherland, we’re excited to catch this one on its Japanese debut.
The Sound of Light [ひかりのおと] – 2011 - Japan Director: Juichiro Yamazaki
Part of the Agriculture and Cinema section, The Sound of Light is one of only a small handful of Japanese films to be shown this year. The picture charts the inner struggle of Yusuke Kariya, who returns to rural life after a hard time as a musician in Tokyo. It looks as if this film might have a touch of Ozu about it in its depiction of ordinary lives and everyday struggles. This film also marks Juichiro Yamazaki’s directorial debut whose experience on a farm as a youngster lends an added authenticity.
September – 2011 – Turkey Director: Cemil Agacikoglu
Winner of Best Director and Best Actress at the 18th International Adana Golden Boll Film Festival, September follows a shy couple who come across an ill-treated young woman and their efforts to restore her to health. Working somewhere in the shadow of the aesthetic mastery of Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the picture makes up one of the two Turkish entries for this year.
You Are the Apple of My Eye – 2011 – Taiwan Director: Giddens Ko
Another semi-autobiographical directorial debut on our list is this picture from Taiwan. A high school set, quirky coming-of-age romance that follows a rebellious boy and an attractive and popular female honor student. You Are the Apple of My Eye had its world premiere at the 13th Taipei Film Festival and has already featured widely on the festival circuit. A storm at its domestic box-office, Giddens Ko has recently revealed plans for a sequel. Where he will take this story next remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting its strong populist appeal.
Asghar Farhadi Retrospective
What a great opportunity to experience this modern master’s work on the big screen. All five of Farhadi’s films will be screened, including last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, A Separation. But perhaps the highlight of the director’s oeuvre can be found in the gripping storytelling and tension of 2009’s About Elly, daubed by David Bordwell as a “masterpiece” and another multi-award winner. Cinephile or not there is something for everyone in Farhadi’s honest and unpretentious cinema. A sort of piece de resistance for the festival, this is not to be missed.
The Audience Award ceremony will take place at the JR Kyushu Hall on September 19th for which advanced admission is required.
Contributor: Kenjo McCurtain
Contributor: Kenjo McCurtain