By Diana Cheng
AAP contributing writer
CALGARY (Aug. 31, 2015) — September kicks off the annual film festival season.
While Cannes held in May in the French Riviera may be the most prestigious, the fall festival events are often seen as the prequel to the Awards Season. As in previous years, there are notable entries from Asian countries.
The world’s oldest major film festival will start off the fall festival season Sept. 2 to 12. Official selections from around the world will be screened in various program categories. Films in the Venezia 72 competition will be eyeing for the top prize, The Golden Lion. Among this selective group is a documentary from China, director Zhao Liang’s ‘Behemoth’, which explores the working conditions of Chinese miners.
In the Horizons category (Orizzonti), feature films are selected for their trend-setting style. Three Asian films are included. ‘A Copy of my Mind’ from Indonesia and South Korea, directed by Tara Basro and Chicco Jerikho, and ‘Interrogation’ from director Vetri Maaran of India. A third Asian representation is from China, a black and white film in the Tibetan language, ‘Tharlo’, a story of self-discovery through the character Tharlo. Directed by Shide Nylma and Yangshik Tso.
Out of competition features include previous Golden Lion winner Tsai Ming-liang’s ‘Afternoon’, with Tsai himself talking with his muse, the actor in all his feature films Lee Kang-sheng. The Festival will close with ‘Mr. Six’ from Chinese director Guan Hu.
Acclaimed auteur from Taiwan Hou Hsiao-hsien, on the heels of garnering the Best Director Award at Cannes this May, is one of the distinguished jurors in the Venezia 72 Competition led by Alfonso Cuarón, Oscar winning director of ‘Gravity’ (2013). Hong Kong director Fruit Chan will be in the Horizons (Orizzonti) Competition Jury headed by another American Oscar winning director, Jonathan Demme (‘The Silence of the Lambs’, 1991).
From Sept. 10 to 20, Toronto will play host to one of the biggest film festivals in the world. This year there are 289 feature films and 110 shorts coming from 71 different countries, among them eleven from Asia. These include China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan, with over thirty film selections.
In the prestigious Masters program which TIFF describes as “The latest from the world’s most influential art-house filmmakers”, of the thirteen selections, four are from Asia. They include the North American premiere of ‘The Assassin’ by this year’s Cannes Best Director Hou Hsiao-hsien from Taiwan, ‘Cemetery of Splendour’ from Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” won Cannes’ Palme d’Or in 2010, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new film ‘Our Little Sister’ after his ‘Like Father, Like Son’ which won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2013, and the acclaimed South Korean director Hong Sangsoo’s ‘Right Now, Wrong Then’.
In the Special Presentations category, there are several selections from Asian countries. These include previous Cannes winner (‘A Touch of Sin’, China, 2013) Jia Zhangke’s ‘Mountains May Depart’, Venice’s closing film ‘Mr. Six’ by Guan Hu, and Hong Kong’s Johnnie To directing Chow Yun-fat in his new work ‘Office’. Internationally known Indian actor Irrfan Khan will star in director Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Guilty’.
In Wavelengths, represented by filmmakers who are “Daring, visionary and autonomous voices. Film art in the cinema and beyond”, we have Malaysian born, Taiwanese director Tsai Ming Liang’s new title “Afternoon”.
Film Society Lincoln Center’s annual film festival begins Sept. 25 to Oct. 11. While some of the prominent features from Asian directors screening at VIFF and TIFF will repeat at NYFF as U.S. premieres, one additional selection is Japan’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ‘Journey To The Shore’, a work that brought the director the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes this year.
The highlight of the festival would have to be the HBO sponsored Filmmakers Talk. The renowned auteur from Taiwan Hou Hsiao-hsien (‘The Assassin’) will make a rare appearance in conversation with NYFF Director of Programming Kent Jones for the ‘On Cinema’ Master Class on Saturday, October 10. NYFF website describes Hou as ‘one of the world’s greatest living directors’. Another prominent Asian representation will be China’s Jia Zhangke (‘Mountains May Depart’) in the free event Directors Dialogues on Tuesday, Sept. 29.