Asian movies, di­rec­tors re­ceive warm wel­come at film fes­ti­val

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By JIAN PING in Palm Springs, the United States

Con­tact the writer at raymondzhou@chi­nadaily.com.cn.

Crowds formed a long line from the en­trance of the An­nen­berg The­ater all the way around the build­ing, ex­tend­ing even to the side­walk of the street, be­fore the the­ater opened for the screen­ing of Chi­nese di­rec­tor FengXiao­gang’s film Back to 1942.

Such a sight is not unique at the 25th Palm Springs In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val. A day ear­lier, when In­dian film Lak­shmi was shown, a sim­i­lar long linewoundupthe street.

More than 15 films from Asia were fea­tured at the fes­ti­val, and sev­eral Asian film­mak­ers have trav­eled to at­tend the fes­ti­val with their films and con­duct a Q&A with the au­di­ence af­ter each screen­ing.

“I’mover­whelmed and touched by the au­di­ence’s re­sponse,” says Elahe Hip­toola, pro­ducer of Lak­shmi.

The film is based on true events. Lak­shmi is a 14-year-old girl sold into prostitution, and her un­yield­ing re­solve not to lose hope and her courageous acts even­tu­ally bring down her op­pres­sors.

Nagesh Kukum­noor, di­rec­tor of Lak­shmi, also came to the fes­ti­val. He has worked with Hip­toola to make 13 films to­gether.

They took a dif­fer­ent route for their lat­est film, which Hip­toola called a “so­cial con­tri­bu­tion” in which they ad­dress the is­sue of ab­duc­tion and prostitution of women in In­dia.

Hong Kong di­rec­tor Wong Karwai also at­tended the fes­ti­val with his film The Grand­mas­ter, which is on the short­list of nine fi­nal­ists in the best for­eign lan­guage film cat­e­gory for the Academy Awards.

Wong par­tic­i­pated in the “Talk­ing Pic­tures Pro­gram” or­ga­nized to ex­plore “the ca­reers and cre­ative choices of the top tal­ents in the world of cin­ema”. At the pro­gram, Wong talks about his lat­est film as well as his other award-win­ning hits.

An­thony Chen, di­rec­tor of Ilo Ilo from Sin­ga­pore who won sev­eral awards for his de­but fea­ture film, was also at the fes­ti­val.

Ilo Ilo is Sin­ga­pore’s Academy Awards sub­mis­sion this year. It’s a story about an over-stretched mid­dle class fam­ily and their Filipino maid who helps care for their trou­ble­some 10-year-old son.

Chen was hon­ored as one of “10 Di­rec­tors toWatch” byVa­ri­ety at the Fes­ti­val.

South Korean di­rec­tor Kang Yi-kwan also at­tended the fes­ti­val with his film Ju­ve­nile Of­fender, which is his coun­try’s con­tender for the Academy Awards. The film is a story of a trou­bled 16-year-old who winds up in a de­ten­tion center un­til the au­thor­i­ties track down the mother he thought was dead. It is re­garded as a “neo-re­al­ist, so­cial con­science drama”.

Kang, who stud­ied so­ci­ol­ogy in col­lege be­fore turn­ing to film­mak­ing, says he had re­searched ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers and made a short film about the is­sue be­fore mak­ing the fea­ture film.

Philippe Muyl, a French di­rec­tor who has made a Chi­nese film in col­lab­o­ra­tion with producers in China, par­tic­i­pated at the fes­ti­val with his en­try Nightin­gale. Muyl takes the au­di­ence on a Chi­nese road trip through spec­tac­u­lar moun­tain vil­lages to dis­cover the daily ex­is­tence of the peo­ple and the beauty of na­ture.

The story is about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a grand­fa­ther and his grand­daugh­ter. A pre­vi­ous film, The But­ter­fly, was very pop­u­lar with Chi­nese au­di­ences, which led him to the pro­duc­tion of this new film.

“Peo­ple per­ceive China through tele­vi­sion and film,” Muyl says. “I want them to see the beau­ti­ful coun­try­side they don’t know.”

Asian films and their film­mak­ers are well re­ceived at the fes­ti­val, one of the largest in the United States.

“I’d like to see more Chi­nese film sub­mis­sions for PSIFF,” says Therese Hayes, pro­gram­mer for Asian films at the fes­ti­val.

PANG LI / CHINA DAILY

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