1 of 2
BAFF home - Cafe noir
Café noir (2009)
2 of 2
BAFF home - Paju
Thanks to Park Chan-wook’s film Oldboy winning the Gran Prix at Cannes in 2004, Asian films both opening and closing the illustrious Berlin Film Festival this year and critics hailing Korea as the place to discover innovative and creative films, the 12th Festival de Cine Asiático de Barcelona, which kicks off at the tail-end of the month, has never seemed more relevant. In fitting with this rising profile, the number of films to be screened this year hits 76, with cinema from South-East Asia being particularly strongly represented.
The festival allows audiences to discover new and emerging talents alongside veteran film-makers who are already well established in their directorial careers, while also aiming to move Asian cinema out of the ‘experts only’ category and into the mainstream.
Of the 13 films to make the grade and be included in the Sección Oficial, ones to watch out for include the works of Adolfo Alix who is perhaps already a familiar name to many in-the-know cinema-goers. This year he’s represented twice with Aurora and the ambitious, double-billed project Manila, co-directed with fellow Filipino Raya Martin and already shown at Cannes. Another name to look out for is Malaysian Ho Yuhang, whose fourth and highly-stylised film At the End of Daybreak is on the programme.
Korean film-maker Park Chan-ok is represented by her latest film Paju, which was premiered at the opening of the 39th Rotterdam Film Festival in January. Rotterdam is known for its intrepid film choices and this complex character drama set against the backdrop of a tough suburb near Seoul (from which the film takes its name) isn’t going to be popular with everyone but should earn appreciation for its portrayal of the complications of certain familiar relationships.
From amongst the newer talent, work by video-director-turned-film-director Sherman Ong is being screened, alongside that of the prodigious Ishii Yuya who, in his fledging career, has made six films in as many years.
Perhaps with a programme this strong, this year could be the one that allows Asian cinema to break through the ‘only-for-aficionados’ barrier and get the average cinema-goer to embrace what is arguably some of the best cinema being made at the moment.
BAFF—Festival de Cine Asiático de Barcelona: April 30th to May 9th, 2010; CCCB, Cine Rex and Aribau Club; www.baff-bcn.org