Cinephiles, you’ll want to mark these dates in your calendar
These festivals may not be as well known as Cannes and Sundance yet, but with the abundance of filmmaking talent in Asia these days, we reckon it’d be a matter of time before these Asian film festival rise to even greater prominence.
1. Seoul International Women’s Film Festival
As the rising tide of female empowerment continues to ripple across the world, stories by and about women are increasingly pertinent. This is exactly what the founders of the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival (SIWFF) had in mind when they founded the festival almost 20 years ago. As the world’s largest women’s film festival, SIWFF offers a platform for up-and-coming Korean and Asian female filmmakers as well as presents new values and alternative ideas from a feminist perspective.
Apart from screening films, the festival also holds cultural exchange programs where they invite industry leaders from across the world to discuss the myriad issues surrounding gender and film. This year’s edition of SIWFF aims to feature about 120 films from 40 countries. More than 42,000 visitors are expected so be sure to book your tickets early.
Seoul International Women’s Film Festival will run from June 1 to June 7, 2017. For more details, visit siwff.or.kr.
2. Osaka Asian Film Festival
Founded with the intention of supporting filmmaking in Osaka and attracting filmmakers from across Asia to Osaka, the Osaka Asian Film Festival is a celebration of excellence in filmmaking. This year marks its 12th edition, and programming director Teruoka Sozo promises to deliver a stellar line-up. The festival will open with the Malaysia-Hong Kong co-production, Mrs K, an action thriller starring Hong Kong starlets Kara Wai and Simon Yam, as well as legendary rock singer from Taiwan, Wu Bai. To close the festival, there will be a world premiere of Osaka-born director Seta Natsuki’s film, Parks. Seta is a talented young director, whose 2011 debut commercial feature A Liar and a Broken Girl was critically acclaimed at home and abroad.
Osaka Asian Film Festival will run from March 3 to March 12, 2017. For more details, visit oaff.jp.
3. Taipei Film Festival
Recognized as the most influential showcase of international cinema for local film distributors in Taiwan, the Taipei Film Festival is an annual multi-cultural event that screens about 160 films from over 40 countries. As in 2016, films will be curated based on a concept or individual persons.
Previously, the film selections were focused on a particular city (for example, Lisbon in 2015 and Warsaw in 2014). Now, however, the programming team will be selecting films that celebrate the unique talents and influence of individuals (for example, Alfred Hitchcock, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, and the late David Bowie). They will also be putting together a lineup of movies around themes such as Echoes, Visions, or Sensations.
In an interview with the Taipei Times, curator Kuo Min-jung says, “I feel we do not need one theme to define our entire festival. I want to make it more comprehensive, and through our selection and special features let people see a larger variety of independent films.”
Taipei Film Festival will run from June 29 to July 15, 2017. For more details, visit eng.taipeiff.taipei.
4. Singapore International Film Festival
The Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF), which has always championed independent cinema, has been going strong for close to 30 years. Last year’s festival saw almost 13,000 attendees, with 11 sold-out screenings. Festivalgoers also had the opportunity to get up-closed with eminent film personalities from around the world — including American director Darren Aronofsky, Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan, and award-winning Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase — at masterclasses, talks, and In Conversation sessions.
Some of the noteworthy films screened at SIFF 2016 include the feature documentary Absent Without Leave by Malaysian director Lau Kek-Huat, which emerged as the favorite feature film among festivalgoers, as well as White Sun, winner of Best Asian Feature Film at the Silver Screen Awards 2016. This year’s program is still in the works, but you can be assured of even more groundbreaking cinema from emerging filmmakers across Asia.
Singapore International Film Festival will tentatively be running in end-November. For more details, visit sgiff.com.
5. Hong Kong International Film Festival
In 2016, the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) celebrated its 40th anniversary. Touted as Hong Kong’s largest cultural event, the festival is widely considered to be one of the Asia’s oldest and most reputable platforms for filmmakers, film professionals, and filmgoers from all over the world to launch new work and experience outstanding films.
Over the past seven years, festival organizers have also produced and premiered anthologies of short-films by award-winning filmmakers from Asia such as Ann Hui, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Tsai Ming-liang, and Brilliante Mendoza, among others. From 2017, HKIFF will collaborate with Heyi Pictures to produce two feature films a year by young Chinese filmmakers that will world premiere at HKIFF.
Hong Kong International Film Festival will run from 11 to 25 April, 2017. For more details, visit hkiff.org.hk.
6. Metro Manila Film Festival
Started in 1975, the Metro Manila Film Festival is an annual film festival held in Manila, the Philippines. The festival, which runs from Christmas Day through New Year’s Day and into first weekend of January in the following year, has a strong focus on Filipino films. One of the annual festival highlights is the parade of floats at the opening of the festival. Each float represents a movie entry, and with their respective stars, parade down Roxas Boulevard, a popular waterfront promenade in Manila. On awards night, an award is given to the “Best Float”, along with the other major acting awards.
For more details, visit mmff.com.ph.
Also read: A perfect weekend in Hong Kong