The 6th-17th of March was an exciting time for world cinema fans as the Pan-Asia Film Festival ran for it’s fifth year in London. Organised by festival director Sumatro Ghose, the festival features challenging films which reflect the changing nature of Asia from Iran to Japan. Along with bringing films by both established and young directors to the UK for the first time the festival also features events and Q&A’s with directors and the films’ stars.
Twelve films ran spanning a wide spectrum of genres including comedy, drama and even animation with the best chosen from a short-list of six on March 18th as the winner of the festival’s Best Film Award. While most of the action took place in venues across London there were also special satellite screenings which took place in Glasgow, Brighton and Leeds.
The festival opened with the UK première of Gf*Bf by Taiwanese director Ya-Che Yang followed by premières of Headshot (Dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand), Poor Folk (dir. Midi Z, Burma), Patang (dir. Prashant Bhargava, India), The Revolutionary (dirs. Irv Drasnin, Don Sellers, Lucy Ostrander, USA) and the Hong Kong Young Filmmakers Shorts Programme in conjunction with the Fresh Wave Film Festival which also included and international discussion via Google Hangouts. The première which eventually went on to win the PAFF Best Film Award though was 111 Girls by Iranian director Nahid Ghobadi.
Aside from premières the festival also featured a screening of Outrage Beyond, the latest work by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano as well as The Reluctant Fundamentalist (dir. Mira Nair, India), Material (dir. Craig Freimond, South Africa), animated feature The King of Pigs (Yeon Sang-ho) and the festival’s first ever late night screening with Tormented 3D by Japanese director Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge).
There were two films shown at the GFT in Glasgow. The first was Gf*Bf which tells the story of a love triangle between rebellious high school friends Aaron, Mabel and Liam. Aaron likes Mabel, Mabel likes Liam but Liam only has eyes for Aaron. The film spans just over a decade which begins in 1985 Taiwan, during a time of martial law, then through to 1990 and ending in 1997 showing how the relationships between the three friends has held up during a time of political unrest.
The second film was Patang which is set in the Indian city of Ahmedabad and gives viewers an insight into India’s largest kite festival. While the festival sets the backdrop of the film, the storyline revolves around a successful Delhi businessman bringing his daughter back to his home town and being forced to face up to the family troubles he left behind. Performances are provided by both professionals and non-actors but both are eclipsed by the bright and colourful cinematography as millions of kites take flight during the day and fireworks light up the sky at night.
The Pan-Asia Film Festival seems to have enjoyed a very successful run in 2013 and it will be interesting to see what they have in store next year.