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Appreciating Asian cinema in the time of Panatag

Organizers believe the Asian fest is all the more significant as the region reaches a crucial point in its history
/ 10:32 PM May 16, 2012

JAPAN’S “Éclair”

The inaugural Asia Film Festival is a dream come true, said Marline Dualan, Shangri-La Plaza mall division manager for marketing.

The Mandaluyong mall has been the home of the Cine Europa film festival for the past 15 years, Dualan pointed out. “We had long wanted to have our own Asian film fest.”

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When the Asia Society Philippine Foundation proposed the festival, the mall immediately opened the doors of the Shang Cineplex from May 17-21 for the free screenings.

The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) adopted the fest as a pet project and part of its Film Cultural Exchange Program. “We’ve been partnering with different embassies to come up with various projects,” said Ted Granados, FDCP executive director.

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Unifying factor

With its theme, “Asia as our society,” the festival aims “to introduce the region’s culture, history and heritage to Filipinos.”

Harvey Keh, executive director of the Asia Society Philippine Foundation, noted: “Sadly, most Filipinos know more about Hollywood than our neighbors.”

The festival is being mounted because of the desire of Asia Society Philippine Foundation officers (founding chair Washington SyCip and current chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho) to promote the region’s rich cultural diversity.

“Our chair loves films. She believes it’s dangerous to be myopic. Watching films from other Asian countries will help us understand our neighbors,” Keh said.

Fostering cross-cultural understanding through cinema will create bonds of cooperation in other areas like economics and politics, said Granados.

“Cinema is universal,” Keh agreed. “Politics divides, but film can serve as a unifying factor.”

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The festival message becomes all the more urgent in this time of “tension in the region, in light of the Scarborough Shoal stand-off between the Philippines and China,” said Keh. “The entire region will be affected by this crisis.”

Watching films on the daily lives and struggles of our neighbors will show Filipinos the threads that bind the region.

“We share a number of traits and traditions with fellow Asians,” Keh said.

Organizers hope to turn the Asian fest into an annual event, perhaps tour it in other cities in the Philippines, and later in other countries where the Asia Society has offices.

VIETNAM’S “Nostalgia for Countryside”

(An international nongovernmental organization, the Asia Society also has offices in Seoul, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Shanghai.)

They intend to invite other Asian countries’ embassies to participate in the future.

The Philippines has two offerings in the fest: Mike Sandejas’ “Dinig Sana Kita” and Sheron Dayoc’s “Halaw.”

The other countries’ films are “Only Love” (Laos); “The Rainbow Troops,” “3 Wishes, 3 Loves,”  “Jakarta Sunset” (Indonesia); “The Guava House,” “Nostalgia for Countryside” (Vietnam); “Forever Enthralled,” “The Founding of a Republic,” “Glittering Day” (China); “Wanko,” “Éclair” (Japan); “Hwang Jin Yi,” “Speedy Scandal” (Korea); and “Agni Dahaya,” “Dheewari” (Sri Lanka).

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TAGS: Asia Film Festival, Asian Cinema, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Harvey Keh
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