Asia is about much more than just business opportunities and challenges. And many of those other things are what initially led to my decision to study Japanese.
contemporary history, cultural differences, social phenomena, literature, a mysterious language, modern art (and not-so-modern like ukiyo-e) – and film.
Focusing on business and commerce in (East-)Asia came much later. But my interest in all those other things stayed, which makes personal and professional interest a bit blurred occasionally…
Film is – to me – one of the best ways of getting a glimpse of Asia. And one of the best opportunities to do so in the Netherlands is at the CinemAsia film festival.
Movies can show how different places are – but they also often show how similar people can be. Are people really that different from each other even if they live on opposite sides of the world?
It’s nearly that time of year again: CinemAsia 2015 kicks off on April 1 (until April 6) – with a new location ánd a new festival director.
I was curious, so I’ve asked Lorna Tee, the new director, a few questions on her plans for the festival and her perspective on the role film can have.
Why do you do what you do?
“Perhaps I am very much a nomad who loves to roam the world in search of new and exciting challenges so I have lived in a number of countries and had many types of jobs since I have graduated from university. I have worked on numerous film projects seemed impossible or very tough to pull through like the first Asian Film Awards or producing a film in Indonesia with animals and children…. ultimately, I think I am driven by the people I work with and the aim of what we are trying to do together. In the film world, no one is an island as you need a team of people and the CinemAsia team is my family in The Netherlands and we want to work together to have a good festival for audiences.”
What do you hope to accomplish as the new director of CinemAsia?
“As the new director, taking over a festival that has build a solid following over the years, I hope to be able to work with the team to see how we can improve and expand the festival in terms of audience numbers and also outreach to both the local and international film industry. We start by being very conscious in our programming of the films to have a diversity in voices, styles, issues but maintaining a high level of quality and cinematic values.”
Why is it important to increase exposure of Asian film in the Netherlands?
“Film is a powerful tool for enabling further knowledge and understanding of different cultures, personalities and challenges we face in this world. Asian films have previously been quite successful in being shown in Europe but the numbers are dwindling and it is important to maintain the presence of Asian cinema/ stories/ faces in the film viewing sphere of the Netherlands to not diminish the dialogue and understanding to continue between Asian stories and Dutch audiences.”
The program this year is diverse, with films from countries such as Japan, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and others. And with documentaries, short films and fictional films covering different genres and topics.
And even with a few movies that connect to the main topic of this blog: responsible business, environment, sustainability in Asia. Have a look at these following suggestions:
- The last wolf (Wolf Totem) (China / France 2015) by Jean-Jacques Annaud (China / France 2015)
Set in 1967, THE LAST WOLF tells the tale of eager Beijing students Chen Zhen (Shaofeng Feng) and Yang Ke (Shawn Dou), who are sent to Inner Mongolia to improve the nomads’ quality of life. However, it’s Chen who ends up receiving a valuable life lesson as the herders teach him about man’s symbiotic relationship with the wilderness.
- THE LAST WOLF is based on the semi-autobiographical Chinese bestseller Wolf Totem, by Lü Jiamin. Filmed in Inner Mongolia where the plot is set, the film’s cinematic beauty and authenticity is equaled only by the use of real wolves, who were trained exclusively for this production for several years. Released during Chinese New Year, this movie became an immediate box office hit in China.
- Tigers (India / France) by Danis TanovicTIGERS is based on a true story about a baby milk scandal at a Western company in India and how one man opposes this company. A captivating look into a horrific practice that still goes on today.
- YúYú (China / France / Spain / USA 2014) by Marc Johnson
YúYú is the incredible true story of She Zuo Bin, a Chinese beekeeper who travelled to the Yangtze Valley to perform a special rite of spring in order to recover the environmental balance. Entirely covering his nearly naked body in bees, he gets into a meditative trance that allows him to become a living sculpture.
Can’t make it to Amsterdam? The festival will be on tour (10-19 April), visiting Eindhoven, Den Haag and Rotterdam.
Looking forward to meeting some of you there! And thank you, Lorna, for sharing your thoughts.
Many thanks to CinemAsia Festival and Giovanna Chen for this cooperation and providing images.