DIFF’s Insights from Asia Full of Surprises
Fri Dec 08,2006
The Dubai International Film Festival’s Insights from Asia programming segment contains some of the most unusual films in the entire festival, according to festival programmers. With offerings from the Philippines, Korea, China, and Japan, the section is broad in scope not only geographically, but in terms of subject matter and genre, with everything from a Korean monster movie to a fictional meditation on the human cost of China’s Three Gorges dam project.
Simon Field, programmer of Insights from Asia, said, “Asian cinema has been developing rapidly for more than 15 years, becoming increasingly well-known, with films like The Ring and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon breaking the cultural barrier and attracting millions of viewers. For our Insights from Asia programming, we have selected a diverse array of pictures that represents the kind of creativity, vision and exuberance fans have come to expect from Asian cinema.”
Hana, a sumptuous Samurai movie from acclaimed Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu, hits a sentimental and comic mark, in the story of a young warrior on a mission to avenge his father. Repeatedly sidetracked on his mission, he finds himself losing momentum and interest when he takes up lodging in a tenement full of poor, honest and kind people. The traditional way of the Samurai is toward death; Kore-eda’s gentle warrior heads in the opposite direction.
Kore-ada Hirokazu will be in attendance when Hana screens on Tuesday, December 12 at 8:30 pm at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 10, and at 12:45 pm on Wednesday, December 13 at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 8.
Another Japanese director who made a career out of subverting traditional forms is Seijun Suzuki, who directed his first film in 1958, and had a long career making yakuza (Japanese mafia) films. At DIFF, he plays another tune with Princess Raccoon, a delightful film about a raccoon that transforms into a beautiful woman, played by the ravishing Chinese star Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005), and falls in love with a handsome prince. Children and adults alike love this extremely eccentric musical, a daring mix of eye-blowing visuals, traditional Japanese music, hip-hop and Broadway musical styles.
Princess Raccoon screens as part of the Screen on the Green programme, at 8:00 pm on Wednesday, December 13 at the Dubai Media City amphitheatre, across the man-made lake from Building 2.
More somber reflection informs Still Life, a film by Jia Zhangke, one of the greatest contemporary Chinese directors, which won the Golden Lion award at the 2006 Venice film festival. The film was shot in Fengjie, the Chinese town that was partially submerged in the construction of the Three Gorges hydro project; countless families who had lived there for many generations were forced to relocate to other cities. Still Life follows two couples as their lives connect and diverge on the banks of the lake that will cover their former home.
Still Life will screen on Tuesday, December 12 at 3:45 pm, and on Friday, December 15 at 1:00 pm at the Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah.
In The Host, a Korean film that has been a spectacular hit in Korea, the waters of Seoul’s Han River conceal a human-eating monster that spreads a deadly virus to boot! As the beast wreaks chaos and disorder on Seoul in a perfect flashback to the Godzilla movies of yore (but with excellent special effects), a family searches for their missing daughter.
The Host will screen on Monday, December 11 at 3:15 pm at the Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and on Friday, December 15 at midnight at Mall of the Emirates Theatre 2.
Jueteng Kubrador (the Bet Collector) takes the viewer to the Philippines, where Amelita makes her living collecting the proceeds of the illegal—but widely played—numbers game, jueteng. She is played by the great Gina Pareño, who won a best actress award at the Osian Cinefan 8th film festival in Delhi for this role, and who with 40 years of show business and a much-publicized, turbulent private life behind her, gives her all to this role.
Director Jeffrey Jeturian, Executive Producer Josabeth Alonso-Antonio, and actress Gina Pareño will be in attendance when The Bet Collector screens:
9:45 pm on Monday, December 11
7:00 on Friday, December 15
8:30 pm on Saturday, December 16
Venue: Mall of the Emirates Theatre 9