Updated: 2013-05-03 10:47
By Mathew Scott (China Daily)
In a cinematic sense, the Far East Festival is helping Asian filmmakers realize their dreams too, according to its director Sabrina Baracetti.
"The festival has grown as the reach of Asian cinema has grown," she says. "Through our selections we are giving an international audience a view of what is happening in Asia."
The festival this year featured three world premieres among its lineup of 57 main program selections from across the region, a selection that was complemented by a group of films representing the government-backed Hong Kong Freshwave program for young filmmakers, a retrospective on the Hong Kong master King Hu and a tribute to the groundbreaking Philippine director Mario O'Hara, who passed away last year.
Maruyama, The Middle Schooler by Kudo Kankuro, Angel Home by Tsutsumi Yukihiko, and It's Me, It's Me by Miki Satoshi all came from Japan with their directors no doubt hoping the festival will kick-start their upcoming releases back home, as happened to Thermae Romae last year. That madcap comedy made its bow in Udine and then became the surprise of the year in Japan, netting an estimated $75 million in box office returns.
"We have over the years been able to welcome and showcase the work of directors who are just starting to get their names known internationally and we feel this is an important role we play," Baracetti says.
South Korean first-timer Lee Wong-suk falls into that category with his wildly inventive comedy How to Use Guys with Secret Tips winning the festival's main Golden Mulberry award, which is decided by the audience.
The charismatic director says the award gave him fresh confidence in his own storytelling abilities after he had been through constant battles with investors wanting to change his film during production.
Lee revealed he had been impressed by the enthusiasm of the audience in Udine - with attendance figures topping 50,000 people for the nine-day event. He also suggested he might have had a hand in launching the global rise of the K-Pop phenomenon Psy, and his smash hit Gangnam Style.
"I suppose you could say this is an historic movie as Psy was supposed to play a part but he dropped out and the end result was that he recorded Gangnam Style," Lee jokes.
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