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HomeEntertainmentItaly's Far East Film Festival Unveils Extensive Selection for 25th Anniversary Edition

Italy’s Far East Film Festival Unveils Extensive Selection for 25th Anniversary Edition


Italy’s Far East Film Festival unveiled a powerful lineup for its 25th anniversary edition on Wednesday. FEFF, Europe’s largest cinema event specializing in the making of popular films from Asia, opens April 21 with an inspired double-bill, He Shuming’s hit Korea-Singapore co-production Ajoomma followed by Taiwanese director Kai Ko’s new black comedy Bad education. And on April 29, the curtain falls on the festival with the premiere in Italy of the latest blockbuster from legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou, Full river red. Between those dates, the festival screens 78 Asian films from 14 countries, including nine world premieres.

Founded in 1999 in the picturesque northern Italian city of Udine by festival pioneers Sabrina Baracetti and Thomas Bertacche, the organizers of FEFF say the 2023 selection “aims to showcase the immense complexity of Asia more than ever.” Indeed, the lineup offers a compelling snapshot of the moving commercial cinema with a vastly diverse content.

FEFF started in the early 2000s by bringing some of the best films from Hong Kong’s golden age to Europe. A guilty consciencesix films from new Hong Kong directors and the latest from Anthony Wong (Sunny side of the street, 2022). And towards the end of the festival, Hong Kong industry titan Johnnie To, a longtime ally of the event, will drop by to give a masterclass.

Japanese cinema will also have a very strong presence at FEFF’s silver jubilee. Prolific director Hiroki Ryuichi screens three films (his latest feature film, Phases of the moon2022 You have a friend and his breakthrough in 1994 800 runners of two laps). Hiroki will also be in Italy to give a master class. Other highlights of the diverse Japanese lineup include the highly regarded courtroom drama from Tokyo-based Indian filmmaker Anshul Chauhan. Decemberthe historical drama of Otomo Keishi The legend and butterflythe strange love story Egoist and Nakamura Mayu’s COVID-era drama She is me, I am her. Cult director Watanabe Hirobumi comes to FEFF to present two world premieres, Techno brothers, described as a “Kraftwerk-esque road movie that pays homage to the Blues Brothers and Aki Kaurismaki;” and the diary movie Way of life. Veteran Japanese actress Baisho Chieko, the star of dozens of beloved Yoji Yamadas Tora-san films, will receive the festival’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement Honor. To mark the occasion, the festival screens three of Hayakawa’s films: her first Tora-san (1969) function, Yamada’s Where spring comes late (1970), and her most recent project, Chie Hayakawa’s dystopian social drama Plan 75who earned a Special Mention for the Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 2022.

In terms of the Chinese language, apart from Zhang’s blockbuster, the roster includes the recent Chinese remake of Hachiko, starring another Chinese industry legend, Feng Xiaogang. And the choices from Taiwan contribute to the diversity that FEFF emphasizes in 2023. Laha Mebow’s Gaga tells a story set in a native Taiwanese Atayal family, Cheng Wei-hao’s Marry my corpse is a bawdy supernatural comedy, and that of Fu Tien-yu Day off captures a moving portrait of a male barber.

Famous for both its commercial appeal and storytelling, Korean cinema has become an increasingly important pillar of FEFF’s programming over the years. There will be seven titles on display this year, showcasing as usual the unparalleled genre smashers of the Korean industry. Among them: the mysterious horror of Jin-young Kim The other childAhn Tae-jin’s historical costume drama The Night Owl and Lee Hae-young’s twisty spy thriller, phantom. Korean film pioneer Jang Sun-woo will visit the festival in person both to give a masterclass and to receive the mini-retrospective treatment, showing three of his edgy and influential feature films: Road to the racetrack (1991), To you from me (1994) and Lies (1999).

The 2023 festival’s Southeast Asian picks offer the same mix of eclectic authoritative cinema and well-built genre vehicles. From Thailand: You&Me&Me, a coming-of-age movie directed by the twin sisters Hongvivatana; from Malaysia: Abang Adikabout life on the margins, and Cost Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang, a visceral action movie. The Indonesian Joko Anwar comes with his blockbuster sequel Satan’s Slave: Communion. And the Philippines is represented by three horror films: that of Mikhail Red removerThe Dark Fable by Kenneth Dagatan In my mother’s skinand the Internet comedy with Quark Henares disinformation Where’s the lie?

To celebrate the FEFF’s quarter-century anniversary, the organizers have put together a retrospective that is both clever and counterintuitive. Rather than revisit highlights from the early years of the event, a 21-title retrospective sidebar will explore the period in Asian cinema immediately preceding the creation of FEFF. Essentially, the festival’s founders, Baracetti and Bertacche, will explore the fertile period in Asian film history (late 1980s and 1990s) that spawned their own love of filmmaking in the region – a passion that in turn fueled the inspired the creation of Europe’s largest film event dedicated to Asia. Examples include: Nonzee Nimibutr’s seminal 1997 Thai gangster film Dang Bireleys and Young GangstersPark Chan-wook’s 1997 crime comedy and second feature film TrioHsu Hsiao-ming’s Dust of the Angels from 1992 (produced by Hou Hsiao-hsien), and the crime comedy Teen refugee (1984), written by Tsai Ming Liang, who had just moved to Taipei from Malaysia. After 25 years of trying to look ahead to the future of Asian cinema, in 2023 FEFF will ask: What films would we have shown in the years before we existed?

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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