Far East Special: The True Glory

walden, 26/05/2005 v kategoriji novice

Olaf M??ller, for isolacinema.org

Most of the people who routinely tell you just how much they love Asian cinema (by which they tend to mean the cinemas of East Asia…) would probably freak out at Udine’s Far East Film Festival, an annual event devoted to the more commercial kinds of glory from such major film cultures like Japan, Hongkong, or the Philippines – excactly the kind of films to give our event a cool and crazy kind of additional edge.

Originally, the Far East Film Festival was just a special edition of another event which in one particular year took shape in the form of a massive Hong Kong program with several major stars attending – the works. The whole event was so well received that the organisers thought, Hey!, let’s change our thing around and make an annual festival featuring films from East and Southeast Asia (they never ventured further south into the continent…).

In contrast to basically everybody else they quickly started to focus on the less obviously worthy – ie. the not middlebrow-sanctioned – kinds of cinephile pleasures, like Japanese sex films (a classic of that genre, Nikkatsu-nutcase Hasebe Yasuharu’s Noraneko Rock: Sex Hunter from 1970 is one of the super not-to-be-missed movies of this Kino Otok), or crowd-friendly comedies from the Republic of Korea, or more visionary horror films from Hong Kong and Japan, but also ‘official’ productions from the People’s Republic of China – only in Udine can you see stuff like the PRC’s ideas of Michael Bay’an action entertainment or the works of somewhat more off-auteurs who want to create their cinema inside the confinements of the world’s biggest state communist film industry.

Like Linz’s Crossing Europe or the Innsbruck International Film Festival, the Far East Film Festival has joined the brotherhood of smaller festivals with a somewhat different cultural agenda than the main stream (of whatever persuasion…) and will hopefully have fun with presenting a few treasures from it’s own most recent selection in all tomorrow’s edition of Kino Otok.