Film Curation, Collaboration with Partners, and Panel Discussions
CinemAsia 2022 was a very special learning-by-doing experience for me as the festival’s new artistic director. It also marked the return of festival after a brief Covid break, and now is a moment when we can look back upon what has been achieved and consider what else we would like to achieve together in the future.
This time, over 30 films were selected to form a balanced mixture of films by upcoming and established directors from East and Southeast Asia. Both the present time and the history of Asia are being represented in these works, and each reflects upon the shifting landscape of the world. The mission of CinemAsia is to present and discuss “Asian perspectives” through films and film collaboration, instead of merely offering an “Asian showcase.” Thus, as important as the film selection was, our curation also included a panel discussion entitled “Placing Asia on the World Map” as well as extended Q&A sessions with the directors of the films Mein Vietnam and So Long, My Son. These activities facilitate and deepen the understanding of cultural contexts through interactions between audience and film professionals.
The panel “Placing Asia on the World Map” was a successful event divided into two parts. The first part featured the panelists Bo Wang, Tushar Madhov, Meiske Taurisia, and Professor Anne Sokolsky. The discussion focused on changes and trends in the media landscape, against the backdrop of the economic rise of Asia in the last decades and streaming services as the game-changer for original content production and distribution worldwide. Panelists raised interesting points about colonialism the in Asian context, as well as how more collective initiatives for cultural collaboration could contribute to bypassing political borders between Asian countries. In the second part of the panel discussion, the experiences, achievements, and lessons of film collaborations between Europe and Asia were shared between panelists Corinne van Egeraat, Lorna Tee, Liu Xuan, Daan Vermeulen, Meiske Taurisia, and Erik Glijnis, all of whom are film producers/distributors based in the Netherlands and Asia. It was interesting to acknowledge the difference in financing films in Asia versus Europe: European filmmaking mostly relies on and benefits from public funding systems, which can sometimes also be rigid and less flexible, whereas Asian film producing relies on a more fluid system of equity financing. The panelists also noted that the level of financing from Asia has increased to the point that Asia is now an equal partner to Europe. In addition to financing, films with collaboration between Europe and Asia can also benefit from sharing and exchanging expertise and creativity from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The first collaboration with IIAS was a rewarding experience for me. It is a partnership where storytelling and anthropology, the film industry and the academic world, form an organic and meaningful synergy that contributes to the impact of the event. CinemAsia would definitely like to broaden and deepen the spectrum of such events in the coming editions, by including, for example, retrospectives of selected master directors and more cross-disciplinary panel discussions.
In addition, FilmLAB is also an important part at CinemAsia. This time we had seven selected film projects that were pitched to a professional panel – consisting of Gwyneth Sleutel, Claire Zhou, and myself – for feedback. I was impressed by the brave and personal stories the young filmmakers brought forward. For next year, we would like to extend this initiative and collaborate with equivalent European and Asian platforms. We hope to make it a go-to place for young filmmakers of diverse cultural backgrounds related to Asia. Through CinemAsia, they can network and connect to professional resources in Europe and Asia, and they can learn from established international filmmakers and producers. Moving forward, we also hope to collaborate with academic entities like IIAS for, among other things, script research and script development.
Jia Zhao, Artistic Director of CinemAsia. E-mail: email@example.com