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Culture

FICA Asian film festival hits quarter century

media Nasser Volant thrills guests at opening of 25th International Festival of Asian Cinemas in Vesoul, France, 5 February 2019 JFMaillol 2019

Twenty-five years ago two locals from Vesoul in the north-east of France launched the International Film Festival of Asian Cinema, or Fica. This February their eight-day festival, renowned among Asian film fans worldwide, is expected to draw 30,000 visitors to choose among 90 films old, new and rare. Eight films are in the running for the Golden Rickshaw award for best feature.

The festival started out with 12 films in all and about 1,500 spectators. Last year, 32,000 people turned out.

All about Asian couples

The festival chose the theme 'Asian couples' says festival co-founderJean-Marc Thérouanne, because "it seemed obvious given that this festival was founded by a couple [Jean-Marc and his wife Martine], and that 25 years is like a silver wedding anniversary!"

The category has 27 films in it, including Indian master Satyajit Ray's, The Coward-Kapurush (1965), or the recent Bajirao Mastani (2015) from Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansani.

Fourteen of the 90 films make-up the special tribute to Franco-Palestinian actress and director, Hiam Abbas.

Focus on Japan

This year, as part of the 160-years of France-Japan diplomatic relations, Fica's regular country spotlight in 2019 lands on Japan.

It includes some of the finest from the Japanese studios like, Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samourai (1954), other films from post-WW2 Japanese masters Ozu, Naruse and Mizuguchi, the landmark monster-movie, Godzilla (1954) by Honda Hishiro, and the less well-known, Carmen Comes Home directed by Kinoashita Keisuke in 1951.

Backed by local authorities every year, the 25th anniversary drew, for the first time, the French culture minister to the opening on February 5th.

Bastien Meiresonne, the artistic director who is in charge of the film programme, explained that the festival's fame enables him to nab some world premières like The Swing-Maker directed by Da Xiong from China "It's a very sensitive film," says Meiersonne.

"They may be first time directors but I am happy to give them their first chance as it were. In the documentary section, Jill Coulon told me herlatest film, Grandir, Growing Up, was her world première gift for the 25th anniversary."

Like Coulon's, several films in the programme are Franco-Asian, like Grandir, and maybe one of the couple films, The Lover by Jean-Jacques Annaud.

Films in competition at Fica 2019

Fiction

  • Rona Azim's Mother - Jamshid Mahmoudi - Afghanistan-Iran
  • The Swing Maker - Da Xiong - China
  • Jinpa - Pema Tseden - China
  • Sub-Zero Wind - Kim Yu-ri - South Korea
  • A Family Tour -Ying Liang - Hong Kong/Taiwan/Singapore/Malaysia
  • Widow of Silence - Praveen Machhale - India
  • Africa Violet - Mona Zandi Haghighi - Iran
  • His Lost Name - Hirose Nanako - Japan
  • Waiting for Sunset - Carlo Enciso Catu - Philippines

Documentary

  • Grandir - Jill Coulon - France
  • Southern China, a road for Xiao Jiang - China/France
  • An Engineered Dream - Hemant Gaba- India
  • Butterfly - Mahdi Zamapour Kiasari - Iran
  • Tokyo Kurds - Fumiari Hyuga - Japan
  • Vladivostok, Dawn on Russia - Philippe Mac Gaw - Russia/France
  • The Waiting Room - Cheng Herng Shinn - Singapore
  • Of Fathers and Sons - Syria- Talal Derki

Fica awards on 12 February 2019.

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