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Asian culture at your doorstep

What’s new in Amsterdam? The annual CinemAsia has returned and it might just be the best edition yet.


Returning to Amsterdam this year for its eleventh edition is CinemAsia Film Festival with its manifold selections of Asian cinema’s latest produce. Running on fifteen years of existence, CinemAsia has had its fair share of relocating their venues year after year until finally settling in UvA students’ beloved Kriterion and Rialto just three years ago in 2015. So, if you’re looking for something different and are bored of your day-to-day Western environment, all you need to do is enter the halls of these cinemas and you will be enlightened by the reveries of Asian societies.

Three Asian cinemas are particularly highlighted in this year’s edition, and I’m proud to say that one of them is the Indonesian cinema. I’m even more proud to say that the festival categorizes its special focus on Indonesian cinema. Putting my pride aside, however, the remaining two focuses on the Hong Kong and Philippine cinemas are equally relevant. They communicate a strong, distinctive message about their respective cinema characteristics, and it’s interesting to see the difference in elements between the two countries.

2018 program

Based on this year’s program, there seem to be three particular themes that will be screened, each corresponding to one of the three focus countries mentioned earlier. For Indonesia, the theme ‘trailblazers of Indonesian cinema’ aims to acknowledge and further give name to successful domestic blockbusters by taking on the international stage this time around, as well as showcasing the new talents of the local film industry.

For Indonesia, the theme ‘trailblazers of Indonesian cinema’ aims to acknowledge and further give name to successful domestic blockbusters

For Hong Kong, there seems to be a heavy focus on new rising players of the local film industry and for simplicity reasons, I would name the theme ‘the emergence of new youthful talents in the local film industry’ (quite a lengthy one at that, but you get the point). And lastly for the Philippines, I was especially intrigued by such a brief description about what the local film industry there is all about – essentially, the theme would have to be ‘revival of the local cinema’ as a certain paradigm shift in the market of the local film industry is accentuated.

Even though cinema is the central program this festival offers, it’s not limited to just that. There will be a food market held in Kriterion and Rialto and all you need to do to take part in this feast is to buy food tickets at the CinemAsia festival desk using that revolutionary little plastic card that you keep in your wallet. I’m telling you, you will never regret trying nor get enough of Asian cuisines. Not only will you witness such rich cinematic flavors, but so will your tongue with all the food you’re about to stomach.

Festival Prestige

Of course, as with renowned film festivals such as the TIFF or the Festival de Cannes, competitions and awards are essential just to see who really gets to be the best of the best (at least among the selections curated by the artistic director). CinemAsia, too, will be handing out awards, namely the Jury Award, the Student Jury Award and the Audience Award as per usual.

In addition to that, not only will they acknowledge one category – the typical Best Film – but we’ll also be seeing new categories starting this 2018 edition onwards and these are Best Director and Best Performer. These additions are done in an attempt to glorify and promote the creativity and outstanding performance of filmmakers and actors of Asian origin.

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018

CinemAsia’s weeklong duration starting from sixth to the eleventh of March has an overlap with the International Women’s Day set on the eighth of March every year. On this day, CinemaAsia will give an ode to women by screening an award-winning documentary entitled Small Talk to start off this special program. Themes such as family, being yourself, coming out and coming in and generally the idea of being a woman will be debated during a talk show discussion featuring Jen Janice Mohamed and Echo Wang as guest speakers. Concluding this artistic and cultured program is Indonesian photographer and poet Chantal Winatasasmita with an original poem inspired by Small Talk.

Cover: Donald Tong / Final editing: Kevin Hesp

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