Asian Film Fest brings communities together

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Author: Roberta Fedele, [email protected]

Wednesday 7 March 2012

The 2011 Indonesian drama “Under the Protection of the Kabah,” traditional Indonesian dances and a colorful 13-stand Food Festival, representing as many Asian countries, closed the fifth edition of the Asian Film Festival, hosted from Feb. 18 to Feb. 29 by the Consuls General of Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The dances, performed by 12 skillful young girls wearing traditional costumes at the residence of Indonesian Consul General Zakaria Anshar, and the culinary occasion gave a special folkloristic touch to the festival’s closing night.
The previous day, Anshar’s residence hosted the screening of the Saudi movies “Hidden Evil” by Mohammed Hilal, “Caroom” by Hamza Tarzan and “Munafsin” by Mohammed Bakar that grabbed the attention of various journalists and TV channels eager to interview the movies’ directors and actors who attended the event.
“In 2011, almost 300 Saudi documentaries and short films were presented at various international film festivals in the Gulf. The horror-comedy movie “Hidden Evil,” shown here for the first time, represents, however, for us a totally new genre and a fascinating experiment,” said Executive Producer of Kuwther Media Fahd Ghazoli who represented Saudi Arabia in this year’s festival.
The “Hidden Evil” by Mohammed Hilal symbolizes the potential evil within a man’s mind. It tells the story of a greedy landlord who pretends his house is haunted by ghosts and plays tricks on his tenants, pushing them to leave without claiming back their rent.
“Carrom,” a famous family game brought to the Hijaz by Indian pilgrims, is the title of the second Saudi movie by Hamza Tarzan who tried to highlight, in his family drama, the multicultural dimension of a region, the Hijaz, which is considered the melting pot of the Muslim world.
“‘Carrom’ metaphorically represents the game of life. The black and white disks and holes on the sides of the board game symbolize in the movie the difficulties and joys accompanying everyone’s life,” he added.
Tarzan also highlighted the absence of a real culture of movies in Saudi Arabia even though talent and passion for filmmaking are certainly present in the country.
“Saudi Arabia lacks a proper film industry. Cultural prejudices represent an obstacle to the foundation of cinema academies and to finding adequate financial supports. These are two fundamental requirements for countries willing to compete at an international level,” he said.
Passionate for movies since a very young age, Tarzan is an admirer of world famous American directors Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorzese and likes to deal with social issues in a way to address the human subconscious and use symbols that remain open to various interpretations.
Organized by the Asian Consuls General Club (ACGC) and coordinated by Consul General of Brunei Sulaini Said, the festival saw a consistent participation of Jeddah’s local community, reaffirming itself as a pleasant and eagerly awaited annual appointment.
“This is a very active cultural platform of the region and provides the people living in Jeddah with opportunities to share diverse images and voices from different parts of the Asian continent,” said Korean Consul General Yong-gi Shin during the presentation of the Korean film night.
Ghazoli and all the Asian Consuls shared Shin’s opinion and highlighted in their opening speeches the importance of cultural events, and particularly movie reviews, as immediate and delightful means to bridge cultures and spread knowledge among Saudi citizens and expatriates about the costumes, lifestyles and beliefs of other societies. 
Particularly significant was the choice of the Korean feature film, “Take off.” Opting for this movie, Shin decided to share with the audience his country’s emotion for being honored last year to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The film features a young Korean adopted by a US family who returns to his homeland to search for his mother. Once in Korea, he forms the first Korean ski team with four other non-experienced athletes and challenges the Winter Olympics.
Other interesting movies from the 11 countries that altogether contributed to the success of the festival were the hilarious Japanese comedy “Happy Flight,” the Philippines’ love story “Forever and a Day,” the religious Indian movie “Adaminte Makan Abu,” the Malaysian action movie set in the period of the Roman Empire “Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa,” the Sri Lankan feature film “Arumosam Vehi,” the Chinese movie “Glittering Day,” Thailand’s feature movie “The Girl” and Bangladesh’s love story “Monpura.”
 

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