22nd Far East Film Festival UDINE ITALY

Victim(s) Layla JI (Malaysia 2020) ©FEFF

By Moira Jean Sullivan
The 22nd Far East Film Festival (FEFF) located in UDINE ITALY is held online this year using the same platform as the Cannes Film Market  (March√© du Film) at the end of June. 46 films  are to be screened June 26 - July 4, 2020  (4 world premieres) through memberships to the festival.

There have been many excellent films so far, and these are some of my favorites:

Changfeng Town (China 2019).
CHANGFENG TOWN (The City of Changfeng) directed by the young independent director WANG Jing  ( China 2019) is the story of a small rural village in Southern China. Complete with the village dentist, an ice cream machine and a corner cinema, It’s not hard to notice the stiff old movie chairs, mostly high back benches where classic Chinese films as well as foreign films are screened in the village square. Films such as Fellini’s La Strada and Truffaut’s 400 Blows are screened every night. A gang of young boys get into all kinds of mischief with each other and the villagers. "Red Head "is in love with the cashier at the cinema who is in love with a poet who someday will become famous he says. Five chapters concern endearing developments in this coming of age film and reminds me of the Christmas classic A Christmas Story set in the 40s’. With Elvis in the soundtrack this film's time period seems to emanate from the 50s. The cinematography is excellent and the different anecdotes related by the author of this film in voice over  from his experiences of growing up.

ASHFALL (Ash Rain) directed by KIM Byung-seo, LEE Hae-jun (South Korea 2019) was the opening night film - a disaster film with a lot going on including a huge 9.0 earthquake that triggers the re-activation of Mount Paetku, a volcano on the Chinese–North Korean border. Before calamity strikes North Korea is planning on turning over six ICBMs to the US, effectively ending the cold war. A scientist discovers if the bombs are detonated underground a huge volcanic eruption will be avoided.  The army has sent in a task force to find the location of the missiles that have been reported by the spy Ri Jun-pyeong played by the talented (Lee Byung-hun), to stop the eruption of a volcano.

Hong Kong director Johnnie To has been to Udine many times and this year he has brought a riveting semi- musical of high energy, CHASING DREAM (Chasing the Dream)
(Hong Kong / China 2019). the story of a boxer and a young woman whose songs have been ripped off by a popular singer. The union of the boxer and the vocalist is engaging with many inventive high action scenes involving song and dance.

Chasing the Dream (Johnny To 2020) ©FEFF

I-DOCUMENTARY OF THE JOURNALIST (Documentary on a journalist) by MORI Tatsuya  (Japan 2019) follows real life investigative journalist Mochizuki Isoko who writes for a major Japanese newspaper. She investigates corruption in the Japanese government, and cover ups that involve environment hazards and scandals the office of the president. Isoko’s relentless interview techniques at press conferences put government experts on their heads although on camera they come across as deceitful and brain dead. The tireless journalist and the thorough documentary journalism of Tatsuya MORI make an excellent team in an inside view of Japanese media.

Layla JI  brings a story of young teenagers and how they turn to bullying classmates with their cellphones, which leads to revenge and murder. The cruelty of the teens to each other and their use of mobile phones to film and humiliate their classmates mirrors the media saturation of the larger society – The affordability of cell phones and easy access to them is pervasive and Layla Ji has made a powerful film, in VICTIM(s) (Malaysia 2020).

In addition to these new films from Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia are panels on the new developments in these countries in the film business. For example, Darcy Paquet,  the South Korean FEFF expert did the subtitles for Parasite that won the Palme d' or last year at Cannes  and six Oscars - directed by Bong Joon Ho. He writes  how this film has caused a stir in the country as well as Covid 19.

This is an excellent festival and one of the top this year that made the bold decision to go 100% online and offer the festival to the public.

Next week more from the Far East Film Festival including a report on the fourth and final  IP MAN 4   (2020) set in San Francisco including scenes where Bruce Lee invites his  famous teacher to the US.
© 2020 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 07/02/20
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