Special Report: Far East Film Festival 7, Udine Italy 2005

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
The largest panorama of Asian film in the world is found in Udine Italy, north of Venice at The Far East Film Festival , and the seventh edition - a week of world class cinema ran from April 22 to April 29. This is a pearl of a festival with excellent hospitality offered to guests and journalists. This festival in a small Italian town shows it isn't a media giant or safe domestic niche product that necessarily draws a crowd-- cross border cinema can and does attract a dedicated public that is noted in completely packed. Moreover Asian directors seem to remember Italy - and Udine in their films. Yesterday Once More by Johnnie TO from China (2004), shot partly in Udine was inspired from a visit when TO was at a previous Far East Film festival. Beyond Our Ken by PANG Ho-cheung (2004) from South Korea features the hit song "Amandoti" by Italian vocalist Gianna Nannini - which he heard on a trip to Rome. 

The opening film was A World Without Thieves, by Feng Xiaogang from China, starring Ge You China’s most popular comic star, Hong Kong’s talented Andy Lau, and Taiwan’s leading lady René Liu Ruo-ying. The film delivered what it promised, an enchanting mix of Hollywood Western and Chinese martial arts.  

The Udine public was a great group of cineastes which voted on the end of festival Audience Awards. GU Changwei’s directorial debut Peacock (Kong Que, China 2004) was awarded best film - the story of three siblings growing up in China after the Cultural Revolution.  

In second place was Tetsuya Nakashima’s Kamikaze Girls. The story reveals part of the intricate and colorful Japanese youth subculture.  

One of the special events of FF7 was the panel entitled “Eye of the Beholder” where three Asian cinematographer’s/DP’s were invited to give their views on their work: Gu Changwei of China , Tamura Masaki of Japan, and Kim Hyung-koo of South Korea. In several Asian countries the cinematographer who often works with lighting has a close relationship with the director for the translation of the narrative into images. This provides many Asian films with a rich visual language that sometimes is not recognized in their own countries but which is highly acclaimed at international film festivals. 

This year, Japanese veteran director MASUDA Toshio was present for the commemoration “Nikkatsu Akushon” - action classics produced by the Nikkatsu studios during the late 50’s and 60’s in Japan. An example was the entertaining and enchanting Black Tights Killers (1966) featuring four female Ninja assassins whose mission is to recuperate gold stolen from Taiwan.  

Showcases of martial arts are best when the spiritual practice in manifest. This was best exemplified in RYU Seung-wan's Arahan , one of the top ten audience awards, a tale of five masters who lament that people in a instant discard and tie-in society have lost their belief in Tao. Panna RITTHIKRAI's Born to Fight brings to screen the Buddhist beliefs of a Thai village and some stunning scenes including extremely proficient female fighters.  

For Movie Magazine International, this is Moira Sullivan Udine Italy
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Far East Film Festival 7, Udine Italy 2005