Festival-goers were treated to a digitally restored version of Seijun Suzuki’s warped 1967 gangster romp Branded to Kill. Photo: FEFF
Festival-goers were treated to a digitally restored version of Seijun Suzuki’s warped 1967 gangster romp Branded to Kill. Photo: FEFF

Listening to …

… meetings, meetings, meetings. There would be no show without the business, and each year the FEFF supports two main adjunct programs where the people who try to put bums on seats gather to plot their, well, next plots.

The second Focus Asia film market sets out to promote genre films and to that end this year has 13 countries represented by 13 projects. The deal is that FEFF draws more than 100 “decision makers, possible financiers and sales agents” to town and then directors and producers of the 13 projects get down to the business of seeing their cinematic dreams realized.

Industry players gathered for the Focus Asia program. Photo: FEFF

At the same time, the Ties that Bind Asian/European co-production workshop – in its eighth edition – sits down with 10 producers to discuss scripts and watch successful films for information and inspiration. Meanwhile, a mix of seasoned industry veterans offer the sort of insights that hopefully lead to productions featured on future programs at FEFF and beyond.

To that end, the Ties That Bind group sat down to hear from Hong Kong International Film Festival boss Roger Garcia and Marco Müller, former artistic director of the prestigious Venice and Rome festivals who is now preparing for the Pingyao International Film Festival in China later this year.

Garcia summed things up succinctly during the session. “The most important thing is that a film finds an audience, and hopefully these type of events can help achieve that, or at least point people in the right direction,” he said.

Thinking about …

A still from the Jun Robles Lana-directed Die Beautiful. Photo: FEFF

… the FEFF’s long history of showcasing films from the Philippines, of which there are seven on show this year: a restored version of the Mario O’Hara classic Three Years Without God (1976); recent box office hit Die Beautiful; and award-winning documentary Sunday Beauty Queen. The last two mentioned feature communities fighting for their place in society – the Jun Robles Lana-directed Die Beautiful recounting the trials of everyday life for a transgender character, while Baby Ruth Villarama’s Sunday Beauty Queen focuses on domestic workers in Hong Kong as they prepare for an annual pageant.

Cinema from the Philippines often comes layered with high drama and emotion and both films hold such traditions true, albeit one story being imagined and one showing real life. It’s their honesty – in presenting the issues and sense of struggle – that set these two films above the pack, though. Liza Dino from the Film Development Council of the Philippines was on hand and summed up the feeling in the cinema as Die Beautiful’s credits rolled. “It’s a testament to how powerful film can be,” she said. Sunday Beauty Queen will surely provide the same when it screens Saturday.

Read: Day seven of the Far East Film Festival

Watching …

A still from Branded to Kill. Photo: FEFF

… a rare screening of the late, great Japanese maverick Seijun Suzuki’s whacked out but brilliant Branded to Kill. And a digitally restored version into the bargain. Released in 1967, Suzuki sets about pushing the boundaries of what his country’s studios would allow. The film follows a desperate hitman who just happens to be sexually aroused by the smell of boiled rice. He longs to be the number one assassin in town, but fate – and a few dames – conspire against him. It might not always make sense, but Branded to Kill oozes class and style and is driven by a pulsing jazz soundtrack. What’s not to love? Suzuki passed away in February at the age of 93, and if you’ve never had the pleasure, crank up that rice cooker and join the party as soon as you can.

Eating …

Pepata di Corte’s seafood risotto. Photo: Paige Lim

… carbs and plenty of them. One very full day to go – with seven films, two FEFF Coffee and Talk sessions, and the announcement of the main prize here in Udine, which is decided upon by the audience. As part of the preparation for the frenzy of final night might we suggest – as FEFF Campus member Paige Lim did – getting some ballast on. And seafood risotto from the Pepata di Corte makes full use of the fare the lagoons of nearby Venice are famed for.

Click here for the FEFF 2017 site


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