The Asian Film Festival Barcelona (AFFBCN) holds its eighth edition this year. The contest, specialized in Asian cinema, is held from October 28 to November 8 in a hybrid format: on-site and online. The festival presents 118 feature films that will be screened in the cinemas of the Cinemes Girona, CaixaForum, Filmoteca de Catalunya, Institut Français, CineBaix de Sant Feliu de Llobregat, and also on FILMIN online cinema platform.
As in previous editions, the festival will screen feature films from 25 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, films are presented from Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan-China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand.
All the productions shown this year have been made between 2018 and 2020, although those of 2019 prevail, and will be distributed in five sections: Official, Official Panorama, Discoveries, Netpac and Special, all of them in competition.
One of the hallmarks of the AFFBCN is that it advocates an auteur cinema in which drama predominates as the genre par excellence. Thus, in most of the films that have been selected for this edition, migrations, gender violence, bullying at school and at work and loneliness are recurring themes linked to the conflicts of everyday life.
For the director of AFFBCN 2020, Menene Gras Balaguer, “the festival tries to address independent and experimental cinema from other countries, whose growth in this field should also be taken into account due to their increasingly solid contributions, as is the case of Mongolia, the Philippines, Australia, or Afghanistan, without prejudice to hosting consolidated cinematographies that come from countries that have a large industry and market, such as Iran, India, China, Japan and Korea”.
In this edition, Southeast Asian cinema has a greater role through some twenty productions from the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. The Philippines presents 10 films, notably Mindanao (2019) and The Halt (2019) by two acclaimed directors, Brillante Mendoza and Lav Díaz, respectively. Along these lines, the film project Mekong 2030 is presented, a film composed of 5 shorts about the future of the Mekong River, by 5 directors Kulikar Sotho (Cambodia), Anysay Keola (Laos), Sai Naw Kham (Myanmar), Anocha Suwichakornpongy (Thailand) and Pham Ngog Lan (Vietnam) that create a common and interconnected story around the river, source of life for its inhabitants.
Opening, Special Session and Closing
THE ORPHANAGE (2019), by Afghan director Shahrbanco Sadat, will open the Festival at CaixaForum, on Wednesday, October 28, at 8:00 p.m., while the film TRUE MOTHERS (2020) by Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase will open the curtain at the Cinemes Girona with a special session that will be screened on Thursday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m. This film made its debut at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, and has been part of the Official Selection at the Cannes and San Sebastian Festival. The closing of the 8th edition of the Asian Film Festival Barcelona will be carried out by ZERO FLOOR (2019) by the Iranian director Ebrahim Ebrahimian on November 8 at 7:30 p.m., in the Girona cinemas.
The Festival management has selected 13 titles from the total number of feature films. In addition to the opening session, special session and closing, the ten “must see” are: Buoyancy. Rodd Rathjen. Official Section. Australia. 2019; Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon). Mostofa Sarwan Farooki. Bangladesh. Official Section. 2019; Another Child. Kim Yoo-seok. Official Section. South Korea. 2019; Mindanao. Brilliant Ma. Mendoza. Official Section. Philippines 2019; Beyond the Dream. Kiwi Chow. Official Section. Hong Kong. 2020; Iewduh (Market). Pradib Kurbah. Discoveries section. India. 2019; My Second Year in College. Rasoul Sadrameli. Official Section. Iran. 2019; Sunflower. Elya Gilman. Discoveries section. Kazakhstan 2018; Black Milk. Uisenma Borchu. Official Section. Mongolia. 2020; Ballon. Pema Tseden. Official Section. China. 2019
On-site and Online Format
Cinemes Girona will continue to be the main venue of the Festival and the one that hosts the largest number of films, together with CaixaForum and CineBaix that will show 6 each, and Filmoteca de Cataluña, where the retrospective will be held with 5 feature films by Japanese director Kinuyo Tanaka organized by the Japan Foundation. The Institut Français, the last venue to join the AFFBCN, due to the readjustments in the rooms due to the new measures against the coronavirus, will screen a total of 7 titles.
In addition, the Festival incorporates a part of the online programming, on the FILMIN platform, where this July 2020 we have inaugurated the CASA ASIA Channel.
Of the total of 118 feature films, 70% will be screened in person at the four Festival venues and 30% online on the FILMIN platform.
Commitment to Asian Cinema
Casa Asia maintains for another year its commitment so that Barcelona has a festival that collects the best filmography from the Asian continent, and facilitates public access to productions from this part of the world, as well as the meeting between professionals from the sector and from the film industry.
At a time of crisis and uncertainty for the sector, Casa Asia renews its commitment to Asian cinema, with this new edition of the Asian Film Festival Barcelona, in addition to the thematic cycles that are screened on weekends at Cinemes Girona.
The AFFBCN 2020 has the support of the ICEC of the Department of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya, l’Institut de Cultura del Ayuntamiento de Barcelona, Catalunya Film Festivals, Fundació La Caixa, Fundació Institut Confuci de Barcelona, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Japan Foundation, EFE Agency, El Periódico de Catalunya and Betevé, among others.
AFFBCN and Coronavirus
This year the festival adapts itself to the exceptional situation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis. All the AFFBCN rooms have adapted the necessary security protocols: essential use of the mask during the entire session, dispensers of hydroalcoholic gels or disinfectants available for the public, alternative and numbered seats, disinfection of the rooms at the end of each session, and access staggered for entry and exit of the public.
Website of the festival: www.asianfilmfestival.barcelona
After the declaration of the State of Alert by the Covid-19 made on Sunday, October 25, by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, the Generalitat of Catalonia has established a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, cultural events that include movie theaters may end at 10 pm. Thus, spectators will be able to go home without being penalized as long as they show a ticket that justifies their attendance at the cultural event. This exception to the curfew also includes cinemas, theaters and auditoriums, which already offer “guarantees” of compliance with health measures, as explained at a press conference, the conseller, Miquel Sàmper, and the deputy director of Civil Protection of the Generalitat, Sergio Delgado, together with the chief commissioner of the Mossos d’Esquadra, Eduard Sallent.