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Asia House released its cultural programme for February and March 2013 today, with some first details on its Pan-Asia Film Festival which it has been organising annually since 2009. The festival, which run from March 6-17, 2013, is a “celebration of the best independent films from the pan-Asia region”. Screenings will take place in London and other key UK cities (no names yet).

At the moment five screenings are planned, but judging from previous years (8 films in 2012, 12 in 2011) we may still get some more – I certainly hope so, as I think we could still do with something from Korea, Hong Kong or China or even another Japanese film. The fact that the cultural programme says “festival highlights” makes this not just wishful thinking on my part.

The line-up so far (click on original title to watch trailer):

poor folk

After 歸來的人 (Gui lái dí rén/Return to Burma, Myanmar/Taiwan, 2011) director Midi Z returns with a film about two illegal Burmese emigrants that live in Bangkok and dabble in tourist scamming, drug smuggling and human trafficking. Their ways may be criminal, but one of them is trying to buy back his sister who was forced into prostitution. It’s a dark tale, but not one without humour.

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A business man from Delhi returns to the city of Ahmadabad, bringing along his daughter. He wishes to share his hometown’s magnificent kite festival – a colourful spectacle of millions of kites in dancing, tumbling and duelling in the sky – with his child, but it is not just joy that is in the air. There is a past that was left behind, relationships that were broken, memories that had been forgotten. Movie critic Roger Ebert sings the film praises.

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We have known since Monty Python and the Holy Grail that rabbits aren’t just cute, fluffy creatures. This horror creation by Shimizu Takashi is about one such evil bunny. It starts off with Daigo, a young boy, killing a sick rabbit to end its unnecessary suffering only to be henceforth called “rabbit killer” by his classmates. His older half-sister, who is mute, takes the boy out of school, the two siblings and their father all entirely withdrawing from the outside world. As they lose themselves to grief – still over the death of each child’s mother – a six-foot tall bunny is after them. Isugoi has a review.

  •  111 Dokhtar (111 Girls, Iran/Iraq, 2012)*

111 girls

Wife and husband team Nahid Ghobadi and Bijan Zamanpira bring us this film about 111 women from a remote village in Iranian Kurdistan. Abandoned by men – fathers have died, brothers disappeared – they make a collective plea to the country’s president about their fate. No longer wanting to remain isolated and unmarried and with a bleak future ahead only in an isolated region, they threaten to commit suicide if no solution is found for them. A government official and several other men then go on the road to save the women, a mission that brings to light different attitudes and ways of life in both comedic and satirical form.

*Wordpress won’t let me properly type the original title in Persian script (not even copy/pasting from Word). Very annoying.

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This is the only film on the programme I had heard about previously – I featured it on Trailer Weekly #14. The plot (quoting what I wrote then already): a hitman gets shot in the head and wakes from a coma two months later to discover he sees everything upside down – something the director carries over into the cinematography (at least in some scenes).

Updates to follow!

Bonus Bits: