In France, the shows go on and on ...
This year's Deauville Asian Film Festival came up with an unofficial list of the noteworthy people and events.
Trouble began when the Chinese Embassy in France became irritated by the appearance of a Taiwanese flag on the roof of the festival's main theater. Embassy officials demanded the immediate removal of the flag, but the organizers refused. "The festival is a cultural event, not political," protested Alan Patel, the festival director. China expressed its anger by removing the Chinese film "Fathers" (2001), directed by Lou Jian, from the competition on the first day. Meanwhile, the flag of Taiwan continued to fly (photo 1).
The viewing of the Korean film "Address Unknown" (2001), directed by Kim Ki-duk, created a stir for a violent scene of dogs being mistreated. In protest, Brigitte Bardot Foundation thugs stormed the press conference of an unrelated Korean movie, "Failan," and demanded an end to "the torture" of innocent animals. In photo 2, a foundation "representative" is physically shown the door by gracious festival officials.
The festival's host city on the coast of northwestern France is set amid some of the most stunning landscapes in Europe. The clean air, Normandy architecture, gardens, beaches, yachts and waterfront are all part of the atmosphere (photo 3).
Jeremy Segay (with Korean wife Eun-sun, who worked as a festival interpreter), who schedules films for the festival, wants to show North Korean films at Deauville in the near future. He contacted the North Korean Embassy in France during the the past year and managed to purchase two films on videotape for just $40.
Most Unrecognized to Most Recognized
The Korean actor Joo Jin-mo says he cannot walk the streets in Korea without being mobbed. When Joo arrived on Deauville's main street, no one took notice of him - until the screening of his wildly popular "Musa." Joo said, "I'm happy that people outside Korea appreciate Korean movies and actors." "Musa" was sold to SND, one of the largest movie distributors in Europe, and is due to open in France in June. In photo 5, is the actor (center) with the cinematographer Kim Hyung-koo (left) and the director Kim Sung-soo.
Without the efforts of Alan Patel, the president of the festival (photo 7, with the Japanese actress Asaka Seto), Pierre Rissient, the festival adviser, and Kim Dong-ho, the director of the Busan International Film Festival (photo 6), the Deauville festival would be the Dudville festival.
On the opening night, the mayor of Deauville, Philippe Augier (left), made the Korean director Shin Sang-ok an honorary citizen of Deauville. The director, who usually speaks through an interpreter, nervously uttered to the mayor and the audience the only French word he knew: "Merci."
DEAUVILLE, France - This small resort town on the Normandy coast has become one of the strongest showcases for Asian films. And this year, Korea was the strongest entrant.
When the Asian Film Festival in Deauville started four years ago, the event was a minor gathering of cinephiles hastily organized by personal friends of the festival director Alan Patel. His expectation was simple: "Movie actors and directors from Asia walking down the main street of Deauville."
Each year the number of participants grew and programs expanded. The festival established its reputation as a film showcase dedicated to screening and promoting Asian films from across Asia. In October 2000 the festival formed a sister relationship with the Busan International Film Festival, the largest film festival in Asia. Films at the festival begin daily at 9:30 a.m. and can run until 2 or 3 in the morning.
This year, the festival kicked off with "Eunuch" ("Naesi," 1968), directed by Korea's first auteur, Shin Sang-ok. Mr. Shin also served on the six-man jury, along with Karen Mok, Marie-France Pisier, Caroline Ducey, Jacques Chancel and Jacques Fieschi.
At the end of the four-day festival, which ran from March 7 to March 10, the jury awarded four out of seven Lotus Awards to the Korean film "Failan," directed by Song Hae-sung. The film won the awards for best director, best actor, best picture and audience favorite.
The festival featured various noteworthy films, such as Korea's "Failan," "Address Unknown" and "Musa: The Warrior," Hong Kong's "Peony Pavilion" and Japan's "Water Boys."
Pierre Rissient, a senior festival adviser, complained that the overall selection of Korean films was lower than last year because several of the peninsula's highest regarded filmmakers, including Hong Sang-soo, Im Kwon-taek and Lee Chang-dong, are just wrapping up work on their latest films.
While "Musa" was a big-budget (nearly $6 million) international production, filmed all across northern China, "Hype" was the opposite - a small-budget ($3,000) digital project by Vincent Wong, a 25-year-old film school graduate from Singapore National University.
With the addition of video competition this year, the festival attracted a younger audience. The festival official Jeremy Segay said, "The interest in Asian films has grown so much in the past few years that students in film schools in France and Europe have created their own Web sites to learn more about them."
Aspiring filmmakers are increasingly going digital these days as the format costs less than regular film, but still allows them to hone their movie-making skills.
The digital video competition section included "The Man Who Watched Too Much" by the Korean director Son Jae-goun, "A Small Miracle" by the Hong Kong director Kenneth Bi, "Gips" by the Japanese director Akihiko Shiota and "Lips to Lips" by the Malaysian director Air Muhammad. "Gips" and "Tokyo Trash Baby" won the Lotus Awards for the digital video section.
The future is digital, and it's here
Edouard Weil is the producer of the film "Demonlover," directed by Olivier Assayas.
He is a jury member of the digital competition section of the Deauville Asian Film Festival, along with Michelle Bergot and Hubert Niogret.
IHT-JAI: What is the current state of Asia's digital films?
Weil: Digitally made films are still at the experimental stage, although many directors have tried them because you can make them with only $30,000-40,000. But to convert a video to a film is too expensive for buyers and distributors. And they don't correspond to the television market. The reason the industry pays attention is the films are good for long-term investment. It matters what the director of a particular digital film will do later.
IHT-JAI: What makes a great digital film? And why another category in the film festival?
Weil: People are always looking for new talent. Digitally made video films appear different and were in a way considered amateur compared with the other films. It takes a different kind of adaptation and skills. So when Cannes introduced the new category, they gave certain rules, such as only one camera on the shoulder. A new kind of talent has to be born. But there are some people who are just born with a great instinct to make the new genre workable.
A few pictures shown in Cannes in recent years proved that. In 1997, Lars Von Trier created a new family of films with his Dogme movement. "Eye in Rotterdam" has lots of poetry; it's contemplative and beautiful although it has too much violence. The Deauville film festival had two good video films, "Gips" and "Tokyo Trash Baby."
IHT-JAI: What is your role as a producer?
Weil: I'm trying to show some cinematographic talent through new works. "Demonlover," for example, is artistically cohesive in digital techniques; the film is a combination of super 35 mm, 16 mm and video, and it was first enumerized, digitized and converted back to film. It's been sold to Japan. Digital films have a great future in the international market as people's awareness increases.