This year, OzAsia Festival presents its largest program to date with 60 unique events spanning 18 days.
With a program jam-packed with world premieres, workshops, talk events and imitable artists from around the globe it becomes near impossible to decide what to see and when. But thankfully, OzAsia film program curator, Gail Kovasteff has picked some of her personal highlights to help you navigate the hefty line up.
Of Fathers and Sons
Filmed over two years, Of Fathers and Sons presents an incredible opportunity to see a radical jihadist family from the inside. Where the sons are just young kids happy to play soccer most of the time, their own fathers are grooming them to become jihadists. From acclaimed Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki, this is his second World Cinema Grand Jury Documentary win at Sundance. This was the first film I programmed, months before I really started researching because the minute I read about it and then viewed it, I knew it had to be seen.
The Great Buddha
A darkly comical film set in Buddha factory, our heroes are a bit grubby, spending their evenings watching their boss’ sexual escapades via his dashcam. Eventually, their voyeurism leads to them to see something too dangerous for them to know. This film has been described as a dash-cam Rear Window. Our heroes are not winners in Asia’s economic miracle, and, despite their haplessness they are surprisingly existential. Shot in black and white, it turns the world of men living on the margins into something quite striking.
This is a very dream-like and quiet film, full of beguiling images, as well as some beautiful musical moments. The Mahabharata’s Ashwatthama infuse the imagination of a little boy who has just lost his mother, exploring how close the mythic world is in the daily lives and rituals of a remote Indian village. The film is also about community and perhaps also matriarchy; the boy is sent to his mother’s family and they try to their do their best by their sister’s child, who has taken to wandering the countryside.
Sunshine That Can Move Mountains
Sunshine That Can Move Mountains is very much a first film made impressive by the stunning cinematography. Following his brother’s serious accident, a young monk returns to his family village to help out only to become attracted to his brother’s fiancée. It’s a gentle and comic look at a life in a remote Tibetan village. The central characters surprising choices can only be understood through the prism of their deep spirituality.
This film really impressed the young students from Adelaide I was hanging out with at the Hong Kong Film Festival. Perhaps because it’s got a great 80s aesthetic, and it’s about a young girl coping in an adult world, and the students themselves are still in that transition period. It simply and beautifully captures the impact of the economic diaspora on the emotional lives of those who stay behind in the Philippines.