As OzAsia graces our streets and stages again in a swirl of lantern strings and enthralling live performances, it might be easy amidst the flurry of theatre, music and dance to forgo the humble film.
Fortunately, this year’s OzAsia’s cinema offering promises to be just as dynamic and engrossing as any live show; comprised of a programme which showcases 15 feature films from across Asia, a collection of short films, a local student film and a free retrospective masterclass with one of Hong-Kong’s most celebrated film makers Johnnie To.
The festival opens tonight at the Mercury Cinema with Stranger, a Kazakh film directed by Yermek Tursunov.
Set in 1933, the 2015 films rests a sombre but strikingly cinematic gaze on the plight of orphan Ilyas dodging the grips of forced labour and starvation from Soviet Union totalitarianism and living in isolation amongst the mountain slopes.
Written in his youth 25 years ago, Tursunov revealed to Indie Wire that he feared the script was out-dated, but that after returning to it again, the realization was that his story of isolation and modernization was once of perpetual relevance: “My script [is] not old…it’s modern- because these situations repeat”. Stranger has a second screening on September 30.
The remainder of the programme is as diverse geographically as it is in form and genre; with offerings such as Psycho Raman– a highly stylised psychological thriller set in present day Mumbai (screening on October 16 and September 1) or the beautifully sincere River– a Tibetan film told through the eyes of a young girl travelling across the other-worldly landscape of Eastern China to visit her ailing grandfather (screening: September 18 and October 1).
Contemporary documentaries are given representation too; the Afghani Land of the Enlightened is evocative blend of documentary and fiction which was filmed over seven years and juxtaposes the experiences of a gang of Afgan youths and US soldiers as American military prepare to withdraw from the country- catch this on September 17 and again on Sunday, October 2.
OzAsia Festival’s selection of films will be screening at Mercury Cinema until October 2. For the full programme, screening times and tickets visit ozasiafestival.com.au