Thursday, 12 March 2009

[157] The Deauville Asian Film Festival / Festival du Film Asiatique de Deauville

The Deauville Asian Film Festival kicked off yesterday, so I thought I would post my preview, originally written for Film and Festivals Magazine earlier this month. To see it all spruced-up and in its magazine context, click here.


11e Festival du Film Asiatique de Deauville (11th Deauville Asian Film Festival)
11th - 15 March 2009

The seaside town of Deauville in the Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy) region of Northern France is known for its racecourses, horse-breeding and attractive resorts. It is also home to two film festivals; one of which, the Festival du Film Asiatique de Deauville (Deauville Asian Film Festival), has its 11th edition this March.

Since its inception in 1999, the Deauville Asian Film Festival has celebrated the motion picture industries from the world's most populous continent, with a wide selection of interesting pictures shown in its programme. The Feature jury, which in 2009 is chaired by French-Belgian writer and filmmaker Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, will be handing out prizes including Lotus du Meilleur Film (Best Film) and Lotus d'Or (Jury Prize). In conjunction, the 'Action Asia' prize will be awarded by a special panel of arts and culture insiders headed by French director, writer and producer Xavier Gens.

This year, no doubt inspired and aided by its recent twinning with the Pusan International Film Festival, Deauville focuses on the cinema of South Korea. Korean cinema has been enjoying a varied, committed and inspired 'new wave' of filmmaking in the last decade, thanks to directors and writers such as Park Chan-Wook (Joint Security Area, Oldboy) and Kim Ji-Woon (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good, The Bad, The Weird), leading to consistent international acclaim and success.

Following the festival's tradition of highlighting the work of a particular filmmaker, which in the past has given rise to programmes featuring the films of Amitabh Bachchan and Takashi Miike, this edition's five-day programme includes a career-spanning tribute to the work of novelist, screenwriter, director and former Korean Minister for Culture and Tourism Lee Chang-Dong (pictured), whose 2002 film Oasis won international awards, such as the Special Director's Prize for Lee at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. His latest film, Secret Sunshine (Milyang), about a woman who has to cope with the deaths of her husband and child, was presented in competition at Cannes in 2007, where lead actress Jeon Do-Yeon won the award for Best Actress.

Deauville will also be celebrating the rise of emergent Korean filmmaker Lee Yoon-Ki, whose finely-crafted, economical dramas have garnered attention on the international festival circuit. Lee's debut feature as a screenwriter and director was 2004's This Charming Girl (Yeoja, Jeong-hye), about a woman's life of seclusion and solitude after a history of trauma. The film won a brace of awards, including the Jury Prize from 2005's edition of the Deauville festival. Likewise, Ad-Lib Night (Aju teukbyeolhan sonnim) was awarded the Critics' prize by Deauville in 2006. His latest film, My Dear Enemy (Meotjin haru), stars the aforementioned Jeon Do-Yeon as a girl who is hoping to set things straight with a previous lover.

The festival promises to transform Deauville into an Eastern dream-scape, as 'the colours, the perfumes, the rumours and the mystery of the Orient' take over the French resort. The full programme for the festival, including screenings, events and special guest appearances, is yet to be announced.

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