The Visions of Asia, one of the main components of Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, finally returns with the screenings of five award-winning Asian indie films from Azerbaijan, Iran, India, Tajikistan, and Bangladesh.
With limited venue capacity due to the ongoing renovations of the CCP Little Theatre last year, the Visions of Asia section had to be put on hold. This year, screenings of award-winning Asian films, curated by Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC), make a comeback in the 19th edition of Cinemalaya, slated on August 4 to 13, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Black Box Theatre).
Featured films are: Cold as Marble by Asif Rustamov, Bone Marrow by Hamid Reza Ghorbani, Declaration by Mahesh Narayanan, Fortune by Muhiddin Muzaffar, and The Instinct by Juboraj Shamim.
The second film by director Rustamov, Cold as Marble tackles a father’s unexpected release from prison. His son’s monotonous life soon turns into a dangerously complicated affair when the hateful and bully of a father, who is convicted for murder, returns home. The 88-minute film has won several awards from international film festivals, including Best Director at the 2022 Eurasia International Film Festival in Almaty; Best Actor at the 2022 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. Recently, Cold as Marble won the Grand Jury Prize, the Marc Haaz Award, and the NETPAC Jury Prize at the 2023 Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema.
In Bone Marrow, a woman named Bahar finds out that there would be a very small chance to save her terminally-ill son’s life using the cord blood. Understanding that she has got a little time to proceed with this, she must make a vital decision: either to stay with her beloved second husband and say farewell to her son or get a divorce, remarry her first husband and give birth to a child only for the sake of the cord blood. Everything seems more complicated when she learns that her first husband is out of the mental hospital, but sentenced to death for first degree murder. Bone Marrow, Ghorbani’s second feature film, has been screened at the 2021 Vancouver International Film Festival and the 2022 Asian Film Festival Barcelona. At the 2022 Hanoi International Film Festival, Bone Marrow won for Ghorbani the Best Director award and the NETPAC Prize for the film.
Narayanan’s Declaration centers on South Indian immigrant couple Hareesh and Reshmi who are working in a medical gloves manufacturing factory near Delhi. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, when an old video resurfaces among the workers of that factory, it opens up a Pandora’s Box that threatens Hareesh and Reshmi’s jobs and their marriage. Finally, as desperation and hostility keep mounting, the two are forced to confront their own needs and desires while choosing between a life of conscience, or a life of compromise. Declaration won the NETPAC award for the Best Malayalam Film at the 27th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).
Fortune is a drama film that takes place during the eve of the Declaration of Independence in Tajikistan. The story revolves around two old friends, Kahhor and Mannon, who are tested when one of them gets the lucky lottery ticket as his salary. Muzaffar’s films were screened in national and international film festivals in Dushanbe, London, Stockholm, Kazan, and Nur-Sultan. It stars Tajikistan actors Abdumumin Sharifi, Salohiddin Shukurzoda, Firuza Rahmanova, Isfandiyar Gulyamzadeh, and Hushruz Ergashev.
The Instinct tells the story of a crippled man, named Langra, whose floating life involves new relationships wherever he goes. Langra gets involved in a nameless relationship with slum drug dealer Kala’s wife Sohagi. If Kala discovers it, the relationship would become complicated. Even though Langra understands this complication, he unknowingly creates many more complications, which make his life a fairy tale or a curse. “The Instinct” had its world premiere at the 44th Moscow International Film Festival and bagged two awards, the Silver Saint George Award (Special Jury Award) and the NETPAC Jury Award. It also premiered at the 25th Religion Today Film Festival in Italy, and at the 12th Queens World Film Festival in New York where it won the Best For Fest award. The film likewise received the Best Fiction award at the 10th Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival in the international category.
Instinct director Juboraj Shahim Bhuyan will be in Manila for a talkback after the screening of his film on August 6, 6:15 PM in Cinema Felipe (Meeting Room 4) at the PICC.
The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) is a worldwide, voluntary organization of 29 member countries. Founded in 1990 by Aruna Vasudev, it is managed entirely by cinephiles who have worked tirelessly and selflessly without remuneration over a period of 25 years to promote Asian cinema. The NETPAC Award is given at select international film festivals, like the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, to promote Asian cinema by spotlighting exceptional films and discovering new talents.
Since 2005, Cinemalaya has continued to discover, encourage and support the cinematic works of upcoming and veteran Filipino filmmakers who boldly articulate and freely interpret the Philippine experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.
For more information, visit CCP website (www.culturalcenter.gov.ph) and Cinemalaya website (www.cinemalaya.org). Follow the official CCP and Cinemalaya Facebook pages and other social media accounts in Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok.