OzAsia 2013

From debut features to works from experienced auteurs, this is a fabulous collection of Asia Pacific cinematic art.  There is energetic brilliance from South Korea and thoughtful still pieces from Turkey. An ethnographic labour of love from a Philippine national treasure and a visually stunning film from a female Indonesian director and daughter of film royalty – interestingly, both are reverent depictions of sea gypsies and their ways of the sea. The feisty Gangbusters Part 1 and 2 from the most exciting contemporary filmmaker of India wraps up the 2012 APSA-winning features on offer. Finally, from Iraq, an important and incredibly moving account on the fallout of war and the damage done to those most vulnerable. I know you will enjoy this collection of multi-award winning films and celebrate Australia’s inclusion in this vibrant and clever region that is holding the future of cinema in the palm of its hand.  

MAXINE WILLIAMSON, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

ASIA PACIFIC SCREEN AWARDS

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Pieta

Golden Lion winner at Venice, Pieta is set in a Seoul slum. Tough guy and debt collector Kang-do works using violent methods. One day a woman appears on his doorstep claiming to be his mother. To test her, he cuts off one of his toes and demands she eats it. And she does. This film is undeniably violent but comes from one of Korea’s most prolific directors and is essential viewing for die-hards. 

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Songlap

Set in KL’s gritty underworld, two brothers Ad and Am work in a baby trafficking network. Both brothers want a better life – one saves money (but gambles) while the other dreams of winning a dance competition. A failed connection with their prostitute mother and the death of a friend motivates Ad to find his freedom.

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Thy Womb

Filipina superstar Nora Aunor plays Shaleha, an infertile midwife, who lives with her husband in a floating village in the southern Philippines. Her husband wants a child, so Shaleha sets out to find a fertile woman to bear it. Thy Womb received two awards and a four-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and has solidified director Brillante Mendoza as one of the most significant directors of our time.

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Gangs of Wasseypur Part 2

Part 2 of this crime saga focuses on the new generation in a Wasseypur almost unrecognisable from Part 1. The war between Shahid Khan’s son Sardar and Ramadhir Singh is distant memory. Or is it? Sardar’s sons have found new and sophisticated criminal pursuits. Both instalments screened to critical praise at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight and are an exhilarating cocktail of carnage and comedy. 

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Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1

Set around India’s Dhanbad city, this Tarantino-esque saga follows two rival clans over 70 years. Part 1 begins with the rise of the sadistic and shady Shahid Khan, who works for local mining boss Ramadhir Singh. Threatened by Khan’s growing power, Singh has him killed, starting a multi-generational blood feud that lasts until the final reel. Melbourne IFF.

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Night of Silence

In remote Turkey, an arranged marriage will settle an ongoing feud between two families. The groom, who has spent most of his life in prison for murder, is much older than his teenage bride. In the bedroom, a slow and compelling dialogue unfolds between the newlyweds who are pressured to produce stained bed sheets by the morning.

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In My Mother’s Arms

Husham cares for 32 war orphans at a Baghdad orphanage. He begs to support them while dramas of their childhood play out: Saif fights constant playground battles; Mohammed balances school with his search for identity and little Salah is too traumatised to speak. The landlord gives them two weeks to vacate and a desperate search ensues.

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Beyond The Hill

It’s summer and retired forester Faik is receiving visitors at the family’s rural property in Anatolia. Despite the summer setting, the mood is muted; Faik is having problems with a band of nomads and is constantly on guard. Within the extended family, tensions rise but when problems with the nomads intensify, all differences are forgotten.

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Christmas Rose

A gripping courtroom drama produced by Tsui Hark.  Aaron Kwok stars as a public prosecutor Tim, alongside Xia Yu playing Freddy, a defense lawyer.  A disabled piano teacher sues her doctor for sexual harassment during a check-up.  But the case is complicated for Tim by the fact that Freddy is his successor at his old law firm and the doctor is a high profile surgeon. As a media frenzy encircles the case, it slowly destroys the lives of everyone involved.

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Petal Dance

University friends, Jinko and Motoko, hear their old classmate Miki is in trouble. Joined by Jinko’s workmate Haraki, they set out on a road trip to northern Japan to visit her. On the way, the four women reflect on and restart their lives in this contemplative, beautiful film. “Human thoughts shake like petals dancing in the breeze” Director Ishikawa Hiroshi.

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Gattu

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In small-town-India, everyone is obsessed with kites and Kali, the mysterious black kite dominates the skies. Gattu, a street kid, has tried and failed to defeat Kali. He discovers the local school has a vantage point and sneaks in to pretend to study. Small problem – he can’t read or write! Nonetheless, Gattu takes up the challenge… 

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The Great Passage

Bookworm Mitsuya Majime lands a dream job researching for a new soon to be published dictionary. Mitsuya leads an ordered life, paying close attention to detail until the arrival of his landlady’s granddaughter… Set in the 90s, with less emphasis on technology, this is a refreshing tale from an accomplished director.

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The Three Ages of Sasha

Jackie is an average young woman living an average life in the ‘burbs when she meets handsome,Nasir, and it’s love at first sight. They get married and baby Sasha is born. Over a period of time Jackie realises the man she married is not the tall dark knight sent to rescue her but is the jailer to a life of violence and abuse. As Sasha goes from baby to child to young adult, her exposure to domestic violence moulds her and skews her moral compass. The bond between mother and daughter grows ever stronger and Jackie will stop at nothing to protect her daughter, regardless of the outcome.

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Drug War

After losing control of his car and crashing into a local restaurant, a man loses consciousness on the street. Later, while working on a case, the police’s anti-drug division captain, Zhang Lei (Honglei Sun), realizes that the man in the crash is drug lord Tian Ming (Louis Koo). In order to avoid the death penalty, Tian Ming helps the police put a stop to the entire drug trafficking circuit, but just as soon as the police are ready to make a large bust, Tian Ming makes a decision that shocks everyone.

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The Mirror Never Lies

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Pakis’ father went fishing and didn’t return. A mirror he gave her is the only hope of seeing him again. Invoking a ritual with water and the mirror, she hopelessly waits for him. The sea is becoming wild and Pakis is scared. With her best friend Lumo, they meet Tudo, a dolphin researcher – where have all the dolphins gone?

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The Big City

Inspired by Italian neo-realism, this is a wonderful insight into 1950s Calcutta. Subrata works in a bank and is the only member of his family with an income. Bucking tradition, his wife Arati, seeks work as a door-to-door salesgirl. Her success brings self-confidence and financial independence, but her husband is threatened by his wife’s success and asks her to quit… but will she? 

WINNER: Silver Berlin Bear, 1964 Berlinale

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The Lonely Wife

The Lonely Wife (Charulata) is considered Ray’s crowning achievement. Set 1880’s Calcutta, the beautiful Charulata lives in an opulent splendour secluded from the outside world. Her husband, Bhupati, adores her but becomes consumed by the publication of his new political newspaper. Charulata’s heart is captured with the arrival of Bhupati’s cousin Amal, leading to complication, disillusionment and heartbreak.

‘One of Ray’s best films with a superb music score of his own composition’ Time Out.

WINNER: Silver Berlin Bear, 1965 Berlinale.

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The Coward

Amitabha (Ray regular Soumitra Chatterjee) is a screen-writer from Calcutta, stranded amongst tea plantations when his car breaks down. Taken in by the wealthy Bimal, Amitabh is shocked to discover Bimal’s wife, Karuna, is a past love, lost because he couldn’t commit. Bimal, is unaware of the past between his wife and guest and over the course of the evening, Amitabha sees Karuna’s marriage is not a happy one. Will he get a second chance?

Nominated: Venice Golden Lion, 1965

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The Saint

Ray’s theme of an India grappling with tradition and modernity is explored further in this classic. Gurupada can’t recover from the death of his wife. On a trip, he and his daughter, Buchki, meet the guru Birinchi and Gurupada becomes his disciple. In order to punish her boyfriend, Satya, Buchki becomes his disciple too. With his relationship in jeopardy, Satya enlists the help of his friend to uncover the truth about the ‘holy’ man.

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Isabella Rossellini

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