Essay by the Asian Film Festival Barcelona Director





Menene Gras Balaguer

Director for Culture and Exhibitions and director of the Asian Film Festival. Barcelona


Approximately a hundred feature films from critical geographies that challenge the globalization of the markets while maintaining its cultural hegemony are part of the Asian Film Festival Barcelona’s program, ​​which celebrates it sixth edition this year. With a wide selection of more than five hundred titles that came to us this year from more than twenty countries – from Central Asia to Southeast Asia and Oceania – the festival rejects the “unique story” encouraging the exploration of the relationship between place and identity. Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Butan, China, Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macao, Mongolia, New Zeeland, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Tajikistan and Vietnam are the components of this great mosaic of cultures and traditions from the existing symbiosis between nation and narration, while building the architecture of their respective imaginaries that make up the different identities.


The festival proposal consists of a relation of images that perform what Edward Said called “travelling identities” as if trying to show a kind of inventory of the fractures regarding an injured modernity, which keeps its struggle between a postcolonial discourse and the progress. Based on the possibility that “my East can be your West”, between countries that share borders within the same area or region of the Asian continent, the program tends to move pre-set notions about migrations, the perception of one’s own identity and others or the divisions that isolate us and separate us from the rest of the world. Daily life, domestic or social conflict and the private and public life of people are revealed through their dramatization, understanding that it stimulates the viewer’s response. He or she can thus become actors by representing themselves and seeing them performed by others in all their   opacity and fragility.


This year, the AFFBCN’s program is distributed in the following sections: Official, Official Panorama, Discoveries, Netpac and Special, all in competition. The Retrospective section will be dedicated to the Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, the last winner of the Cannes Gold Palm 2018 with “Shoplifters”, a feature film that will open the festival. Among the news of this edition, it is worth mentioning the presentation of a selection of the latest Asian Film Awards, which are annually granted by the Asian Film Academy based in Hong Kong to the best Asian cinema. The seven titles that have been gathered this time are distributed among the different sections as well as the four feature films from Macao, whose presence in this festival has no precedent. We will go on counting with the important contributions of films from China, Korea, India, Iran and Japan. Without forgetting the participation of the countries that shape Central Asia, to which is added the cinema of countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Cambodia, on the one hand; nor the importance that the Australian and New Zealander cinema has in this festival. In all cases, it is about a cinema that one more year will offer a contemporary portrait of Asian society, both rural and urban, for all audiences.


Once again, Casa Asia continues with its commitment so that Barcelona can accomplish a festival that captures the best cinema from Asia, and which facilitates public access to productions in this region, as well as the meeting among professionals in the sector and from the film industry. AFFB’s engagement to Asian cinema is firm, as has been shown in previous years, and how it is intended to be in the feature editions. Casa Asia has tried to consolidate the presence of Asian cinema in our city, not only with the celebration of this festival, but with the programming that it carries out throughout the year, weekly in the Cinemas Girona.