Essay by the Asian Film Festival Barcelona Director


Menene Gras Balaguer

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






If Asian cinema exists as such, it can only be understood as a mosaic of the nationalities which identify with their local narratives. It is a plural and representative cinema of the geographical, political, economic and cultural diversity of a changing continent. The statement is not intended to imply any kind of unity among its cultural manifestations, but to show how as an expression of a local culture it can become an expression of a community and ultimately a global society. This inclusive framework clusters all the productions which are presented at the Asian Film Festival Barcelona | AFFBCN from the first edition which took place in 2011 to the current one. Cinema has played an important role towards those worlds which, due to the geographical distance and the hegemony of the West for centuries, have been subject to marginalization resultant of a colonialist projection. The title Private lives | Public Lives stands for the fact that cinema can turn private into public and it uplifts the private to the public, as a mass spectacle which allows to share the private life of the others, which we are not familiar with.


The capacity of cinema to approach the audience to new places, territories and identities cannot be compared with any other channel of communication. When it comes to Asian cinema, the scope of its last decade development has been spectacular, favouring the access, through successive self-portraits so to speak of each country, to the private life of its inhabitants and those communities or groups which integrate the different societies to which they belong. The great stories narrated by this cinema by joining fragments of individual and collective lives make us aware of their power of communication and instructs us at the same time about the imaginary which shape the corresponding identities.


This year, the festival’s programm exceeds over one hundred films from critical geographies which challenge the globalization of markets and impose themselves by defending their idiosyncrasy. AFFBCN celebrates its seventh edition with productions from 25 countries from Central Asia to Southeast Asia and Oceania. The audience is able to undertake a journey from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, to Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. Through a vast list of images, the festival proposes several itineraries which will allow exploring countries that share borders within the same continent’s area or region or those which despite the distance that separate them keep cultures and traditions in common.


As ever, AFFBCN’s program comprises the following sections: Official, Official Panorama, Discoveries, Netpac and Special, all in competition. For the second time in a row, the festival hosts a selection of the Asian Film Awards 2018, which annually awards the Hong Kong based Asian Film Academy to the best Asian cinema. In this section nine worthwhile titles which are considered among this last year’s best productions will be screened; and finally a Retrospective section which will be organised along with Filmoteca de Catalunya. For the first time, we will have an OFF Festival section with a monograph on Iranian cinema which will be screened at CaixaForum starting from October 4, even though the films will also be part of the festival’s competition sections.


Casa Asia continues once more with its commitment to provide Barcelona with a festival which collects the best filmography from the Asian continent, and which facilitates broad public access to the productions of this region, as well as allowing the meeting between professionals of the sector and the film industry. As previously proved by its past editions, AFFBCN’s commitment to Asian cinema is strong, as it is intended to continue as such in the future. Casa Asia has tried to consolidate the presence of Asian cinema in Barcelona, not only with the celebration of this festival, but with a year-long weekly screening program hold at Cinemes Girona.