Region Bonds Overs The ASEAN Film Festival And Awards
Why would one go to the little-known town of Kuching in Sarawak for a small three-day film festival? Here's why: a tremendous sense of ASEAN bonding and camaraderie among the film fraternity of 10 ASEAN countries that one hasn’t encountered before.
It’s not for nothing that AIFFA, the ASEAN Film Festival and Awards, prides itself on being called an ASEAN Film Festival, probably the only one of its kind in the world (apart from a modest ASEAN Film Festival in Bangkok).
AIFFA was presided over by Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, minister of tourism, arts, culture, youth & sport, as well as festival director Livan Tajang, executive director Jaffri Amin and also celebrities. Held every two years, this year's AIFFA saw Hollywood actor and martial artist Steven Seagal as chief guest of the festival. In the past, stars such as Michelle Yeoh and Jackie Chan have graced the festival.
Datuk Haji Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth & Sports.
Aside from the film screenings, or "film marathons" as they were called, panel discussions and pitching sessions were a highlight of the festival, which hosted its latest, fourth edition back in April. The theme of this year's festival was "Digitalisation of the Medium", prompting discussions on the topic of Netflix, for instance. This year, out of 129 entries, seven were select and offered grants supported by SAAVA (Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association) and the Malaysian National Film Associations FINAS for their film scripts.
Another highlight of the event was, of course, the awards. Almost every ASEAN country won an award, including Thailand for hit film Bad Genius. The unique Spirit of ASEAN Award was given to Rina 2, a Laos-Brunei co-production that transpired from the directors of the two countries meeting at this festival two years back.
To learn more about AIFFA, visit fb.com/aiffa.sarawak.
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