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Asian Film Festival – a celebration of Asian films in Sweden

The Asian Film Festival / Asiatiska Filmfestivalen aims to promote the distribution of films from Asia, in Sweden, among other things by arranging film screenings and the annually returning Asian Film Festival. We decided to ask Maria Razakamboly a few questions about the festival.

Can you briefly tell us a bit about "Asiatiska Filmfestivalen"?

Asiatiska Filmfestivalen is a new film festival in Sweden focusing on films from South, East and South-East Asia.

The festival takes place mainly in March in different cities: 5 have been confirmed so far, more are to come. It is important for us that we are not only in Stockholm, but geographically spread because Asian film is absent from the screens almost everywhere in Sweden. We wish that as many people as possible have the chance to see the films, and the films to meet their audience. It is always a two way relationship.

How is the interest in the festival?

People have always been very curious and attracted to Asia, especially the food.  The interest for Asian film has been considerably growing worldwide these last 10 years and you can tell in Sweden it is starting to grow as well.  So in some ways, the festival comes right in time after Asia got two Palme d’Or in a row and after “Parasit” got 4 Oscars. We will definitively benefit from this wonderful wave.

Even though the festival is born in the context of Coronavirus we are confident that the curiosity of the audience for Asian culture and film and their goodwill will prevail.

We do not see many Asian movies in Sweden – why do you think this is?

I guess there are various factors and that one of them is that American culture weights a lot in Sweden: it is easy to see that American movies are heavily present in the film theaters. Also, people – in general, not only in Sweden – tend to watch films which languages they are used to hear: it is not that often that you can listen to Cantonese or Japanese or Korean in Sweden.

Some distributors do a fantastic job with foreign movies that are not American, but still, less than 5 Asian films are shown on the big screen per year in Sweden. We hope the festival will help change this tendency.

We do not see many Asian movies in Sweden – why do you think this is?

Of course: Hong-Kong is such an important country when it comes to film! We present STILL HUMAN by Oliver Chan that is a very moving film about an old paralyzed man and his helper from the Philippines. The man is played by one of Asia’s biggest stars Anthony Wong: we are thrilled to introduce him a little bit more to the Swedish audience!

The film gives a very honest perspective on serious topics such as immigration or social status. Also it offers a perspective on these that is very different than the one we have in Europe. Most importantly, Oliver Chan portrays her characters with tenderness and a lot of humor. She is a director we will definitely keep an eye on.  

How do you see the future of the festival – let’s say in 5-10 years?

Hopefully, the festival will have grown to be able to present at least a film from each of the 27 countries we represent, and it will be a rendezvous that will be highly anticipated.

And we hope to be present in every region of the Swedish territory:  we are working on finding local partners to help the festival grow in each participating city.

We really want the audience and the films to meet; this is our main goal!

 

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