in 14th Vladivostok International Film Festival of Asian-Pacific Countries

by Nirmal Dhar

The 10th edition of the Pacific-Meridian Film Festival in Vladivostok, the far-east port city of Russia, opened with a very colorful blue carpet ceremony at the Marinsky theatre, attended by guest of honor Jacqueline Bisset. The festival’s president Fedor Bondarchuk and general director Efim Zvenyatsky struck the festival bell to announce the opening of the festival.

The three members of the FIPRESCI jury watched 10 feature films and 9 short films. Despite the festival’s title, declaring it to be an “international film festival of Asian Pacific countries”, we also saw films from the USA, Mexico, Canada and Chile.

We decided to evaluate each film on the basis of its social importance, cinematic achievement and aesthetic quality. In the first stage of our deliberation we short listed five films: Old Stone from China, A Double Life from Japan, Under Construction from Bangladesh, The Yellow Bird from Singapore and Oscuro Animal from Columbia.

Johnny Ma’s Old Stone, which was inspired by a real incident, looks at the Kafkaesque bureaucracy in China. The story is told in a very simple narration but with gusto. A Yellow Bird by K Rajagopal looks at the underbelly of the touristic attraction in the title and draws a very grim and dark picture of the immigrants living in Singapore. Under Construction deals with Rabindranath Tagore’s famous play The Red Oleanders in the contemporary situation of Dhaka. The metaphor in Rubaiyat Hossain’s film is very subtle. Felipe Guerrero’s Oscuro Animal tells about three women who migrate from the war torn countryside to the capital. After discussing the finer points of each film we decided to honor Old Stone.

As for the short films selection, we unanimously selected the Canadian film Anime, directed by Amaud Brisebois which tells the story of two street urchin’s struggling for survival in a big metropolis in a very deranged, disturbed manner.

Edited by Yael Shuv