The second largest city in Japan, Osaka, was having its own party for filmgoers, Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF). Compare to Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), OAFF is on smaller scoop and hopefully has more laid back and friendlier atmosphere. From whisper on the street, this city which happens to be its capital of commerce and its lifestyle trendsetting hotspot, also has always been an alternative for many Asian-cinema-focused cinephiles who are bored with Tokyo’s scene.
I received the invitation on late Feb and kinda having hard time to think about it. Alas, I still hopped on a plane and arrived in Osaka. The festival which already on its 11th year and running from March 4-13 consisted a lineup of 55 world and Japan premieres across its Competition, Special Screenings and Indie Forum sections, as well as spotlights on new action films, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Hong Kong.
As I arrived later, I already missed some of the film screened. But I still see some of the gem from the festival. The film that gave me deep impression is My Sister, The Pig Lady from Korea. No, it is not your typical Korean film with cliche ending. This film tells a story about a woman raising pigs while trying to attract one of her village’s few eligible bachelors. It kinda dark and tragic even the humor in the film. This film also remind me how twisted can a person be in the name of love or obsession. Another film that left deep impression is Don’t Look At Me That Way which deals with hate between two women.
“Wansei Back Home,” a documentary directed by Huang Ming-cheng about Japanese born in Taiwan during the 1895-1945 colonial period, and their sad fates after Japan’s defeat in WWII opened the festival. I missed this film so I cant tell much.
While the closing taken by Shuichi Okita’s The Mohican Comes Home.This mesmerizing film starring a mohawked Ryuhei Matsuda and Atsuko Maeda told a story of clash between young vs old. Okita is the writer-director of charming comedies The Chef of South Polar, The Woodsman and the Rain and Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday. The Mohican Comes Home feels like a charming comedy centered between clash of young and old generation.
From Indonesia, Joko Anwar was screening his latest film “A Copy of My Mind.” Aside from screening his film, Joko also acted as one of the member of the jury. Asked about his role in the festival, Joko said it was a great experience as he can see many great films from all over the Asia. Other than Joko, Anggy Umbara (Casino 8, Mama Cake, and Coboy Junior The Movie) also screened his film 3 (Tiga). Actually, another Indonesian director, Anggy Noen also screened his film here but Anggy didn’t come to the festival.
The festival was ended with the awarding ceremony. Korean director Jang Moon-il’s “My Sister, the Pig Lady” was awarded the Grand Prix. This film was praised by jury president Yee Chih-yen for “successfully balancing the commercial and the artistic fields of filmmaking.”
The most promising talent award went to Uisenma Borchu, the director, scriptwriter and actress of the German/Mongolian production “Don’t Look At Me That Way.” The Japan Cuts Award was given to Keihiro Kanyama for his short “Somewhere In My Memory.” While ABC Award taken home by Heart Attack (Freelance) from Thailand. Yakushi Pearl Award and Audience Award was taken by Ella Chen and Wansei Back Home respectively.