10 thousand participants on site in Udine and 15 thousand digital participants from 38 countries around the world: that's the summary of the success of the Far East Film Festival 23, in its most experimental form yet. The public understood and enthusiastically supported the opening plan (which it might be more accurate to call a "battle plan"!) devised after an interminable period of restrictions: in fact, accessibility to the FEFF multiplied for the very first time, with an “in-the-flesh” version (an outdoor arena with 400 seats and a series of 5 screening rooms) and a digital version (the online platform curated with the technical support of MYmovies). So how about a few numbers?
1,100 accreditations sold in total, both in-person (Visionario and Cinema Centrale) and online (over one million minutes viewed!) 500 multiple tickets for 4 titles of the viewer's choice, 14 livestreaming events with Asia, 5 press conferences via Google Meet, more than 1,000 daily “in-the-flesh” participants and more than 1,000 people who, also “in-the-flesh", took part in the 50 FEFF Events scattered around the centre of Udine. And finally, 55 industry professionals who came from across Europe and even from the USA for the industry sessions of Focus Asia and Ties That Bind (and for many of whom it was the first “real life” event after one of the most difficult years in living memory). All numbers which, despite the inevitable absences of Asian and non-European accredited guests, point very clearly to the same desire: to get back to shared normality with joy and relief. A normality that for too long has been only dimly visible on the horizon.
The focus of this twenty-third edition was presented as being all those who, in sport and in life, "try to succeed". The ones who fall down, get back up, and carry on. No fuss: they just get on with it. And as we've just seen, FEFF 23 has carried on too. It managed it by walking hand-in-hand with the popular cinema of the Far East, of which it has been the European outpost since 1999, and by presenting 64 films: an explosion of creativity (8 world premieres, 10 international premieres, 22 European premieres and 20 Italian premieres) and geography (Japan, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and new entries Macao and Myanmar) that refused to give up and continued to grow, in spite of everything.
The popular jury of audience members named Japan as this year's winner, awarding the Golden Mulberry to Uchida Eiji's wonderful drama Midnight Swan and the Silver Mulberry to Maeda Koji's irresistible comedy You're Not Normal, Either! The Crystal Mulberry was instead won by Taiwan, with Chen Yu-hsun's love story-fantasy My Missing Valentine taking third place on the podium. Black Dragon pass holders also chose My Missing Valentine as their top film while MYmovies readers opted for Soi Cheang's fierce Hong Kong thriller Limbo.
The three international jurors of the "first feature" section (Mike Hostench, Igort and Angel Sala) celebrated the grand return of made-in-Hong-Kong noir by awarding the White Mulberry to Hand Rolled Cigarette, the first film by Chan Kin-Long (one of the 8 young Hong Kong directors in the spotlight at FEFF 23). And finally, a special mention for Chinese ecological fable Anima by Cao Jinling (one of the 10 directors who shone in the 2021 lineup).
“Many spectators have congratulated us on the beauty of the Visionario over these nine days and have asked us to continue holding the Festival in summer. The sun and the blue skies are nice, of course, but we're fond of the April rain,” say Sabrina Baracetti and Thomas Bertacche - directors of the FEFF - with a smile, “and we absolutely want to get back to our origins: see you at the Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine!" The dates have already been set: the Far East Film Festival 24 will be taking place from the 22nd to the 30th of April 2022. A new challenge - a new dream.
1 - Midnight Swan, UCHIDA Eiji, Japan 2020
2 - You're Not Normal, Either!, MAEDA Koji, Japan 2021
3 - My Missing Valentine, CHEN Yu-hsun, Taiwan 2020
Black Dragon Award
My Missing Valentine, CHEN Yu-hsun, Taiwan 2020
Hand Rolled Cigarette, CHAN Kin-long, HK 2020
special mention Anima, CAO Jinling, China 2021
Limbo, Soi CHEANG, HK 2021