We may have missed the last week of the Vancouver International Film Festival (those hotel bills add up!), but I’d say we got what we came for. Poutine nights, Japadog breaks, dim sum discoveries, Granville Street fadeouts. Did we mention the films? We came to Vancouver to cover the Dragons and Tigers sidebar for Asia Pacific Arts. Most of the D&T films were toploaded in the first week of the festival, and we managed to watch 28 of the 44 films in the sidebar, including all of the competition films. We got to chat with filmgoers and filmmakers, cover the D&T awards ceremony and press conference, and still manage to have time to live blog from the festival every morning we were there.
As we reluctantly return to our regularly-scheduled lives, we look back on a week of Asia’s best. That’s right: disgruntled commentary, top 10 lists, and awards!
Brian: I had to sacrifice watching some high profile films (Uncle Boonmee, 13 Assassins) to make this happen, but I managed to catch all eight of the competition films at this year’s festival. The Dragons and Tigers Young Cinema Award is designed to highlight and reward filmmakers from Asia who have not yet received notice on the international stage. This year’s award to the 23-year-old Hirohara Satoru seems a bit premature, in my opinion, as his film Good Morning to the World! demonstrates promise but not necessarily progress. In my silly attempt to handicap the competition, I had Good Morning to the World! at a measly 10:1, and I hope no fortunes were lost as a result. (That my top predictions Don’t Be Afraid, Bi! and Rumination received special jury mentions softens the blow somewhat.) Don’t Be Afraid, Bi! and Rumination seemed to me to be achievements on a whole different level than Hirohara’s film, but only time will tell if the young film student will follow into the footsteps of former winners like Hirokazu Kore-eda, Hong Sang-soo, Lee Chang-dong, and Jia Zhang-ke.
The Vancouver crowd was fantastic. Erudite without being stuffy, they knew when to walk out and when to burst into thunderous applause. They knew the auteurs and they’re caught up on their Film Comment. They were of all ages and races. I had plenty of disagreements with fellow filmgoers, but it was good to be in the company of sincere passion for film. But most of all, I loved that almost every screening was well-attended, yet none really ever sold out.
Brian’s top ten: 1) I Wish I Knew, 2) Winter Vacation, 3) Hahaha, 4) Rumination, 5) Poetry, 6) Red Dragonflies, 7) The Fourth Portrait, 8 ) Echoes of the Rainbow, 9) Don’t be Afraid, Bi!, 10) Sawako Decides
Chi’s top ten: 1) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, 2) I Wish I Knew, 3) Winter Vacation, 4) Sleeping Beauty, 5) The Fourth Portrait, 6) Microphone, 7) Hahaha, 8 ) Poetry, 9) Leap Year 10) Single Man
And lastly… Culture Breach’s own Dragons & Tigers awards:
- Best newcomer: cast of old men in Single Man
- Best oldcomer: Yoon Jeong-hee (Poetry)
- Best song: song that sputters into nothing in Winter Vacation (runner ups: office anthem in Sawako Decides, and karaoke drone in Crossing the Mountain)
- Best sound effects: loud walk-outs during Crossing the Mountain
- Best Q&A session: only in a Hong Sang-soo film does the awkward art of the Q&A get its proper due (Oki’s Movie)
- Hong Sang-soo award for funniest alcoholic: Sawako in Sawako Decides
- Blu Rain teacher of the year award: Terri Kwan (The Fourth Portrait)
- Best talking heads: all of them, even the boring ones, in Jia Zhang-ke’s sweeping I Wish I Knew
- Best soundbite: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Pause. Blank Stare. “An orphan.” (Winter Vacation)
- Best reason to believe in an afterlife: karaoke for the Soul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives)