The Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema (FICA) wrapped up early this year (January 30-February 6, 2018) with two films sharing the NETPAC Jury Prize. China’s A TASTE OF RICE FLOWER, by Pengfei, was cited for “its delicate balance in portraying tradition-vs-modernization issues of migrant workers in a subtle mother/daughter storyline graced with distinct moods and rituals.”
MOTHERS, by Lee Dong-eun, the co-winner from South Korea, was recognized for “its low-key treatment in portraying the different faces of motherhood in a sensitive drama about what it is to become a family.” It was great to be back in the eastern part of France to celebrate Vesoul’s 24th year after my first visit almost a decade ago. Congratulations are in order for its festival founders Martine and Jean-Marc Therouanne for having reached more 32,500 audience members on this year’s edition.
With my NETPAC co-jury members, Dr. Tilman Baumgartel and Kristina Aschenbrennerova, we all agreed that the competition was especially tight this year which explains the tie from our jury. A special citation was also given to Roya Sadat, a female director from Afghanistan for her entry, A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT which also received the festival’s Audience Award (for a fictional feature).
The international jury, headed by veteran Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai, awarded its top Golden Rickshaw prize to a Philippine entry, BAGAGE (Bagahe) by Zig Dulay, which was commended for “its quiet intensity of the world of the overseas Filipino women domestic workers”. From Japan, first-time director Morigaki Yukihiro garnered the Grand Jury Prize for his black comedy, GOODBYE GRANDPA.
With more films, festival guests and special sections, FICA continues to spearhead its thrust in promoting Asian cinema since it began in 1995. This year FICA spotlighted Mongolian as the country-in-focus with a specially-curated program by its artistic director Bastian Meirsonne with a rare glimpse into one of Asia’s lesser known cinemas.
One of the highlights during its awards ceremony was the announcement by the mayor of Vesoul of the establishment of a resource center for Asian cinema. What a fitting gift indeed to the municipality’s film lovers to recognize the dynamic cinemas of Asia which FICA has been championing in all its 24 years.
Report by Ed Lejano (NETPAC Jury Chairperson)