Japan’s “Midnight Swan” Wins the 23rd Udine Far East Film Festival.

UDINE – 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? 

Image © Courtesy of Udine Far East Film Festival

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 23rd 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. 

Image © Courtesy of Udine Far East Film Festival

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 Jingling (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. 

Image © Courtesy of Udine Far East Film Festival

View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, arts and fashion, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, arts and fashion, worldwide.

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