Back from Pusan, Sean Farnel (Hot Docs) speaks about Asian docs trends

Posted by


Sean Farnel, the Director of Programming for Hot Docs, was one of the 3 jurees of the PIFF 2010 Doc Award. On his way back from Pusan, he speaks about the PIFF selection and awards, as well the Asian docs new trends

What is your general feeling about the Asian doc documentaries which were in competitition at Pusan ?

It’s always a privilege to be among the first people to watch new works from filmmakers who truly persevere to complete their productions, and I think this is particularly true in the context of the films selected for doc competitions at PIFF.
Overall, the quality was uneven, to be honest, but in each of the 10 films that we watched for awards consideration (5 for the Korean competition, and 5 for the rest of Asia) there were inherent points of interest which made me pleased to be watching them.


In general I was most interested in noting the difference in approaches between these films and North American or European nonfiction filmmaking, which is what I see most.

The biggest difference is an ambivalence to narrative conventions as I know them, which could be frustrating, but was also refreshing.
Mostly the films seemed too long and sometimes rambling, but often the events unfolding onscreen were quite compelling and it was good that they weren’t being squeezed into some kind of narrative box.

What were the main subjects of these 10 Korean and Asian docs ?

Four of five of the Korean films were essentially on issues of social justice.
Three of the five Asian films were profiles of artists (a musician, a filmmaker, a cinematographer).

Otherwise it’s difficult to generalize beyond above comments.

In general, what do you think about Asian doc production ?

From my Western eyes I often felt the desire to have gotten my hands on these projects in the development stage, as much if not most of the subject matter was very promising. But, I’m not sure order celebrex, purchase Zoloft. it’s a positive urge and I’m not proud of it. It did compel me to consider my own biases….still, I can’t help but seeing where some of these films could’ve used more input both in development and post-production.

One doc from Korea and one doc from other parts of Asia were the 2 winners. What do you think about these two docs ?

I’m reluctant to expand on the jury decisions other then what was said in the official statements. I was happy with the choices,and both “MIRACLE ON JONGO STREET” and “NEW CASTLE” are deserved winners and, indeed, engaged politically. The orean one speak about gay relationships in Korea. The chinese one tells the hard life of miners.


What was your favorite doc during the festival ?

I am happy because my favourite film of those I saw at Pusan was “NEW CASTLE”….There was always something interesting happening on screen.

What is your best asian doc souvenir during these last months ?

Last year, my best Asian doc was “DISORDER”, (PIFF 2009, YouTube) from Chinese director Huang Weikiai.


Hot Docs / April 28 – May 8, 2011

Related posts:

2010 TIDF Announce The Nomination Lists of Competition Sections
Kim Longinotto : "I really want to make more films in India".
Doc News / 16-28 February 2011
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival: October 6th to 13th, 2011
Empty halls greet docu-films (The Hindu Business)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.