Australia, FESTIVALS / EVENTS, NEWS — 05/29/2012 8:54 AM

Sydney Film Festival 2012 likes Asian docs

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Since its inception in 1954, Sydney Film Festival (SFF) has become a key cultural event for Sydney and well-established in the international film festival calendar. Across 12 days and nights (from 6-17 June), the 59th Sydney Film Festival offers screenings of over 150 films and showcase the best in cinema from across Australia and around the world, including features, documentaries and short films. Among these films, 11 are docs about Asia.

Doc films are not included in the official selection but Australian docs can receive the FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize.

. FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize

“Australian documentarians demonstrate their story-telling skills and unlimited curiosity about our world – from Afghanistan to Croker Island, India to Utopia – in the 2012 FOXTEL Australian Documentary competition.” Enjoy this unique opportunity to see the best Australian documentaries of the year on the big screen, with guest introductions and Q&A sessions following each film. The winner will be announced at SFF’s Closing Night ceremony on 17 June.

Among the 8 doc films in competition, 3 are about Asia:

. Despite the Gods

Behind the scenes with Jennifer Lynch, David Lynch’s daughter and director of the infamous feature Boxing Helena, as she attempts to make a snake-goddess drama on location in India.

Interview of the director on ADN website  Film page on ADN database

. Dr. Sarmast’s Music School

A man with unshakeable faith in the power of music returns to Kabul after 15 years in exile to reopen an old music school, closed down by the Taliban in 1992.

. Missing in the Land of the Gods

In 2005, a young Australian named Ryan Chambers went missing in northern India; six years later, we follow his parents as they search for him one more time.

FOXTEL Australian Documentary competition full list of films

Other international films about Asia will be included in 2 other films selection.

. International Documentaries

. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Three years in the life of Chinese artist, architect and dissident Ai Weiwei, famed for his Bird’s Nest Stadium and his subversive artworks.

. Bachelor Mountain

Tender, frank and humorous documentary about a rugged working man in an isolated mountain community in China and his hopeless pursuit of the last single woman in town.

For over 100 years, people have made a living from the forests of China’s mountainous north, but new environmental regulations have put a stop to logging. Only a handful of timber men remain; the rest – and pretty much all of the women – have left for greener pastures. San Liangzi, a rugged and industrious worker, scratches a living doing odd jobs. For years, the lonely divorcée has nurtured a crush on Wei Meizi, the last single woman in town, who runs an inn with her elderly parents. San’s friends tell him to forget her and take a North Korean wife, but he’s adamant in his affections and blind to her reluctance. Director Yu Guangyi (hailed by Variety as ‘one of the world’s superior nonfiction filmmakers’) documents their doomed relationship against the backdrop of a changing society with tenderness, remarkable frankness and much humour.

• Director Yu Guangyi
• Original title Guanggun
• Year 2011
• Country China
• Runtime 95 mins
• Language Mandarin with English subtitles
• Premiere status Australian Premiere
• Producer Han Lei
• Cinematographer Yu Guangyi, Yu Qiushi
• Editor Yu Guangyi, Yu Qiushi, Bao Wei

. Death of a Japanese Salesman 

The last months in the life of recently retired Japanese businessman as recorded by his filmmaker daughter: a surprisingly funny and immensely moving documentary.

. Golden Slumbers

This haunting documentary traces the lost golden age of Cambodian cinema, which ended in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge trashed cinemas and forced filmmakers to flee or die.  Film page on ADN database

. High Tech, Low Life 

This timely documentary profiles two bloggers as they battle the infamous Great Firewall of China – travelling the country, mobiles and laptops at the ready, to report on the unreported. Film page on ADN database

. The World Before Her 

This absorbing documentary dramatically juxtaposes two Indian organisations: the Miss India pageant, and Durgha Vahini, the women’s arm of the Hindu fundamentalist movement. Film page on ADN database

International documentaries full list

. Focus on India

SFF has selected four independent productions which reveal an industry creating work far beyond Bollywood, presenting portraits of a nation grappling with rapid change on every level. 2 of them are doc films.

. Jai Bhim Comrade

Acclaimed director Anand Patwardhan’s documentary, 14 years in the making, about the 1997 killing of 10 unarmed Dalit (‘untouchable’) protesters by police in Mumbai.

. The Sound of Old Rooms 

Sandeep Ray’s exquisite documentary, filmed over 20 years, traces the life of Sarthak, an Indian man who juggles his desire to be a poet with the practicalities of raising a family.

Focus on India full list of films

Sydney Film Festival runs from 6-17 June 2012

The 59th Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Arts NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia, and the City of Sydney. The festival’s Strategic partner is the NSW Government through Destination NSW.

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