The Asian film festival guide

The Asian film festival guide

Moviemakers and movie-lovers, grab some popcorn and take a seat at these film festivals happening around the continent

Over the coming year, Asia will play host to a number of influential film festivals. This is your ticket to scoping out what film festivals are going on in Asia during the rest of this year and into next.

Any aspiring Spielbergs can submit their films -- info can be found on the relevant websites. And there are plenty of festivals to get involved with, from this week's Hong Kong International Film Fest to others from the Green Film Festival in Seoul to the Lesbian and Gay Film Fest in Tokyo. Whether you're a film fanatic or casual movie goer, these festivals are here to inspire as well as entertain.

Hong Kong International Film Festival

Hong Kong International Film Festival

Where: Hong Kong Island and Kowloon
When: March 21 - April 6, 2010
Website: www.hkiff.org.hk
The most significant film event on the Hong Kong calendar, this cultural extravaganza screens more than 300 titles from 55 countries at 11 major venues. The 16-day mega-festival will bring together the who's-who of international cinema. Last year's event featured the Asian premieres of W (with Oliver Stone greeting the audience) and DreamWorks Animation’s Monsters Vs. Aliens (with Kiefer Sutherland paying a visit to Hong Kong for the first time).
Don't miss: "Double Take", from director Johan Grimonprez, using archive footage of suspense legend Alfred Hitchcock to weave an intriguing 'what if' storyline. March 28, 9pm, Hong Kong Arts Centre.

Green Film Festival

Green Film Festival

Where: Seoul, Korea
When: May 20-26, 2010
Website: en.gffis.org
Film can be a powerful tool in getting folks to think green (case in point: Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”). Luckily, in Seoul, there’s the Green Film Festival. Established in 2004 by Korea Green Foundation, the event will feature more than 100 films from Korea and beyond at the Youth Square of Seoul World Cup Stadium. There’ll also be live concerts, workshops and a presentation of 10-minute films by award-winning filmmakers that highlight the issues of the global climate crisis.
Don't miss: "A Drop of Life", May 21, 14.30, CGV Sang-am 4.

Shanghai International Film Festival

Shanghai International Film Festival

Where: Shanghai, China
When: June 12-20, 2010
Website: www.siff.com
As China’s most prestigious international film festival, this premier event brings out A-listers from across the world. (Last year’s event was attended by Quincy Jones, Ewan McGregor and Andie MacDowell.) The 17-year-old festival is a springboard for filmmakers looking to widen their reach. The 2009 winner of the Asian New Talent Award, the Korean comedy “Scandal Makers” by Kang Hyoung-chul, recently set out on its theatrical release in mainland China.
Submission deadline: May 2010

Taipei Film Festival

Taipei Film Festival

Where: Taipei, Taiwan
When: June 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: www.taipeiff.org.tw
For those making their directorial debuts, this festival is an opportunity to win major exposure -- and major cash. The event’s New Talent Award comes with US$30,000. A very cool part of the Taipei Film Festival is its “City Vision” section, which focuses on one international city each year, introducing its films and culture to audiences in Taiwan.
Submission deadline: April 8, 2010

Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

Where: Tokyo, Japan
When: July 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: www.tokyo-lgff.org
In 2009, around 10,000 people flocked to the weekend-long film celebration at Spiral Hall in Tokyo's trendy Aoyama neighborhood. The 2010 event aims to be even better. The festival screens films and videos of all length that are of interest to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities.
Submission deadline: March 8, 2010

Pusan International Film Festival

Where: Pusan, South Korea
When: Oct. 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: www.piff.org
Pusan is the biggest film festival in Asia -- and it keeps getting bigger. While many 2009 film festivals slashed programs and amenities due to budget cuts, PIFF rolled out its most impressive slate to date: 355 films from 70 countries. The festival features top-notch films from across the globe, but its main focus is on Asian films. The Window on Asian Cinema section includes low-budget, independent films from marginal countries, while still showcasing the work of the masters.
Submission deadline: June 30 for short films, July 30 for features and documentaries.

Vietnamese International Film Festival

Where: Hanoi, Vietnam
When: Oct. 27-31, 2010
Website: None yet
The city of Hanoi is getting a fabulous gift for its 100th anniversary -- Vietnam’s first international film festival. The event, to be held at the BDH-MPV Global mutiplex, will invite 50 to 60 feature films, and include a feature competition section for Asian films with a focus on Southeast Asia. Other sections will include: Country In Focus, which will showcase established directors from a chosen country; a tribute section, which will showcase films from a certain notable Vietnamese filmmaker, actor or actress; and a surprise section, which will be, well, a surprise.
Submission deadline: TBA

International Film Festival of India

International Film Festival of India

Where: Goa, India
When: Nov. / Dec. 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: iffi.gov.in
This 11-day extravaganza is the biggest annual film event in South Asia with 200 works from 56 countries. Last time around, organizers amped up the excitement with an online contest where movie-watchers across the globe could vote for the top 20 Indian films of the past 96 years. The winners will be announced at the event. Another festival first: Documentaries on eminent musicians will be showcased as part of a special feature.

The Asian Festival of First Films

The Asian Festival of First Films

Where: Singapore
When: Nov. / Dec. 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: www.asianfirstfilms.com
This unique festival at The Arts House features the work of first-time filmmakers -- including producers, directors, writers, cinematographers and actors -- before they reach box office glory. While the event is all about emerging talent, it has previously had the support of veteran filmmakers including Fann Wong ("Dragon Eye Congee"), Tiara Jacquelina ("Puteri Gunung Ledang") and Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding").

Jakarta International Film Festival

Where: Jakarta, Indonesia
When: Dec. 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: www.jiffest.org
This rapidly growing festival, often known as JiFFest, last year screened award-winning films from around the world at Blitz Megaplex Grand Indonesia and Pacific Place.

Metro Manila Film Festival

Where: Manila, Philippines
When: Dec. / Jan. 2010 - 2011 (dates TBA)
Website: None
This last year's attendees saw stars at this celeb-packed event, which had a red carpet lineup that included Manny Pacquiao.

Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival

Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival

Where: Guangzhou, China
When: Dec. / 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: www.gzdoc.com
With this year's theme of Looking for Happiness, the week-long festival showcases documentaries, docudramas and docu-animations that bring forth glimmers of hope and joy in the midst of hardship. Films from more than 20 countries will be screened at venues across town, including Sapphire Arts Space, Galaxy Cinema, Chime Long Hotel and Guangzhou Sport University.

Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short & Animation Films

Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short & Animation Films

Where: Mumbai, India
When: Feb. / 2011 (dates TBA)
Website: www.miffindia.in
For those who need a break from Mumbai's head-spinning Bollywood productions, take a seat at this cozy international film festival. The week-long event at the National Centre for the Performing Arts features stellar work in the categories of documentary, animation and short, along with video retrospectives of renowned filmmakers from India and abroad.

Phangan Film Festival

Phangan Film Festival

Where: Koh Phangan Island, Thailand
When: Feb. / 2010 (dates TBA)
Website: www.phanganfilmfestival.com
Why sit in a stuffy theater when you can watch films on a white sandy beach, surrounded by azure seas? Founded by independent filmmaker Julien Balmer in 2008, this intimate, socially conscious festival takes audiences on an exploration of spiritual, environmental and ecological themes through film. 2009's event showcased films such as "Ribbons of Sand," featuring the writings of environmental pioneer Rachel Carson, interpreted by Academy-award winner Meryl Streep. This is a laid-back gathering that locals and travelers can enjoy.

Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Awards

Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Awards

Where: Hong Kong
When: March 12-21, 2011
Website: www.ifva.com
With the tagline "iNNOVATIVE, fRESH, vIBRANT and aDVENTUROUS," this isn't your everyday film fest. While the official festival takes place over 10 days at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, the event is actually an ongoing, collaborative project to promote innovative media. A recent program featured hip-hop artist MC Jin, who talked about the new era of rap in Hong Kong.
Don't miss: More upcoming pre-festival programs including renowned MV director Vernie Yeung in December, new media artist Keith Lam in January and animator tamshui in February. Visit www.ifva.com for the full schedule.

Michelle Woo is a journalist and blogger, whose work has appeared in USA Today, The Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, Orange County Register and on CNN.com.
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