Far East Film Festival: Udine
Last month I was very busy. My final semester is coming to a close and I am one step closer to finally being able to graduate. This year has definitely been more exciting for me. I have been experiencing so many more sides to Italy.
I have now been to 5/20 regions in Italy; Veneto, Sicily, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and finally Friuli Venezia Giulia which for sure has the strangest name I’ve ever heard.
I was in Friuli last month for almost two weeks and it was definitely eventful. Before I begin I would like so share some facts about Friuli.
It’s one of the Northern most regions in Italy which boarders Austria to the North and Slovenia to the south. It has views of both the alps and the Adriatic sea. Another strange thing worth noting is that Friuli has it’s own language called Friulian. It is distinctly different from regional dialects which also tend to differ greatly from the Italian language.
Finally, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia is home to one of the biggest east Asian film festivals in Europe.
The Far East Film festival. An extravaganza which lasts for 7-9 days bringing the best of Asian cinema to a tiny Alpine town. I had the privileged of taking part this year and it definitely was a one of a kind experience.
The far east film festival has been held in Udine for many years and this was the 21st edition. It was founded by an Italian couple based in Udine in 1999 and has seen the arrival of countless Asian directors, producers and movie stars promoting their movies in this picturesque Italian town. The anonymity of Udine, paired with the enthusiasm and support of the locals makes this festival truly one of a kind.
The festival also provides a movie market for industry insiders to exchange connections, ideas and distribution platforms. In addition to this there are also many ways local university students can get involved through the campus journalism platform and also accreditation schemes.
I had actually heard about this festival last year when I arrived in Italy but had absolutely no idea as to how one could participate and or get involved behind the scenes. For more information I highly recommend visiting the official website here.
Working behind the scenes as an assistant truly gave me an insider experience I will never forget. We had to cooperate as a high functioning machine each working to make sure that we help the festival run as smoothly as possible.
In my role, I worked with some of the most talented linguists I’ve ever encountered and to be suitable for the role being trilingual at best is encouraged. With my rusty Korean and frankly terrible Italian in addition to my passable Chinese and just adequate enough English, I left with the motivation to continue on with my quest for learning languages.
Assistants must be able to keep a cool head even in the most difficult of situations. Maintain a professional demeanour at all times and not to mention have fantastic wardrobe for all the smart dinner functions we must attend.
I have to admit I had no idea what to expect when I arrived in Udine. I was catapulted headfirst into a world of Michelin star dinners, press meetings, wine tastings and impeccable customer service. My team and I had to learn how to coordinate schedules and all changes at a moments notice code-switching between 3-4 languages on a daily basis to make sure all ran smoothly. My team, the other assistants and our coordinators and drivers were so incredibly welcoming and understanding to help me understand the fast paced meetings and last minute changes.
The take away I got from many of the guests who were specialists in their field, journalists, film experts, directors and producers is that they all loved the intimacy of Udine. The small alpine town, with great food, delicious wine and friendly locals allows people to bond and feel a sense of welcoming. I imagine it to be less intimidating than other film festivals. At FEFF you feel like you are part of a large film family.
This years top prize went to the movie Still Human directed by first time director Oliver Chan, a touching and heartfelt movie starring Anthony Wong and Crisel Consunji (Who gave an incredibly moving acceptance speech delivered in both English and Italian).
Life time achievement awards were also handed out to Anthony Wong, the Chinese diva Yao Chen and South Korean actress Jeon Doyeon all of whom were in attendance.
There were so many fantastic films to discover from a range of countries, notable films were the Malaysia horror Two Sisters, the Taiwanese action flick the Scoundrels the Korean remake of the Italian hit movie Perfect Strangers & although I didn’t see it, it accepted an award and there was a lot of buzz around the Japanese film Melancholic.
Honestly there were so many fantastic movies which premiered there and I actually didn’t have time to see them all. I sincerely hope I can catch them all in future.
If you are interested in Asian cinema, particularly smaller productions, independent films and discovering new and upcoming producers in developing industries you should most definitely come to the Udine film Festival in 2020. I know I want to be there!