New Emissary

Bear Hugs for Asia

Strong Asian flavors waft into latest international film event.

Along with low-key Turkish film Bal (Honey) winning best picture and the ever-controversial Roman Polanski receiving a best director distinction, another big story coming out of this year’s Berlin Film Festival is that of Asia making a significant mark at the 60th annual run of one of the world’s most popular film events.

My colleagues have done a great job already in our debuting blog Indian Decade? for our revamped site in bringing to light India’s heavyweight contribution to the festival, My Name is Khan. And it turns out that alongside the already contentious blockbuster, this year India had for the first time, a record nine films–spanning Konakai, Maranthi, Bengali and Hindi languages–shown at the festival.

Also, wrapping up this year’s event over the weekend was 78-year old Japanese director Yoji Yamada’s 81st film, Otouto, (‘Younger Brother’), with the veteran director receiving an additional honour–the Berlinale Camera award for his contribution to the world of cinema. In another victory, fellow Japanese native 37-year old actress Shinobu Terajima took home the Silver Bear trophy for best actress for her performance in Koji Wakamatsu’s Caterpillar, breaking a 35-year old dry spell for Japan in this category.

There were also premieres of films from South Korean and Taiwanese directors, as well as a short film from Singapore.

And at the other end of scheduling, it was the Chinese director and former festival winner Wang Quan’an that opened the festival with the world premiere of his largely anticipated new film, Apart Together on February 11. His was one of ten Chinese language selections present and despite the purported pressure on him this year, he was quoted at sharing a refreshing perspective on his attendance: ‘I put no pressure on myself…I’ll do just two things in Berlin. One, screen my film; and two, enjoy the party.’