ASEAN Film Festival: A Dive into the Rich Tapestry of Southeast Asian Films

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ASEAN Film Festival: A Dive into the Rich Tapestry of Southeast Asian Films

The inaugural ASEAN Film Festival came to a successful close on Saturday after two weeks of 21 screenings of 14 specially selected films from eight Southeast Asian countries in the city of Hong Kong.

The non-profit event of the AFF was made possible through the close cooperation of the Hong Kong-ASEAN Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to promote mutual understanding and strengthen ties between Hong Kong and ASEAN, in collaboration with the Consulates General of Southeast Asian countries in Hong Kong and other supporting partners.

More than 600 Hong Kong students and young people, as well as students from ASEAN countries studying in Hong Kong, were invited to a series of screenings of selected films from the AFF. The excitement was heightened by the presence of master directors and movie stars who were specially selected for the event. The screening was also attended by a large number of locals who had purchased tickets to enjoy the movie. 

Starting its journey on August 4, this year's AFF presented a selection of films from eight different countries such as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. With each scene shown, the audience was taken on a fascinating journey through the diverse cultures and enchanting heritage of Southeast Asia.

Amidst the quiet bustle of the screen is the story of "Before, Now & Then", born from the magical touch of Indonesian director Kamila Andini. The film first greeted audiences on the grand stage of the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2022. In the spotlight, actress Laura Basuki, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Supporting Actress, makes the moment even more precious. There is also "The Legend of Muay Thai: 9 Satra," a 2018 Thai cinematic masterpiece that won two prestigious awards at the 2019 Thailand National Film Association Awards.

One of the screening segments of the festival series also featured the award-winning Cambodian film "White Building." In the post-screening session, director Kavich Neang took on the role of event host, providing the more than 40 guests and young participants with rich insights into Cambodia's unique rich heritage through his work. He also shared interesting behind-the-scenes stories of the film's production process.

The films have also been screened at prominent cultural venues in Hong Kong, including M+ Cinema, Asia Society's Miller Theater and Sky (Olympian City) through a partnership between M+ and Asia Society Hong Kong Center. The aim is to bring the beauty of ASEAN cinema to local audiences.

More than Just a Movie Show

Mr. Muzambli Markam, Consul General of Malaysia in Hong Kong, expressed his delight in organizing the inaugural ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL. He sees film as one of the channels or platforms that can provide foreign communities and expatriates with an understanding of aspects of Malaysian culture and the like. 

This thought is in line with the view of Chaturont Chaiyakam, Consul General of Thailand in Hong Kong. He said that through Thai films, audiences have the opportunity to learn more about Thai society and culture, rather than just seeing it as a tourist destination. He also encouraged the creative industry in Hong Kong to explore the potential of the ASEAN market. 

Over the years, China and ASEAN countries have established close trade partnerships and are bound by a long history of cooperation and mutual learning. Daryl Ng Win-kong, chairman of the Hong Kong-ASEAN Foundation, said that strengthening trade and cultural exchanges can deepen the sense of unity and friendship between China and ASEAN. 

A similar sentiment was expressed by Ong Siew Gay, who served as Consul General of Singapore in Hong Kong. He said that in addition to cultural exchanges, there is greater potential for Hong Kong and ASEAN to expand trade and economic cooperation. He stressed that such opportunities can be tapped through the Belt and Road Initiative.

AFF provides a special platform to showcase, share and celebrate the rich cinematic heritage, traditions and cultural diversity of the ASEAN region, said Pech Puthisathbopeaneaky, Consul General of Cambodia in Hong Kong. He also expressed his hope that Hong Kong and ASEAN countries will hold more such events to enhance cultural exchanges.

The film festival, which was successfully held for more than two weeks, has successfully created a deeper understanding between Hong Kong and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and effectively strengthened Hong Kong's relations with participants from Southeast Asian countries. By reinvigorating regional interaction through the medium of cinema, it lays a strong foundation for increasingly diverse cooperation in the years to come.

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