QCinema International Film Festival announces the titles competing in its premiere launching pad for Asia’s most promising filmmakers.
This year’s Asian Next Wave competition showcases eight exciting feature film directorial debuts competing for the Pylon Award.
In the line-up, there is Abang Adik by Jin Ong.
Abang Adik is about deaf-mute Abang and younger brother Adi who live in poverty as undocumented denizens in Kuala Lumpur. All Abang wants is to live a decent life and find a way to legally obtain an ID. But the more temperamental Adi will take any shortcut to climb out of poverty, even if it means harming other people.
Jin Ong, a veteran producer, dives into the dark corners of Malaysian urban life, tracking the lives of people invisible to an indifferent society.
The film swept the top prizes at Udine’s Far East Film Festival, winning the Golden Mulberry audience award, the Black Dragon Critics’ prize, and award for best first feature.
The Philippine entry in the Asian Next Wave Competition is Gitling by Jopy Arnaldo.
The film, which stars Gabby Padilla and Ken Yamamura, is about a translator who was hired by a filmmaker for a film festival in Bacolod. The two became friends, bonding over stories of heartbreak, and a language that Jamie made up.
Jopy Arnaldo parses the way people communicate with each other, and the things that people don’t say. The film uses subtitles in novel ways, expressing what is unsaid between characters that cannot express what they are really feeling.
Gitling is the Best Screenplay winner in the recent Cinemalaya Film Festival.
Another film competing is the 2023 Vietnamese-language drama film Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell, written and directed by Thien An Pham.
Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell follows Thien, who travels to the jungles of rural Vietnam in search of a long-lost brother following the sudden death of his sister-in-law. What follows is a journey of spiritual discovery through the mystical landscape of his nation.
Thien Am Pham creates in this film a meditative, at times hallucinatory space that examines our relationship with death and the afterlife. It had its world premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on 24 May 2023 and won the Caméra d’Or, which is awarded for the best first feature film.
The fourth film competing is Last Shadow At First Light by Nicole Midori Woodford.
The film is about Ami, who believes that her father has been lying to her about her mother’s death. She travels to Japan and finds herself on a road trip with her uncle, chasing ghosts and apparitions on the way to discovering painful truths about love and loss.
Writer and director Nicole Midori Woodford’s film seamlessly integrates supernatural elements in this quiet, dreamy, coming-of-age story that displays a profound understanding of a distinctly Asian relationship with the afterlife.
Another film in competition is Love Is A Gun by Lee Hong-chi.
Love Is A Gun is about Sweet Potato, who spent some years in prison for working for a syndicate. He’s trying to go straight, but his past keeps catching up with him, trying to draw him back into a violent life.
Lee Hong-chi, known for his work in acting, makes his feature film writing and directing debut with a sensitive portrait of directionless youth in Taiwan, exploring the life of a young man who wants to find a better life for himself, but is unable to find the opportunities to do so.
Love Is A Gun is the first Taiwanese film to win the best first feature at the Venice International Film Festival.
Mimang by Kim Tae-yang is also in competition.
Kim Tae-yang’s film follows a man and a woman as they walk the streets of Seoul, a city that seems to keep changing as time goes by. TIFF’s Giovanni Fulvi calls Mimang “A condensed Korean indie counterpart to Richard Linklater’s Before series”.
Kim Tae-yang and cinematographer Kim Jin-hyeong turns Seoul’s streets into a magical, amorphous landscape, changing in the way that memories can change, even between people with deep connections to a place, a time, and each other.
Also in the lineup is Thai romance/environmental film Solids By The Seashore by Patiparn Boontarig.
The film is set in a Southern Thai town of Songkhla, which is under threat from coastal erosion. It is in this place that Muslim poet Shati meets artist Fon, who has traveled from Bangkok for an exhibit bringing awareness to the impending environmental disaster. Shati is torn between her religious upbringing and a burgeoning affection for Fon, and faces an inner turmoil reflected in the chaos brought on by the monsoons.
Casually melding folklore with modern concerns, director Patiparn Boontarig employs a magical realist approach to sort through the eternal conflict between faith and identity.
The last film competing is Tiger Stripes by Amanda Nell Eu.
The film is about 12-year old Zaffan who is going through the challenges of puberty. But there’s something unusual about the changes her body is experiencing. When the community around her discovers what’s happening, Zaffan is shunned and attacked, leaving her no choice but to accept what she is becoming.
Amanda Nell Eu ‘s film makes literal the horrors of adolescence, making potent body horror out of the often horrifying developments of a pubescent transformation.
Tiger Stripes had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 2023 where it won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize.
QCinema is slated from November 17 to 26, 2023. The films will be screened at Gateway Cineplex 10, Robinsons Movieworld Magnolia, Ayala Malls Cinemas’ UP Town Center, Power Plant Cinema, and Shangri-La’s Red Carpet Cinemas.