Lights, Camera, Action: High Five Asian Film Festivals to Watch Out for this 2024

by SEA Wave
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Film festivals play a vital role in promoting diverse cinematic arts by providing a stage for veteran filmmakers and emerging talents alike. From bold experiments in social commentary that provoke self-reflection to honest personal narratives that move audiences to tears, film festivals showcase the breadth of Asian cinema across cultures and genres, giving filmmakers and film enthusiasts a platform to celebrate the medium without holding back.

So as we look forward to another amazing year of movies, here are High Five premier Asian film festivals that offer spectacular cinematic experiences.

 

26th Taipei Film Festival

2023 Taipei Film Festival Awarding Ceremony. Photo by Taipei Film Festival

The 26th Taipei Film Festival is one of Asia’s longest-running prestigious festivals held in vibrant Taipei. It is one of the most influential film festivals in the Chinese-speaking community of the country. The festival is open to emerging filmmakers who have recently directed their first or second feature films.

Last year, Huang Hsiu-Yi’s Diamond Marine World, a documentary that tells the story of an ambitious shrimp farmer trying to survive in Myanmar, won the Grand Prize and Best Documentary award. After being recognized, the film won the Taiwan Competition Silver Award and Audience Award. Women Make Waves International Film Festival. The film was also recognized at the 2023 Torino Film Festival in Turin, Italy. 

The 26th Taipei Film Festival will take place from June 21 until July 6, 2024, in Taipei, Taiwan. For interested filmmakers, the submission period is from February 15 to March 15, 2024, with a free submission fee. Check out the details here.

 

19th Busan International Kids & Youth Film Festival

18th Busan International Kids & Youth Film Festival entries. Photo by Asian Film Festival

Named Asia’s largest young film festival, the Busan International Kids and Youth Film Festival (BIKY) uniquely connects young audiences and allows them to engage with diverse international films. It cultivates young talent through its “Ready~Action” competition for directors under 18 while also recognizing outstanding works by veteran filmmakers with its “Heart-on Awards” category.

Some of the previous titles that have won over the past few years are Class President Election (2021) by Kang Mi-Seung from South Korea, Nooreh (2018) by Ashish Pandey from India, Fight Girl (2019) by Johan Timmers from Belgium and Mama (2021) by Adam Pandey from Ireland.

This year, the 19th BIKY Film Festival will be held from July 8 to 14, 2024 in Busan, South Korea. BIKY is now accepting applications until March 18, 2024. What are you waiting for? Learn more about it here.

 

16th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival

15th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival entries. Photo by Asian Film Festival

As one of the leading international documentary film festivals based in Asia, the DMZ International Documentary Film Festival utilizes the medium to promote peace, life, and communication – values embodied by the Korean DMZ region. It screens international short and feature documentaries and facilitates exchanges between filmmakers and industry to create opportunities for the documentary arts.

Out of 147 documentaries from 54 countries, Sylvain George’s Obscure Night-Goodbye Here, Anywhere won the grand prize last year in the international competition category. A sequel to Obscure Night-Wild Grass (2022), the documentary tackles timely issues like refugees and migration by following immigrants attempting to cross from Africa into Europe.

The submission period for the 16th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival will be from March 4, 2024 – May 3, 2024, for International Feature Documentaries and March 4, 2024 – May 31, 2024, for Korean Short and Feature Documentaries. While the festival will be from September 26 to October 2, 2024. Don’t miss this out and check out more details here.

 

Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival

The 60th Golden Horse Awards Awarding Ceremony. Photo by Golden Horse Executive Committee

The Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (TGHFF) has been championing Chinese-language films since 1980. TGHFF annually showcases both established and daring filmmakers, highlighting the creative breadth and vibrancy of Greater Chinese cinema and its diaspora.

During the 60th Taipei Golden Horse Awards in 2023, 12-year-old actress Audrey Lin made history when she won the Best Actress Award making her the youngest best actress recipient of the festival for the film Trouble Girl. The film follows the story of a young girl with ADHD who faces bullying and isolation from classmates and is seen to be a troublemaker by her mother. When she uncovered a secret between her mom and her teacher, she was forced to confront the complex emotional landscape of her family. Lin’s distinction surely catapulted her into international fame.

The Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival is scheduled to take place from November 7 to 24, 2024 while the submission period will be from June 1 to August 1, 2024. Learn more about it here.

 

37th Tokyo International Film Festival

36th Tokyo International Film Festival Winners. Photo by Tokyo International Film Festival 2023 37th Tokyo International Film Festival

The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is Japan’s first major film festival and the first to be accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) in Japan. It showcases diverse feature films from around the world, promoting cross-cultural exchange and celebrating cinema’s art with both mainstream and independent productions. With comprehensive programming and international juries, TIFF celebrates outstanding cinema achievements.

TIFF has celebrated many award-winning films over its 30+ year history. Last year, Tatami, directed by Guy Nattiv and Zar Amir Ebrahimi, won the Special Jury Prize. The film follows the struggles of an Iranian female judoka who dreams of bringing home Iran’s first gold medal in the sport. Its female lead Zar Amir also won the Best Actress Award in the festival. Outside of TIFF, the film was recognized during its world premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Brian Award.


Submission of entries has not yet opened but the festival is scheduled to take place on October 23 to November 1, 2024. Stay updated and check out their website here.

As we look ahead at a year filled with celebrations of Asian cinematic arts, one thing is clear – Asia’s film industry continues to thrive through festivals cultivating new talent and honoring veterans across myriad styles and cultures.

 

Do you know friends who are into filmmaking? Invite them and share these with them. Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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