Day Two of the All Asian Independent Film Festival

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The second day of the festival is successfully behind us and we hope it was full of wonderful cinematic experiences for everyone who attended!

We started the day with screenings of two of the films from the Filipino Film Student Corner. Both Eyesight and To Be With Ma are very personal and touching, albeit for very different reasons. Eyesight, an experimental story by Monique Chua, offers an intimate depiction of life with asymmetrical eyes, sharing with us a different perspective through a cinematic lens. Aron Abad’s To Be With Ma highlights the importance of being with your loved ones despite the obstacles in the way. It is a story many of us, unfortunately, can relate to and Aron Abad managed to depict the true emotions in a very credible way.


Aron Abad’s To Be With Ma

Later in the afternoon, we got the chance to see the Best of ÉCU’s 2023 Official Selection. The films screened, including Lena, Noona and Courage offered a range of snapshots into European life that provided both complementary and contrasting subjects to those explored in today’s AAIFF programme.   

The AAIFF 2023 Official Selection provided a deep dive into Asia’s Best Independent Films, as selected by our jury. Dramatic, experimental, documentary … all forms and genres could be found in the Power Plant Cinema across the evening. 

The vivid green landscapes of Pakistan’s mountainous Hunza region enraptured audience members during Amna Maqbool and Beenish Sarfaraz’ documentary Woman of Melody. The film follows a young girl, Asiya, who hopes to preserve the heritage of her land by sharing her beloved Xhighini, an endangered folk instrument, with the world around her.

Amna Maqbool and Beenish Sarfaraz’ Woman of Melody

Director Amna Maqbool explained that she discovered this region, where girls and women are particularly empowered, for the first time during shooting of the film, and found it a privilege to “gain such intimate entry into the lives” of Asiya’s family. Maqbool expressed her strong wish that “women in general in Pakistan could get the same support as Asiya from their family to pursue education and music”.

Lin Chien-Ping’s dramatic short Little Yellow Flower, meanwhile, presented audiences with a time-spanning portrait of a strained relationship between father and son. “This film is inspired by my own experience and relationship with my father”, explained Chien-Ping, adding that “the father and son embody an entire generation on their own”. 

The AAIFF team were interested in finding out the hopes and goals of the directors attending the festival. Terry Ngo, whose powerful documentary Santa Fe Resident Too was screened as part of today’s Official Selection, explained that the driving force behind her filmmaking is the desire for her children “to be exposed to diversity and know that representation does happen”. Ngo’s documentary is a follow-up to Santa Fe Resident. Whilst her earlier film explored the Asian presence in New Mexico’s capital city, Santa Fe Resident Too explores the life of James Butler, a retired black opera singer who resides there. Ngo’s dedication to sharing a diverse range of experiences was clear when she explained to us how much it meant for her film to have an audience: “it is challenging to be a mother, a wife, a daughter, whilst pursuing one’s dreams… this moment, when my film has an audience, makes it all worth it”.

Of course, after such a thought-stirring day there’s no better way to wind down than to connect, chat and dance at the AAIFF’s official after party. For those in Manila, come along to Shooters Sports Bar and Cafe at 20:00 PST to join the fun!

We can’t wait to see you tomorrow for another enriching day of film screenings – and, of course, let’s not forget the awards ceremony at 19:00 PST, which will close the festival weekend by celebrating the very best of Asia’s independent film talent. 

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