Day One of the All Asian Independent Film Festival

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A warm welcome to our first day of the All Asian Independent Film Festival to all cinephiles, film enthusiasts and lovers of independent cinema. In the heart of Manila, a vibrant tapestry of cultures and stories is unfolding as the All Asian Independent Film Festival kicks off its cinematic celebration. We are looking forward to showcasing the remarkable works of some of the most brilliant filmmakers from across Asia. Over the next three days we invite you to embark on a journey that transcends borders and dives deep into diverse narratives. The festival promises an experience full of creativity, with filmmakers pushing boundaries of storytelling. 


The founder of the All Asian Independent Film Festival Scott Hillier and the festival coordinator Rodrigo Estrada 

Wails of the Shadows Dancing — a film of our students corner section — was the first to be shown at our festival, as part of the Filipino Film Students Special Competition. A film about the artist and dancer Amalia, facing overwhelming odds that unexpectedly change her life, revealing a darker side of injustice and torture.

Scene from Wails of the Shadows Dancing

Following the screening, we took a closer look at this film by having a thought-provoking Q&A session with the creators. This interactive dialogue provided the audience with the opportunity to delve deeper into the artistic process of the film.

After rewatching some highlights of the ECU’s 2023 selection — such as Get Home Safe and Caramelle — the screenings for the All Asian Independent Film Festivals selection were introduced with the Dramatic Short called Jet Lag. This film follows a psychology student battling anxiety as her looming exams trigger vivid hallucinations including one mysterious creature. After meeting an artist, she learns that her vision might hold a deeper meaning, forcing her to confront the dark secrets of her inner self.

Another highlight from today was the film My Mother’s Daughter, a story of a teenage girl, Mehak, who was abducted, raped and forced into marriage by a man. This documentary follows Mehak’s journey after her escape (she also now has a two-year-old daughter from her time in abduction), with a particular focus on the triangle relationship between grandmother, mother and daughter.

Scene from My Mother’s Daughter

“We felt that this complex relationship really needed sensitive storytelling… I feel that as women we really tried to showcase that in an authentic manner”.

Talking about forced marriages in Pakistan, the creators Ahmen Khawaja and Mariam Khan point out that their marginalized communities are very underrepresented:    “You never see the story behind the news headline… so we thought it was really important to talk to someone about the daily struggles they face”.

Later in the day we watchedThe Dragon in the Clouds, which follows a poor Chinaman from Cebu and his unlikely friend, a Spanish lieutenant, when the revolution against Spain breaks out in the Visayas. They are taken prisoner by the vengeful Katipuneros. Meanwhile in Carcar, General Pantaleon Villegas of the Revolutionary Army butts heads with the Mayor, a loyalist to Spain. This film deals with the conflicting ideas about what being Filipino means – and what it takes to defend that. 

Last but not least, we screened the student film Blue is the Color of the Planet from the View Above. This film’s focus is on young Yuan, who develops paranoid feelings and disguises himself as a girl. One night, an argument breaks out between Yuan at a bar. The malice around him slowly shakes his world. He looks out the window at the starry sky he yearns for and makes a decision.

Scene from Blue is the Color of the Planet from the View Above

As the curtains close on this captivating first day of the All Asian Independent Film Festival, we find ourselves enriched by the stories that unfolded on the screen.We are thrilled about the remarkable projects that lie ahead and eagerly await your return tomorrow, ready to embark on another day of discovery and the celebration of storytelling. Thank you for being part of this journey and we can not wait to see you tomorrow for another day filled with awe-inspiring projects and the boundless creativity of the Asian filmmaking community.

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