Interview with Sabrina Baracetti: Asian cinema has many faces, it is undoubtedly one of the biggest and strongest on the international market (T)

We speak with Sabrina Baracetti about the history of the festival, the program selection, the different sections, Asian cinema and many other topics.


Sabrina Baracetti is the president of Far East Film Festival and artistic director since 1999.  She is also a member of Cineteca del Friuli board of directors, commercial director at Tucker Film and President of the Centro Espressioni Cinematografiche in Udine. She collaborates with magazines such as Il Ponte, Il Paese, Nekelodeon etc, and  works in production, being the co-producer of films such as "Fukuchan of the Fuku Fuku Flats. She also collaborates with many festivals across the world, as juror or adviser, including Toronto International Film Festival, Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival and many others.

We speak with her about the history of the festival, the program selection, the different sections, Asian cinema and many other topics.


Why did you decide to start a festival about Asian cinema, and not any other region? What is the purpose of the festival?

In the 80s and 90s, C.E.C. organized a Festival called Udineincontricinema, which focused on a different subject or author each year. The Festival changed during the 90s with the idea to shed a light on overlooked moments of the history of cinema, focusing on popular cinema and with the idea to have guests in Udine to meet the audience. This led to some retrospectives, dedicated to the Italian popular cinema of the 50s (1995), the Italian political cinema of the 60's and 70's (1996) and European Westerns (1997).

In 1998, we decided to shift the focus to Hong Kong and put together a retrospective that portrayed fifty years of Hong Kong cinema, inviting well-known filmmakers and stars such as Ringo Lam, Johnnie To, Anita Yuen, Cha Chuen-Yee, Peter Chan, Lau Ching-wan and many others. This event had a huge success and enthusiastic crowds of cinemagoers filled the Ferroviario, the movie theatre we used to manage at that time.

Following this success, in 1999 we turned the Udineincontricinema Festival into the Far East Film Festival, extending its visions to other nations and moving to the 1200-seats Theatre “Giovanni da Udine”.

The principal aim of the Far East Film Festival has always been to reduce the cultural distance between the East and the West by showcasing the films which are popular in Asia: the films people are actually going to see at the cinema, the blockbusters and genre films that rarely reached Western audiences except through pirated copies or in other unorthodox ways.

The focus in Udine has always been on popular cinema, with the idea to showcase the whole scope of East Asian moviemaking and not simply its specialized, auteurist and extreme sides.

Why did you choose Udine as the base of the festival? What are the benefits and what the issues with the particular choice?

This wasn’t the result of a choice. The C.E.C. is a cultural association founded in Udine in the 70’s,  which managed for many years a small 200- seat cinema situated near the Railway Station and called Ferroviario.

Nowadays, the association is still dedicated to the public showing of quality cinema, by programming and managing two film theatres in Udine (the Visionario and the Centrale, for a total of five screens). The Far East Film Festival is the most important cultural and artistic project handled by C.E.C. and is something that is deeply linked with the association itself.

Udine is a small town with a population of almost 100.000 people (but with an urban area of almost 180.000) located in Northeastern Italy, in a region called Friuli Venezia-Giulia. Being quite far off the tourist track and not well-known like Rome, Milan, Florence or Bologna affects its visibility, the media coverage and fundings from private entities. At the same time, we can feel the emotional involvement of the town in the Festival and this is an overwhelming force that helps us to keep up the work.


Can you analyze the procedure of the film selection for the program?

The Festival has a number of consultants who live and work in the countries they are covering. They look for films, watch and rate them, keep contacts with production companies. The final selection and the program is a result of a dialogue between the consultants' work and the selection committee in Udine. Attending Festivals in Cannes and Berlin, as well as Asian Festivals (Tokyo, Pusan, Hong Kong) is a big part of the selection process. Moreover, some trips are made to reach producers, directors and consultants during the year in various Asian nations

We screen from 60 to 70 films a year, among new films and retrospective sections, nearly 7 films a day during the 9-day Festival at the Theatre, plus some other films at the Visionario. We also publish a catalogue of roughly 300 pages and a book almost yearly. All our publications are bilingual Italian/English.

Tell us a bit about the different sections of the festival and the peripheral activities during Far East's run (Focus Asia, Campus, Ties that Bind)

The Festival has a main section of competing films and the Jury is the audience. The top three winning titles are those that receive the highest number of votes by the Festival audience.

The idea behind Ties That Bind and Focus Asia is to enforce the mission of the Festival aiming at the Industry. The first one is a workshop launched in 2008 and designed to assist 10 producers from Asia and Europe with potential European-Asian co-production projects. Organized together with EAVE (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs), it started with the collaboration of Busan International Film Festival and since 2015, it has been realized in partnership with SAAVA (Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association), founder of the Southeast Asian Film Financing Forum (SAFF) in Singapore.

Focus Asia was launched in 2016 and is a project market dedicated to genre projects with strong co-production or co-financing potential with Asia or Europe. 13 genre film projects including 14 different countries were selected and producers and directors had the chance to meet over 100 decision makers, possible financiers and sales agents from both markets.

Both these Industry events are organized together with the Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Fund.

The Campus is an educational project, dedicated to 10 young (under 26) Asian and European aspiring journalists. The participants are an active part of a programme that includes seminars, interviews and workshops centered on the art of writing and cinema and they are followed by a group of professionals led by the veteran journalist Mathew Scott.


Can you tell us a bit about the financial status of Far East? Is the festival successful in that aspect?

The C.E.C. and the Festival are financed by the Italian Government, the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, and Udine municipal authorities, with the region making the biggest effort.

Almost 70% of the budget comes from public fundings, with the remaining part covered by ticket and pass sales and private sponsors. We have worked hard to ensure more fundings from private sponsors and we have been relatively successful in this; however, there is still a lot to do.

Far East has been on for 19 years. Are there any episodes in the history of the festival you single out? Good and bad.

There are many great episodes we won’t forget, as finally having here Jackie Chan as a guest star after stubbornly inviting him for 17 years, or opening the Festival with a concert by Joe Hisaishi.

Of course there have also been bad moments, the worst probably was during the SARS epidemic in 2003, when the reaction of a part of the town against the Festival prevented us from inviting guests from China and Hong Kong.

In your opinion, how did the festival manage to keep on for so many years and what it the recipe for its success?

Well, maybe there isn’t a recipe for its success, but there is a necessary condition, which is the passion and determination of all the group of people working for it, in Udine and around the world.

What is your opinion of Asian cinema at the moment, and its penetration in Europe? Are there any individual filmmakers that stand out?

Asian cinema has many faces, it is undoubtedly one of the biggest and strongest on the international market (considering China, Japan and Korea) as well as one of the most interesting and emerging one (Indonesia and the Philippines are especially on the rise in Festivals all over the world).

But while Asian films are hugely successful in Asia, they haven’t necessarily broken through outside the Continent. Yes, you have films like "Train to Busan", but this is one mega-hit a year, and Festivals like FEFF still have a role and an outstanding importance in encouraging up-and-coming directors from the East.


How do you imagine the future of the festival, and what are your plans for the next editions?

Next year marks the 20th anniversary edition of the FEFF and we’ll have time to celebrate, but we will also focus on strengthening and developing the collateral activities we’ve started during the last years, Focus Asia in particular.

COMMENTS

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Johnson,1,Matthias Hoene,1,Maundy Thursday,1,Meghe Dhaka Tara,1,Memoir of a Murderer,1,Merantau,1,Mermaid,1,Miaoyan Zhang,1,Michael Haertlein,1,Michelle Hung Tsz-ching,2,Midi Z,1,Midnight Runners,1,Midori Impuls,4,Milk the Maid,1,Minamata: The Victims and Their World,1,Minoru Kunizawa,1,Miss Zombie,1,Miwa Nishikawa,1,Mohammad Rasoulof,1,Mohammad-Reza Lotfi,1,Mon Mon Mon Monsters,1,Mong-Hong Chung,2,Mongolia,2,Monika S-r,1,Moon Lovers,1,Moon So-ri,1,Mototsugu Watanabe,4,Mouly Surya,3,Mountains May Depart,2,Mourning Forest,1,Movie,1,Moving,1,Mr Long,1,Mr. Socrates,1,Mrs Fang,1,Mrs K,2,Mumon: The Land of Stealth,1,My Beloved Yak,1,My Dad and Mr Ito,1,My Heart is that Eternal Rose,1,My Hero Chihiro,1,Myanmar,1,Mystics in Bali,1,Nah Hyeon,1,Namiya,1,Nanachan,1,Naoko Ogigami,3,Naomi Kawase,3,Naosuke Kurosawa,1,Naoyuki Tomomatsu,3,Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit,2,Neko Atsume House,1,Nepal,1,Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival,1,Never Ending Blue,1,New Neighbor,2,New World,1,New York Indian Film Festival,1,News,13,Nicholas Poly,4,Night Bus,1,Night is Short,1,Night is Short Walk on Girl,1,Night of the Felines,1,Nikola Cekic,1,Ninja Pussy Cat,1,Niwatsukino Norihiro,1,No. 1 Chung Ying Street,2,Noboru Iguchi,1,Noboru Tanaka,1,Nobuhiko Obayashi,2,Nobuhiro Yamashita,2,Nobuo Nakagawa,1,Nobuyuki Takeuchi,2,Noise,2,Non-fiction Diary,1,Norbu,1,Noriaki Tsuchimoto,1,Norman England,2,North Korea,1,Nurse Diary: Beast Afternoon,1,NYAFF,11,Nyamdavaa Baasansuren,1,NYIFF,1,Odd Obsession,1,Oh In-Chun,1,Old Boy,2,Old Stone,1,Old-School Kung-Fu Fest,3,Omar Rasya Joenoes,3,On The Line Festival,3,On the Run,1,One Cut of the Dead,1,One Man's China,1,Operation Red Sea,1,Ophilia,1,Ordinary Person,1,Orson McClellan Mochizuki,1,Osaka Asian Film Festival,9,Osamu Sato,1,Our Happy time,1,Our Time Will Come,1,Outrage Coda,1,Over the Fence,1,Oxide Pang,1,Pai Kau,2,Palatpol Mingpornpichit,2,Pale Flower,1,Panos,1,Panos Kotzathanasis,188,Park Chan-wook,2,Park Hee-joon,1,Park Hoon-Jung,3,Park In-je,1,Park Ki- hyung,1,Park Kwang-hyun,1,Parkpoom Wongpoom,1,Party Round the Globe,1,Passage of Life,1,Patrick Hofmeister,71,Patrick Tam,1,Pedro Morata,9,Peerachai Kerdsint,1,Pelden Dorji,1,Pema "Tintin" Tshering,1,Pema Tshering,1,Pen-Ek Ratanaruang,1,Peng Xiaolian,1,Pepe Diokno,1,Peque Gallaga,1,Perfect Blue,2,Peter Chan,1,Peter Chen,1,Phanumad Disattha,1,Philippines,2,Pieter - Jan Van Haecke,4,Pieter-Jan Van Haecke,7,Pink Eiga,15,PinkEiga.TV,6,pinku eiga,1,Poet on a Business Trip,1,Poolside Man,1,Press Release,2,Prophecy,1,Proshoon Rahmaan,2,Psychic,1,Pumpkin and Mayonnaise,1,Queen of Triads,1,Rabbit and Lizard,1,Radiance,1,Railway Sleepers,1,Rainy Dog,1,Raja Mukhriz,1,Randy Mckenzie,4,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead,1,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead 2,1,Ravine of Goodbye,1,Real,1,Realism,1,Red Persimmons,1,Rei Sakamoto,1,Reipu zonbi: Lust of the dead 3,1,Revenge: A love story,1,Review,3,Reviews,183,Reviews.,2,Reviews. Panos Kotzathanasis,1,Riri Riza,2,Ritwik Ghatak,1,River of Exploding Durians,2,Robin Weng,1,Roger Lee,2,Ronja,1,Rouge,1,Rouven Linnarz,1,Running on Karma,1,Russia,1,RV: Resurrected Victims,1,Ryoo Seung-wan,2,Ryu Kaneda,1,Ryuki,1,Ryutaro Ninomiya,2,S. Korea,65,S.Korea,1,Saayak Santra,3,Sabrina Baracetti,1,Sabu,3,Sade Sato,1,San Diego Asian Film Festival,4,Sanjeewa Pushpakumara,2,Sankha Ray,7,Satan's Slaves,3,Satoru Hirohara,1,Satoshi Kon,3,Say Yes,1,Sayandeep Bandyopadhyay,5,Scarlet Heart,1,Score,1,Sea Fog,1,Seijun Suzuki,3,Sekigahara,1,Serga Mathang,1,Sexy S.W.A.T. Team,1,Sha Po Lang,1,Shake Rattle and Roll,1,Shanjhey Kumar Perumal,1,Shaw Brothers,1,She Remembers He Forgets,2,She's the Boss,1,Shift,2,Shigeru Umebayashi,1,Shikhar Verma,3,Shikhar Verna,3,Shim Sung-Bo,1,Shinichi Fukazawa,1,Shinichiro Ueda,1,Shinji Iwai,1,Shinji Somai,2,Shinji Sômai,1,Shinjuku Swan,1,Shinjuku Triad Society,1,Shinobi no Kuni,2,Shinsuke Ogawa,1,Shinsuke Sato,2,Shinya Tsukamoto,3,Shôhei Imamura,1,Shoot for the Contents,1,Shorts,9,Shotaro Kobayashi,1,Shu Qi,1,Shuna Iijima,1,Shunji Iwai,1,Shutter,1,Siddiq Ahamed,1,Sidi Saleh,1,Signature,1,Silent Mist,1,Silver Spleen,2,Singapore,2,Singh Anand,1,Singing Chen,1,Sinophone,1,Sion Sono,6,Siti,1,Sixth Sense Hooker,1,Sleep Curse,1,Small Talk,1,Sogo Ishii,2,Soichi Umezawa,1,Solanin,1,Solitude,1,Solo,1,Sompot Chidgasompongse,2,Song Hae-sung,1,Song Kang-ho,1,Song of the Week,19,Sopawan Boonnimitra,1,Sopon Sakdapisit,1,Soul,1,Soul Mate,1,SoulMate,1,South Korea,20,Sri Lanka,3,Stanley Kwan,1,Steel Rain,1,Stephen Chow,1,Stephen Fung,2,Still the Water,1,Story in Taipei,1,Strange Circus,1,Studio Ghibli,1,StudioCanal,4,Subenja Pongkorn,2,Suffering of Ninko,1,Suicide Club,1,Sukita: The Shoot Must Go On,1,Summer Snow,1,Sun-ho Cho,1,Sunao Katabuchi,3,Sung-hong Kim,1,Sunk Into the Womb,1,Susumu Hirasawa,1,Sweating the Small Stuff,2,Sylvia Chang,1,Tadashi Nagayama,1,Tae Guk Gi,1,Tag,1,Taiwan,21,Takaaki Hashiguchi,1,Takahiro Miko,1,Takahisa Zeze,1,Takao Nakano,1,Takaomi Ogata,3,Takashi Miike,9,Take Care of My Cat,1,Takeshi Kaneshiro,1,Takeshi Kitano,1,Takuro Nakamura,2,Talop Wangchuk,1,Tatara Samurai,1,Tatsuhi Omori,1,Tatsumi,1,Tatsumi Kumashiro,1,Teddy Soeriaatmadja,1,Teppei Nakamura,1,Tetsuo the Iron Man,1,Tetsuya Mariko,1,Tetsuya Nakashima,1,Thailand,16,Thanatos Drunk,1,That's It,1,The Adventurers,2,The Bad,1,The Boy and the Beast,3,The boy from Ipanema,1,The Brink,1,The Chase,1,The Crawler in the Attic,1,The Crazy Family,1,The Day After,1,The Detective,1,The Discloser,1,The Dollhouse,1,The elephant and the sea,2,The Executioner,1,The Forest Whispers,1,The Forsaken Land,1,The Fortress,1,The Good,1,The Great Passage,1,The Hole,1,The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles,1,The Inugami Family,1,The Iron Ministry,1,The Island That All Flow By,1,The Isthmus,1,The Kid from the Big Apple,1,The King of Pigs,1,The Last Executioner,1,The Last Painting,1,The Looming Storm,1,The Lowlife,1,The Magic Blade,1,The Man Without a Map,1,The Mayor,1,The Merciless,2,The Mermaid,1,The Muse,1,The Naked Island,1,The Name,1,The Night of the Earthquake,1,The Outlaws,1,The Prison,1,The Promise,1,The Raid,1,The Raid 2,1,The recipe,1,The Road Home,1,The Road to Mandalay,1,the Robber's Daughter,1,The Room,1,The Sacrament,1,The Salesman,1,The Seen and Unseen,1,The Shoot Must Go On,1,The Sleep Curse,1,The Snow King,1,The Sower,2,The Story of the Disappearance of Maryam,1,The Strange Saga of Hiroshi the Freeloading Sex Machine,1,The Suicide Chain,1,The Swindlers,1,The Table,1,The Third Murder,1,The Thousand Faces of Dunjia,1,The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale,1,The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue,1,The Tooth and the Nail,1,The Vanished,1,The Villainess,1,The Violin Player,1,The Way We Are,1,The Weird,1,Third WIndow,1,This Is Not What I Expected,1,Three Sisters,1,Three Times,1,Tôkaidô Yotsuya kaidan,1,Tokyo Ghoul,1,Tokyo Heaven,1,Tokyo Idols,1,Tokyo Vampire Hotel,1,Tolerance Film Festival,1,Tom Waller,2,Tony Leung,1,Tony Takitani,1,Toronto International Film Festival,1,Toshiaki Toyoda,2,Toshio Matsumoto,1,Toshiya Fujita,1,Toshiyuki Teruya,1,Traces of Sin,1,Trailers,76,Train to Busan,1,Tran Ham,1,Translated articles,1,Travellers and Magicians,1,Trinh T. Minh-Ha,3,Triple Threat,1,True Fiction,1,Tsai Ming-liang,2,Twenty Two,1,Twilight Dinner,1,Twitch: You Are My Toy,1,Typhoon Club,1,Udine,3,Unbowed,1,Uncovered,1,V.I.P.,1,Vaishali Sinha,1,Vampire Clay,1,Vampire Cleanup Department,1,Vannaphone Sitthirath,1,various,2,Vesoul International Film Festival,4,Victor Vu,1,Vietnam,5,Vikram Zushi,1,Vimukthi Jayasundara,1,Vincent Kok,1,Violated Angels,1,Visitor Q,1,Vital,1,Vitaly Mansky,1,Vivien Qu,1,Voyage to Terengganu,1,Wai Ka-fai,1,Walk on Girl,1,Walking Past the Future,1,Wang Bing,2,Wang Lung-wei,1,Wang Ming-tai,1,Warriors of the Dawn,2,We Make Antiques,1,Weeds on Fire,1,Wellgo USA,2,West North West,2,What a Man Wants,1,What Time Is It There?,1,Whispering Corridors,1,White Sun,1,Whore Angel,1,Wilson Yip,1,Wiman Rizkidarajat,1,Wine War,1,Without Memory,1,Wol-Ha: Very Bad Moon Rising,1,Woman of the Lake,1,Won Shin-Yeon,1,Wong Chun,1,Wong Jing,2,Wong Kar-wai,1,Woo Ming Jin,1,Wrath of Silence,1,Xaisongkham Induangchanthy,1,Xin Yukun,1,Ya-che Yang,1,Yamato (California),4,Yang Chao,2,Yang Ik-june,1,Yang Jong-hyeon,1,Yang Woo-seok,1,Yeon Sang-ho,2,Yes Madam,1,Yim Soon-rye,1,Yin Liang,1,Yiu-wai Chu,1,Yoo Ha,1,Yoon-chul chung,1,Yosep Anggi Noen,1,Yoshihiro Nakamura,2,Yoshihiro Nishimura,1,Yoshinari Nishikori,1,Yoshishige Yoshida,1,Yoshitaka Mori,1,Yoshiyuki Kishi,1,Yosuke Takeuchi,2,Yotsuya kaidan,1,You Losers!,1,Your Name,1,Youth,1,Yu Aoi,2,Yu Irie,1,Yuen Chor,1,Yuen Woo-ping,1,Yûji Tajiri,2,Yujiro Harumoto,1,Yuki Tanada,1,Yukihiko Tsutsumi,2,Yusaku Matsumoto,2,Yutaka Ikejima,3,Yuya Ishii,2,Zakka Films,2,Zen,1,Zhang Yimou,1,Zoo,1,Zuairijah Mou,1,Zuri Rinpoche. Bhutan. Five Flavours,1,
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Asian Film Vault: Interview with Sabrina Baracetti: Asian cinema has many faces, it is undoubtedly one of the biggest and strongest on the international market (T)
Interview with Sabrina Baracetti: Asian cinema has many faces, it is undoubtedly one of the biggest and strongest on the international market (T)
We speak with Sabrina Baracetti about the history of the festival, the program selection, the different sections, Asian cinema and many other topics.
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Asian Film Vault
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