Pics entered for Tiger competition

BRUSSELS — Asia provides the first three competitors for next year’s Tiger awards, flagging up the Rotterdam Intl. Film Festival’s continued strong interest in the region.

The competition, for first and second features, is the centerpiece of the fest, which runs Jan. 23 to Feb. 3.

“Waltz in Starlight” is the autobiographical debut of Japanese photographer Shingo Wakagi. Mixing home movies, fiction and documentary, it looks back on his childhood and pays tribute to his stand-up comedian grandfather.

“Flower in the Pocket” by Malaysian helmer Liew Seng Tat tells of two young boys who grow up wild after the loss of their mother. Pic comes with Pusan Film Festival kudos, having earned nods from the audience and New Currents jury.

“Wonderful Town” by Aditya Assarat from Thailand is a love story that unfolds after the 2004 tsunami. Also recognized in the Pusan New Currents competition, world sales rights are already snapped up by Memento Films International.

Asian cinema is also strong in the festival’s other sections. Planned world premieres include Garin Nugroho’s docu “Teak Leaves at the Temples,” about a collaboration between Western and Indonesian musicians and dancers, and “Lucky 7″ from Singapore, with seven independently conceived stories all featuring actor Sunny Pang.

Also touching Asia are world premieres of “We Went to Wonderland,” helmed by U.K.-based Xiaolu Guo, documenting her parents first travels outside China, and “Megumi” by Dutch helmer Mirjam, about a 13-year-old Japanese girl abducted in North Korea in 1977.

The festival will also pay tribute to Russian filmmaker Svetlana Proskurina, with a retrospective and the international premiere of her latest, “The Best Time of the Year.”

The full lineup will be announced in the second week of January.

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