France’s Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinemas kicks off Feb. 1 with a gala screening of Iranian auteur Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 2001 Cannes winner “Kandahar” and will conclude on Feb. 8 with Kazakhstan filmmaker Yerlan Nurmukhambetov’s “The Horse Thieves. Roads of Time.”
The guest of honor at the festival’s 28th edition will be Japanese filmmaker Fukada Koji, who will be presented with an Honorary Cyclo at the opening ceremony. All 10 of Fukada’s features and four shorts will be presented at Vesoul, marking the first complete retrospective for the filmmaker. In all, 20 films from Japan will play at the festival, including Nakano Ryota’s “The Asadas” and Miyazaki Hayao’s “My Neighbor Totoro.”
The festival also pays tribute to Chinese master Xie Fei, whose masterpiece “Woman Sesame Oil Maker” won the Berlin Golden Bear in 1993.
This year, the international competition jury is presided over by Leila Hatami, Berlin Silver Bear best actress winner for Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning “A Separation.” The jury also includes Nurmukhambetov, Palestinian writer, producer and director Suha Arraf (“Villa Touma”), Philippines filmmaker Zig Dulay (“The Baggage”) and Paris-based producer Bich-Quan Tran (“Schirkoa”).
The films in competition include Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s “No Land’s Man” (Bangladesh, India, U.S.), Da Fei’s “The Coffin Painter” (China), Zhang Lu’s “Yanagawa (China), Hong Sung-eun’s “Aloners” (Korea), Reza Dormishian’s “No Choice” (Iran), Fujimoto Akio’s “Along the Sea” (Japan, Vietnam), Yolkin Tuychiev’s “2000 Songs of Farida” (Uzbekistan), Brillante Mendoza’s “Gensan Punch” (Philippines) and Chung Mong-hong’s “The Falls” (Taiwan).
The festival is being operated as an in-person event with several guests, including Makhmalbaf, Hatami and Fukada expected to attend.
The Marc Haaz jury, in memory of the festival’s technical director who died at the age of 33, will award its prize to a young director. Kavich Neang, Cambodian director of “White Building” will preside and members include Zahra Akhlaqi, exiled Afghan director of “The Inanity” and Jung Wonhee, Korean director of “Doom Doom.”
The festival was founded in 1995 by Martine and Jean-Marc Therouanne, with a view to to present and promote the cinema of Asian territories, enhance intercultural dialogue and encourage the discovery of other cultures through cinema. In 2018, they were honored at the Busan International Film Festival for their contribution to Korean cinema.