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Philippine festival expands screenings for Asian films

July 16, 2015

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ leading independent film festival is adding a section showcasing Asian films, offering a venue for filmmakers facing censorship in other parts of Asia.

Organizers of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition said Thursday the festival’s new Independents: Asia section will be opened by Zhang Yimou’s acclaimed “Coming Home” starring Chinese actress Gong Li.

Also to be shown are 10 award-winning films from China, Cambodia, Japan, Myanmar, India, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The Philippines enjoys one of the freest independent film scenes in the region so movies censored in other countries can be screened at the festival, said Laurice Guillen, president of Cinemalaya Foundation, which is mounting the festival for the 11th year. The film fest runs on Aug. 7 to 15 in Manila.

“Those which cannot be shown in their own countries because of some kind of (censorship), you can show it here, because we have the freedom,” Guillen told reporters.

She said as a modest start, Cinemalaya invited Asian filmmakers to showcase their films for this year’s festival, but that hopefully a regional competition can evolve in the future. She didn’t name which Asian celebrities were invited to attend this year’s festival because they had not yet responded.

“While it has sought to nurture Filipino filmmakers through the yearly competitions, Cinemalaya aims to inspire Asian filmmakers by showcasing the Philippines as the cinematic center of creativity and free artistic expression ...” the organizers said in a statement.

Asian films to be screened this year — though not necessarily censored in their countries — include “The Ferry” and “Poet on a Business Trip” from China; “The Move” and “The Owners” from Khazakstan; “The Monk” from Myanmar and the Czech Republic; “The Last Reel” from Cambodia; “Six Feet High” from India; “Summer Kyoto” and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” from Japan and “The Night of Silence” from Turkey.

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