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Asian Film Festival starts tomorrow

Friday, July 14, 2006
New Delhi (UNI): Life and message of the Gautam Buddha will be the subject of focus at this year's Asian Film Festival, which will open in the capital tomorrow with France-based Indian filmmaker Pan Nalin's Valley of Flowers. Showcased at the eighth edition of the film festival, which will open at Delhi's Siri Fort auditorium tomorrow evening, will be about a dozen films touching upon Buddhism, to commemorate the 2550th anniversary of the birth of the Buddha. Films like Neten Chokling Rinpoche, Sudipto Sen's The Last Monk, Bernado Bertolucci's Little Buddha, Franz Osten's The Light of Asia, Ho Quang Minh's Gone Gone Forever Gone, Nabendu Ghosh's Trishagni, Im Kwan Taek's Come, Come, Come Upward and Conrad Rook's Siddhartha will feature in the special section on Buddha titled The Middle Path: a Focus on Buddhism. Organised by the Osian's Connoiseurs of arts at the Siri Fort auditorium and Alliance Francaise till July 23, this year's Asian film festival features over a hundred films from 40 countries to be screened in several sections, Including the Indian competition, and Asian competition section, the Arabesque section devoted to Arab cinema, tribute to the legendary Ritwik Ghatak and Stanley Kwan apart from New Theatres, Asian Frescoes, the Indian Osean, In Tolerance and Cross Cultural Encounters.

Among the films in the section on the Buddha, Franz Osten's The Light of Asia (1925), one of the earliest films to speak of Buddhism, shows an old man recounting the life of Buddha to a group of tourists in Bombay. Directed by German filmmaker Franz Osten, 'Light of Asia', which stars Himansu Ray and Seeta Devi, reflects the romantic appeal of Indian mysticism to Germans in the early 20th century. The company that Osten formed to make the film eventually evolved into Bombay talkies - one of the largest colonial era film studios in India. While Neten Chokling Rinpoche's 'Milarepa' is a story of 'Milarepa, the 11th-12th Century poet-monk and mystic from Tibet who rose above the misery and violence around him to become a great visionary, Bernardo Bertolluci's 'Little Buddha' is inspired by a true story of the search for the incarnation of a deceased Lama, inter-cut throughout with the story of Siddhartha.

Ho Quang Minh's 'Gone, Gone, Forever Gone'(1996) captures the mood of the Vietnam war and things past in a unique way while 'The burmese Harp' (1956) by the japanese master Kon Ichikawa portrays the carnage of battle and transformation of a soldier who refused to return to base and devoted himself to burying the dead. 'Trishagni' (1988) by Nabendu Ghosh deals with monkhood and seduction, banishment and repentence amid swirls of desert sands. On a different note, 'Angry Monk-Reflections on Tibet' describes the life of Gendun Choephel, a free spirit and a non-conformist monk who became a symbol of hope for a free Tibet, yet remained a wanderer between two worlds. Over a hundred films from 40 countries representing the best of Asian and Arab cinema will be showcased at the Festival where outstanding cinematic works from Iraq, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia will be screened.

While Valley of Flowers, which will have its world premiere at the festival, will be the opening film, the closing film will be Jafar Panahi's 'Offside' (Iran). This year's Asian film festival will feature 120 films in ten sections. Unlike earlier years, when the entry to the film festival was free for the public, this year, the general public will have to pay Rs 20 per ticket to watch the films on show at the festival. Besides the Indian competition and the Asian competition section, Osian's Cinefan will showcase a clutch of outstanding films in two of its well established sections - Cross cultural encounters (featuring films from different regions of the world) and Arabesque (the latest films from Arab countries) - as well as a large mosaic displaying the range of work being produced in Asia and India, in Asian Frescoes and Indian Osean respectively.

Another section, 'In Tolerance' features three outstanding documentaries that hold a mirror to the past and the present. While the jury for the Asian competition section will be headed by award-winning Japanese filmmaker Ryuichi Hiroki, and consist of renowned filmmaker from Hong Kong Stanley Kwan, Chinese filmmaker Xie Fei, Indian filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Indonesian actress Jajang c Noer, the Indian competition jury will be headed by Italian writer-director Italo Spinelli, the other members being award-winning Indian filmmaker Pan Nalin, Egyptian filmmaker Khairy Beshara and Iranian actress Niki Karimi.

The festival will play host to a large number of luminaries from Asian cinema such as Peggy chiao, Jean Claude Carriere, Mark Damon, Xie Fei and Tu Duu Chih Tony Rayns. Besides, a number of Indian film personalities like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Naseeruddin Shah, Rekha, Dimple Kapadia, Urmila Matondkar, Konkana Sen Sharma and Gautam Ghose would grace the film festival with a greater participation of mainstream cinema than ever before.

Among the film's featured in the Indian competition section this year are Girish Kesaravalli 'In the Shadow of the dog', Santosh Sivan's 'Eternally Secure', Suman Mukhopadhyay's 'Herbert', Taranjeet Singh's 'It could be You' and Onir's 'Bas Ek Pal'. Among the other Indian films to be screened at the festival this year, as part of the Indian Osean section, are Rituparno Ghosh's 'Dosar', Homi Adajania's 'Being Cyrus', Rajat Kapoor's 'Mixed Doubles', Anjan Das' 'Faltu' and Rahul Dholakia's 'Parzania'. This year the film festival will also hold a special screening of Naseeruddin Shah's debut directorial venture 'Yun Hota To Kya Hota' (What If) and Gautam Ghose's 'Yatra'.

Also featured will be a special tribute to filmmakers Ritwik Ghatak and Stanley Kwan which will include films like 'Love Unto Waste', 'Rouge', 'Centrestage', 'Lan Yu' and 'Everlasting Regret' by Stanley Kwan and 'Pathetic Fallacy' (Ajantrik), 'Meghe Dhaka Tara' (The Cloud-capped Star), 'Subarnarekha' and 'Ekti Nadir Naam' (The Name of a river) by Ritwik Ghatak.Four films from the banner of New Theatres will be screened at the festival, in acknowledegment of their 75th year in the business.

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