Asian World Film Festival shines a light on cinema amid COVID challenges


“Stunned” is Georges Chamchoum’s favorite word to use when thinking of Asia’s low performance at the Oscars, especially considering all the masterpieces that have come from the region.

Two years after South Korea Parasite won the award for best film, Chamchoum believes that events such as the Asian World Film Festival, of which he is executive director and program director, are key to increasing those statistics in the future. Through his mission to strengthen ties between the Asian and Hollywood film industries, Chamchoun says, “We are part of the puzzle that puts Asian-American art in the spotlight.

This year, the AWFF (founded by Kyrgyz public figure Sadyk Sher-Niyaz) will present films to members of the Motion Picture Academy, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and all guilds during a critical phase of awards season leading up to the Golden Globes and the Oscars. The festivities kick off with the screening of Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao’s film Eternals on November 1 and conclude with the South Korean film “Escape From Mogadishu”, submitted for the Oscars on November 11.

Zhao will be honored at the festival with a Snow Leopard Trophy for his cinematic achievements. The suicide squad actor Mayling Ng will receive a rising star trophy and France Nguyen’s lifelong work will also be recognized. The festival will pay tribute to Lisa Lu’s 65th birthday as an actress with the screening of “The Disappearance of Ms. Wu” as well as a screening of Fall trip for its 15th anniversary.

The newly designed Snow Leopard Trophies were created by Vietnamese-American artist and master sculptor Sir Daniel Winn, and will be presented for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress, as well as special jury, audience and of distinction.

Festive events showcasing Vietnamese, Korean and African entertainment are also on the program. The awards will be presented by Cambodian Princess Norodom Arunrasmy, Ryoo Seung-wan, Nancy Kwan and Shannon Lee.

To qualify for the competition, films must be nominated for the Oscars or be in the running for similar Golden Globes honors. This year, submissions for several categories are due the same day the festival starts, which has had an impact on the number of films shown at AWFF.

So far the range includes Qazaq History of the Golden Man, We are never alone and Chí Phèo (Ngoại Truyện). Chamchoun expresses a mixture of excitement and concern ahead of the seventh AWFF opening gala.

“We are racing against the clock at the 11th hour. We got seven to eight films. Usually, we show 30 films submitted to the Oscars, ”explains Chamchoum.

He also notes that it was difficult to ensure that those honored at the festival could attend, especially if they are from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and China which face difficult travel restrictions. in the event of a pandemic.

“Fortunately, there are already a lot of filmmakers from these countries in this country,” he says.

As for how the pandemic has spawned creative efforts and anticipated celebrations over the past year and a half – from delayed productions and theatrical releases to events ranging from red carpets to virtual presentations – Chamchoum is delighted that AWFF either in person.

“It’s not my cup of tea,” Chamchoum jokes, referring to Zoom calls and online events.

Despite the issues mentioned above, he says securing a highly anticipated project like Zhao’s Marvel venture, which features a diverse cast including Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani, is worth celebrating. Chamchoum adds that it took three months alone to catch “Eternals” and that he is “extremely lucky that someone at Disney is as passionate as I am for some crazy reason” to help the festival secure it.

“It’s a great movie, an incredible cast, a great director. And of course, we stand up for Asian Americans, so what better way than this film to start our festival? », Says Chamchoun. “For me, the most important thing is that I want a movie that the audience appreciates, that they know they’re not in Hollywood, and that the audience knows that Asian Americans are capable.”

Thinking back to the history of the festival’s opening and closing films, as well as all the awareness it has brought to Asian cinema, Chamchoun says he feels “blessed” for what the AWFF has been able to present so far and is grateful to have such an “amazing team” to make it happen.

“We believe in our mission.

WHAT: The Seventh Annual Asian World Film Festival
WHEN: November 1-11
O: The Landmark, Los Angeles

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