On August 5, 2018, I watched the Asian film Burning directed by Lee Chang-Dong, a Korean director, at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.
The film that won the FIPRESCI Competition at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival also won praise at the Melbourne International Film Festival. After the movie was over, the applause thundered, and many people didn’t even want to miss the ending song.
The original author of Burning is Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, and the director and starring are Koreans. Therefore, the film is a movie that full of East Asian emotions. A pure East Asian film like Burning seems to be in a cold reception in a theater dominated by Western audiences. However, the film screening scene is not only packed, but the number of non-Asian viewers is even more.
This may be explained from one side that Asian film has become a force that cannot be underestimated at the Melbourne International Film Festival and even the Australian film market.
(From the film Burning)
In the wave of globalization, Asian filmmakers are happy to choose MIFF as their way to showcase their Australian fans. According to the statistics of related websites, there are 29 Asian films participating in the festival, and many of them have exerted great influence at some international film festivals and local and overseas markets. The Film Festival Organizing Committee also expressed strong welcome to Asian films. As early as 2013, the official spokesman of the festival publicly welcomed the arrival of Chinese director Jia Zhangke “What excites me the most is the Cannes Best Screenplay Award film “A Touch of Sin”, directed by Jia Zhangke…we are very honored to invite Jia Zhangke and Zhao Tao to attend the Melbourne Film International Festival. This is the first trip to Australia for this couple of filmmakers.”
(Jia Zhangke and Zhao Tao)
The popularity of Asian films in the Australian market is inseparable from the fact that more and more Asian immigrants have come to Australia in recent years.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of December 31, 2016, the population of Australia has reached 24.4 million. Compared with 5 years ago, there were 1.3 million more immigrants in Australia, of which 191,000 were from China and 163,000 were from India. The UK is still the largest language in Australia, but Mandarin (2.5%) is second.
The arrival of Asian immigrants also brings a unique Asian culture. The Australian government has been pursuing multiculturalism, which to a certain extent allows Asian immigrants to retain their own culture and, on this basis, maintain an equal and peaceful exchange with Australian native culture. In the collision between the two cultures, the two cultures are mutually acceptable. As an important part of cultural exchanges, the recognition of Asian films in the local market fully demonstrates the strong will of Australian natives to understand different cultures.
MIFF began in 1952 and has been positioning itself as “an Australian cultural icon which has had an essential role in putting Melbourne on the national and international cultural map”. As one of the local cultural events, the attitude of that the Melbourne International Film Festival welcomes and accepts Asian films reflects the intentions of Australian fans to a certain extent, and Asian films have become more well-known through this platform.
Ding, WL. (2017). More Asian immigrants, Mandarin is the second largest language, Retrieved from http://www.chinanews.com/hr/2017/06-29/8264549.shtml
Gary, R. (2018). ‘Burning’: Lee Chang-dong Cannes hit sells to Palace films in Australia, NZ, Retrieved from https://thereelbits.com/2018/05/23/burning-lee-chang-dong-cannes-hit-sells-to-palace-films-in-australia-nz/
Gary, R. (2018). MIFF 2018: Asia in focus at the Melbourne international film festival, Retrieved from https://thereelbits.com/2018/07/11/miff-2018-asia-in-focus-at-the-melbourne-international-film-festival/
MIFF. (2018). Our Purpose. Retrieved from http://miff.com.au/about
Tencent Entertainment. (2013). Jia Zhangke and Zhao Tao will bring “A Touch of Sin” to the Melbourne International Film Festival, Retrieved from http://ent.qq.com/a/20130726/014752.htm