film diplomacy

There were constant reminders of Egypt’s volatile political situation throughout the sixth Cairo International Women’s Film Festival. The entrance to Falaki Theatre, which hosted many of the festival’s screenings and its closing ceremony, is unmarked, well secured and directly in front of a high concrete wall abruptly blocking the road—one of many erected by security forces in downtown Cairo to restrict access by protesters to various government buildings and foreign embassies.

Embassies generally busy themselves promoting their own culture and values, spending a large sum of their financial resources inviting cultural troupes from the countries they represent. What if, in addition to promoting their own culture, they could promote the culture and talent of their host countries without committing major financial resources? Wouldn't it be a masterstroke in the practice of public diplomacy and economy of resources?

Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang left his handprint in cement outside the TCL Chinese Theatre on Friday as groups of Chinese onlookers snapped photos of entertainment stars' names on the Avenue of Stars. "Hollywood is a place of sunshine, beach, dreams coming true and endless creativity and innovation," Feng said at the ceremony. "I'm honored to join the people who have left their handprint at the theater."

On January 25, 2011, the day Egypt's revolution began, Jehane Noujaim had a tough call to make. She could stay in Cairo to see if anything might come from the rumors about big protests planned for that day. Or, she could chase some high-level Egyptian officials to Davos, Switzerland.

The Malaysian authorities should immediately drop charges against a rights activist accused of showing a film about Sri Lanka’s civil war without Censorship Board approval, Human Rights Watch said today. Lena Hendry, of the human rights group Pusat KOMAS, was charged under the Film Censorship Act for organizing a screening of “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” on July 3, 2013, in Kuala Lumpur. Hendry, whose trial starts on October 21, faces up to three years in prison and a fine of RM30,000 (US$9,500).

Movies from South Korea and Mongolia have won $30,000 New Currents Awards for emerging filmmakers at Asia’s largest film festival. Busan International Film Festival organizers said Saturday that the festival’s biggest prizes went to “Pascha” by South Korean director Ahn Seonkyoung and “Remote Control” by Mongolia’s Sakhya Byamba. It’s the first time a Mongolian movie entered and won the competition in the festival’s 18 years.

Lebanese-US director Ziad Doueiri said Friday he was willing to face jail to film his award-winning movie "The Attack" in Israel, flouting Lebanon's laws against entering the neighbouring Jewish state. Describing the production there as a "crazy trip", he told an audience at the Frankfurt Book Fair that it still bothered him that the movie, released this year, had been banned in the Arab world.

Asian cinema is definitely reaching a global break-out point. According to the United States-based Motion Picture Association, box office growth in Asia surged 15 percent to $10.4 billion, compared to an uptick of six percent in North America (to $10.8 billion). Asia is on the cusp of becoming the world’s biggest market for cinema.