Kuching, Sarawak, will once again be the entertainment hub where filmmakers, screenwriters and actors from 10 Asean countries will gather from April 25-27.
All these creative people will be in attendance of the fourth Asean International Film Festival & Awards (AIFFA), a biennial festival that was initiated by the state in 2013.
This year, the festival’s focus is on embracing technology in the film industry.
At a press conference to launch the event last week, Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah noted that AIFFA has become a platform to bring together film ideas and the business community as there is a huge potential market in Asean.
“AIFFA has grown from strength to strength and judging from the number of entries received (this year), I believe AIFFA is on the right path in becoming THE event that truly brings Asean countries closer together through a unique film festival,” he added.
“Film is one of the most powerful media to bring us all together irrespective of our unique diverse background.”
He also shared that actor Henry Golding, a fellow Sarawakian, was the host of AIFFA in 2013. “We tried to get him for this year’s AIFFA but we couldn’t because he’s so busy now.”
The three-day event is also a way for the state to increase awareness about Sarawak, which launched its Visit Sarawak campaign this year. In line with this, Abdul Karim announced that the Sarawak government is offering initiatives and incentives to attract international filmmakers to choose the state as their “filming destination”.
“Sarawak can serve as a truly natural studio with its backdrops that include our rainforests, gigantic caves, rivers, villages and charming people,” he said.
Festival director Livan Tajang revealed that Malaysian director U-Wei Saari will be acting as the head jury for the festival. The other jury members are directors Alain Jalladeau (France), Amable “Tikoy” Aguiluz (Philippines), Daniel Rudi Haryanto (Indonesia) and Mattie Do (Laos).
The five-member jury will determine the films that would receive awards in 17 categories. According to U-Wei, he has pinpointed five Malaysian films that will be featured in AIFFA 2019. The shortlisted films will be announced on April 8 via AIFFA 2019 app, which was launched at the event as well.
Information on attendees and screening of films will also be available on the app.
“What is interesting is that the quality of the entries has increased. Asean filmmakers want to be recognised by their peers, which is why everyone wants to feature their films in this festival,” said U-Wei, who was also a jury for the previous instalment of the festival.
A criteria AIFFA jury looks for is the film has to explore and promote the Asean way of life.