As you probably already know, next Monday through Sunday (the 21st to
the 27th), YUNFEST, Yunnan’s own independent documentary film festival
and one of China’s most unique cultural events, will be held at the
Provincial Library near Green Lake (just down the street from Wenlin
Jie and popular foreign haunts like Salvador’s, French Cafe, etc) in
Kunming. Over 100 films from China and abroad will be screened in
three screening rooms from 9 in the morning till late at night, with
discussion periods with filmmakers edged in between screenings. A
fourth room is dedicated to film archive equipped with television
monitors where festival-goers can watch festival selected and entry
films outside their usual screening times.
Most of the films this year are provided with simultaneous English and
Chinese subtitles, which makes the event more accessible to the
foreign community. Also, this year YUNFEST will be screening several
foreign-language films, mainly from Belgium and Switzerland in
YUNFEST’s Media Melanges segment:
German-speakers are the best served this year, with several films
being screened in German. Peter Lietchi’s (Switzerland) “Lucky Jack”
takes a humorous look at a man’s quest to quit smoking. “The Women
with the Five Elephants,” is a portrait of the translator of
Dostoyevsky, 85-year-old Swetlana Geier (yes, you probably have read
her translations), and her unique passion of words and language. Yours
truly is very jealous of those of you who speak German and are able to
see this film. This woman is an inspiration.
Classical music fans will enjoy “Shadows” (OV French and German), a
unique visual exploration of Hollinger’s “Concerto for Violin” and the
sources of the piece’s inspiration.
Filmmaker and cinematographer for the Dardenne brothers Benoit
Derveaux will be present at the festival and will be showing two of
his films, “Gigi, Monica…& Bianca” (OV. Romanian), about Romanian
street children, and “La Deviniere” (OV French) about a mental
institution in Belgium. French speakers will be equally delighted to
hear that “Teen Stories” (Romans d’ados, OV French) will also be
shown in its original language. The four-part, extremely committed
documentary project followed several adolescents over the course of
their teenage years. On the other side of the spectrum, “EXIT–the
Right to Die” by French-speaking Swiss filmmaker Fernand Mulgar takes
a sober look at EXIT, a Swiss organization that provides suicide
assistance to the terminally ill.
English-language films presented this year focus on the environment
and will be shown in YUNFEST’s segment dedicated to NGO and
development work, “Participatory Visual Education”. Films include
“King Corn” and its sequel “Big River”, “The Power of Community: How
Cuba Survived Peak Oil”, “The Story of Stuff” and “Soil in Good Heart”
by Deborah Koons Garcia, wife of the late Jerry Garcia.
As for Chinese-language films, I can only say that I personnaly feel
like the filmmakers are finally coming into their own this year. Of
course the subject matter is dazzling, as contemporary China offers so
many fascinating stories, however we see a much more personal
treatment of these stories on behalf of the filmmaker, as well as a
more sophisticated filmic language. In short, one has less and less
the impression of watching a 3-hour home movie and feels like one is
in the presence of a work of filmic art.
I have attached a version of the schedule and the press release.
Please check our website www.yunfest.org for the programme and a
fuller description of the films. Please forgive any errors, it went
online before it got proofed.
I wish you all well and hope to see you at the festival! As a deep,
cloaked voice used to say before each screening at the cinema club I
used to go to in my hometown in Quebec “Bon Cinema!”.