‘The film that was banned from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival,’ while being a somewhat click-baity headline, is the reason you might have heard of this Chinese independent animated feature film. Have A Nice Day was programmed in competition in the world’s largest celebration of animation in 2017, but was suddenly removed from the festival’s line up just the week before. The festival cited ‘official pressures’ and that the decision was ‘imposed on them,’ by (what was largely reported at the time as) Chinese government officials.
I was attending the 2017 festival and, let me tell you, nothing makes me want to watch a film more than a government not allowing me to! The film was successfully released to a handful of other international animation festivals following the furore at Annecy, however, I didn’t get my chance to see what the fuss was about. Imagine my delight, then, on finding out it was coming to my home city!
It’s International Women’s Day this week (March 8th) and by way of marking the celebrations, it’s traditional for WOW to train it’s lens on women’s filmmaking around the world. Usually we focus on the handful of F-Rated movies in the current festival programme, but this year something different has happened. For the first time, 50% of the WOW Festival programme is F-Rated.
Since announcing this, we’ve been praised for being “groundbreaking”, but considering that approximately half of humanity would describe themselves as women or girls, the fact that half the films in WOW’s programme have been made by women shouldn’t really be anything remarkable, right? 100 years on from (some British, mostly white and wealthy) women first gaining the right to vote, shouldn’t this ground have been broken a long time ago?
Although 2018 coincides with both the centenary of women’s suffrage and the popularity of #metoo, this year’s 50% F-Rated programme hasn’t been a conscious response to either. Rather, it’s come about through a long-term commitment to sharing films made by women around the world, and a deep appreciation for the interesting ways that women’s voices can shed light on particular experiences.
That said, if there’s one film in this year’s festival that does tie into the mood of #metoo, it has to be Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s tense and at times nightmarish Beauty and the Dogs, in which a young woman, Mariam, fights back against the normalization of evil. From Mariam’s perspective, the trauma of a rape and its aftermath is cruel, but for the hospital staff and the police she encounters, it’s just another day at work. The difference between these two attitudes, that of personal tragedy and the insensitivity of institutions, defines the tone of the film.
We're delighted to confirm that Heavenly Nomadic is to open the 2018 WOW Film Festival at Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea on Tuesday 13 March!
WOW’s special focus for 2018 is ‘Tales from the Silk Road’, a cinematic journey across the heart of the world. Following the ancient trade networks from China through Mongolia and Central Asia to the Mediterranean, this programme presents some outstanding films that have won festival awards across the world. At Taliesin we are featuring the beautiful Heavenly Nomadic from Krygyzstan about a family of horse breeders. With its wistful humour, this is a warm, atmospheric, sweet natured tale about nomadic traditions that are slowly disappearing from the magnificent mountains of Central Asia.
Set on the shores of the Caspian Sea the visually striking The Gulls plays out amongst the striking cultural mix of Kalmkyia, the only country in Europe where Buddhism is the national religion.
Details of the festival programme at Taliesin Arts Centre are now up on the venue's website: https://www.taliesinartscentre.co.uk/cinema.php
One of this year’s highlights is the hugely powerful, stunningly beautiful Aboriginal tale Sweet Country directed (and filmed) by Warwick Thornton who made the memorable Samson & Delilah.
Not to be missed is highly acclaimed The Square, a wickedly funny, bracingly surreal satire on the pretensions of high art.
Members of Swansea Palestine Community Link, David Gillam and Ambulance director David Gillam on stage following our recent screening of Ambulance at Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea.
As fiercely talented as he was modest, in 1962 Finnish boxer Olli Mäki swept into national stardom as he trained for a once-in-a-lifetime fight against the World Featherweight Champion. There was only one problem: he had just fallen in love. Inside of the ring, it was Finland vs. the USA, but outside, it was boxing vs. romance.
Based on this true story, Juho Kuosmanen's charming debut feature, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, was awarded the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Here Juho reveals why he found Olli Mäki's story so compelling.
The Syrian Civil War is the most catastrophic humanitarian crisis of our era. The conflict has killed more than 400,000 people, wounded almost 2 million, and forced more than 11 million people to flee their homes – more than half Syria’s pre-war population. Of those who have fled their homes, 6.6 million are internally displaced, 4.8 million are refugees in neighbouring countries, and another 1 million have fled to Europe.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, half a million Syrians have been held prisoner or “disappeared” since 2011, mostly in government prisons and security facilities where torture has become industrialized, with some 60,000 people having been tortured to death or died as a result of inhumane conditions.
As of 2016, dozens of governments – including from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, among many others – have spent billions of dollars either directly participating in the conflict or training, funding and arming different parties to the war. At the same time thousands of foreign nationals from dozens of countries have gone to Syria to fight with one or another side. Moving in the opposite direction, the Islamic State group is thought to have sent hundreds of operatives into Europe amongst the fleeing refugees, some of whom were responsible for terrorist attacks in Paris and in Brussels.
Against this backdrop, in this interview The War Show directors Obaidah Zytoon and Andreas Dalgaard discuss mainstream media's portrayal of Muslims, common misunderstandings about the conflict in Syria and what they would like the audience to take with them when watching the film.
On the eve of International Women's Day, we're celebrating with a series of posts on the female directors whose films are appearing in the festival.
Here Anocha Suwichakornpong discusses history, memory and the 'past perfect progressive' tense in relation to her latest film By the Time It Gets Dark.
Ranked among the top 10 hidden gems of 2016, film critic Jonathon Romney described The Future Perfect as "A smart, undemonstrative but deeply joyful Argentinian first feature... about a young Chinese woman (Zhang Xiaobin) newly arrived in Buenos Aires and her attempts to learn Spanish. Formally economical, rich in insights about language, culture and the self, and deliciously comic with it."