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STILL HUMAN TRIUMPHS - FEFF audiences and Black Dragon pass holders crown Hong Kong the winner

"We live on the other side of the world and we were worried that our film wouldn't be understood. But the world speaks a single language: the language of love..." These were the words of excited and radiant young actress Crisel Consunji on the triumph of Hong Kong film Still Human at the Far East Film Festival 21, as she shared the stage and the applause of the Teatro Nuovo with director Oliver Chan and monumental protagonist Anthony Wong (already winner of a Golden Mulberry Award for Outstanding Achievement).


The public were in no doubt about the winner, and neither were the Black Dragon pass holders, who gave Still Human the Critics Award. In second place came Chinese black comedy Dying To Survive, and in third position Korean blockbuster Extreme Job. Finally, the White Mulberry award for First Film went to Melancholic by Japanese newcomer Tanaka Seiji, while readers of opted instead for another Japanese film, Takeuchi Hideki's Fly Me To The Saitama.


9 days. Screenings of 77 films that describe the present and look to the future. 3 world premieres - and 14 first films - that demonstrate the central position Udine has earned itself in the Asian film market. This is the Far East Film Festival and this –  in a slightly reductive form - is the balance sheet of the twenty-first edition.


This year, the Silk Road brought 60,000 spectators, 200 guest stars from Asia (including, let's not forget, superstars Jeon Do-Yeon, Yao Chen and Anthony Wong) and 200 professionals from the Asian and European film industry (sales agents, buyers, key players of the international Ties That Bind workshop and of the Focus Asia project market) to the "Giovanni da Udine" Teatro Nuovo and the Cinema Centrale.


Add to that the 1,600 pass holders (including journalists, teachers, students and ambassadors from other festivals) from over 20 countries: Italy, Holland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, the United States, France, Belgium, Switzerland, China, Canada , Spain, Hong Kong, Japan, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Norway, South Korea, Czech Republic, Brazil, Sweden and Serbia.


And despite the slightly less-than-inviting weather, FEFF 21 has also had a decidedly positive effect on the city: the packed FEFF Events programme of over 100 events, including the now traditional Cosplay Contest, brought in over 20,000 attendees. And we mustn't forget the festival's extremely active social media community, which once again this year numbered thousands of fans  (30,000 on Facebook alone).


But in spite of these results and indicators of growth, and despite an international reputation which each year grows more solid and the festival's significant local economic impact, the FEFF continues to face deep cuts in public funding: this year, the organisation was forced to organise the festival with over 150,000 euros less than in 2018. And it goes without saying that it is impossible to maintain and protect the standards acquired over the last twenty years if this haemorrhaging of vital resources should continue. For the moment, the FEFF is holding out – which is to say, is working miracles - thanks in part to the indispensable commitment of its volunteers. But an event as complex and ramified as the FEFF needs a different kind of institutional approach if it is to look confidently to the future. And the future, of course, means next year's edition.


So all that's left to do is make a date in Udine for the Far East Film Festival 22, from the 24 April to the 2 May 2020!


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