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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

More Asian film-makers tackle social issues in their works

December 13, 2008

By Pearl Forss
Channel News Asia - Singapore
13 December 2008
 
 
SINGAPORE: An increasing number of young Asian film-makers are choosing to tackle social issues in their works.
 
More than a thousand were killed after riots broke out between the Muslim and Hindu communities.
 
Director Nandita Das featured that incident in her first film, "Firaaq", tracing the emotional journeys of ordinary people, caught in the communal violence.
 
"Firaaq" was named Best Film and Best Screenplay at the 2008 Asian Festival of 1st Films.
 
She said: "My background is really on human rights. ‘Firaaq’ was born out of those experiences. It wasn't like I want to be a director, let me look for a script. It was the other way round - these stories found me. I needed the catharsis in a way to get my helplessness out."
 
Another film that tackles controversy head-on is "Khastegi" about the lives of transsexuals in conservative Iran.
 
When casting, the director deliberately chose real transsexuals and not actors for the film.
 
The end-product gave a piercing realism, seldom seen in other directorial debuts.
 
The film-maker could not make it to Singapore to receive a special citation in the Best Producer Award.
 
But festival organisers said the director took massive risks when making the film in Iran.
 
Sanjoy Roy, director, Asian Festival of 1st Films, said: "Young people feel that it is very important to bring about change. They're willing to now move from status quo. They want to break through, they want to break out and they want to be heard. That is the reason why so many of our films at the festival have dealt with problems in society."
 
Another daring first-time director, Dai Wei, spent three years making a film about a mute girl from Beijing seeking spirituality in Tibet and regaining her voice along the way.
 
But in the film, voicelessness becomes a metaphor for Tibetian-Chinese relations.
 
Dai Wei said: "Tibet is very mysterious and beautiful. Both the Han race in China and foreigners enjoy going there. I chose to do a story about a girl who journeys there to seek her lost voice because I found the place enchanting. Even though the shoot was really difficult, Tibet evoked so many feelings in the production crew and they grew more determined."
 
"Khastegi" was banned in Iran while "Ganglamedo" had its run cancelled in many Chinese cities this year because of the controversy of the Tibetian issue. But both films enjoy international acclaim at festivals. Yet the locals, for whom the films were made find it difficult to access these works. - CNA/vm
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