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The Host invades The Asian Film Awards, Amir Muhammad banned again, and Yunjin Kim in new Korean film, Seven Days. All this and more on the latest edition of News from Abroad.
First Annual Asian Film Awards Recap
The South Korean horror flick, The Host, took home four awards, including best film and best actor for lead Song Kang-ho. The film was honored at the first annual Asian Film Awards, part of Hong Kong's Entertainment Expo, in an effort to draw more attention to the over-700 films produced from Asia with ten awards in ten categories. Other winners were representative of the region with Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke winning best director for Still Life, Iranian screenwriter Mani Haghighi winning for Men at Work, and Japanese actress Nakatani Miki winning best actress for Memories of Matsuko. --Larry Kao
Amir Muhammad: Banned again
Following a controversial banning of Amir Muhammad's 2006 feature The Last Communist, the Malaysian government has gone ahead and banned the acclaimed director's latest film, Village People Road Show (Apa Khabar Orang Kampung). As posted on Muhammad's blog, the censorship board offered the producers seven reasons for the banning, all related to the film's broaching on sensitive political and historical matters. Muhammad was given a chance to appeal, but it was quickly rejected. Read the details of the decision here. --Brian Hu
Miyazaki out to sea
Never one make good on his promise to retire, Hayao Miyazaki has confirmed his next film, Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on a Cliff), to be released in summer of 2008. Distributor Toho officially announced the good news on Japanese TV, and that the new feature will be about a goldfish princess who wants to become human. Reportedly, much of the film (70 to 80%) will take place at sea. Ponyo will be the master's first film since 2004's Howl's Moving Castle, although for those lucky enough to live in Japan, Miyazaki made three short films screened only at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. --Brian Hu
Chinese Filmmakers Escape Punishment
Two Chinese filmmakers have so far gone unpunished for their act of screening their unapproved film, Lost in Beijing, at the Berlin Film Festival. The verdict over producer Fang Li and director Li Yu is being closely watched because of a previous ban on another Chinese filmmaker (Liu Ye) after a similar incident occurred at the Cannes Film Festival. While the two had edited the original film five times to secure governmental approval, cutting scenes of prostitution, gambling, and other urban vices, the original edit was shown in Berlin because they did not have the subtitles ready for the edited version. Fang also claims that the reason for their continued lack of punishment is because the authorities do not want to draw attention to their situation. The pair said they will continue to test the boundaries set by the government. --Larry Kao
UTV - Mehra Collaboration Formalized
The rising Indian studio UTV has made their partnership with director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and his production company, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Productions. The agreement is for four films to be produced jointly, and the films have already been planned out. The first release to come out under the co-production will be a big-budgeted drama called Dilli-6, while the latter three films of the agreement will be an action-adventure trilogy. --Larry Kao
Yunjin Kim back on big screen
Lost star Yunjin Kim breaks from TV to return to South Korea for the thriller Seven Days, Kim's first Korean film since 2005's Bystanders. Prior to becoming Sun Kwon on the acclaimed American serial in 2004, Kim was one of Korea's most visible stars just as its mainstream cinema was becoming one of the world's most successful and envied. Her most famous role was as a sexy commando in the 1999 mega-blockbuster Shiri. Seven Days, to be directed by horror director Won Shin-yeon, will only be Kim's second film in five years. --Brian Hu
Free break for foreign productions
In an attempt to attract more foreign film and TV shoots to Seoul, Seoul's city government is offering foreign productions a refund of 25% in city spending, up to a maximum of $100,000 per project, through the Seoul Film Commission. In addition, the Commission is also offering foreign crews free plane tickets and accommodation for location scooting trips. Seoul hopes to attract major Hollywood and European productions, which have made their way to Hong Kong and India in recent years. --Ana La O'
Indian Film Academy Awards Launch
Indian cinema legend, Amitabh Bachchan, traveled to Leeds last week to launch the 2007 Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA) -- India’s equivalent to the Oscars. At IIFA's breakfast launch, Bachchan mainly reflected on the years event partnership with Global Cool -- a campaign that aims to decrease greenhouse gas emissions through inspiring lifestyle changes. "IIFA is committed to using the power of Indian cinema to build bridges and bring people together on global issues," said Bachchan. The four day Indian awards event, slated for June, is expected to bring in 28,000 visitors and will be broadcast globally to an audience of 500 million people. --Ana La O'
APL Endorses Filipino Fashion
Thanks to his Filipino-inspired tracks "Bebot" and "The APL Song," Black Eyed Pea APL de Ap has won devoted Filipino fans, a Philippine Presidential Award of Merit, and most recently, a modeling gig. As the newest face of Philippine clothing label, Human, the rapper traveled to Manila to endorse the brand's latest denim line as well as an upcoming collection of shirts, which feature phrases like "Hey Bebot." The shirts were inspired by APL's ability to turn old Tagalog slang into hip phrases. "I'm very proud of being Filipino, and I thank the Filipino people for their support. Of course, I'm also very proud of being with the Human family," APL told The Manila Bulletin. Aside from his modeling duties, APL plans to release a solo album soon, which will feature more Tagalog songs and collaborations with Filipino artists. --Ana La O'
Chinese Art Site launches
In hopes of boosting the visibility of emerging Chinese artists, British art collector Charles Saatchi recently launched a Chinese version of his contemporary art website, www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk . The site includes a special section for young artists called Stuart (short for Student Art). Saatchi came up with the idea after a number of Chinese students submitted pieces to his English gallery website. Upon further research, Saatchi and his team discovered that an estimated 10,000 students graduate from art schools in China every year, but there are only 300 galleries in Beijing and 300 in Shanghai, already representing some 14,000 artists. "That leaves roughly 10,000 unrepresented artists," Kieran McCann, the site’s creative developer, told The New York Times. So far, only 23 students have posted their work on the art site, but Saatchi is creating a Mandarin chat room and debate forum to attract new artists and inspire more interaction on the site. And if that's not enough, Saatchi is also sponsoring a six-month competition called "Showdown," the online art equivalent of American Idol. First prize? £1000 and a chance to display a collection at the Saatchi's new 50,000 square foot gallery, which opens this fall in London. --Ana La O'
Date Posted: 3/30/2007