Vladivostok’s 16th Pacific Meridian International Film Festival of Asian Pacific Countries took place from September 21st to 27th 2018.

Jean-Marc Thérouanne co-founder and General Manager of the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema was there, along with his wife Martine Thérouanne – who was also a member of the Netpac Jury – and this is his report of the event:

“The town of Vladivostok, founded in 1860, has quickly evolved into a big city thanks to the Trans-Siberian Railway and its commercial and military port. Vladivostok’s festival organizers are very proud actor Yul Brynner has been born in the city back in 1920.

This year’s program included 199 long and short fiction and documentary features in different sections: Competition, Panorama, Russian Cinema, Tribute to Yamamura Koji (animation director under both Occidental and Japanese influence, a true revelation), Moving Forward, Documentaries, “Family Time” topic, horror movies (After Midnight), Russian Animation, Ingmar Bergman retrospective, film school movies including productions of Vladivostok’s movie school.

The festival’s 16th edition also had two very different guests of honor, Hollywood actress Andie MacDowell (Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, And Videotape”; Mike Newell’s “Four Weddings And A Funeral”) and Russian-American actor Steven Seagal (“Nico” and “Under Siege”, both by director Andrew Davis).

There were three different Juries: International, Critic, Netpac ; the first two had to judge Official Competitions’ short and long features ; the third Jury reviewed a selection of Asian titles included in different sections.
The Netpac Jury was composed by Martine Thérouanne (President), Founder and Director of Vesoul’s International Film Festival of Asian Cinema, Bae Chang-ho, Korean director and Maria Kuvshinova, Russian film critic.
The selection of Asian movies included in different sections for Netpac jury’s review included eight titles: Taiwanese documentary filmmaker Lifang Lin’s “Tsunma, Tsunma: My Summer With The Female Monastics Of The Himalaya”, Taiwanese director Zhou Quan’s “End Of Summer”, Iranian director Vahid Jalilvand’s “No Date, No Signature”, Vladimir Bitokov’s “Deep Rivers” (Russia), Denis Shabaev’s “Mira” (Russia), Naeem Mohaimen’s “Tripoli Cancel” (Bangladesh), Cai Chengjie’s “The Widowed Witch” (China) and Hu Bo’s “An Elephant Sitting Still” (China).

The latter two Chinese titles stood clearly above six other titles for the actors’ performance, the script’s originality, the storytelling and the camerawork.
After an interesting and passionate debate, the Jury decided to grant the Netpac Award to Hu Bo’s 4-hours-long movie “An Elephant Sitting Still”, included in Panorama section.
Hu Bo is a director gone too early: “An Elephant Sitting Still” is Hu Bo is his first and last feature. He seemed a promising director, for his careful mise-en-scène, his remarkable actors’ directing and his character’s well-drawn psychology.

The Competition section included another remarkable Chinese title, Cai Chengjie’s “The Widowed Witch”. The International Jury, under presidency of Russian director Aleksey German Jr., granted the movie several awards, such as for Best Feature (a conch made of blue navy crystal). “The Widowed Witch” has also been granted FIPRESCI Award for Best Feature Film.

The festival’s opening ceremony took place in Mariinsky Theatre, whereas closing ceremony happened to be in Okean Imax Cinema. The multiplex includes four theaters, a new terrace-view restaurant and a venue for press conferences and a screening room.

After a whole day of screenings (10 am – 8 pm), guests were treated every night to a different restaurant not only to learn more about Russian spirit but also to debate about cinema, Art and any other topic, which made better connections between people than the usual superficial networking meetings during the so-called Stand Up Parties.

Vladivostok’s Pacific Meridian International Film Festival certainly stands to its reputation as a friendly, heartwarming and fraternal festival with soul.”

Jean-Marc Thérouanne
Vladivostok 28th September 2018.

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On paper I am an Italian living in London, in reality I was born and bread in a popcorn bucket. I've loved cinema since I was a little child and I’ve always had a passion and interest for Asian (especially Japanese) pop culture, food and traditions, but on the cinema side, my big, first love is Hong Kong Cinema. Then - by a sort of osmosis - I have expanded my love and appreciation to the cinematography of other Asian countries. I like action, heroic bloodshed, wu-xia, Shaw Bros (even if it’s not my specialty), Anime, and also more auteur-ish movies. Anything that is good, really, but I am allergic to rom-com (unless it’s a HK rom-com, possibly featuring Andy Lau in his 20s)"