Five Flavours Asian Film Festival (Azjatycki Festiwal Filmowy Pięć Smaków) is the only annual event presenting films from East, Southeast and South Asia in Poland. Within 13 years, the recognition of the event has been steadily increasing; from the local, Warsaw-focused project, it has grown to a national rank, and nowadays is becoming more and more visible on an international scale, establishing itself as one of the most important European events entirely dedicated to Asian cinematographies.

The Festival is organised by the Arteria Art Foundation (Fundacja Sztuki Arteria), a non-governmental organization based in Warsaw. The Foundation is acknowledged both for producing outstanding cultural events which develop a deeper understanding of contemporary Asian, such as music festival Radio Asia, the only European project dedicated entirely to niche music from Asia.

The first edition of the film event which later came to be known as Five Flavours, took place in Warsaw, in the early spring of 2007. It focused solely on Vietnamese cinema. Why Vietnamese? The Vietnamese community was, and still is, the largest immigrant group representing a non-European culture both in Warsaw and in Poland. It originated from students exchange programmes organised by Polish and Vietnamese universities in the late 1950s. In the early 1990s, after the end of the communist era in Poland, new economic possibilities triggered a wave of Vietnamese immigration, with many families starting small businesses at the now legendary open-air market located at the neglected Stadium, which in the early 2000s, was the most multicultural place in Warsaw, gathering vendors from all over Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. It was also where, in 2006, Arteria Art Foundation and the representatives of the Vietnamese community in Warsaw organized an interdisciplinary project, “A Journey to Asia.” It was a big hit among the audiences, for whom the Stadium was largely a mysterious, undiscovered space, and was well-received in the media, inspiring the organizers to come up with a film event focusing on Vietnamese cinema and the rest is the history.

The Five Flavours FIlm Festival program consists mainly of titles unknown in Poland, unavailable in regular distribution. The extensive selection includes both auteur’s cinema and high quality genre films, bold works by independent filmmakers and commercial, high-budget productions, which have been particularly popular in Asia. Film screenings are accompanied by a diverse program of additional events, including meetings with filmmakers, debates with critics, lectures of experts, workshops etc.  

A special place in the festival’s program is occupied by the competition section called New Asian Cinema. It’s an explosive mixture highlighting diversity of Southeast Asian cinematographies, showcasing the latest and most daring auteur films and presenting the whole spectrum of styles. The focus here is on young, often debuting filmmakers, whose fresh point of view and passion attract the attention of the selectors. This section is usually accompanied by invigorating Q&A sessions with festival guests, touching not only on their films and cinephile fascinations but also contemporary culture, art and socio-political issues. Grand Prix of the Festival is announced by People’s Jury.. This is an initiative unheard of at other festivals, in which a group of 11 film enthusiasts from all over Poland not only judge competition films, but also participate in a series of editorial, cultural and film studies workshops. People’s Jury is a project very much appreciated by our guests and the film industry.

Over the years, Five Flavours have build lasting relations with several international organisations like Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office or Japan Foundation. The Asian Cinerama section, prepared in cooperation with the Asian Film Awards Academy, is now a permanent part of the program. AFAA’s awards, sometimes referred to as the Asian Oscars, are intended to provide an alternative to the world’s most important film awards and to contribute to the promotion of high-quality commercial cinema from Asia. The Five Flavours Film Festival, unlike many European festivals, does not focus only on arthouse cinema and socially engaged films, but unapologetically includes in its program biggest box-office hits, showing Asian realities from the fresh and eye-opening perspective. Five Flavours programmers love genre films. The festival is particularly famous for its horror nights and every year promises a fair share of scares.

The Festival has established close cooperation with other European film festivals dedicated to Asian cinema. It developed the idea of project “Festival as a form of education”, implemented within Erasmus+ Programme, through which it works together with Dutch Camera Japan Festival, Italian Udine Far East Film Festival and Finnish Helsinki Cine Aasia on a series of online initiatives aiming to popularise knowledge of Asian cinema. 

In 2017, the Five Flavours Film Festival started its distribution branch. Since Asian films appear in theatrical release very rarely, the goal is to fill this gap and show general audiences how inspiring, revealing and surprising contemporary Asian cinema can be. As part of its efforts to popularise Asian cinema in Poland, it also publishes books: the pioneering “Silent Explosion. New Cinema of East and South-East Asia” edited by Jagoda Murczyńska, was awarded the Best Film Book Award by the Polish Film Institute in 2016. During 13th edition of the Festival in 2019, the next book, “Made in Hong Kong. Cinema in the times of change” is going to premiere, very timely dedicated to Hong Kong cinematography. 

Since the 7th edition of the Festival in 2013, the visual identification of the festival is inspired by the Lunar Calendar. 2019 is the Year of the Pig (in some countries the Boar), which is a symbol of prosperity, wealth and success.

13th Five Flavours Asian Film Festival will take place from 13 to 20 November.

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My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia. Starting from my own blog in Greek, I then moved on to write for some of the major publications in Greece, and in a number of websites dealing with (Asian) cinema, such as Taste of Cinema, Hancinema, EasternKicks, Chinese Policy Institute, and of course, Asian Movie Pulse. in which I still continue to contribute. In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own website, Asian Film Vault, which I merged in 2018 with Asian Movie Pulse, creating the most complete website about the Asian movie industry, as it deals with almost every country from East and South Asia, and definitely all genres. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.