The inaugural ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL concluded with a resounding success, marking the culmination of a city-wide event that brought together representatives from 10 ASEAN countries. The festival, aimed at fostering cultural bonds between Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, showcased the diverse cultures of the region through the universal language of storytelling on screen. This event comes at a crucial time when Hong Kong is emphasizing regional partnerships and cultural exchanges as a priority. The festival, organized by the Hong Kong-ASEAN Foundation, took place from August 4th to 19th, offering audiences a curated selection of 14 films by top Southeast Asian filmmakers. Its primary objective was to provide Hong Kong’s youth with a unique window into the rich customs, traditions, and everyday lives of Southeast Asian countries. Through cinema, the festival aimed to strengthen cultural connections and further dialogue between Hong Kong and the ASEAN nations.
The closing ceremony, held on August 19, received praise from Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, Secretary for Culture, Sports, and Tourism of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Yeung acknowledged the Hong Kong-ASEAN Foundation for its efforts in organizing the ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL and noted how the festival aligns with Hong Kong’s strategic direction to become a centre for international cultural exchange.
Over the course of the festival, 21 screening sessions were held, drawing over 600 students and young individuals eager to experience the vibrant cultures of Southeast Asia. Films ranged from Cambodia’s powerful historical portrayals to Vietnam’s artful dramas, offering Hong Kong audiences insights into the textures of culture often unseen. Notably, a screening session featuring the award-winning Cambodian film ‘White Building’ was accompanied by a sharing session with its director, Kavich Neang. This session provided attendees with deeper insights into Cambodia’s distinct heritage and the film’s production. Daryl Ng, Chairman of the HK-ASEAN Foundation, emphasized the festival’s role in promoting a deeper understanding of cultures and celebrating Hong Kong’s position as a bridge connecting the ASEAN nations and mainland China. The festival’s grand finale featured a screening of the critically acclaimed Indonesian period drama ‘Before, Now and Then,’ which depicted the story of a woman finding solace through an unexpected friendship amidst the upheavals of the 1960s.
The ASEAN nations unanimously lauded the festival for fostering appreciation of diverse viewpoints across generational divides. Pech Puthisathbopeaneaky, Consul General of Cambodia in Hong Kong, stated that the festival showcased and honoured the diverse cinematic works, traditions, and customs of the ASEAN region. The Consul Generals of Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam also expressed their optimism for future collaborations between ASEAN and Hong Kong in the realm of films. The inaugural ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL successfully reignited regional relationships through cinema, underscoring the influential role of arts in transcending borders and advancing partnerships. As Hong Kong and the ASEAN nations move forward, the festival has laid a solid foundation for enhanced cultural collaboration in the years to come.