The Asian Film Foundation, Mumbai to promote Asian cinema using multi-pronged approach of cultural activities.
Annual Asian Film Festival, Mumbai exchange of films through society network Asian film culture award for Asian filmmakers, film research, publications, seminars.
Cinema was discovered in Europe and developed in the United States into a commercial product. It arrived in Asia immediately after it was invented at the turn of the 19th century. However, Asia began to recognize cinema as an art form after the advent of sound in the 30’s. The pace was slow because there were no films schools, international film festivals & film literature to propel it till 1950. It was the newest art form in Asia, which has a rich cultural heritage dating back to nearly 5,000 years. In the second half of the 20th century, Asian cinema acquired its independent identity with its distinct aesthetics and strong moral values.
Though cinema was introduced to newer Asian markets by Hollywood and other European colonies in Asia, the West woke up to discover the power of Asian sensibility in cinema in 1951 when Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s Roshomon won the Golden Lion at Venice international film festival that year. Satyajit Ray followed it up by winning an award at Cannes IFF for Pather Panchali. Thereafter, it has never looked back and went on to create its own ethos in world cinema. In the past decades of 20th Century, Asian cinema has consistently won top awards at all major global film festivals.
In spite of these achievements, the lay viewer in Asia remains unaware of Asian cinema, its identity, its force as an art form and continues to perceive cinema as an elementary entertainment medium. The imagery of Asian cinema has been recognized gradually by the west, but not by its primary local audience.
The Asian Film Foundation was set up in Mumbai in 2002 with the intention of propagating the distinct identity of Asian cinema to this audience and disseminate film culture in India and abroad.
The Foundation initiated the following activities to achieve the set goals:
The Foundation initiated Third Eye, the first Asian International Film Festival in Mumbai in August 2002. It is held annually.
During the festival, the Asian Film Culture award was instituted the first award went to Sri Lanka filmmaker Lester James Peries credited with initiating the Sri Lankan New Wave cinema in 2002 and Mr Mrinal Sen was honored with the same award in 2003 festival.
A festival catalogue was published giving synopses of films entered at the festival, along with film reviews and criticism. A list of awards won by Asian cinema globally during 1951 and 2000 published in the catalogue made many aware of the achievements of the Asian cinema.
The foundation has been making efforts to network with institutions in other Asian countries working towards promotion of Asian cinema. Networking with like-minded institutions would give impetus to the process.
The Foundation plans to establish a special cell to guide producers and filmmakers enter their films at various international film festivals.