Your Kontinent festival explores world of film

Popcorn is taking a backseat to rice noodle rolls and barbecue pork buns. Cucumber sandwiches and scones also trump popped kernels at the fourth installment of a made-in-Richmond film festival driving toward a theme of interconnectedness.

Your Kontinent festival—running Thursday through Saturday at Richmond Cultural Centre—has evolved from the New Asia Film Festival, with a new focus of celebrating international film and media arts of all cultures. Weaving new twists into the viewing experience—like serving dim sum and high tea during screenings—is a way the festival's chief organizer sees as a way of combining cultures and art forms.

"It creates a new experience of viewing film—not just sitting there and passively watch a film," said Ying Wang, executive director of Cinevolution Media Arts Society. "(Richmond) is multicultural, but people seem disconnected from each other. But if you see the world—everything is connected to each other, so that's what we wanted to try to explore."

Screening at the festival are 21 films, including full-length features and shorts. Audiences can also expect multimedia installations, musical performances, workshops and question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers.

The festival is meant to be accessible to all audiences—not just film types—and capitalize on the development of new media. So the festival brings films outside of the traditional settings, something appreciated by most artistically minded directors.

"Now people enjoy film not always in the traditional theatre. The kids, they watch films on cellphones."

Most films being screened are new —some having already been screened in major festivals—but most are making their Vancouver, if not Canada, premiere.

Films range from the Dutch family-friendly film Eep! (Dutch with English subtitles)—about a birdwatcher who finds a bird that has a body and head of a baby—and The Piano in a Factory—a Chinese film (Mandarin with English subtitles) in which a steel factory worker decides to forge a piano from scratch to fight for custody of his piano-loving daughter.

A favourite of Wang's is Toilet, a 103-minute comedy-drama screening Thursday night. The Japanese film—filmed entirely in Toronto with nary an American Standard or Toto in sight—follows three siblings who struggle to relate to their estranged Japanese grandmother after the death of their mother.

"It's a very touching story about intercultural communication," said Wang. "It's very entertaining and very good production quality."

The festival opens Thursday with the unveiling of "Flash Memory," an art exhibition by Paul Wong, who will transform the inside of Richmond Cultural Centre into a three-channel video installation.

Keeping with the interconnected theme, more multimedia art is in store to festival-goers in the cultural centre plaza. Two shipping containers boasting displays of video artwork will be installed.

The festival concludes Sunday night with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and multimedia performance before the screening of Old Partner, a 77-minute South Korean documentary portraying the friendship of an elderly man and ox who've been together for 40 years.

A full festival pass is $88 or $70 for students and seniors. Single film tickets are $4 to $8. Special event tickets (afternoon tea with film, dim sum movie, closing night event) are $11 to $13. Tickets are available at the Richmond Cultural Centre's front desk, 7700 Minoru Gate.

Some events, workshops and exhibitions are free, including Thursday's premiere of "Flash Memory" and the Friday night's outdoor screening of Gallants.

More information at ykfestival.ca.


Your Kontinent festival schedule

Thursday (July 21)

-10:30 a.m. - The Legend of Beaver Dam (Canada, 12m); Among B-boys (USA, 58m)

-2 p.m. - Human Resource Manager (Israel/Germany/France, 103m), with traditional English high tea

-7 p.m. - Opening reception

-9 p.m. - Toilet (Japan, 109m)

Friday (July 22)

-10:30 a.m. - Japanese animation & filmmaker Q&A (90m)

-12:30 p.m. - Chinese animation & filmmaker Q&A (90m)

-2:30 p.m. - City Monkey (China, 90m)

-7 p.m. - Gallants (Hong Kong, 96m), outdoor screening with live performance

Saturday (July 23)

-11 a.m. - Film and media arts workshops and events throughout day

-1 p.m. - Imagens de uma cidade perdida (France, 92m)

-2:50 p.m. - Japanese animation & filmmaker Q&A (90m)

-3:30 p.m. - In the Mood for Love (Canada, 7m); Passerby #3 (South Korea, 91m)

-4:15 p.m. - Chinese animation & filmmaker Q&A (90m)

-9 p.m. - Tips Blues (Canada, 24m); Live Tape (Japan, 74m)

Sunday (July 24)

-11 a.m. - Film and media arts workshops and events throughout day

-11 a.m. - The Piano in a Factory (China, 119m), with dim sum

-1:30 p.m. - Eep! (Belgium/Netherlands, 80m)

-2 p.m. - Moner Manush (India, 150m)

-3 p.m. - Mokhtar (Canada, 15m); Modra (Canada, 80m)

-6:30 p.m. - Old Partner (South Korea, 77m), preceded by traditional Chinese tea ceremony and multimedia performance


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