Preview – Aperture: Asia & Pacific Film Festival, June 29-July 8

Aperture: Asia & Pacific Film Festival is a new UK-wide film festival dedicated to screening some of the boldest, most daring, challenging, and striking films from the Asian and Pacific regions.

Focusing particularly on underrepresented cinemas, from Azerbaijan to Vanuatu and everything in between, the festival aims to open windows on worlds whose landscapes and peoples remain largely absent from UK screens. Aperture is the only festival in the UK currently with a remit that specifically covers the whole of the Asian and Pacific regions.

For this first edition of the festival, key areas of focus include films from Central Asia, the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands. The programme comprises 12 features, including 4 UK premieres and 4 London premieres, and 17 short films.

Key themes within the festival programme include migration and displaced peoples, social justice, and female empowerment. Over half of the festival programme comprises films made by women. This spotlight on women in film includes a dedicated shorts programme of films by and about women entitled “Women in the Frame”. This strand also features the first film by a female filmmaker in the post-Taliban era A Letter to the President, the New Zealand film Waru by 8 Maori female filmmakers, winner of three Indian National Film Awards this year Village Rockstars, and a short documentary on human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud and actor- filmmaker/activist Fawzia Mirza The Streets are Ours: Two Lives Cross in Karachi.

Other festival highlights include shorts and features from lesser-known film industries exploring far-flung corners of the Asian and Pacific regions and offering insights into communities and landscapes rarely seen on UK screens – Afghanistan, Armenia, Assam (India), Bhutan, Georgia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Pakistan.

The festival is co-founded and co-directed by Sonali Joshi and Jasper Sharp and is presented in partnership with the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), University of Westminster. The festival is supported by Purin Pictures.

Aperture is intended to be an ongoing and collaborative project with events taking place across the year. The festival opened in Glasgow in the Spring, and tours across the UK during Summer/Autumn 2018, with a two-part programme for the London leg of the festival at the beginning and end of the Summer.

Aperture/London Part 1 runs from 29 June-8 July at Close-Up Cinema, The Cinema Museum, The Lexi Cinema and The Horse Hospital.

Aperture/London Part 2 will take place in mid-September, comprising a Southeast Asian focus and a one-day symposium hosted by CREAM, University of Westminster.

Aperture is jointly presenting some events with other festivals, including Masala Festival in Newcastle at Tyneside Cinema on 21 July, and Chinese Visual Festival in September.

As Festival Director Sonali Joshi explains, “The idea behind Aperture was to bring some of the freshest and boldest films emerging from across Asia and the Pacific, and to fill a gap in the current festival landscape in the UK. We feel this is an important initiative to widen audience choice for Asian films in the UK and to offer more opportunities to see films that rarely reach UK screens.”

Festival Director Jasper Sharp enthuses, “It is absolutely thrilling to be able to bring such a diverse array of wonderful films to the UK, many from countries you’d never expect to be making films.”

Further details are available at the festival website.