Interview with Festival Director Georges Chamchoum (Asian World Film Festival)

The Asian World Film Festival (AWFF) brings the best of a broad selection of Asian World cinema to Los Angeles in order to draw greater recognition to the region’s wealth of filmmakers, strengthening ties between the Asian and Hollywood film industries. Uniting through cross-cultural collaboration, our festival champions films from  over 50 countries across Asia spanning from Turkey to Japan and Russia to India. All films that participate in the Festival will have a unique chance to be guided through the challenging awards season, showcasing their foreign films to the Academy, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and all Guilds for enhanced exposure, media attention and awards consideration.*

The Social Links are:

https://twitter.com/asianworldff

https://www.facebook.com/AsianWorldFilmFest

https://www.instagram.com/asianworldff/

http://www.asianworldfilmfest.org/

 
  • What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

We pride ourselves on being at the service of the film and the filmmakers. We feel that we are their gateway to the Oscars and Golden Globes during the award season. We give them PR opportunities, which saves the filmmakers a lot of money during their marketing period.

  • What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

We like to think of the Asian World Film Festival as being the window to dreams. Besides screening the Oscar and Golden Globes submitted movies, we also have a Signature Screening Series. 

Our opening night film is Ayla: The Daughter of War, which is Turkeys official Oscar entry.

We screen movies from unchartered territories, little known countries like the Republic of Sakha, Buryatia, and this year a movie called Salt from North Korea.

This is the first time Salt is being screened in the U.S.  The film is directed by the controversial South Korean filmmaker Sheen Sang-ok during his period of filmmaking in North Korea, so we are excited to have it in our schedule.

We also screen Asian American movies. This year we have the 25th anniversary screening of The Joy Luck Club, which was a ground-breaking movie. Several of the cast members will be in attendance for the Q & A.  Our closing night film is George Takei’s Allegiance. We will be honoring George with our Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • What are the qualifications for the selected films?

First and foremost, any movie submitted to the Oscars and Golden Globes for Foreign Language selection from Asian Countries is automatically selected. Then we choose films from countries that often get overlooked but we feel would be interesting to an audience.

  • Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

It’s a matter of perspective and taste, which of course depends upon the individual.  Each movie is perceived in differently.  The Jury sees a film in a certain way, probably different from how the press sees it, and the audience tastes differs most of the time from the Jury or the Press. So, it boils down to one thing: not everyone sees a movie with same outlook.

  • What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

The love and passion for the Asian Cinema.  When we say Asia, we mean from the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean to Japan, from Russia by way of Turkey to India and China. Fifty plus strong countries with a wealth of talent.

We want the Asian Cinema to find its rightful place in Hollywood, a place in the sun. After seventy-one years and only six Oscars, that’s what motivates us.

  • How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We do not have a submission process. After the Oscar and Golden Globe submissions, we have a selection team throughout Asia that makes recommendations, based upon our criteria. Our Los Angeles programming team makes the final selections.

  • Where do you see the festival by 2020?

On the level of the Cannes, Venice and Berlin Film Festivals. We aspire to being a major festival, that will keep the spirit of the art of cinema and not focus on the business side.  It’s the films and filmmakers who are our key focus.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Andrei Tarkovski’s ANDREI RUBLEV; Francis Ford Coppola’s THE GODFATHER TRILOGY; Clint Eastwood’s THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES and Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

The Screenplay. The Screenplay. The Screenplay!

How is the film scene in your city?

How can you describe the film scene in the cinema capital of the world, and for that matter Culver City, the heart of screenland and home of the Asian World Film Festival.

In Los Angeles, Hollywood, Culver City we breath cinema, we eat cinema, we dream cinema – we are surrounded by everything that suggests cinema!

Look left, right, front and center and you see films that defines my City: Sunset Boulevard, Rebel Without a Cause, Chinatown, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, Alice’s Restaurant, The Day of the Locust, LA Story, The Player, Boyz ‘n the Hood, La La Land and I could go on….

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GEORGES N. CHAMCHOUM, EXECUTIVE & PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Georges Chamchoum is an Emmy and multiple award-winning Film Director and Producer, born in Niger West Africa of Lebanese origin. He was educated in France, Germany and Wales and entered the film industry in 1968 after graduating from the Conservatoire du Cinema Francais in Paris.

Georges has directed and produced over 35 features in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Canada and the USA, with many screened at various International Film Festivals and Universities.

He has also organized numerous film festivals since 1982, most notably as Jury Delegate for the Festival du Film Fantastique et de Science Fiction de Paris (France) and as the Executive and Program Director of the Monaco Charity Film Festival.

Georges is currently the International Director of the Yakutsk International Film Festival (Yakutia, Sakha Republic) and International Relations Executive for Notre Dame University International Film Festival (Lebanon). In addition, he is Co-founder of Film Festivals Cinergy, a union of film festivals around the world to promote and champion talent in filmmaking.

Georges has lived in Los Angeles for the past 28 years. Most recently, in 2017, he was named one of the 100 most influential Lebanese in the world and has been   honored in a special commemorative publication to mark the occasion.

 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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