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In Session: Asian Cinema and the Cultural Cold War: Images of Diplomacy, Revolution, and Emerging Nations
1: Southeast Asian Film Festival, US Cultural Diplomacy, and the Cultural Cold War in Asia
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
Nanyang Technological University, Republic of Korea
As the first inter-Asian film organization, the Federation of Motion Picture Producer’s Association in Southeast Asia (FPA) began in 1953 under the leadership of Japanese film executive Nagata Masaichi. A year later, the FPA’s annual event, Southeast Asian Film Festival was held in Tokyo on May 8. For at least two decades, the FPA was the single most important pan-Asian film organization. Its annual event, the Southeast Asian Film Festival (renamed Asian Film Festival), was unique that it was hosted in neither a single city nor a single country. Instead, it adopted a peripatetic system that moved it from country to country each year. From the beginning, AFF was a regional alliance summit for film executives, accompanied by screenings, forums, fairs, and exhibitions.
Despite their historical significance, however, the FPA and AFF have not received the scrutiny they deserve, partly because the festivals are still a new field of inquiry that do not fit comfortably within the rigid borders of national cinema studies. Indeed, the AFF, the FPA, and other festivals and regional organizations in this period were seldom bound to a single nation. Most of them were regionally constructed entities, closely tied to non-governmental organizations and/or the cultural policies of postwar US hegemony. Addressing this gap, this project will be the first attempt to resuscitate this forgotten history of film festivals in Asia and reveal an important piece in the larger history of the cultural, political, and institutional linkages between the United States and Asia during the Cold War.