Faiyaz Jafri Pines for Hong Kong's Indie Art and Film Scene
The Dutch-Pakistani animator and composer holds the inaugural Third Culture Film Festival with his partner Harry Oram.
What do you think of when you use the phrase “third culture?” The way I see it, “third culture” is what is happening around the world when people are not bound by borders or their cultural heritage any more.
Would you say that this describes you? I’m definitely a third culture kid. I’m half-Dutch and half Pakistani. I grew up in the countryside of the Netherlands in the 60s and 70s. I lived in Amsterdam for a while, then moved to New York for a couple of years and now I live in Hong Kong.
Why create this festival? I’ve been coming to Hong Kong for over 15 years: My wife is from here. There’s things I definitely love about Hong Kong. The sheer massiveness of it, the compactness and the density and the architecture—visually, it’s always crazy to walk through Hong Kong. But what I do miss in Hong Kong is an independent arts and film culture, a prolific one, one that is heard and seen. The scene here is very low-key and hiding in the fringes of the city. That’s the reason why we thought that Hong Kong really needed something like this.
What was your process of curating the films? I watched all the submissions over six, seven, eight months. We wanted to put a bunch of films together that were interesting for the Hong Kong audience, something that they had never seen yet. You go through a process: you watch all the films first and you decide: yes, no, yes, no. You look at the quality of the film, the story, originality, for something that sticks with you. You find films that you really need to include, and they become anchor points: then you have to think of which films go with which films. It’s basically like a DJ putting together a setlist. In the end we have six blocks of two hours, over three days, divided by genre.
Where are the films from? They’re from pretty much everywhere: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, quite a few from Canada, two from China, four from Hong Kong… one matinee screening is a showcase of all the films from Hong Kong.
Did you always intend on screening only short films? We wanted to do feature films as well, but as this was our first year, we had no idea what to expect and what we wanted. Most of these films are unknown, in that they’re not overly televised or advertised or promoted by big studios. They’re high quality, well produced, well acted films, but they’re independent so they’re not connected to a distribution system. We thought if we did short films, we could offer a lot of them—we have 70—and people can watch a few and get an idea of these different stories. Peoples’ attention spans are decreasing a lot, and short films seem to be more attractive. People would rather come to a block of 10 films than watch one film.