(From L to R: Madam Agnes Dovert, (Director of Alliance Francaise Kuala Lumpur), Mr. Stephane Dovert (Counsellor for Science and Culture at the French Embassy), Mr. Jean Wasser (Vice President of Alliance Francaise Kuala Lumpur) , Ms. Koh Mei Lee (CEO of GSC) , Mr. Tan Keng Chok (Representative for The Mayor of Kuala Lumpur), H.E. Madam Martine Dorance (Ambassador of France to Malaysia), Y.A.M. Tengku Zatashah binti Sultan Idris Shah (Royal Patron and President of Alliance Francaise Kuala Lumpur), Mr. CK Tan (Representative of Martell Malaysia).
While blockbuster fanfares like "Marvel's The Avengers" and "Transformers" see no obstacles in their path to strut to our screens, passionate moviegoers who relish in artistic effort rather the latest pop culture craze, owe it to cinemas who have long partnered with international embassies to bring movies from foreign lands that would otherwise not reach our shores.
Marking their foray into avant-garde cinema since the launch of their International Screens at GSC Mid Valley in 1999, the effort distinguishes specifically the wealth of showcasing art-house, award winning foreign language films for local audiences.
13 years later, and the film exhibitor have expanded its screenings to not only GSC Mid Valley and then eventually to GSC Gurney Plaza, Penang, but also to GSC 1 Utama in June 2005 and then to GSC Pavilion KL in November 2007.
Now via hosting the 11th edition of the French Art and Film Festival (FAFF), which also marks its organiser's Alliance Franchise de Kuala Lumpur's 50th anniversary, GSC yet again showcases a special delicacy for delectable art-house movies.
Mr Stephane Deneve (International Conductor), Madam Agnes Dovert and Mr Eric Le Sage (Leading pianist).
Marking the event with a resounding bang this week, was the grand opening ceremony at GSC Pavilion which saw dignified attendees from the local as well as international French community, CEO of GSC Ms. Koh Mei Lee, along with esteemed guests who were patiently awaiting the festival's return to embrace the French culture once again.
On the importance of hosting the film festival, Ambassador of France to Malaysia H.E. Madam Martine Dorance said, "Culture is never overlooked in the vast development of Kuala Lumpur, so for this special edition which celebrates the Golden Jubilee of Alliance Franchise de Kuala Lumpur which is hand to hand with GSC's Silver Jubilee celebration this year, what better way is there then to bring a cultured festival to multicultural audiences than some of the great French movies on display?"
Seven French movies are set to be screened at GSC Mid Valley, 1Utama and Pavilion KL from May 24 to June 3; and at GSC's Gurney Plaza, Penang from June 7 to 13.
Mr. Stephane Dovert and H.E. Vincent Piket (Ambassador and head of the European Union delegation to Malaysia)
Among the highlights is the critically acclaimed Oscar winning silent film "The Artist" starring Jean Dujardin, making way for one time screenings only at GSC Pavilion KL on Friday, 25 May (9pm) and GSC Gurney Plaza Sunday, 10 June (1pm), which according to a cinema insider, are completely sold out due to having been snapped up like hot cakes since its ticket sales commenced.
GSC's CEO, Ms. Koh Mei Lee who was also present at the French affair, shared her excitement on what the festival had to offer, especially for "The Artist".
"Enthusiastic fans have been calling weeks in advance regarding the festival and whether free passes would be given. I for one am personally looking forward to "The Artist" and I have already gotten my tickets for it."
On the other end of "The Artist", is a rare advent of "The Intouchables", a well-received movie about a paralysed rich man and his relationship with his ex-con caretaker Driss, also with limited screenings at GSC Mid Valley, Saturday 26 May and at GSC 1 Utama on Sunday, 3 June.
The limited screenings are attributed to the high demand of the films overseas, overriding the number of available prints which will only be accommodated to one hall only, for each of the screenings aforementioned.
Interesting to note nevertheless, that this would not be the first time a silent film has been showcased at GSC. Last year's European Union Film Festival presented classic black and white Charles Dickens films; "Oliver Twist" (1922) and "Great Expectations" (1946) for the first time in Malaysia on the big screen.
Miss Kyoko Kugai and Mr Shoichi Toyoda from Japan Foundation.
The Past & The Upcoming...
Over the years GSC has also played host to a number of other festivals to balance the fusion apart from the French arts, and they were the; Japan Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Argentina Film Festival, European Union Film Festival, Latin America Film Festival and the Kuala Lumpur Palestinian Film Festival, for which the latter was graced by former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad.
Among the memorable highlights, was the Japan Film Festival last year which was hosted by Shigeru Nakamura, Ambassador of Japan in Malaysia and Toyoda Shoichi, director of the Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur which also saw to Cinema Online as the official online partner for the event.
GSC Pavilion KL was all glitz and glamour for the world premiere of Japanese drama "Second Chance" which enabled Malaysians to be the first in the world to watch the story which is set partially in Malaysia, before the movie was due for release in Japan. Gracing the event was the director himself Hiroshi Kurosaki, who flew in from Japan along with his two leads Hiroki Hasegawa and Kyôka Suzuki. Joining them was also fresh Malaysian actress Nurul Elfira Loy, who was part of the movie cast that met up with eager fans.
Stars at the Japan Film Festival last year, (L-R) Actors, Nurul Elfira Loy, Hiroki Hasegawa and Kyôka Suzuki and director Hiroshi Kurosaki of "Second
"A Simple Life's" Deanie Ip and Cinnamon get acquainted when the actress was down for the 4th Hong Kong Film Festival in March.
More recently though, was the fourth Hong Kong Film Festival in March which brought in the multiple award winning film "A Simple Life" to coincide with the annual Hong Kong International Film Festival held overseas. To the delight of fans, the lead actress from the movie; Deanie Ip and its director Ann Hui, were also flown out to grace the opening ceremony. Even the male lead, the dashing Andy Lau almost made it for the event, but was said to have got caught up in Taipei instead, which had since left fans excited in anticipating which stars would be brought down next year.
Apart from bringing in a selection of movies based on the respective festivals, GSC also serves up an ala-carte offering of movies ranging from the critically acclaimed documentary "Freakonomics", Oscar 2012 nominated film "A Better Life", dramas "Toast", "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen", "Wonderful World", documentary "Sing Your Song" and "The Lady", which saw helmer Michelle Yeoh herself at the launch of her movie in Malaysia .
Now, the next festival on the list is one that is close to home; the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival (KKIFF), supported by the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPARKS) and the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) and supported by the Alliance Francaise, the Japan Foundation and the Goethe-Institute, brings KKIFF back for the fourth year running, to bring not only a slew of international movies, but also movies by our very own filmmakers from East Malaysia.
KKIFF was launched just last week and will take place from 8 to 14 June this year.
Held from the 8 to 14 June this year at GSC Suria, the esteemed event would showcase films from Japan, France and Germany, including the award winning "Welcome" by French director Philippe Lioret. "Father of My Children"; Mia Hansen-Løve's French drama that will also be played during the French Art and Film Festival (FAFF) in Klang Valley and Penang.
Additionally, a dash of uniqueness is offered in the form of the short-film competition, Link5, which is open to local amateur and independent filmmakers to exhibit their work in order to win cash prizes.
To keep the momentous momentum going with festivals and movies, GSC will also be bringing the Japan Film Festival back this September as well as the European Union Film Festival in November this year, while promising to offer more in store for those who prefer a dash of uniqueness apart from the common movie line up.
Follow us in our six part special GSC 25th Anniversary feature over the following months as Cinema Online takes you behind the scenes of what makes a successful cinema leader.
Cinema Online, 25 May 2012