Wales One World Film Festival started on the 21st of March across different venues in Wales, including Cardiff Chapter Arts Centre, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Mold Clwyd Theatre Cymru, Swansea Taliesin Arts Centre, Theatre Mwldan in Cardigan and Wyeside Arts Centre in Powys. Screening both new and old films from around the world, it has been the 14th year for the festival to bring multicultural moving images to the audience.
Festival director Dave Gillam reveals in a press interview that at the beginning, he was just organising the festival for his own interests; but now he is already planning the festival for the next coming year. When a cultural event is conducted with such passion and love, the warmth can always be felt. Indeed, for a part-time festival organiser, the director and his team have done a brilliant job to keep the festival going for this long, enabling more culturally diverse films to be seen, and more voices to be heard. WOW Festival certainly acts as an effective resistance towards the dominant cultural hegemony. The celebration of multiculturalism is spreading by engaging local audiences, and by connecting the audience and the other side of the world through the cinematic chora.
Iranian classic THE WHITE BALLOON was chosen for the first day’s programme. Directed by Jafar Panahi and written by Abbas Kiarostami, who almost share the same style, THE WHITE BALLOON focuses on the very small things in people’s everyday life. Razieh, the little girl is dying to buy a new goldfish. When children want something, their determination can be rather scary. After so many attempts to persuade her mother, she finally gets some money for it. Unfortunately, her money falls in the grate on the way. The rest of the movie is bout how she and her brother try to get the money out.
We always think that we know how big the world is, until we identify with a character that is not from our own culture…
The story is as simple as that, but the naturally talented little actress Aida Mohammadkhani can easily melt your heart. Iranian films have always been famous for their realism in cinema, filmed in a documentary style with long takes and natural lighting; a simple story can be as convincing as Hollywood big budget action film. For its brilliant cinematography, the film also won the camera D’or at Cannes in 1995. Including THE WHITE BALLOON in the festival programme is a wise choice. It certainly delivers an ethos of believing cinema is a shared experience that belongs to the world. While the famous French film THE RED BALLOON is known by almost every arthouse cinemagoer in this country, THE WHITE BALLOON comes to be an eye opener. Our knowledge is now updated: there is a little girl called Aida Mohammadkhani who is as talented as Shirley Temple from Hollywood. We always think that we know how big the world is, until we see something so lively from the other side of the world, and identify with a character that is not from our own culture; and temporarily live through their lives, and experience what they experience. It was a treat to watch THE WHITE BALLOON again on the big screen. What the audience gains from the screening is priceless and it shall continue inspiring them, and the way they see the world.
Cinema is the place where you discover the world, as your first step, if you are willing to. Wales One World Film Festival has definitely enriched the arthouse programming at local cinemas, and has widened our cultural borders.
There will be more reviews and reports on their way about the Wales One World Film Festival coming; watch this space. Until then, please visit the festival website to find out more: www.wowfilmfestival.com