The past two years have made us think about what the future of film festivals could be. After all, global festivals have evolved so much over the past few years that they might need to take a Dramamine for motion sickness.
Yet cinema always finds a way. As we look to the year ahead, a plethora of exciting festivals are planned to showcase cinema online and onsite in cinemas. As The Reel Bits perpetually has Asia in the spotlight, we thought we’d highlight those festivals that not only showcase Asian cinema, but also know how to give audiences and fans a good time.
At the time of writing, all of these festivals are expected to continue with their current dates. That said, many are still TBAs – and who knows what 2022 will bring?
Rotterdam International Film Festival
January 26 – February 6
The folks at the Rotterdam International Film Festival have mastered the art of pivoting in recent years. After going fully online in 2021, plans for 2022 quickly changed due to the resurgence of the pandemic across Europe. From January 26 to February 6, IFFR has announced the full festival lineup for this year. Their selection of Asian films is impressive, with unreleased films by the essential Miike Takashi, a retrospective of films by Qiu Jiongjiong and much more. For the full program and screening details, visit the official festival website.
Online Japanese Film Festival 2022
February 14 – 27
Ahead of the face-to-face festival later in the year, JFF announced a global, online event showcasing Japanese cinema. From 2021, versions like It’s a summer movie, Aristocrats and Ito and classics ranging from Rashomon at His love boils the bath water, it’s a great way to experience something new. “During the time when outdoor activities might not be your first choice, we’ve brought fun and refreshment to your living room (or bedroom),” explains the JFF website. “We hope this festival will give you a new and joyful journey.” Check the festival website for all the details.
Mardi Gras Film Festival
February 17 – March 3
The 29th Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival invites audiences on a mission to the queer frontier. With great titles from around the world, Queer Screen also focuses on Asian cinema. There is a terrific selection of films from China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as the incredible Asia Pacific Shorts program. Available in-person and online, you can check out our full headline preview. Just know that you need to check. Periodt.
Osaka Asian Film Festival
March 10 – 20
As one of the first major Asian film festivals of the calendar year, there’s plenty to get excited about. As host to the JAPAN CUTS award for independent films and a competition component that includes the Grand Prize and the Most Promising Talent award, Osaka is the perfect place to keep an eye out for some of the best tickets in the year. Their official website has all the details.
Hong Kong International Film Festival
March 31 – April 11
Now in its 46th year, the HKIFF remains one of the oldest Asian film festivals and one of Hong Kong’s biggest cultural events. Showcasing over 280 titles from 50 countries at 11 major cultural venues in Hong Kong, the inclusion of the Young Cinema Competition (for Chinese language or world films) and the FIPRESCI award ensures that it remains one of the Asian festivals the most prestigious in the world.
Connection with Japan
May 24 – 29, 2022
Germany’s Nippon Connection Film Festival is back for its 22nd edition this year. Each year, the Nippon Connection Festival presents a sample of current Japanese film production with around a hundred films, from shorts and documentaries to animated films and feature films, including numerous German, European and international premieres. Even being online last year, there was some weird and wonderful content that couldn’t be found anywhere else. I can’t wait to know more.
June 13 – 18
Although not strictly an Asian film festival, this prestigious animation festival is all about animation. Of course, that usually means huge Asian representation, usually including films from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and of course Japan, the anime capital of the East.
Sydney Film Festival
June 8 – 19
A festival we’ve covered longer than any other and for good reason: it’s one of the best. After an online 2020 and an ever-changing series of dates in 2021, SFF is back in its traditional slot around the June long weekend. The Antipodean location guarantees access to quality Southeast Asian content, as well as a traditional focus on Iranian film. Discover all our past covers.
New York Asian Film Festival
NYAFF is a one-of-a-kind celebration of films from across Asia and the Asian American experience. Each year, it presents films from Japan, China, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, the United States and even Kazakhstan. We’ve been covering them for a few years, and the only problem we’ve ever had is adjusting to all the wonderful content they come up with every year. This year they are 21 and we can’t wait to have a drink with them.
You couldn’t ask for more from a festival than the magnificent JAPAN CUTS. Since its launch in 2007 with around fifteen films, it now averages about double that each year. The massive celebration of contemporary Japanese cinema is one of the best ways to see what’s making waves in Japan – and who the emerging voices might be.
Fantasy Film Festival
July 14 – August 3
For several years, the very generous genre festival has offered the press access to their titles. It’s been an absolute joy, not least because they tend to have a massive selection of Asian cinema. Last year alone, there were over 50 feature films from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and beyond. There were also dozens of shorts and last-minute additions of major blockbusters. Every year is a joy, so we look forward to this one.
Melbourne International Film Festival
August 4 – 21
The timing of MIFF is always perfect for getting the last drops from Cannes, and this year is bound to be big. The 70th Melbourne International Film Festival makes it one of the oldest festivals in the country. While it’s also been beleaguered by closures and restrictions over the past few years, here’s to capping off an Australian winter with the best of the best.
Taiwan Film Festival in Australia
July 28 to August 13, 2022
Registrations are already open for the 5th Taiwan Film Festival Australia which will run from July 28 to August 13, 2022 in Australia. We’ve supported the festival since its inception in 2018, and it’s been amazing to see it grow into one of Australia’s leading Asian film festivals.
Korean Film Festival in Australia
To be determined
It’s hard to believe that we are already at the 13th edition of KOFFIA, a festival that we have seen grow and become national in this time. (Full disclosure: When the festival started, we were both media partners and briefly served as marketing assistants, but now we’re just big fans of the company.) Expect the latest blockbusters to be period dramas as one of the staples on the annual calendar.
Busan International Film Festival
From the New Currents Award to the FIPRESCI Award, BIFF has spent more than a quarter of a century establishing itself as one of the most prestigious film collections in all of Asia and the world. Even if you can’t get there, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for what’s going on at this South Korean monolith.
TBA – October-November
Much more than just film, Adelaide’s OzAsia Festival showcases the best in theatre, dance, music, visual arts, literature, film, food and cultural events from across the Asia. Even in a difficult year like 2021, they still managed to attract over 180,000 visitors. Visit their website to find out what’s happening this year.
Tokyo International Film Festival
October 24 – November 2
The “other TIFF” is, of course, the Tokyo International Film Festival. Now in its 35th year, TIFF is a premier showcase not only for Japanese films, but for cinema from around the world. Learning from the pivot he’s made so far during the pandemic, we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us this year. TIFF will also continue to deepen its ties with Tokyo FILMeX in 2022.
Japanese Film Festival Australia
TBD October – December
There’s no better way to end the year than with one of the best Japanese film festivals in the world. Now over a quarter of a century in its historic run, it is one of the oldest country-specific festivals in Australia. Brought to you by the great folks at the Japan Foundation, what started as a small event has now grown into a nationwide festival that usually covers dozens of films in every capital city. Also look for JFF Online and other mid-year events.