Asian Hot Shots fest heads to Berlin


What do three young women working at an Asian film festival do when they realize that their aims don't quite fit within the constraints of the organization employing them? In one particular case, they simply start their own festival, which is how Asian Hot Shots, which debuts Jan. 16-22 in Berlin, came into being.

"We met working at the Berlin Asian Pacific Film Festival," said Tina Lange, who shares the title of festival director with Laura Gerber and Maria Romer. "All of us had different tasks, which is how we found out that we work well together and complement each other perfectly, and that we are of one mind when it comes to what we expect from the organization of film festivals."

Their expectations apparently unfulfilled, they got to work with Asian Hot Shots, placing an emphasis on Asian art films. They also took an extended look at female directors, though not entirely ruling out the testosterone-filled action movies and scary horror films that are a staple of Asian showcases.

"We do want to support the female directors," Gerber said, though she pointed out that Hot Shots is not a women's film festival but rather "strives to show the diversity of Asian film apart from gender or genre."

Financed by private foundations and sponsors, including the Goethe Institute and Amnesty International, the festival will concentrate on three venues in Berlin Mitte. Films from the Philippines will be showcased in the first edition, with additional programs focusing on gay and lesbian cinema in Asia, a retrospective and an Asian Trash section with "genre cinema, 'trash cinema' and 'parodies,' " Romer said.

As for the name of the festival, Gerber said, "We feature young filmmakers who deal with hot topics that are bound to lead to heavy discussions and are often critical to the regime and very political -- but also very creative." Lange said the event wants to be "hot" in the sense of being "young and sexy, just like Berlin."

The trio has their work cut out for them. Even though Asian film festivals flourish all over Germany, similar efforts in Berlin -- including the trio's former employer -- have not worked out.

"We purposely wanted to concentrate on certain areas and a certain kind of filmmaking," Lange said.