When the San Francisco-born, Hong Kong-raised director Doris Yeung moved to Amsterdam in 2002, she immediately started looking for ways to positively contribute to Asian culture in The Netherlands. Less than a year later, CinemAsia saw its inception, and in March of 2004, the very first edition of the new, biannual film festival saw the light in Amsterdam’s Rialto film theater. Screening 29 films from 12 countries over the span of 5 days, and with an added focus on Asian diaspora and queer cinema, the first edition of the CinemAsia Film Festival was an instant success. The festival was immediately lauded for the way it managed to intimately introduce new audiences to the world of Asian cinema, positively reshaping the Dutch collective consciousness about the continent in the process.
2012 marked the year that the CinemAsia Film Festival went annual, having outgrown their biannual programming and locations like De Ketelhuis. As the festival’s size, popularity and frequency grew, so did its ability to offer talented new filmmakers a creative platform and provide Dutch audiences with the best Asian cinema has to offer. Today, CinemAsia is internationally renowned for its broad yet focused selection of Asian independent films, documentaries, shorts, arthouse films and commercial blockbusters. With a bigger location, and a new festival director and visual identity in tow for 2015, CinemAsia has further cemented itself as one of the key Asian film festivals in Europe.
CinemAsia’s objectives are equivocal: they serve a cultural cause by stimulating the presence of Asian cinema within the Dutch film supply, and they serve a societal cause by offering a creative platform to Dutch Asians and content creators. Being the only Pan-Asian festival in the Netherlands, CinemAsia also strives to connect various Asian communities through connections that transcend ethnic provenance. Having good relations with multiple Asian communities, CinemAsia aims to bring them together through its festival, in particular through its creative platform for Dutch and Asian filmmakers.
The festival especially values the presence of independent Asian films made outside of Asia. These so-called Asian diaspora films touch on the migration and scatteredness of Asians throughout the globe, and are of great societal value due to their ability to invoke a sense of recognition throughout the Asian public in The Netherlands. They also manage to uniquely capture Asia’s cultural diversity, and expose the various ways it can be perceived by different communities. By showing both the similarities and differences between the various Asian regions and cultures through the experiences and observations of Asian filmmakers, the festival hopes to properly reflect Asia’s societal and cultural diversity.