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WOW Is Back: ‘Forty Films, Twenty Five Countries, One World’



Starting on Friday 3 March the ever-popular WOW Film Festival returns to six cinemas across Wales. With eight UK premieres and one world premiere there’s lots to tempt audiences back to the cinema.

In Swansea renowned Welsh painter Alex Williams will be presenting the world premiere of his labour of love, the animated Under Milk Wood In Paint. Richard Burton’s rich melodic voice from the original BBC recording accompanies Alex Williams’ vibrant paintings bringing to life Dylan Thomas’s most beloved poem. 

Anyone who’s a fan of animation will love Abercon, WOW’s accessible West Wales anime convention. Organised with the West Wales Animation Club and Mencap Ceredigion, it offers a family-friendly, joyful day full of anime, creative workshops, games and stalls. Everyone is encouraged to come in costume to enter the cosplay competition. Bethan Kench, learning disability champion and creative director of Abercon says, “Abercon has made my dreams come true. It shows what people with learning disability CAN do.”

The festival opens with We Are Still Here – the rallying cry of Aboriginal and Maori filmmakers whose eight stunning tales of Indigenous struggle tell a sweeping story of hope and survival. Marking the UN’s Decade of Indigenous Languages, WOW’s “Indigenous Voices, Global Vision” strand spotlights the vibrant Indigenous cultures that protect so much of the world’s biodiversity and show us a better, more resilient way to live. It includes Utama, a visually stunning Quechua language tale about an old couple living in the remote Bolivian highlands and includes films from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Bolivia, Cameroon, Finland, and Kosovo. The tour culminates in an Indigenous language event in Aberystwyth on Tuesday 28 March that will give a global perspective on the state of Indigenous language filmmaking.

We Are Still Here

We are still here”, says WOW Festival Director David Gillam, “after the problems of the pandemic, we’re delighted to be ‘back on the road’ taking the very best world cinema to audiences all over Wales. There’s really nothing like the excitement of being the very first people to enjoy a tremendous film at its best on the big screen!

Ruth Carter, director of Kinokulture, where WOW opens, agrees. “Despite the difficulties of the last couple of years, we’re still here serving the local community of Oswestry with the very best of contemporary cinema.

Festival guests include Welsh director Florence Ayisi, who will join WOW on the road at screenings of her beautifully shot, intimate portrait of a community of bronze artisans, The Bronze Men of Cameroon. Screenings in Aberystwyth, Swansea, Newport, Oswestry, and Fishguard will be part of March’s International Women’s Day celebrations.

Nobel Peace prize winner and CND Vice President Rebecca Johnson will discuss Women Against The Bomb, the inspirational story of the first women’s peace camp at Greenham Common that had strong roots in Wales’s peace movement.

A unique addition to this year’s festival is a partnership with Dhaka DocLab, who have curated two films: A Home For My Heart, an intimate portrait of a transgender woman striving to be accepted in Indian society; and The Salt in Our Waters an environmental drama about a young artist on the Bangladeshi Delta who finds himself caught in an elemental conflict between land and sea. Over the past year, WOW has been working with Dhaka DocLab on Bangladesh-Cymru Climate stories to commission four short films from young and emerging filmmakers in Wales and Bangladesh. Aberystwyth festival goers will have the chance to attend a preview screening of Adra Ni, y Môr by Mared Rees and She Sells Shellfish by Lily Tiger Tonkin Wells, with both Welsh filmmakers present for a post-screening discussion. This is ahead of the launch of all four films later this year.

A whistle-stop tour across the world, WOW’s eight UK premieres include Harvest, which immerses you in the world of a Hmong family from the northern highlands of Vietnam; Peruvian thriller The Invisible Girl set in the headwaters of the Amazon; stunning Angolan animation Nayola; Opal, a sumptuous animated fairy tale from the Caribbean; Kosovan drama Vera Dreams of The Sea, and The Visitors set in the snow-covered landscape of the world’s northernmost town.

WOW Film Festival is funded by Film Hub for Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales.

Abercon is funded by the National Lottery Communities Fund.

The partnership with Dhaka DocLab is funded through the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants.

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