Your Kontinent Richmond International Film and Media Arts Festival expands its global exploration

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      It's fitting that the animated French 3-D feature Tale of the Night, a telling of six fables from around the world, is one of the first films to screen at Your Kontinent: Richmond International Film and Media Arts Festival. The film's global outlook encapsulates what the festival is all about: exploring intercultural and international perspectives.

      In fact, Your Kontinent, copresented by the Cinevolution Media Arts Society and the City of Richmond, has grown even more adventurous and ambitious, expanding from three to nine days this year. The third annual festival (formerly known as the New Asia Film Festival) will run from July 19 to 27.

      In everything from a drama about a friendship between a Chinese worker and a Slav immigrant in Italy (Shun Li and the Poet) to a short documentary by a UBC grad about a Chinese community in Africa ("Afrinese"), the festival aspires to explore its vision of a socially diverse but cohesive society.

      Although the film program culls selections from countries as varied as France, Russia, the Philippines, and South Korea, it also doesn't lose sight of domestic diversity or indigenous cultures.

      Miss Universe Canada 2012, Sahar Biniaz, stars in local filmmaker Baharak Saeid Monir's feature Ambrosia, about an Iranian Canadian couple, Leila and Ali, in Vancouver whose dreams for professional aspirations are complicated by the romantic interest of Leila's boss.

      Another local connection can be found in Vancouver-based Karen Lam's thriller The Stained, about a woman trying to save her sister from a destructive relationship, will screen as part of the Late Night Horror program along with her short "The Pit", about an empty polar bear habitat.

      Local filmmaker Jason Karman's short, "Kimchi Fried Dumplings", about a prodigal son who returns home for Christmas to introduce his boyfriend but encounters familial tensions, will screen as part of Indonesian Night with Nagasari, about a Calgary family dealing with the loss of their mother.

      Another LGBT–interest film is the documentary The Lulu Sessions, in which Casper Wong captures the last fifteen months of the life of her sometime-lover Dr. Louise "Lulu" Nutter, who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

      Meanwhile, aboriginal cultures get the spotlight in the featured artist program.

      Artist Dana Claxton will exhibit several site-specific works, including a four-channel video installation (Rattle) and a two-channel projection (Video Tipi) that will incorporate cosmologies, the supernatural, techno dance music, and Lakota Sioux healing songs. She'll also lead community members in creating a large medicine wheel, and collaborate with artist Pisui Ciyo in a multidisciplinary performance.

      Meanwhile, international perspectives on indigenous issues are explored in selections such as "Barefoot" (Canada), On the Ice (USA), The Sun Beaten Path (China), and A Year in the Cloud (Taiwan).

      The Media Arts Program will again feature the popular Art in Containers exhibition, in which shipping containers server as pop-up galleries showcasing local contemporary artists, including Sean Arden, Erin Siddall, Mark Illing, Sophi Liang, and Mysteryforms.

      To cap things off, the Venezuelan drama Cenizas Eternas (Eternal Ashes) will close the festival, complete with Venezuelan musical performances and cuisine.

      For more information about the festival, visit the Your Kontinent festival website