Living in Hong Kong, it’s easy to forget that Asian cinema can be a hard thing to come by in many parts of the world. In Poland, it’s so rare to see Asian films – both commercial and arthouse – in its cinemas that the country’s largest Asian film festival has decided to distribute Asian films on its own.

After putting its first release, Apocalypse Child, in cinemas on October 6th, organizers of the Five Flavours Film Festival are now focusing on their 11th edition (November 15th-22nd), opening this week in Warsaw.

The festival’s centerpiece in its New Asian Cinema competition section, made up of 11 films from across Asia.

Five Flavours Director Jakub Krolikowski tells Asia in Cinema that the competition is the section of the festival that takes the longest time to put together.

“We aim to include films that portray the diversity which characterises East, South-East and South Asia and bring a comprehensive picture of current socio-political situation in the region,” Krolikowski says.

The films cover a wide range of genres and issues, including a seemingly impossible intercultural romance in Katsuya Tomita’s Bangkok Nites (バンコクナイツ), a small town filled with grifters and cheats in Golden Horse-nominated Chinese dark comedy Free And Easy (輕鬆+愉快), Vietnamese cannibals in KFC, a bipolar disorder sufferer trying to return to society in Hong Kong’s Mad World (一念無明), and a widow seeking justice in Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina Si Pembunuh Dalam Empat Babak).

However, according to Krolikowski, the films do share a common thread: “We find social commentary the crucial criteria for a film to be included in the competition…We are very much interested in combining auteur perspective and genre films, and many titles in this year’s competition meet the criteria. It means that some of these films offer accessible and even entertaining form but simultaneously skilfully and wisely discuss difficult and uncomfortable subjects.”

Unlike other festivals where industry professionals pick the best film of the competition out of their professional judgment, the winner of Five Flavours’ competition will be chosen by the People’s Jury, which consists of eleven Asian cinema fans that are picked by the festival. It’s another way for the festival to emphasize that it is ultimately created to quench the thirst of current fans of Asian cinema in the region and to cultivate future fans as well.

Asia in Cinema is a media partner of this year’s Five Flavours Film Festival