By Graham K. Rogers
A number of countries round the world have held their own film festivals in recent years and most, on the surface are successful, bringing to the viewing public a range of movies that they might not otherwise be able to see in a cinema as well as being showcases for the output of the movie industry.
This week Bangkok will host a French film festival (18 - 27 Mar), while starting a few days after the Bangkok event, Hong Kong has its 36th International Film Festival, from 21 March until 5 April.
As any such festival can be a nightmare for organisers and attendees, good planning is essential. To complement the comprehensive website for the Hong Kong event, the organisers have produced an app for the iPhone and iPad.
I downloaded this and tried it first on the iPhone. The main screen uses the poster for the event with an advertisement at the bottom. Selecting the language (Chinese of English) takes us to a page of icons for various services and selections. The poster in a more subdued form is used for the background although the bottom section (in gold rather than the red of the main section) does nothing, like link to the website.
There are 12 icons:
- About Us gives a lengthy text introduction to the organisation and includes some useful links;
- Films lists the movies that are to be shown in a number of ways - alphabetically, by Section (e.g. opening film, Awards gala), by venue, and also provides a Search button. Beneath the information for each movie is a series of icons (Facebook, Twitter, email and a heart for adding to favourites);
- Calendar shows the dates in a calendar format and tapping on any date square brings up the films for the day (however a "My Planner" section did not allow me to enter any information and using the favourite icon did not include the selected movie);
- Favourite is indicated by a heart icon and lists any movies that have been added by pressing the favourite icon in the movie information page;
- News is in two sections with a top panel showing news of the festival and the lower panel displaying any programme updates;
- Photo has a selection of organiser provided images connected to the festival, but there is also a section that allows a user to add photographs using either the camera or the Photo Albums;
- Venue opens with photographs of the 12 or so locations that films are to be shown (fading images above and below the center of the screen) and tapping any of the images reveals information of the venue (including a map link) and the movies to be shown there;
- Community links to Facebook or Twitter;
- Sponsors lists the almost-50 sponsors and supporters of the event;
- What's On is not live right now but is available to provide the current day's schedules during the Festival;
- Booking provides links (email and URLs) and phone numbers for ticketing;
- Video links to YouTube to give users a taste of what is to be screened during the Festival with some 60 trailers available.
The Festival will be showing movies from several countries and there are a number listed that are already garnering praise or are movies that I would certainly go and see if I were in Hong Kong, like Takahashi's 13 Assassins and Hara-kiri: Death of a Samuria, Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, Coriolanus from Ralph Fiennes, Alexander Sokurov's Faust, Werner Herzog's Into the Abyss, Wuthering Heights and many more. . . .
The listing of movies to be shown is impressive and the app will assist those attending to select the movies (their times and venues) and move around the city with a little more ease. The app is not optimized for the iPad and this is a shame. The larger screen of the device would better display a lot of the information for users. Instead on the iPad the display is either the same size as the iPhone (x1) or doubled (x2).
That the organisers have made the effort to produce such an app, which after all does have a fairly limited shelf-life, is worthy of praise. It is well-executed in the main and will certainly fulfill its aim of helping attendees.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.