Celebrating Film from Cuba to Tibet, This Festival 'Wows' Wales; A Major Festival Celebrating World Film Launches in Wales This Weekend. Wales One World (WOW) Film Festival Director David Gillam Reveals What Audiences Can Expect

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Byline: David Gillam

* HE Wales One World (WOW) Film Festival will return to cinema screens across Wales tomorrow, launching at Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff with the Welsh premiere of the visually stunning Soviet documentary Turksib, accompanied by a live performance of a specially composed score.

A unique event that shouldn't be missed by anyone with the slightest interest in film, this is typical of the kind of film fare that WOW has been bringing to Welsh audiences for 11 years.

This is just the first of 15 Welsh premieres from 19 different countries that will be unveiled at the festival which runs in Cardiff until March 25, followed by a Wales-wide tour through the rest of March and April that takes in Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea, The Riverfront in Newport, Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold and Theat Mwldan in Cardigan.

WOW was launched in March 2002, when I felt there might be an appetite in Wales for the kinds of films that were being seen in the rest of Europe but that rarely featured on Welsh screens.

To be honest I really had no idea if people would come and see an unknown Cuban film from an unheard of director; I just felt that these were entertaining films and that people were interested in Cuba and so, fingers-crossed, they would come.

The first year I thought let's just give it a go and see what happens.

The response was amazing with sell-out shows throughout the week.

I would never have imagined then that 11 years later I'd be preparing for another festival.

I guess it just shows that people do have an appetite for different stories from different places, and that as so much of cinema becomes increasingly formulaic, people treasure the chance to travel far across the world and discover how other people live.

Since then, the passion for different films from different places has meant that WOW has been at the forefront of celebrating world cinema, bringing global film to cinemas all across Wales.

Continuing in this spirit of discovery and diversity, this year there's a distinct emphasis on films from the far-flung outposts of Asia, with two from Mongolia, the amazing music doc AnDa Union, and, the beautiful The Eagle Hunter's Son, a Mongolian Kes with its exploration of the extraordinary relationship between a nomad boy and his eagle.

There's also Old Dog from the wilds of Tibet which works both as the story of an old man and his loyal mastiff and a metaphor for Tibet's relation with China.

Interestingly for Old Dog I negotiated directly with the director in Tibet to get the film.

Pema Tseden is virtually a one-man industry so its nice to know that the money from the tickets to his film we sell in Wales will go directly to supporting him making his next film in Tibet.

WOW 2012 will also host the Wales premier of French director Coline Serreau's Think Global Act Rural which sheds light on the positive steps being embraced by a cast of innovative farmers and food revolutionaries to address the global food crisis. …