More than 250 guests came to the National Museum of Singapore for the opening of “When Strangers Meet: Visions of Asia and Europe in Film” on 18 May 2012. It was the beginning of a series of film screenings organised to mark ASEF’s 15th Anniversary.

The films revolve around Asia-Europe connections, exploring the historical, cultural, artistic and personal ties between the two regions. The opening film, French director Jean Renoir’s acclaimed “The River” (1951), tells the story of Europeans living in Calcutta, India. One of Renoir’s assistants was a young Satyajit Ray, later to become one of India’s and the world’s renowned filmmakers.

Guests-of-Honour H.E. Mr Olivier Caron, Ambassador of France to Singapore, and H.E. Dr T.C.A Raghavan, High Commissioner of India to Singapore, addressed the audience about the impact of the film in the two countries. They were welcomed by Mr Iskander Mydin, Deputy Director of the National Museum, and Ambassador Michel Filhol, ASEF Executive Director.

Ambassador Caron said, “This event really embodies and epitomises the spirit in which ASEF conducts its activities.” He continued, “Jean Renoir is, of course, one of the icons, if not the icon, of classical French cinema. His films epitomise the continuous, rich complex dialogue between West and East, Europe and Asia. All traits of genuine inter-cultural dialogue are present in this film.”

The iconic National Museum building buzzed with anticipation and joie de vivre on that evening. Among the audience were members of ASEF’s Board of Governors, who were in Singapore for the 28th Board of Governors’ Meeting, key cultural leaders and professionals as well as film enthusiasts.

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