The BFI London Film Festival returns this October for another twelve day celebration of the best in recent international cinema. Though East Asian offerings are not as plentiful as in previous years, there are a number of highly anticipated films from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Cambodia making their UK premieres across the various strands of the impressive 2017 programme.
Chinese independent cinema has been in the ascendent recently, becoming a regular presence at high profile festivals. This year’s selection of films from the mainland includes two very different animated features alongside comedy, action and arthouse.
- Angels Wear White – Featured in competition at Vencie, Vivian Qu’s Trap Street followup follows two girls who are assaulted by a middle-aged man in a motel room, and the receptionist who says nothing for fear of losing her job.
- Big Fish and Begonia – Animated family fantasy in which mystical beings observe the human world for one week only but are forbidden from contact. Picked up for UK distribution by Manga Entertainment.
- Have a Nice Day – Grown up animated feature in which a delivery driver steals a bag of cash so his girlfriend can get plastic surgery. Picked up for UK distribution by Mubi.
- King of Peking – A father and son resort to DVD piracy after a fire destroys their business in this charming Beijing-set comedy.
- Life Imitation – An experimental look at youth in modern China mediated through the digital realm.
- Wrath of Silence – Western infused martial arts drama starring Jiang Wu.
Two giants of Hong Kong cinema return – celebrated filmmaker Ann Hui with a tale of love and resistance, and legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle shooting a noir fairytale for Jenny Suen.
- Our Time Will Come – Zhao Xun’s schoolteacher takes up arms in the resistance movement against the Japanese occupation in Ann Hui’s tense spy thriller.
- The White Girl – shot by Christopher Doyle, Jenny Suen’s quirky noir fairytale stars Joe Odagiri as a reclusive Japanese artist hiding out in Hong Kong.
Japanese entries are dominated by animation but there’s also space for Takashi Miike’s manga adaptation Blade of the Immortal which headlines the Thrill section, as well as Naoko Ogigami’s latest Close-Knit, and the recent 4K restoration of 60s avant-garde masterpiece Funeral Parade of Roses.
- Blade of the Immortal – A return to the world of jidaigeki for the prolific director, Blade of the Immortal stars Takuya Kimura as a legendary swordsman who cannot die. Takashi Miike will also be present at the festival for a Screen Talk event. Picked up for UK distribution by Arrow Films.
- Close-Knit – Less quirky than her previous work, Naoko Ogigami’s latest is a heartwarming family drama in which a neglected 11 year old is taken in by her uncle and his transgender girlfriend, Rinko (Toma Ikuta). Review.
- Funeral Parade of Roses – Toshio Matsumoto’s avant-garde classic in its recent 4K restoration.
- Lu Over the Wall – One of two films this year released by anime genius Masaaki Yuasa, Lu Over the Wall is a story of borderless love as a land boy and mermaid girl come together to ensure the survival of their respective communities. Picked up for UK distribution by Manga Entertainment.
- Mutafukaz – crazy French/Japanese animated co-production.
Everything you’d expect from Korea from anarchic documentary to violent procedural and the annual return of Hong Sang-soo.
- Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno – Jung Yoon-suk’s documentary following the Korean punk band
- Becoming Who I Was – Chang-yong Moon & Jin Jeon’s reincarnation documentary.
- Memoir of a Murderer – Byung-su, a retired serial killer recently diagnosed with dementia, attempts to catch his successor in this very Korean black comedy thriller. Picked up for UK distribution by JBG Pictures.
- On the Beach at Night Alone – Hong Sang-soo returns with a close to home story of an actress (played by Kim Min-hee), taking refuge from the negative fallout from her high profile affair with a married film director…
Thailand’s two entries feature youth looking forward and age looking back.
- Bad Genius – Playing just about every festival this season, Bad Genius is the story of brainy Thai teens and their elaborate scam to game the exams system.
- Pop Aye – a middle-aged man tries to rescue an elephant who was his childhood friend and save them both from the ravages of “progress”.
- Jailbreak – martial arts drama from Jimmy Henderson.
The BFI London Film Festival runs at various venues in Central London from 4th to 15th October 2017. Full details and screening times/dates are available from the official website. Champion members’ booking begins 10am 6th September with Members’ booking opening 7th September ahead of regular ticket sales beginning 14th September.