Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns for its ninth season from Sept. 10 to October 10 with another handpicked selection of the best recent East Asian cinema. Running for five weeks, the season highlights one region each week and also has a special mini focus on movie musicals!
Sept. 10, 7pm: The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale
Introduction and Q&A with Director Lee Min-Jae
A weird family take in the “zombie” victim of nefarious pharmaceutical plant experimentation and decide to keep him as a pet, especially once they realise that his bite has healing qualities with intense marketability. Hilarious off the wall zombie comedy. Review.
Sept. 12, 7pm: Juror 8
Introduction and Q&A with Director Hong Seung-Wan
Courtroom comedy from Hong Seung-Wan inspired by Korea’s first jury trial in 2008. A young man is accused of murdering his mother. All the evidence points to his guilt and he has also confessed to the crime but one juror isn’t quite convinced.
Sept. 14, 2pm: Swing Kids
A North Korean prisoner of war falls in love with tap dancing after being co-opted into a group by a former broadway dancer turned US Army captain in Kang Hyung-chul’s musical drama.
Sept. 15, 10.30am: Shadow
Drawing inspiration from classic ink paintings, Zhang Yimou returns to the world of wuxia with a tale of balance and duality as a general’s double processes his conflicted loyalties in a world in which the king is weak and his enemies strong. Review.
Sept. 18, 7pm: Crossing the Border
Introduction and Q&A with Director Huo Meng
A little boy gets sent to stay with grandpa over the summer, but grandpa unexpectedly gets a message about an old friend he hasn’t seen in a long time and decides to drag his grandson halfway across the country on a makeshift vehicle to go visit him.
Sept. 19, 7pm: The Enigma of the Arrival
Introduction and Q&A with Director Song Wen and Actress Gu Xuan
A group of former uni friends reunite years after the disappearance of a friend broke them apart in an experimental drama from the founder of the “Chinese Sundance” Xining FIRST International Film Festival, Song Wen.
Sept. 20, 6pm: Wushu Orphan
The new teacher at a martial arts school is disheartened to discover his pupils’ lack of interest in education but bonds with a lonely young boy ironically disinterested in martial arts but talented in his studies. Review.
Sept. 25, 8pm: Melancholic
Conversation with Director Seiji Tanaka and Producer/Lead Actor Yoji Minagawa
An alienated young man who graduated from Todai but remains totally opposed to the rat race ends up taking a job in a bathhouse after a conversation with a pretty girl he went to high school with, only to find out that the bathhouse doubles as a yakuza killing ground after hours. Review.
Sept. 26, 7pm: Can’t Stop the Dancing (Dance with Me)
An ambitious executive’s dreams of promotion are dealt a serious blow when she ends up getting hypnotised by a shady theme park entertainer and finds herself breaking into song and dance like the heroine of an old fashioned Hollywood musical every time she hears music in the latest madcap comedy from Shinobu Yaguchi (Swing Girls, Waterboys, Wood Job!). Review.
Sept. 27, 7pm: Bento Harassment
A single mother fed up with her teenage daughter’s nonsense starts sending passive aggressive messages through bento in a tale inspired by a real life blog.
Oct. 2, 7pm: The Pool
A man ends up having to clean a disused pool after a film shoot but falls asleep on an inflatable raft. When he wakes up, he finds that the water level has fallen so low he can no longer climb out. He screams for help, but the only creature to hear him is a crocodile…
Oct. 3, 7pm: Signal Rock
Introduction and Q&A with Actor Christian Bables, Bright Star Award Recipient
A young man from a small island where the only cell phone signal is found on a rocky outcrop desperately tries to help his sister and her child escape an abusive marriage in Finland.
Oct. 5, 2pm: Office
Johnnie To’s beautifully choreographed musical set in the high stakes world of corporate finance.
Oct. 6, 2pm: Long Time no Sea
A poor boy missing his dad and a resentful teacher dispatched to a remote island against his will eventually bond through the unlikely medium of traditional dance in Heather Tsui’s charming coming of age drama. Review.
Oct. 8, 6pm: Miss Granny
A Philippine take on the Korean musical comedy in which a grumpy, disillusioned old woman visits a mysterious photo gallery and gets a second shot at youth.
Oct. 9, 7pm: Deception of the Novelist
Introduction and Q&A with Director Christopher Sun and Producer/Lead Actor Justin Cheung
A popular novelist’s marriage to his childhood sweetheart is on the rocks thanks to his womanising ways. When an attractive woman moves into the flat above him, he quickly begins having yet another affair but when she threatens blackmail his thoughts turn murderous…
Oct. 10, 7pm: The Attorney
Introduction and Q&A with Actor Kenneth Tsang Kong, Scriptwriter Frances To, and Executive Producer Cherrie Lau
A jaded lawyer agrees to take on a seemingly open and shut case of a young man who wakes up next to the dead body of a billionaire’s daughter with no idea what happened only to find himself caught up in a wider conspiracy.
Asian Pop-up Cinema Season 9 runs in Chicago from Sept. 10 to Oct. 10. Full details for all the films are available via the festival’s official website where tickets are already on sale. You can also keep up with all the latest news by following Asian Pop-up Cinema on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo.