Shifting from its usual spot in the early summer, New York Asian Film Festival becomes the latest to go online partnering with the Smart Cinema app to bring another fantastic selection of recent East Asian hits to homes around the US from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12.

The programme in full (titles in italics included in “Uncaged” competition):

Bhutan

  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom – a frustrated teacher is dismayed to learn he’s being sent to a remote mountain outpost but is eventually won over by the kids. Review.

China

  • Gone With the Light – sci-fi drama starring Huang Bo in which ordinary citizens mysteriously disappear in a flash of light.
  • Mr. Miao – animated historical adventure aimed at adults in which a team of martial artists faces an ethical dilemma caused by a plant which corrupts those who come close to it but only attracts kindhearted people.

Hong Kong Panorama

Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York

  • Chasing Dream – two crazy kids chase the Chinese Dream in the ring and on the stage in Johnnie To’s completely absurd but infinitely charming musical MMA rom-com. Review.
  • My Prince Edward – a young woman begins to consider her choices when her controlling boyfriend proposes and she’s forced to deal with the fallout from a sham marriage she entered into years earlier in Norris Wong’s humorous exploration of contemporary relationships. Review.
  • Hell Bank Presents: Running Ghost – supernatural horror comedy.
  • The Grand Grandmaster – martial arts New Year comedy. 
  • Legally Declared Dead – HK adaptation of Yusuke Kishi’s novel The Black House in which an insurance broker descends into paranoia after suspecting a client has faked his son’s suicide to collect on a policy.
  • Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down – four stories from contemporary Hong Kong.
  • Unleashed – boxing revenge drama starring Sam Lee.
  • A Witness out of the Blue – Louis Koo is a criminal mastermind on the run after a botched robbery while an eccentric cop tries to crack the case with the help of its only surviving witness – a parrot!

Indonesia

  • Abracadabra – charming family film in which a magician who’s lost faith in magic accidentally makes a child “disappear” and has to go on the run to figure out how to get them back.

Japan

  • Family Bond – a big hearted carpenter’s desire to help a single-mother doesn’t go down well with his family or apprentice.
  • A Beloved Wife – an unsuccessful screenwriter is henpecked by his understandably irate sake-guzzling wife in this autobiographical take on a toxic marriage. Review.
  • Miyamoto – sequel to a TV drama directed by Tetsuya Mariko (Destruction Babies) starring Sosuke Ikematsu as a shy salesman who falls for Yu Aoi’s office worker.
  • Dancing Mary – a jaded civil servant is awakened to the meaning of being alive through communing with the dead in SABU’s melancholy lament for an increasingly soulless society. Review.
  • Forgiven Children – societal bullying becomes a spiralling vortex of pain and anger in Eisuke Naito’s raw examination of the consequences of hate and the impossibility of redemption. Review.
  • One Night – drama from Kazuya Shiraishi in which grown-up siblings attempt to process the traumatic night that broke their family apart. 
  • Beneath the Shadow – friendship drama starring Go Ayano and Ryuhei Matsuda in which an introverted young man makes friends with a co-worker who abruptly disappears.
  • They Say Nothing Stays the Same – second directorial effort from actor Joe Odagiri following 2009’s 64-minute Looking for Cherry Blossoms shot by Christopher Doyle and starring Akira Emoto as a Meiji-era boatman about to be eclipsed by a bridge who rescues a young woman from the water.

Kazakhstan

  • Tomiris – historical epic inspired by the legendary Kazak warrior queen.

Malaysia

  • Geran – martial arts drama showcasing Malaysian Silat in which two men try to find their younger brother and bring him home after he runs off with a land grant
  • Soul (Roh) – A single-mother and her two children find themselves beset by darkness after taking in a little girl who wandered out of the jungle in Ezwan’s atmospheric folk horror. Review.
  • Victim(s) – Nothing is as it first appears in Layla Zhuqing Ji’s thorny interrogation of a bullying society. Review.

Philippines

  • The Girl and the Gun – a saleswoman finds a gun on her doorstep and decides to use it to take revenge on a patriarchal society.
  • John Denver Trending – A teenage boy becomes the subject of a witchhunt after a video of him beating up a classmate goes viral on Facebook in Condez’s heartbreaking exploration of growing up in the post-truth internet age. Review.

SOUTH KOREA

Presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center New York

  • Secret Zoo – a rookie lawyer comes up with an innovative solution when he’s randomly sent to work in a zoo and discovers that actually it has no animals. 
  • Hitman: Agent Jun – action comedy in which a hitman retires to become a webtoon artist.
  • Forbidden Dream –  historical drama from Hur Jin-ho inspired by the life of legendary king Sejong
  • Lucky Chan-sil – film producer Chan-sil finds herself unemployed after the director she’d been working with suddenly dies, taking a job as a cleaning lady for an actress and bonding with a handsome French teacher.
  • Baseball Girl – sports drama following a young woman’s quest to become the first female player in the majors
  • Beasts Clawing at Straws – darkly humorous thriller in which a collection of desperate people are connected by a missing bag full of cash.
  • Beauty Water – animation in which a woman who believes herself ugly tries an experimental treatment to make herself beautiful.
  • Moving on – family drama in which a teenage girl moves in with her grandfather and divorced aunt after the breakup of her parents’ marriage
  • Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 – feminist drama following an ordinary woman’s path into middle-age in a fiercely patriarchal society.

SF8 Series: An anthology of eight science fiction films

  • The Prayer (Min Kyu-dong, 2020)
  • Empty Body (Kim Ui-seok, 2020)
  • Love Virtually (Oh Ki-hwan, 2020)
  • White Crow (Jang Cheol-soo, 2020)
  • Blink (Han Ga-ram, 2020)
  • Baby It’s Over Outside (Ahn Gooc-jin, 2020)
  • Joan’s Galaxy (Lee Yoon-jung, 2020)
  • Manxin (Noh Deok, 2020)

Taiwan

  • Wild Sparrow – a mother takes her 12-year-old son with her to the city so he can attend school but is forced into a series of degrading jobs and relationships in order to make ends meet.
  • Detention – Two teens try to fight their way out of the nightmare of the White Terror in John Hsu’s dramatisation of the hit video game. Review.
  • IWeirDO – madcap OCD rom-com shot on an iPhone.
  • Heavy Craving – a lunch lady hoping to lose weight strikes up unexpected friendships with a deliveryman and cross-dressing student. Review.
  • The Gangs, the Oscars and the Walking Dead – madcap comedy in which two aspiring filmmakers end up making a zombie film with a gangster who insists that his wife play the leading role. Review.
  • Dear Loneliness – an introverted bookseller quietly supports his customers through the art of letter writing.
  • Miss Andy – a transgender woman takes in a woman and her child after they escape from an abusive relationship.

Vietnam

  • Rom – a 14-year-old boy hopes to earn enough money to reunite with his parents through running lottery numbers while living a precarious existence in a rundown tenement.

Full details regarding ticket pricing and purchasing procedure will be announced shortly via the official website while the movies will be available to stream within the US via the Smart Cinema app for iOS, Android, and Smart TVs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12. You can also keep up with all the latest festival news via the official Facebook Page and Twitter account.

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