The Osaka Asian Film Festival will return for its 16th edition as a physical event to be held in the city from 5th to 14th March. In line with coronavirus precautions, the festival will take place without guests or Q&As while a small selection of films previously screened at OAFF will also be available to stream online in Japan from 28th February. This year’s opening gala is the Ann Hui documentary Keep Rolling while Yuya Ishii’s The Asian Angel makes its World Premiere bringing the festival to a close on 14th March.
- 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.
- A Song for You – a nomad dreaming of becoming a folk singer encounters a young woman resembling the goddess of music who tells him he must record an album in this indie drama from Dukar Tserang.
- Leap – Peter Chan’s New Year volleyball drama starring Gong Li as a legendary woman’s Olympic team coach.
- A Summer Trip – warm hearted drama from Feng Keyu in which a grumpy old Korean war vet and his rebellious grandson go on a road trip in the days before the Beijing Olympics.
- Elisa’s Day – a policeman is forced to face a mistake he made 20 years previously while investigating a crime of passion.
- Hand Rolled Cigarette – debut feature from Chan Kin-long starring Gordon Lam as a former soldier turned triad who bonds with a young South East Asian street thief.
- Keep Rolling – documentary focussing on the life and career of director Ann Hui. Opening night gala.
- The Way We Keep Dancing – artists and dancers come together to put on a show in protest to the increasing gentrification of the former Kowloon industrial district where they live.
- Affliction – horror film from Teddy Soeriaatmadja in which a grieving wife tries to uncover the secret behind her mother-in-law’s decline.
- Lovely Man – 2011 drama from Teddy Soeriaatmadja in which a young woman with strong religious views comes to the city in search of her estranged father who is now a transgender woman. Streaming online.
- Along the Sea – drama from Akio Fujimoto following three young Vietnamese women who end up undocumented after leaving a training programme in Japan.
- The Asian Angel – drama from Yuya Ishii in which a recently widowed novelist takes his young son to live with his brother in Seoul only to find his brother had exaggerated the degree of his success.
- B/B – graduation film from Kosuke Nakahama in which a woman with multiple personality disorder is interviewed by police in connection with the killing of a convenience store owner in a 2020 which has also seen the Olympics cancelled due to corruption and a failed poison gas attack by a new religion.
- Born in Hiroshima – personal documentary in which the director, born in Hiroshima but from Peking, charts his roots through the story of his izakaya-running family with whom he lived until the age of three.
- Come and Go – A detective investigates the connection between the discovery of an old woman’s skeleton and a series of real estate scams by interviewing the local residents many of whom are migrant workers from other areas of Asia.
- For Rei – A confused young woman begins to gain a degree of self-acceptance after facing the image of her absent father in Yukari Sakamoto’s indie drama. Review. First screened last year now streaming online.
- Goto-san – drama following a young man living and working in a manga cafe who falls in love but then loses his job and place to live when the cafe is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Green Jail – documentary focussing on an old woman who is the last survivor of forced labourers trafficked from Taiwan to work in Okinawa’s “Green Jail” during the colonial era.
- itomichi – latest drama from Satoko Yokohama (The Actor, Bare Essence of Life) in which a young woman skilled in playing the Tsugaru-shamisen starts working in a maid cafe in order to get over her shyness.
- JOINT – yakuza drama in which a man gets out of prison and enlists two old friends to start a business selling data for telephone fraud to the yakuza only to find himself trapped in the criminal underworld.
- Love and the Grand Tug-of-war – love story between a young man who’s staked his youth on the local tug-of-war, and a medical student from Korea.
- A New Wind Blows – latest indie film from Yutaro Nakamura focussing on romantic confusion.
- Over the Town – ensemble drama from Rikiya Imaizumi following a young man who rarely leaves Shimokitazawa where he works in a vintage clothing store whose life changes when he’s asked to appear in an indie film.
- OZU – third in Zon Pilone’s trilogy of films focussing on Sadao Yamanaka, Setsuko Hara, and Yasujiro Ozu.
- POP! – collaboration between The Man Who Was Eaten screenwriter Masashi Komura and musician Aru-2
- Sweet Bitter Candy – strange sad tale of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood and a misfit man from Yutaro Nakamura.
- yes, yes, yes – story of a family’s destruction and rebirth from Akihiko Yano.
- Young Birds – youth drama at which a trio of students at Digital Hollywood University, one Japanese, one Chinese, and one Thai, team up to complete their graduation movie.
- Beyond You – latest from Alone/A Fish director Park Hong-min in which a man confronts the daughter of his first love who thinks he might be her father.
- The Slug – whimsical time-shifting drama in which a young woman is haunted by the image of her traumatised childhood self.
- Three Sisters – drama starring Moon So-ri, Kim Sun-young and Jang Yoon-ju as a trio of sisters returning home for their father’s birthday only for their younger brother to start causing trouble.
- Black Milk – two sisters find their bond frustrated by cultural differences when one returns after many years of living in Germany.
- Here and There – love story about a young couple who meet remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- KINTSUGI – romantic drama in which a Filipino man travels to Japan to expand his pottery business and falls in love with the Japanese heiress of a pottery factory.
- Tiong Bahru Social Club – a young man goes on a comical journey through a data-driven project to create the happiest neighbourhood in the world.
- Born to be Human – drama in which a 14-year-old boy discovers he is intersex.
- Get the Hell Out – An idealistic former MP and a hapless, besotted security guard attempt to fight their way out of a zombiefied parliament in Wang I-Fan’s absurdist satire. Review.
- Gwan Gung Vs. Aliens – newly restored 1976 SFX drama in which an ancient general is reincarnated to fend off an attack from laser-wielding giant aliens. Streaming online.
- Hotel Iris – adaptation of Yoko Ogawa’s novel shifted to Taiwan and starring Masatoshi Nagase as a translator who develops a twisted relationship with a young woman working at the hotel.
- The Rice Dumpling Vendors – An arrogant businessman rediscovers what’s really important after he unfairly throws out his wife and is cheated out of his riches by a wily mistress in Hsin Chi’s male melodrama Taiyupian. Review. Streaming online.
- Wrath of Desire – latest drama from lesbian filmmaker Zero Chou in which a traumatised judge struggling with her Catholic upbringing and brother’s suicide enters a rebound marriage with a genderless young man in fear of her feelings for a woman she sent to prison for killing a man who broke into her home.
- The Con-Heartist – a woman whose boyfriend ran out on her saddling her with his debts is targeted by a conman but convinces him to help her swindle her ex instead!
- P-047 – 2011 drama in which a locksmith and a novelist develop a hobby of breaking into people’s homes not to steal but to temporarily experience the lives of others. Streaming online.
- ROM – The residents of a rundown slum awaiting demolition stake everything on lucky numbers in Trần Thanh Huy’s gritty portrait of modern Saigon. Review.
- Sister Sister – psychological drama in which a TV presenter takes in a young runaway only to discover she has ulterior motives.
The Osaka Asian Film Festival runs from 5th to 14th March at venues across the city (coronavirus regulations permitting) with a selection of films screened in previous years also available online from 28th February. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links are available via the official website. You can also keep up with all the latest details by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.