Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns for a bumper 12th season operating both online throughout the US via Eventive March 15 to April 30 and in person at Lincoln Yards Drive-in from April 15 to May 1 with a small season of films submitted for the Oscars streaming via Asia specialist streaming app Smart Cinema USA. The Season 12 Bright Star Award will be going to Japanese actress Kasumi Arimura who stars in Sho Tsukikawa’s And Life Goes On while the first episode of her TV show collaboration with director Hirokazu Kore-eda, A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura (Episode 1: After My Homecoming), will also be getting a rare international outing.
Online via Eventive (streaming across the US unless otherwise noted):
March 15 – 19 Opening Night: The Town of Headcounts (Shinji Araki, 2020) – Japan
A nameless protagonist on the run from loansharks is saved by a man in orange who whisks him away to “The Town” where others seeking refuge from a hostile society take shelter but his new idyll is shattered by the arrival of a young woman looking for her missing sister.
March 17 – 21:
And Life Goes On (Sho Tsukikawa, 2019) – Japan
Originally aired as a six-episode WOWWOW TV drama, Sho Tsukikawa’s And Life Goes On stars Kasumi Arimura as a young woman whose dreams of becoming an actress are derailed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Joining the relief effort she finds herself falling in love with a fellow volunteer student from Tokyo.
Chola (Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, 2019) – India, Hidden Gem Encore, Free Admission
Teenage lovers meet at dawn for a secret trip into town but a sinister third party spells doom from the outset in this Malayalam-language psychological drama.
Coalesce (Jessé Miceli, 2020) – France/Cambodia
Three men try their luck in Phnom Penh: Songsa sells jeans for his father, Thy joins a biker gang and works in a gay bar, and father-to-be Phaerum hopes to become a car salesman, but all discover a different side of the contemporary city.
I, The Sunshine (Sengedorj Janchivdorj, 2019) – Mongolia
Mongolian drama in which a little boy narrates the stories of his mother, father, and himself spanning from life on the Steppe where a kid and his friends go on adventure to find a better TV signal, to the city where a contortionist’s life is changed by her mother’s injury, and finally to the contemporary society where the boy manages to escape being bullied after his computer mouse transforms into a girl capable of granting his every wish.
Keep Rolling (Doc) (Man Lim-chung, 2020) – Hong Kong
Candid documentary exploring the life and career of legendary director Ann Hui.
The Silent Forest (Ko Chen-nien, 2020) – Taiwan, (streaming in Illinois only)
A deaf teenager faces a dilemma when he transfers to a special school and witnesses a young woman being bullied this multiple award-winning drama from Taiwan.
March 24 – 28:
A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura (Episode One: After My Homecoming) (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2020) – Japan
Kasumi Arimura stars as a fictional version of herself enjoying a rare day off visiting her mum in the first episode of the late night drama directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Review.
Changfeng Town (Wang Jing, 2019) – China
Nostalgic quirky drama set in small-town China following a small group of children over the course of a summer.
Chen Uen (Doc) (Wang Wan-jo, 2020) – Taiwan
Documentary exploring the life and career of legendary Taiwanese comics artist Chen Uen who sadly passed away at his desk at the young age of 58.
Come and See (Doc) (Nottapon Boonprakob, 2019) – Thailand
Documentary exploring controversial Thai Buddhist sect Dhammakaya and its leader Dhammachaiyo who claims to have met Buddha but has also been accused of money laundering and embezzlement.
Elisa’s Day (Alan Fung, 2020) – Hong Kong
A policeman is forced to face a mistake he made 20 years previously while investigating a crime of passion.
Search Out (Kwak Jung, 2020) – South Korea, Free Admission
Three youngsters turn internet detectives after stumbling on a malicious Instagram profile which appears to manipulate the vulnerable towards suicide in Kwak Jung’s cyber thriller.
March 27 – 31:
Journey to the West (Doc) (Jill Coulon, 2015) – France/China
Taking its name from the classic story of the monk Tang Sanzang and his sidekick the Monkey King Jill Coulon’s documentary follows a series of Chinese tourists on a 10-day European bus tour .
No. 76 Horror Bookstore (David Chung, Pon Hung Tze-Peng, 2019) – Taiwan, Hidden Gem Encore, Free Admission
Four-part horror anthology from Taiwan featuring adaptations of spooky online stories in which a woman moves into a haunted apartment, a person tries to survive in a world in which food has been declared illegal, teenagers play hide and seek in an abandoned house, and a taxi driver who took his own life attempts to return to the mortal realm to reconcile with his daughter.
Wisdom Tooth (Liang Ming, 2019) – China
A young woman’s pain and confusion with the world around her is manifested as a dull ache in her jaw in Liang Ming’s icy coming-of-age drama. Review.
The Shell Collector (Yoshifumi Tsubota, 2016) – Japan, Hidden Gem Encore, Free Admission
Lily Franky stars as an introverted professor whose life changes after he saves a painter who washes up onshore by administering venom from a poisonous shell bringing further travellers to his door in search of various cures.
Two Blue Stripes (Ginatri S. Noer, 2019) – Indonesia
Indonesian family drama in which a teenage couple’s unplanned pregnancy provokes a confrontation with a series of cultural norms and social issues.
Watch List (Ben Rekhi, 2019) – USA/Philippines
A married couple join a voluntary rehabilitation programme in the midst of Duterte’s war on drugs only for the husband to be found dead in the street some time later beside a sign reading “I’m a pusher; don’t be like me” leaving the wife with no choice other than to become a police informant in order to provide for her children.
April 26 – 30:
14 Days 12 Nights (Jean-Philippe Duval, 2020) – Canada/Vietnam
A French-Canadian woman travels to the birthplace of her adopted daughter in Vietnam and ends up travelling the country with her birth mother.
April 1 – 15:
Oscar Contenders from Asia: streaming via Smart Cinema USA (further details to be revealed in late March)
True Mothers (Naomi Kawase, 2020) – Japan
Heartbreaking drama from Naomi Kawase in which a young couple adopt a baby only for the birth mother to resurface some years later.
Better Days (Derek Tsang, 2019) – Hong Kong
The Man Standing Next (Woo Min-ho, 2020) – South Korea
Woo Min-ho re-examines the assassination of President Park Chung-hee through the lens of 70s conspiracy thriller. Review.
Roh (Soul) (Emir Ezwan, 2019) – Malaysia
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 Emir Ezwan’s atmospheric folk horror. Review.
Lincoln Yards Drive-in:
Lincoln Yards Drive-in is located at 1684 N. Throop Street. Films will be shown at sunset on mostly Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun nights. Each film will be shown once only. Total capacity: 40 vehicles per screening Only.
Thursday, April 15: CENTERPIECE One Second Champion (Chiu Sin Hang, 2020) – Hong Kong
A single father takes to the boxing ring after developing the ability to see one second into the future.
Friday, April 16: Dear Tenant (Cheng Yu-chieh, 2020) – Taiwan
A gay single father raising his late partner’s son faces a custody battle when his mother-in-law dies and the boy’s uncle returns from abroad after discovering that he intends to adopt him and take over the family property.
Saturday, April 17: I Still Remember (Lik Ho, 2021) – Hong Kong
A dejected real estate agent, a young woman hoping to lose weight to run with her idol, and a retired PE teacher trying to keep a promise to his late wife find direction in running in Lik Ho’s sporting drama.
Sunday, April 18: One Summer Story (Shuichi Okita, 2020) – Japan
A high school girl embarks on a summer adventure of self discovery tracking down her estranged birth father in Shuichi Okita’s heartwarming coming-of-age drama. Review.
Thursday, April 22: Black Light (Bae Jong-dae, 2020) – South Korea, Free Admission, Advance RSVP is required
Two women working at the same factory are brought together by the discovery their husbands were involved in a fatal car crash, one passing away and the other remaining in a coma leaving his wife to raise their teenage daughter alone.
Friday, April 23: Moving On (Dan-bi Yoon, 2019) – South Korea, Free Admission, Advance RSVP is required
A young girl learns a few harsh lessons about the adult world during a summer at grandpa’s in Yoon Dan-bi’s sensitive coming-of-age drama. Review.
Saturday, April 24: My Missing Valentine (Chen Yu-hsun, 2020) – Taiwan
A woman always in a hurry meets a dashing man on the way home from work and they agree to meet up for a special Valentine’s Day date but when she wakes up the next morning she discovers that Valentine’s Day has already passed…
Sunday, April 25: Fanfare (Lee Don-ku, 2019) – South Korea, Free Admission, Advance RSVP is required
A young woman is abducted by armed robbers after they raid the coffee bar she was hanging out in on Halloween killing the barista in the process
Saturday, May 1 CLOSING NIGHT Ready O/R Knot (Anselm Chan, 2020) – Hong Kong
Romantic comedy in which a couple together for five years have conflicting views on marriage and go to great lengths to defend their respective positions!
Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 12 runs online March 15 – April 30, via Smart Cinema USA April 1 to 15, and at Lincoln Yards Drive-in April 15 to May 1. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links can be found on the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news by following Asian Pop-up Cinema on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo.