The London East Asia Film Festival returns to cinemas screens this October with another packed programme of recent cinema hits from across the region as well as a small retrospective strand including a rare screening of landmark 1990 underworld drama A Moment of Romance from late director Benny Chan whose final film Raging Fire will open the festival at Odeon Luxe Leicester Sq on Oct. 21.
Opening: Raging Fire (怒火)
A righteous cop (Donnie Yen) finds himself in a battle of wits with a former colleague gone rogue (Nicholas Tse) in a searing high octane action thriller from the late Benny Chan. Review.
Closing: Spiritwalker (유체이탈자)
Bodyswapping drama in which a man begins waking up in different bodies every 12 hours after a traumatic accident but continues to search for his own identity while pursued by a shady organisation.
- My Missing Valentine (消失的情人節) – a lovelorn woman finds herself forced to reckon with the forgotten past when she somehow misplaces Valentine’s Day in Chen Yu-hsun’s charmingly quirky rom-com. Review.
- The Singer (소리꾼) – period drama in which a street singer travels the land in search of his kidnapped daughter.
- The Falls (瀑布) (2021) – Taiwanese pandemic drama from the director of A Sun in which a single mother begins losing her mind as the world crumbles around her.
- The Con-Heartist (อ้าย..คนหล่อลวง) – a scorned woman teams up with a fraudster to scam her ex only to fall for the conman in Mez Tharatorn’s crime caper rom-com. Review.
- Sasaki In My Mind (佐々木、イン、マイマイン) – a struggling actor finds himself thinking back on memories of a larger than life high school friend in Takuya Uchiyama’s melancholy youth drama. Review.
- The Silent Forest (無聲) – an idealistic student is caught between justice and complicity when he uncovers a culture of bullying and abuse at a school for deaf children in Ko Chen-Nien’s hard-hitting drama. Review.
- Zokki (ゾッキ) – omnibus movie inspired by Hiroyuki Ohashi’s manga directed by Naoto Takenaka, Takayaki Yamada, and Takumi Saitoh.
- Introduction (인트로덕션) – latest from Hong Sang-soo in which a man travels to see his father in the hospital then goes abroad to see his girlfriend only to return and find his mother with another man.
- The Prayer (간호중) – a caregiving robot is conflicted witnessing a daughter’s exhaustion attempting to care for her mother who has been bedridden for the past decade.
Hong Kong Focus
- Elisa’s Day (滄海遺愛) – a policeman is forced to face a mistake he made 20 years previously while investigating a crime of passion.
- Hand Rolled Cigarette (手捲煙) – a cynical former British soldier and a South Asian street thief find unexpected solidarity in Chan Kin-long’s gritty neo-noir. Review.
- Limbo (智齒) – morally compromised cops chase a serial killer in the rubbish-strewn junkyards of contemporary Hong Kong in Soi Cheang’s stylish noir. Review.
- Sugar Street Studio (糖街製片廠) – a gang of plucky filmmakers right a historical wrong while running an “authentic” haunted house in Sunny Lau’s charmingly retro horror comedy. Review.
- A Balance (由宇子的天秤) – an idealistic documentarian’s journalistic ethics are strained when she uncovers scandal close to home in Yujiro Harumoto’s probing social drama. Review.
- A Leg (腿) – a bereaved wife becomes obsessed with retrieving her husband’s severed leg in order to lay him to rest in Chang Yao-sheng’s darkly humorous romantic drama. Review.
- Back to the Wharf (风平浪静) – a wounded young man’s attempts to start over in the shadow of his crime are doomed to failure in Li Xiaofeng’s moody, fatalistic neo-noir. Review.
- Just 1 Day (給我天) – a sketch artist suffering with ALS asks an old classmate to fulfil his last wish by being his girlfriend for just one day.
- Midnight Swan (ミドナイトスワン) – drama from Eiji Uchida starring Tsuyoshi Kusanagi as a transgender woman who takes in a little girl neglected by her family.
- Not Out (낫아웃) – a young man with few professional prospects is determined to continue playing baseball.
- Pistol (手枪) – a man gets into trouble with gangsters while looking for his missing girlfriend.
- Rom (Ròm) – the residents of a rundown slum awaiting demolition stake everything on lucky numbers in Trần Thanh Huy’s gritty portrait of modern Saigon. Review.
- Stars Await Us (蓝色列车) – a man recently released from prison searches his former love but is dragged into a gang war.
- Time (殺出個黃昏) – an elderly hitman displaced by the modern society gets a second chance at life after taking up “euthenasia” in Ricky Ko’s darkly comic yet moving drama. Review.
- Whether the Weather is Fine (Kun Maupay Man It Panahon) – Philippine drama in which a mother and son search for missing loved ones in the aftermath of disaster.
- Zero to Hero (媽媽的神奇小子) – Sandra Ng stars as a devoted mother determined to support her son’s sporting dreams in Jimmy Wan’s inspirational biopic of Paralympian So Wa Wai. Review.
- Taipei Story (青梅竹馬, 1985) – Edward Yang’s landmark 1985 drama in which an independent, financially secure woman is determined to move forward while her boyfriend (played by film director Hou Hsiao-Hsien) remains trapped in the past.
- Woman of Fire (화녀, 1971) – Kim Ki-young’s second take on The Housemaid starring Youn Yuh-jung as the arrival of a young woman causes disarray for a composer and his wife living on a chicken farm.
- A Moment of Romance (天若有情, 1990) – underworld romantic melodrama from Benny Chan starring Andy Lau as a street thug falling for a rich man’s daughter (Jacklyn Wu)
- Areum Married (박강아름 결혼하다) – a documentary filmmaker marries a chef and takes him with her when she leaves to study in France but unable to work or speak the language he soon becomes bored.
- Jikji Route ; Terra Incognita (직지루트; 테라 인코그니타) – a documentary film team accidentally discovers the “Pope´s Letter to King of Goryeo” in the Vatican archives.
- Keep Rolling (好好拍電影, 2020) – Long-time collaborator Man Lim-Chung makes his directorial debut with a warts and all exploration of the life and career of the legendary Ann Hui. Review.
- Ushiku (牛久) – Filmed mainly with hidden camera, Thomas Ash’s harrowing documentary exposes a series of human rights abuses at the Ushiku immigration detention centre. Review.
This year’s festival takes place at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square, Odeon Luxe West End, The Cinema at Selfridges, and the Chiswick Cinema from 21st to 31st October. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links are available via the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr.