Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns for its 14th season March 13 to April 10 bringing some of the best in East Asian cinema to screens across Chicago and streaming online to homes across the US with a limited selection available in Illinois only. Season 14’s Bright Star Award goes to Taiwanese actor Kai Ko who stars in quirky crime dramedy Grit screening on April 10 immediately before closing film Waiting for My Cup of Tea.

Sunday, March 13, 1:30 PM: Sunday League (선데이리그, Yi Sung-il, South Korea, 2020)

AMC Niles 12 (301 Golf Mill Ctr, Niles, IL 60714 inside the Golf Mill Shopping Center). Writer-Director Yi Sung-il scheduled to attend in person

Washed up former football prodigy Jun-il makes ends meet as a temporary coach at a kids’ training centre but is about to be fired because he’s temperamentally unsuited to teaching small children. Offered the chance to coach three seemingly hopeless players for a new futsal team he unenthusiastically agrees and is promised a permanent position if only he can take the new side all the way to the league finals in Yi Sung-il’s sporting comedy.

Official Opening

Sunday, March 13, 4:30PM: Heaven: To The Land of Happiness (헤븐: 행복의 나라로, Im Sang-soo, South Korea, 2021)

AMC Niles 12 (301 Golf Mill Ctr, Niles)

The latest film from Im Sang-soo stars Youn Yuh-Jung alongside Choi Min-sik and Park Hae-il as a man with an incurable illness (Park) who cannot afford his treatment goes on the run with a white collar criminal (Choi) who has less than two weeks to live.

Saturday, March 19, 1:30PM: Aloners (혼자 사는 사람들, Hong Sung-eun, South Korea, 2021)

Tower Auditorium at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) (10 W 35th Street, Chicago 

A solitary call centre employee is forced into a reconsideration of her way of life when a neighbour dies a lonely death in Hong Sung-eun’s melancholy character study

Friday, March 26, 6:30PM: Tokyo Shaking (Olivier Peyon, France/Japan, 2019)

Alliance Française de Chicago (54 W Chicago Ave) 

A French woman recently transferred to Tokyo finds herself torn between her corporate and personal responsibilities during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Saturday, April 2, 1:30PM: Bamboo Theatre (戲棚, Cheuk Cheung, Hong Kong, 2019)

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)  

Cheuk Cheung’s artful documentary explores the dying culture of Hong Kong’s itinerant bamboo theatres constructed entirely by hand without a single nail only to be continually torn down and rebuilt.

Saturday, April 2, 4:30PM: Mama’s Affair (阿媽有咗第二個, Kearen Pang, Hong Kong, 2022)

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)  

Latest drama from Kearen Pang (29+1) starring Teresa Mo as a former record producer who gave up work to raise her son but decides to restart her career when he prepares to study abroad.

Sunday, April 3, 1:30PM: ARC (アーク, Kei Ishikawa, Japan, 2021)

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)  

Inspired by a Ken Liu short story, Kei Ishikawa’s sci-fi drama follows a drifting young woman in search of immortality who encounters a mysterious cosmetics company that specialises in dead body sculptures while her mentor’s brother begins using same the technology in order to prevent ageing among the living.

Saturday, April 9, 1.30PM: Increasing Echo (修行, Chienn Hsiang, Taiwan, 2021)

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois) 

The already strained marriage of a middle-aged couple is brought to crisis point by a phone call from the sister of the husband’s former mistress begging him to visit her in a care home where she has been for many years in director Chienn Hsiang’s eerie pandemic-era drama.

Saturday, April 9, 4:30PM: Treat or Trick (詭扯, Hsu Fu-Hsiang, Taiwan, 2021)

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois) 

Earnest cop Feng is left with no choice but to chase after his corrupt partner Chiang when he takes off with a bunch of gang diamonds but finds himself in an eerie rural village where he is dragged into local intrigue while plagued by a mysterious female ghost in this Taiwanese crime comedy.

Sunday, April 10, 1:30 PM: GRIT (鱷魚, Chen Ta-Pu, 2021)

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois) 

A young gangster named Croc goes back to work for his old boss at the city councillor’s office after his release from prison and is tasked with taking care of a stubborn farmer who flat out refuses to give up her land for redevelopment in a quirky rom-com from director-cinematographer Chen Ta-pu.

Official Closing Film

Sunday, April 10, 4:30 PM: Waiting For My Cup of Tea (一杯熱奶茶的等待 , Phoebe Jan Fu-hua, Taiwan, 2021)

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois) 

Taiwanese romance which begins on a cold Valentine’s Day when a fed-up university student hands a warm milk tea to a boy shivering outside waiting for his girlfriend only to find herself swept into her classmate’s complicated love life and an unexpected romance of her own.

Streaming & Physical

March 14 – 20 streaming across the US

In the Name of the Son (아들의 이름으로, Lee Jung-gook, South Korea, 2020)  

Also Screening physically: Sunday, 20th March 4:30 PM @ Tower Auditorium at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) (10 W 35th St., Chicago)  

Drama starring Ahn Sung-ki as former policeman attempting to atone for his role in the suppression of the May 18 Pro-Democracy Movement.

Action Hero (액션히어로, Lee Jin-ho, South Korea, 2021) 

Also screening physically:

  • Saturday, March 19 2:00 PM @ Korean Culture Center of Chicago (KCCOC) (9930 Capital Drive, Wheeling) 
  • Sunday, March 20 1:30 PM @ Tower Auditorium at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) (10 W 35th St., Chicago) 

A film student dreaming of becoming an action star teams up with a nerdy classmate to make a movie planning to capture their teacher’s exposure for admission’s fraud but the plan soon gets out of hand.

My Big Mama’s Crazy Ride (큰엄마의 미친봉고, Paek Seung-hwan, South Korea, 2021)  

Also screening physically: Tuesday, 15th March, 10:30 AM @ Korean Culture Center of Chicago (KCCOC) (9930 Capital Drive, Wheeling) 

Fed up with being expected to cook the meals every holiday, family matriarch Yeong-hui packs her daughter-in-laws in a van and takes off leaving the men to fend for themselves in this ensemble comedy.

April 4 – 10 Streaming across the US

Jang-Gae: The Foreigner (醬狗, Chang Chih-wei, Taiwan, 2020) 

Also screening physically:

  • Friday, March, 18, 6:00 PM @ Korean Culture Center of Chicago (KCCOC)   
  • Saturday, March 19, 4:30 PM @ Tower Auditorium at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)

Coming-of-age drama in which a Taiwanese-Korean student born in Seoul struggles with his identity while facing discrimination and bullying which intensifies when he transfers to a regular public high school from a school for overseas Chinese students.

Streaming Only

March 14 – 20 Streaming across the US

Coming To You  (너에게 가는 길, Byun Gyu-Ri, South Korea, 2021)

Documentary following two mothers fighting for the rights of their LGBTQ+ children

March 21 – 27 Streaming across the US

My Brother, the Android and Me  (弟とアンドロイドと僕, Junji Sakamoto, Japan, 2022) 

A lonely robot scientist who doubts his own existence creates an android identical to himself only to be confronted with an estranged half-brother arriving in search his inheritance in this sci-fi drama from Junji Sakamoto.

Will I Be Single Forever? (ずっと独身でいるつもり?, Momoko Fukuda, Japan, 2021) 

A 36-year-old writer who scored a big hit in her 20s about the joy to be found in independence finds herself in the midst of crisis when her recent work no longer sells and she begins to worry that it may be too late for romantic fulfilment in Momoko Fukuda’s adaptation of the manga by Mari Okazaki. 

Skeleton Flowers (かそけきサンカヨウ, Rikiya Imaizumi, Japan, 2021)

A high school student raised by her father after her mother left the family struggles to adapt to a new reality when her father remarries.

My Father’s Tracks (僕と彼女とラリーと, Rempei Tsukamoto, Japan, 2021) 

Believing his father’s obsession with rally driving hastened his mother’s death, a young man returns to his hometown after he dies and gains new understanding after getting to know the locals in this warmhearted drama from the director of Bento Harassment.

Musicophilia (ミュジコフィリア –, Masaaki Taniguchi, Japan 2021)

Drama inspired by Akira Saso’s 2011 webcomic in which a young man with a special ability to understand sounds in nature whose father and brother are successful composers overcomes an internal inferiority complex that causes him to stay away from music.

March 21 – 27 Streaming in Illinois State only

Ribbon (NON (Rena Nounen), Japan, 2022)

Written, directed by, and starring NON, Ribbon follows art student Itsuka who finds herself at a loss when her graduation project cannot be displayed as planned because of COVID-19.

April 1 – 3 Streaming in Illinois State Only

Islands (Martin Edralin, Canada/The Philippines, 2019)

A shy second generation Filipino-Canadian who has always lived in the comfort of his parents’ home begins to fear for his future as their health declines and resolves to find a partner in Martin Edralin’s sensitive drama.

March 28 – April 3 Streaming across the US

Love After Love (第一炉香, Ann Hui, Hong Kong, 2020) 

Adapted from a novel by Eileen Chang, the latest from Ann Hui stars Sandra Ma Sichun as a young woman who travels from Shanghai to colonial Hong Kong in search of an education but is drawn into the turbulent upperclass world of a flighty aunt and embarks on a doomed love affair with a wealthy yet inconstant suitor (Eddie Peng).

Madalena (馬達.蓮娜, Chan Nga-Lei, Hong Kong/Macau, 2021)

An amnesiac taxi driver gains new hope for the future after picking up a young woman who works as a restaurant receptionist by day and a hostess by night little knowing that she too has has a secret past she is struggling to overcome.

All You Need is Love (總是有愛在隔離, Vincent Kok, Hong Kong, 2021) 

Hilarity ensues when a luxury hotel is declared a COVID-19 hotspot and forced into a sudden lockdown in Vincent Kok’s ensemble comedy featuring a host of A-list Hong Kong stars.

April 4 – 10 Streaming across the US

No Man is an Island (沒有人該成為孤島, Jay Chern, Taiwan, 2022) 

Documentary focussing on a hotel which is designated a quarantine centre at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You Have to Kill Me (我是自願讓他殺了我, Chan Chun-Hao, Taiwan, 2021) 

A police officer despatched to investigate the murder of his girlfriend attempts to interrogate the suspect who has confessed only to hear that she herself may have instigated the killing in a twisty crime thriller adapted from Feng Shi’s novel, Love.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 14 runs in person and online March 13 to April 10. 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  FacebookTwitter,  Instagram, and Vimeo.

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