Chinese Visual Festival 2019 Announces Full Lineup

Tracey still 3The Chinese Visual Festival returns for its 9th edition in May 2019 with a weeklong celebration of Chinese language cinema including a special focus on the legendary Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan who will be in attendance for a series of conversations and Q&As.

Thursday 02 May:

6.10pm: First Night Nerves + Stanley Kwan Q&A 

BFI Southbank, NFT1

first night nerves still 1Stanley Kwan returns to the stage with a backstage melodrama of backstabbing actresses as a veteran star makes her comeback alongside the talented youngster who threatens to eclipse her…

The legendary director will be present in person for a Q&A following the UK premiere of the film.

Friday 03 May:

4pm: Crack of Dawn: Roundtable Discussion with Director Ying Liang

King’s College London, Anatomy Museum
Ying Lang
Director Ying Liang whose When Night Falls, Sunny Day, and Family Tour are all screening in the festival will be in conversation with East Asian cinema specialist Tony Rayns, and film scholars Jessica Yeung and Victor Fan.

7pm: When Night Falls + Ying Liang Q&A

Joint ticket with A Sunny Day
King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

When Night Falls still 1The mother of a man sentenced to death for killing six policemen continues to fight for justice in Ying Liang’s probing drama. 

7pm: A Sunny Day + Ying Liang Q&A

Joint ticket with When Night Falls
King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

Sunny day still 1A young woman visits her father for lunch in Ying Liang’s Occupy-themed short.

Saturday 04 May:

2pm: A Family Tour + Ying Liang Q&A

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

Family Tour still 1An exiled film director takes a “holiday” to Taiwan in order to tag along after her mother’s old persons’ tour bus knowing they will likely never meet again in Ying Liang’s poignant semi-autobiographical drama. Review.

6.15pm: Rouge + Stanley Kwan Q&A

BFI Southbank, NFT3

Rouge still 1Stanley Kwan’s sumptuous supernatural romance stars Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung as a pair of lovers who determine on double suicide, only she is the only one who dies. 50 years later, her spirit returns to a much changed ’80s Hong Kong in search of answers.

The director will be present for a Q&A following the film.

Sunday 05 May:

1pm: Stammering Ballad

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

Stammering ballad still 1A Chinese folksinger leaves his hometown to wander and eventually ends up on China’s Got Talent only to return home and find his beloved landscape much changed in this visually stunning documentary.

3.30pm: Women + Stanley Kwan Q&A

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

Kwan women still 1A woman leaves her husband after discovering he has been unfaithful and joins the “Spinsters’ Club” but is conflicted when he wants to patch things up. Stanley Kwan will also be present for a Q&A following a screening of his 1985 debut feature.

5.30pm: Stanley Kwan in Conversation

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

Register Free

stanley kwan
The legendary director joins EasternKicks’ Andrew Heskins and Professor Victor Fan from King’s College London to disuss his life and career in the Hong Kong film industry.

7.15pm: The Land of Peach Blossoms

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre
Land藕粉peachblossomsstill1
Documentarian Zhou Mingying explores a “utopian” restaurant run along collectivist lines in which personal thought is forbidden and becoming like the leader an ideal.

Monday 06 May

1pm: The Drum Tower + Fan Popo Q&A

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

drum tower still 1An introverted high schooler and transgender vintage shop owner are the protagonists of the latest short from Fan Popo.

1pm: Meili

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

Meili still 1A young girl abandoned by her parents and abused by her brother-in-law hopes to escape with her girlfriend in a powerful debut from director Zhou Zhou.

4pm: Thin Dream Bay + Imagining Evan Yang

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre
Imagining Evan Yang
Independent filmmaker Shu Kei explores the literary life of director and songwriter Evan Yang  .

7.15pm: The Rib

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

47483187072_1c2af9ba0c_oFactory Boss‘ Zhang Wei follows a religious father’s struggle to accept his transgender daughter.

Tuesday 07 May

7pm: Four Springs

King’s College London, Lucas Theatre

four springgs still 1Director Lu Qingyi’s beautiful documentary follows his own family through four celebrations of New Year bringing with them both joy and sorrow. Review.

Wednesday 08 May

8.45pm: In Character

BFI Southbank, NFT3

In Character still 1A director making a semi-autobiographical film takes 13 actors back to the Cultural Revolution by bringing them to a disused firearms factory in Sichuan where they must wear the clothes and listen to the music of the era.

Thursday 09 May

3pm: Tracey Cast and Crew in Conversation

King’s College London, Nash Theatre

Tracey still 1The cast and crew of Tracey are in conversation with EasternKicks’ Andrew Heskins and Dr. Victor Fan from King’s College London.

6pm: Tracey + Cast & Crew Q&A

BFI Southbank, NFT2
Tracey still 2A 51-year-old married father of two grownup children begins to come to an acceptance of a transgender identity after hearing the news of the death of a close friend in the beautifully observed debut from Li Jun.

The Chinese Visual Festival runs at BFI Southbank and King’s College London from 2nd to 9th May 2019. Full details for all the films are available via the official website and you can keep up with all the festival’s latest details via the official Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram.

Winter’s Night (겨울밤에, Jang Woo-jin, 2018)

Winter's Night poster“You clumsy man, don’t lose her again!” a busybody landlady instructs the hero of Jang Woo-jin’s Winter’s Night (겨울밤에, gyeoulbam-e), neatly cutting to the heart of the matter with just a few well directed words. In Korean cinema, the is past always painfully present but our pair of dejected lovers haunt themselves with echoes of lost love and pangs of regret mixed with a hollow fondness for the days of youth. The fire has long since died, but the memory of its warmth refuses to fade.

We first meet Eun-ju (Seo Young-hwa) and her husband Heung-ju (Yang Heung-joo) in a taxi driven by an extremely chatty man of about the same age which is to say around 50. Heung-ju, sitting uncomfortably in the front while his wife sits alone in the back, explains that he first came to this area 30 years previously when he did his military service. Bored and perhaps irritated by her husband’s conversation, Eun-ju realises she has lost her phone and insists they turn back to go and look for it at the temple they have just left. Heung-ju is annoyed but makes a show of humouring his wife while she refuses to leave, forcing the couple to stay overnight in a small inn that he later realises is the same place they stayed 30 years ago on the very night that they first became a couple.

As is pointed out to Eun-ju several times, losing a phone is an inconvenient and expensive mistake but perhaps not the end of the world. Nevertheless she continues to hunt for it as if it were her very soul, eventually explaining to a confused monk that it is all she has and even if she were to buy another one it wouldn’t be the same. Eun-ju’s attachment to her phone may hint at a deeper level of loss which has contributed to the distance she feels between herself and her husband, but the search is as much metaphorical as it is literal, sending both husband and wife out on a quest to look for themselves amid the icy caves and snow covered bridges.

An early attempt to check CCTV yields a pregnant image of a young soldier (Woo Ji-hyun) and a girl (Lee Sang-hee) sitting across from each other before they disappear and are replaced by the older Eun-ju and Heung-ju. Eun-ju later re-encounters the younger couple several times, becoming witness to their impossibly innocent romance which is such an eerie reminder of her own that one wonders if they are simply ghosts of her far off past. The soldier, an earnest, shy poet tries and fails to stop the girl walking onto the same thin ice that Eun-ju will later brave not quite so successfully, while the girl gleefully tells him that she has recently broken up with her boyfriend. They are young and filled with hope for the future, while Eun-ju is older and filled only with disappointment. Still, there is something in her that loves these young not-yet-lovers for all the goodness that is in them as she takes the younger woman, and her younger self, in her arms and warmly reassures her that the future is not so bleak as it might one day seem.

Meanwhile, a petulant Heung-ju has gone out looking for his “lost” wife but been distracted by the shadow of another woman (Kim Sun-young) wandering across the back of his mind. He drinks too much and ends up singing sad solo karaoke before discovering an old flame sleeping on a hidden sofa. She doesn’t immediately recognise Heung-ju and so runs away in fear, but later joins him for a drink over which she flirts raucously but probably not seriously while he moons over his wife, mourns an old friend, and recalls their student days lived against the fiery backdrop of the democracy movement.

Together again the couple attempt to talk through their mutual heartaches, expressing a mild resentment at the other’s unhappiness and their own inability to repair it, but seem incapable of bridging the widening gulf which has emerged between them. Trapped in an endless loop of romantic melancholy, the pair fail to escape the wintery temple where, it seems, a part of them will always remain, haunting the desolate landscape with the absence of recently felt warmth. A beautifully pitched exploration of middle-aged malaise and the gradual disillusionment of living, Winter’s Night tempers its vision of unanswerable longing with quiet hope as its two dejected lovers hold fast to the desire to begin again no matter how futile it may turn out to be.


Winter’s Night was screened as the first teaser for the 2019 London Korean Film Festival. Tickets for the next teaser screening, Default at Regent Street Cinema on 20th May, are already on sale.

Original trailer (English subtitles)

The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (마녀, Park Hoon-jung, 2018)

There’s probably something quite profound to be said about the folkloric tradition of the foundling child and untold destiny, that exiled nobility can salvage the best qualities of the place they escaped in a rural paradise before returning to make their restoration. Superheroes do indeed seem to find frequent refuge in the wholesome plains of farm country where the salt of the Earth raises them into upstanding people with the right kind of values to couple with their “unnatural” powers to enable them to “save the world” in ways both literal and metaphorical. Perhaps there is darkness in that idea too, that we need such people to save us rather learning to save ourselves or that we secretly long to believe in our latent specialness and hidden destiny, and of course those rightful values may also be inherently conservative in that they aim to preserve a particular vision of “goodness”. In any case, the heroine of Park Hoon-jung’s The Witch: Part. 1. The Subversion (마녀, Manyeo) is not so much out to save the world as engaged in a war to save herself and that particular vision of goodness she’s been gifted by good people (or, then again, perhaps not).

Park begins with blood as a little girl manages to escape a massacre at some kind of shady facility before passing out in front of an idyllic farmstead where she is eventually taken in and nursed back to health by a kindly older couple, the Koos. 10 years pass. The little girl is now the teenage Koo Ja-yoon (Kim Da-mi) and an archetypal farm girl albeit an extraordinarily pretty one with straight A grades and fierce love for her now struggling adoptive parents. With the farming industry in crisis and Mrs. Koo suffering with Alzheimer’s, Ja-yoon finds herself bullied into taking part in a televised singing competition by her boisterous best friend Myung-hee (Go Min-si), which is not the best idea if you’re trying to hide from shady government forces. Sure enough, the past begins to resurface leaving Ja-yoon with a series of difficult choices.

Like many other recent Korean action dramas with female leads, The Witch steps back into the familiar territory of “good” mothers and “bad” while uncomfortably asking if childhood corruption can be cured by love alone. Living as Ja-yoon, the unnamed little girl has been reset. Given a “normal” childhood, she seems to have become a “normal”, perhaps ideal, young woman who does well at school, is confident and self possessed, and dearly loves her family and friends. When we finally meet the woman responsible for her corruption, Professor Baek (Jo Min-su) who presents herself again as a maternal figure and Ja-yoon’s “creator”, we learn that Ja-yoon is a creature born of icy violence, raised without compassion or love for no greater purpose than destruction.

Mr. Koo (Choi Jung-woo), perhaps understanding Ja-yoon a little better than she understands herself, often tells her not to go out “like that” which seems like slightly archaic paternal sexism but is also an attempt to soften those “male” instincts towards violence which are so much a part of her early life and of her essential nature. Frightened by her “unnatural” cruelty, Mr. Koo wasn’t sure if they should keep Ja-yoon with them but his wife (Oh Mi-hee) disagreed, believing they could heal her by raising her in love. The choice Ja-yoon faces is whether to embrace her persona as Koo Ja-yoon as raised by her adoptive parents, or the psychopathic killer which lies underneath.

Park leaves the dilemma very much in the air with “Ja-yoon” a vacillating cypher whose internal divisions seem to become ever more stark as she begins to wall off her various personas. “The Witch”, as the title implies, may itself have its misogynistic overtones in pointing directly at Ja-yoon’s transgressive femininity, both innocent farm girl and unstoppable killing machine, but as the subtitle hints Ja-yoon is also attempting to subvert herself in service of a greater mission which (for the moment) remains unclear. Park opens the door to a sequel in which subversion might not be the aim, sending Ja-yoon further along the path of dark self exploration which promises still more violence and mayhem before her bloody work is done.


The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion is released on Digital HD in the UK on April 22nd courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

UK release trailer (English subtitles)

Memories of a Dead End (막다른 골목의 추억, Choi Hyun-young, 2018)

Memories of a dead end posterSometimes dead ends show up unexpectedly, as the heroine of Memories of a Dead End (막다른 골목의 추억, Makdareun Kolmokui Chueok) points out while ruminating on the abrupt revelation which has just rendered all her life’s hopes and dreams null and void. Adapted from the Banana Yoshimoto novella, Choi Hyun-young’s debut feature follows a young-ish Korean woman to Japan where she finds out something she probably knew already but didn’t quite want to accept and, thanks to the kindness of strangers, begins to see a way forward where she feared there might not be one.

Yumi (Sooyoung), a woman in her late 20s from a wealthy family, has been engaged to Tae-gyu (Ahn Bo-hyun) for the last few years but he has been working away in Japan supposedly preparing for their shared future. Unable to get in touch with him and worried he seems to be dodging her calls and refusing to return her texts, Yumi decides (against the advice of her steadfast sister) to go to Japan and confront him. Sadly, her family were right when they advised her that perhaps she should just forget her fiancé and move on. Tae-gyu has met someone else. On arriving at his apartment, Yumi is greeted by another woman who knows exactly who she is and why she’s come, but takes no pleasure in explaining that she and Tae-gyu plan to marry and were hoping Yumi would take the hint given a little more time.

Confused and heartbroken, Yumi checks into a hotel for the night planning to return to Korea the following day but a nagging phone call from her “I told you so / plenty of fish in the sea” mother (tipped off by her loudmouth sister) makes her think perhaps that’s not the best idea. Wandering around, she winds up at the End Point hotel and cafe where she cocoons herself away to think things through, trying to reconcile herself to the “dead end” she has just arrived at in the life path she had carved out for herself.

“End Point” is not perhaps an auspicious name for a hotel. A hotel is, after all, a deliberately transient space and not in itself a destination. The reason it might accidentally become one is perhaps on Yumi’s mind when she decides to check in, but despite the name the cafe is a warm, welcoming, and accepting place perfectly primed to offer the kind of gentle support someone like Yumi might need in order to rediscover themselves in the midst of intense confusion.

This is largely due to the cafe’s owner, Nishiyama (Shunsuke Tanaka), who, we later discover, was himself neglected as a child and almost adopted by the community who collectively took him under their wing and sheltered him from his childhood trauma. This same community still frequents the End Point cafe and is keen to extend the same helping hand to those in need, becoming a point of refuge for a series of lonely souls many of them travellers from abroad. Despite her desire for isolation, Yumi is finally tempted out of her room by the gentle attentions of the cafe’s regulars who make sure to include her in all their gatherings, reawakening something of her faith in humanity in the process.

In introducing her to the cafe, Nishiyama remarks that though it is literally in a dead end, many begin their forward journeys from here. A dead end does not, after all, have to be an “end point” but can become an opportunity to turn around and start again without necessarily having to go back the way you came. Yumi likes the End Point so much she briefly considers staying, but it would, in a sense, be a betrayal of its spirit. Nishiyama, becoming a staunch friend and ally, finally comes to the conclusion that her former fiancé was not a bad man even if he was a weak one, but that in all the time he knew her he never discovered the “treasure” of her heart as he seems to have done despite knowing her only a few days. Yumi takes this new knowledge with her on her forward journey as she abandons her much commented on practicality for warmhearted connection as a path towards fulfilment, learning to treasure her “dead end” memories not as time wasted but as a pleasant diversion which led her to exactly the place she needed to be in order to discover the treasure in her own heart and the willingness to find it in others.


Memories of a Dead End screens as part of the eighth season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema on April 17, 7pm, at AMC River East 21.

International trailer (English subtitles)

The Pension (더 펜션, Ryu Jang-ha, Yang Jong-hyun, Yoon Chang-mo, Jung Heo Deok-jae, 2018)

The Pension poster“We’re all lonely beings” the proprietor of a small mountain lodge advances hoping to comfort a distressed guest. The temporary denizens of The Pension (더 펜션), a four part omnibus set in a charmingly old-fashioned forest hideaway, are indeed mostly lonely beings making use of this liminal place to process the taboo away from the prying eyes of civilisation, embracing the savagery of the natural world as they cast off conventional morality to pursue their illicit desires be they vengeful, violent, protective or loving.

We begin with darkness as our first pair of guests, a man, Choo-ho (Jo Han-chul), and his wife Mi-kyung (Park Hyo-joo), seem to be all too interested in the family next door. Eventually we discover that the couple have come with ill intentions and revenge on their mind, though the man they’re after doesn’t seem so bad to begin with – he asks them to dinner with his wife and son who seem happy, but the atmosphere grows tenser as he begins to drink and a darkness creeps in. Before long Mi-kyung has set her mind on poetic justice, leaving the other couple’s young son in peril while Choo-ho struggles with his desire to stop his wife making a terrible mistake while not wanting to upset her.

Unhappy families continue to be theme with the second pair of guests – a married couple hoping to rekindle their listless romance in the peace and tranquillity of the remote mountain lodge. While the arrival is pleasant enough, perhaps too much so as the husband (Park Hyuk-kwon) puts on a show of making the effort, despair creeps in when he realises he’d made sure to bring his wife’s (Lee Young-jin) favourite coffee but forgotten the grinder. He wants her all to himself, but she just wants to go home and worries about their young daughter staying with a mother-in-law she doesn’t seem to like very much. Eventually the couple decide they need some time apart and she ends up meeting someone else (Kim Tae-hoon) in the woods to whom she recounts all the loneliness and isolation she experiences in her married life, seemingly trapped by conventionality but unconvinced that anything would be very different if she left.

The hotel owner (Jo Jae-yoon) might agree with her – a lonely soul he is too, though it appears he opened this hotel for just that reason, burying himself away from his heartache by coming to live alone with the transient presence of strangers and peaceful isolation of the woods. His mother, however, is not convinced and is constantly nagging him to get married – in fact, she’s set up a meeting for the following day meaning he’ll have to close the shop. That might be a problem, because he gets a surprise guest in the middle of the night, a distressed woman (Shin So-yul) intent on staying in a very particular room. Finding it odd, he can hardly turn her away with nowhere else to go but a TV programme on the causes of suicide (loneliness, the decline of the traditional family, economic pressures etc) convinces him he ought to check on her. Assuming she is merely lovelorn (as is he), he tries to comfort her with platitudes but pulls away from her emotional need only to find himself eventually wounded only in a much more physical way as he idly fantasises what it might have been like if he’d gone back to her room and been a bit more sympathetic.

Our proprietor is notably absent in the final segment, replaced by a much younger man (Lee Yi-kyung) with much more urgent desires. Despite being there to do a job, the boy has brought his girlfriend whom he alienates by failing to explain a mysterious text from another girl all while making eyes at the attractive young woman (Hwang Sun-hee) staying next door who claims to be “from the future”. When another guest turns up and starts making a fuss about a missing engagement ring she supposedly left behind, everything becomes much more complicated than it seems but one thing is certain – there is precious little love to be found in this hotel where everyone has come to embrace the side of themselves the city does not allow to breathe.

Much more cynical and obviously comedic than the preceding three tales, the final chapter perhaps bears out the message that it’s not so much rest and relaxation people have come to The Pension for, but “privacy” or to be more exact “discretion”. Some came for love, others for lack of it, but all of them are looking for something they are unlikely to find here though the first couple could perhaps have found it if only they had stuck together. Nevertheless, hotels are transient places for a reason – take what you need from your stay and leave the rest behind.


The Pension screens as part of the eighth season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema on April 16, 7pm, at AMC River East 21.

International trailer (English subtitles)

Small Talk (日常對話, Huang Hui-Chen, 2016)

Small talk poster“Who would want to understand me?” asks the laconic mother of filmmaker Huang Hui-Chen early in her autobiographical documentary, Small Talk (日常對話, Rì Cháng Duì Huà). “We do” the director replies, “but you won’t let us”. Huang’s film is, in a sense, an attempt to break through an emotional fourth wall in order to make sense of her complicated relationship with her distant mother Anu if only to ensure that her own daughter never feels as rejected or isolated as she herself has done living under the same roof with a woman she cannot quite claim to know.

In fact, Huang’s childhood memories of her mother are mainly to do with her absence. Even her younger sister eventually remarks that she always felt as if her mother was uncomfortable at home, preferring to spend time out with her friends rather than with her children. Forced to join her mother in her Spirit Guide business rather than attend school like the other kids, Huang began to resent her but also longed to be close to Anu despite her continuing distance. This desire for closeness is, ironically, only achieved through the introduction of the camera, acting as an impartial witness somehow uniting the two and making it possible to say the things which could not be said and ask the questions which could not be asked.

For Huang, the central enigma of her mother’s life is why she married man and had two daughters if she always knew she was gay. That her mother is a lesbian is something Huang always seemed to just know – it’s not as if Anu ever sat her down and explained anything to her, she gradually inferred seeing as her mother had frequent female partners and seemed to prefer spending time with groups of other women. Putting the question to her extended family perhaps begins to illuminate part of an answer. Like Anu, they will not speak of it. They claim not to know, that they do not want to know, and that they would rather change the subject. Even Anu, who otherwise seems to have no interest in hiding her sexuality, remarks that it “isn’t a good thing to talk about”. Nevertheless, her marriage seems not to have been a matter of choice. In those days marriages were arranged by the family, which is perhaps how she ended up with a man her sister describes as “no good” who later became a tyrannical, violent drunk she eventually had to flee from and go into hiding with her two young daughters.

Abusive marriages become a melancholy theme as Anu briefly opens up to recall throwing away sleeping pills her own mother had begun to stockpile in desperation to get away from her violent husband. A former girlfriend also mentions having divorced her husband because he was abusive, but seems surprised to learn that Anu had been a victim too. According to her, Anu had told her she was married once but only for a week and that her two children were “adopted”. Of course, this is mildly upsetting for Huang to hear, but seems to amuse her in discovering her mother’s tendency to spin a different yarn to each of her lovers to explain the existence of her family while also distancing herself from it. This seems to be the key that eventually unlocks something of Anu’s aloofness. Humiliated by her capitulation to marriage and then by her mistreatment at the hands of her husband, she cannot reconcile the two sides of her life and has chosen, therefore, to reject the idea of herself as a mother. Something she later partially confirms in admitting that though she does not regret her daughters, given the choice she would not marry again, not even if same sex marriages were legal believing herself to be the sort of person best off alone.

Huang interrogates her mother with a rigour that is difficult to watch, often to be met only with silence or for Anu to walk away with one of her trademark “I’m Off”s. It may be true that most people have something they would rather not talk about, and perhaps Anu is entitled to her silence but if no one says anything, then nothing will change and the cycle of love and resentment will continue on in infinity. Using the camera as a shield, Huang brokers some painful, extremely raw truths to her elusive mother and does perhaps achieve a moment of mutual catharsis but is also too compassionate to satisfy for laying blame, exploring the many social ills from entrenched homophobia to persistent misogyny and even the class-based oppression hinted at by the use of native dialect rather than standard Mandarin which help to explain her mother’s complicated sense of identity. Yet she does so precisely as a means of exorcising ghosts more personal than political in the hope that her own daughter will grow up to know that she is loved, unburdened by a legacy of violence and shame, and free to live her life in whichever way she chooses.


Small Talk was screened as part of the Taiwan Film Festival UK 2019.

Original trailer (English subtitles)

Udine Far East Film Festival Confirms Lineup for 21st Edition

47541986391_dbe90761ea_oThe Udine Far East Film Festival returns for its 21st edition on April 26! As usual, the festival has brought together some of the most highly anticipated East Asian cinema releases with 76 films included in this year’s programme including a retrospective strand dedicated to classic Korean cinema and sidebar on Korean indie comedy. This year’s guests of honour are veteran Hong Kong star Anthony Wong who will be receiving the festival’s Golden Mulberry Award, and Chinese superstar Yao Chen.

China

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  • A Cool Fish – comedy crime caper in which two losers, a woman in a wheelchair, and a dejected security guard get mixed up in a strange series of coincidences. Review.
  • Crossing the Border – heartwarming drama in which a grandpa goes on a tractor roadtrip with his 6-year-old grandson.
  • The Crossing – a teenage girl becomes a mobile phone mule in Bai’s sensitive coming of age drama. Review.
  • Dying to Survive – dark comedy drama in which an aphrodisiac seller becomes rich smuggling generic cancer medication.
  • Lost, Found – remake of the Korean film Missing in which a lawyer in the middle of a custody dispute discovers her nanny has disappeared with her daughter.
  • Pegasus – New Year comedy drama in which a disgraced middle-aged racing driver tries to make a comeback. Review.
  • The Rib – a trans woman tries to get the approval of her devoutly religious father.
  • When Love Blossoms – a Beijing delivery boy is inspired to pursue his secret crush on a real estate agent who is also his roommate.

Hong Kong

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  • Bodies at Rest – a pathologist and his assistant are suddenly accosted by crooks wanting access to a body in Renny Harlin’s action drama.
  • A Home with a View – Mr. Lo sinks all his savings and his father’s pension into buying a flat which has a view of the ocean that calms the rowdy family down, but one day their lovely view is suddenly blocked by an illegal billboard in a dark family comedy from Herman Yau.
  • Hotel Soul Good – comedy in which a hardbitten exec starts seeing ghosts and then forces them to open a hotel with her.
  • Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy – spin-off / sequel to Ip Man 3 starring Max Zhang and directed by Yuen Woo-ping.
  • Missbehavior – New Year rom-com from Pang Ho-cheung in which a secretary tries to replace a bottle of breast milk belonging to her boss after accidentally using it to make coffee for a client.
  • Project Gutenberg – twisty action drama from Felix Chong starring Aaron Kwok and Chow Yun Fat. Review.
  • Still Human – Intouchables-esque drama starring Anthony Wong as a man in a wheelchair who doesn’t immediately take to his Filipina carer.
  • Three Husbands – Fruit Chan satirises modern Hong Kong through the story of a sex worker with a high libido who lives on a boat with her three husbands.

Indonesia

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  • 212 Warrior – historical martial arts action comedy.

Japan

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  • Dare to Stop Us – drama directed by Kazuya Shiraishi set at Wakamatsu Productions in the early 1970s.
  • Every Day a Good Day – tea ceremony drama featuring one of the last screen performances by the late Kirin Kiki.
  • Fly Me to the Saitama – local humour comedy in which residents of Saitama have been relegated to second class citizens. Review.
  • HARD-CORE – robot comedy from Nobuhiro Yamashita.
  • Jam – absurdist comedy from SABU in which a singer is kidnapped by a crazed fan.
  • JK Rock – comedy in which a washed up rocker mentors a girl group.
  • Lying to Mom – black comedy in which a family keep up the pretence that their oldest son who committed suicide is alive and well in Argentina.
  • Melancholic – a dejected university graduate takes a job in a bathhouse but discovers it is used as a location for killing after hours.
  • Only the Cat Knows – a disappeared cat places a wedge between husband and wife.

Malaysia

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  • Fly by Night – taxi drivers running an extortion scam become embroiled in crime conspiracy
  • Motif – a policewoman investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl in a small town finds herself digging deep into family secrets.
  • Two Sisters – horror in which a woman is released from a psychiatric hospital and returns to live with her sister only to encounter dark family secrets.

The Philippines

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  • Eerie – a clairvoyant guidance counsellor investigates the deaths of a series of girls at a convent school in Mikhail Red’s supernatural drama.
  • Heaven’s Waiting – two old souls trapped in purgatory find each other in Dan Villegas’ supernatural romance.
  • Miss Granny – Filipino remake of the classic Korean musical comedy in which an old woman becomes young and gets to relive her youth.
  • Signal Rock – indie drama set in an island community where a brother determines to help bring his sister and her daughter home to the Philippines on learning that she is in an abusive relationship abroad.

South Korea

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  • Believer – Korean remake of Johnnie To’s Drug war. Review.
  • Birthday – melancholy family drama exploring the aftermath of the Sewol ferry tragedy.
  • Door Lock – remake of Spanish film Sleep Tight in which a woman living alone suspects a stranger has been breaking in to her home.
  • Default – drama exploring the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
  • Extreme Job – bumbling police officers go undercover running a chicken restaurant to catch drug dealers but the restaurant ends up taking off.
  • The Great Battle – historical drama centring on the siege of Ansi Fortress.
  • Innocent Witness – Jung Woo-Sung stars as a lawyer defending a housekeeper accused of murdering her boss who discovers the only witness to the crime is an autistic teenage girl.
  • Intimate Strangers – Korean remake of the Italian film Perfect Strangers in which dinner party guests unwisely agree to share all their incoming mobile messages.
  • The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale – comedy in which a family’s life is disrupted when dad gets bitten by a zombie.
  • Rampant – historical zombie action starring Hyun Bin.
  • Romang – romantic melodrama in which an elderly couple fall in love all over again while suffering with dementia.
  • Unstoppable – Ma Dong-seok stars as a former gangster hot on the trail of human traffickers who’ve made the mistake of kidnapping his wife.

Singapore

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  • Konpaku – A young man upset after his girlfriend leaves him ends up in a relationship with the sensuous Midori but is disturbed when strange things start happening to those close to him.

Taiwan

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  • The Devil Fish – spin-off/sequel to the Tagalong franchise this time revolving around an urban legend about a fish with a human face.
  • More than Blue – remake of the Korean romantic melodrama in which two young people try too hard to please each other. Review.
  • The Scoundrels – action drama in which a former basketball player gets mixed up in crime.

Thailand 

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  • Krasue: Inhuman Kiss – an innocent village girl discovers she is a victim of a strange curse in which her head detaches from her body to hunt for blood!
  • Reside – haunted house horror starring Ananda Everingham.

Documentaries

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  • BNK48: Girls Don’t Cry – Thamrongrattanarit Nawapol interviews members of the Thai idol group.
  • Kampai! Sake Sisters – documentary following three women in the historically male sake world.
  • People’s Republic of Desire – documentary exploring the growing Chinese online streaming industry. Review.
  • YI DAI YI LU – One Belt One Road – Italian documentary exploring the One Belt One Road initiative.

The Odd Couples

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  • The World of Suzie Wong – classic 1960 British/American HK drama in which an American artist falls for a sex worker.
  • My Name Ain’t Suzie – 1985 HK drama following a 1950s bar girl.
  • City on Fire – 1987 Ringo Lam classic starring Chow Yun-fat and Danny Lee in which an undercover cop infiltrates a gang of thieves only for the operation to go very wrong.
  • Reservoir Dogs – Tarantino’s 1992 crime drama.

100 Years of Korean Cinema:
I Choose Evil – Lawbreakers Under the Military Dictatorship 

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  • Black Hair – Lee Man-hee classic from 1964 in which a betrayed gangster’s moll mulls going straight thanks to the attentions of a cheerful cabbie. Review.
  • The Body Confession – Jo Keung-ha’s 1964 melodrama in which a woman turns to sex work to raise her three children.
  • A Day Off – Lee Man-hee’s bleak 1968 melodrama following an impoverished couple as they face an impossible situation. Review.
  • Promise of the Flesh – 1975 melodrama from Kim Ki-young in which a young woman on temporary release from prison meets man and promises to meet him two years later.
  • Jagko – Im Kwon-taek pioneers the division film in exploring the parallel fates of a partisan and the man who failed to catch him in the very different world of 1980. Review.
  • The Last Witness  – a detective’s investigation of a brewery owner’s murder takes him right into the dark heart of the recent past in Lee Doo-yong’s powerful drama. Review.
  • Ticket – 1985 Im Kwon-taek drama exploring the lives of five “coffee girls”.
  • Lovers in Woomukbaemi – Jang Sun-woo’s 1990 romantic melodrama stars Park Joong-hoon as a henpecked husband who begins an affair with a battered wife. Review.

Info Screenings 

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  • A First Farewell – A muslim boy in Xinjiang prepares to say goodbye to his deaf/mute mother when his father decides to put her into a nursing home.
  • Ten Years Japan – omnibus film featuring five visions of near future Japan. Review.
  • Ten Years Taiwan – omnibus film featuring five visions of near future Taiwan.
  • Ten Years Thailand – omnibus film featuring five visions of near future Thailand.

Korean Independent Comedies

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  • Coffee Noir: Black Brown – prohibition-themed comedy as a barista turns her coffee shop into a speakeasy following the outlawing of the beverage.
  • Passing Summer – A couple running a Jeju hotel are stunned when a pair of faces from the past turn up as guests.
  • Saem – a man goes to Seoul to look for his first love but has a rare condition in which he is unable to recognise faces.

Restored Classics 

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  • A Speck in the Water – 1976 Philippine fishing village drama from Ishmael Bernal
  • The Wheel of Life – Omnibus film featuring three tales directed by King Hu, Li Hsing, and Pai Ching-jui in which the same two actors play lovers across different ages.

The 21st Udine Far East Film Festival runs from 26th April to 4th May 2019. Full details for each of the films will be available shortly via the official website where you will also be able to find the daily screening schedule. Screenings take place both at the Teatro Nuovo and the Visionario cinema. You can keep up with all the latest festival news via the festival’s Facebook PageInstagram and YouTube channels, Twitter account, and Tumblr.