Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama

blue sky maiden stillRunning at BFI Southbank through October and November, Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama aims to showcase the changing roles of women in Japanese cinema in the pre-war and post-war eras through a series of films starring some of the best known actresses of the time including Ayako Wakao (who features on the poster in her first role working with director Yasuzo Masumura in Blue Sky Maiden), ’30s megastar and later director Kinuyo Tanaka, Ozu’s muse Setsuko Hara, Rashomon’s Machiko Kiyo, wife and muse of Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida Mariko Okada,  and the iconic Hideko Takamine who began as a child star and went on to work with most of the age’s finest directors.

Season Introduction: Women in Japanese Melodrama

The season will kick off with an introductory lecture on 17th October featuring contributions from Alexander Jacoby and Alejandra Armendáriz-Hernandez who will discuss some of the actresses featured in the season.

Osaka Elegy + Women of the Night

osaka elegyStarring Mizoguchi’s frequent leading lady Isuzu Yamada, Osaka Elegy centres on a switchboard operator who finds herself trapped in a ruinous relationship with her boss in an effort to save her father who has ruined himself through gambling debts.  16mm. Now screening on blu-ray due to poor quality of 16mm print.

women of the night stillWomen of the Night, completed in 1948, will screen along side Osaka Elegy (1936) and stars Kinuyo Tanaka in a tale of two sisters trying to survive in the ruined Osaka one of whom is a war widow and the other dangerously involved with a drugs smuggler. 35mm.

Wedding Ring

(c) Shochiku Co., LtdKinuyo Tanaka also stars in Keisuke Kinoshita’s 1950 melodrama Wedding Ring. Starring opposite Toshiro Mifune, Tanaka plays a housewife who travels back and fore from the seaside, where her sickly husband convalesces, to Tokyo where she runs her family’s jewellery store. A chance encounter with a strapping doctor (Mifune) on a train has unforeseen consequences as the pair grow closer and the husband begins to realise that he cannot provide the happiness his wife is seeking. 35mm.

Clothes of Deception

「偽れる盛装」(C)KADOKAWA1951Clothes of Deception is directed by Kozaburo Yoshimura who was the subject (along with Kaneto Shindo) of the BFI’s previous Japanese director retrospective in 2012 in which the film was also screened. Rashomon’s Machiko Kyo stars opposite Yasuko Fujita as a geisha in Kyoto’s historic Gion district whose life contrasts strongly with that of her sister who works for the tourist board. 35mm.

The Mistress (aka Wild Geese)

toyoda wild geese still 1Shiro Toyoda’s melodrama stars Hideko Takamine as a divorced woman who becomes the mistress of an elderly money lender to support her father but dares to dream of a happier future after falling for a young student. 35mm.

An Inlet of Muddy Water

inlet of muddy water still 2Tadashi Imai’s adaptation of a number of stories by 19th century writer Ichiyo Higuchi came top in Kinema Junpo’s best of list for 1953 and features three stories of women suffering at the hands of men. 35mm.

The Eternal Breasts

eternal breasts still 1Kinuyo Tanaka, one of Japan’s great actresses, was not the nation’s first female director as she is sometimes described, but she was the first to have a career as a film director. The Eternal Breasts is Tanaka’s third directorial effort (following Love Letter and The Moon has Risen) and tells the story of tanka poet Fumiko Nakajo who passed away from breast cancer in 1954 at only 31 years old. 35mm.

Floating Clouds 

floating clouds still 1Hideko Takamine and Masayuki Mori play two former lovers cast adrift in the new post-war world world where their love is both impossible and impossible to escape. Naruse’s melancholy melodrama is the story of a woman who strives for self-determination while chasing a man who craves only respectability, as trapped and confused as her still divided nation. 35mm.

Elegy of The North

elegy of the north stilll 1Masayuki Mori stars again in another romantic melodrama this time for Heinosuke Gosho (Where Chimneys are Seen), opposite Yoshiko Kuga who falls for Mori’s conflicted architect as an escape from her moribund marriage while Mori’s wife, played by Hideko Takamine, is having an affair with a young student. 16mm.

Tokyo Twilight

tokyo twilight still 1Among the darkest of Ozu’s post-war movies, Tokyo Twilight is a less forgiving family drama in which Setsuko Hara plays the older of two sisters who has returned home from a failing marriage with her little girl in tow only to find out that her unmarried student younger sister is facing an unwanted pregnancy. 35mm.

The Blue Sky Maiden (aka The Cheerful Girl)

blue sky maiden still 2Blue Sky Maiden, Masumura’s second film, is his first in colour and his first to star the radiant Ayako Wakao who would later become something like his muse. Light and bright and youthful, Blue Sky Maiden is not without the Masumura bite in its tale of an illegitimate child deposited in her cowardly father’s home and among his unpleasant family but bearing all of her sorrows with a cheerful determination which resolutely refuses to allow them to rob her of her happiness. 35mm.

An Affair at Akitsu (aka Akitsu Springs)

akitsu springs still 1Soon after An Affair at Akitsu, also known as Akitsu Springs, Mariko Okada would marry the film’s director, Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida, and the pair would go on create a series of “anti-melodramas” which adopted typical melodrama storylines but shot them in a deliberately detached manner. An Affair at Akitsu is Yoshida’s attempt at Shochiku’s most representative genre but, aided by the astonishing performance of Okada, he conjures a deeply felt meditation on post-war malaise as its lovers find themselves unable to escape the false paradise of Akitsu Springs. 35mm.

The Shape of Night

Shape of the night still 1Recently restored, Noburu Nakamura’s The Shape of Night stars Miyuki Kuwano as a young woman forced into prostitution by a no good boyfriend. 35mm.

Tears and Laughter: Women in Japanese Melodrama runs at BFI Southbank from 17th October to 29th November and tickets are already on general sale.

 

Feng Xiaogang’s Youth Headlines Impressive East Asian Lineup at TIFF

Feng Xiaogang Youth still 2Toronto International Film Festival (affectionately known as TIFF) has always been a proud champion of East Asian cinema and this year is no exception with a number of eagerly awaited films from high profile directors including the World Premiere of the latest from Feng Xiaogang and highly anticipated return to action cinema for John Woo alongside interesting debuts from up and coming new directors.

China

Youth still 4

  • Youth  Feng Xiaogang’s followup to I am Not Madame Bovary makes its World Premiere at TIFF. A national coming of age story, Feng’s drama focusses on a ’70s military arts troupe as one particular dancer suffers at the hands of her peers but later emerges as a heroine.
  • Angels Wear White – Featured in competition at Venice, Vivian Qu’s Trap Street followup focusses on a pair of teenage girls assaulted in a hotel room and the receptionist who says nothing for fear of losing her job,
  • Dragonfly Eyes – the debut feature from artist Xu Bing, Dragonfly Eyes uses footage assembled from China’s many surveillance cameras to tell a sad love story.
  • Manhunt – John Woo returns to the realms of heroic bloodshed with a remake of a ’70s Japanese action classic starring Masaharu Fukuyama and Zhang Hanyu.
  • Mrs Fang – Wang Bing’s affecting documentary focusses on an elderly woman left alone to die in a small Chinese village.
  • Struggling – TIFF teams up with China Film Archive for a screening of this recently restored Chinese silent film from 1932.
  • The Conformist – Set on the Sino-Russian Frontier, Cai Shangjun’s The Conformist is an existential crime thriller revolving around a double agent working for the police whilst inhabiting the local underworld.

Indonesia

marlina the murderer in four acts still one

  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts – an Indonesian feminist western, Mouly Surya’s third feature follows a young widow out on a quest of revenge after a gang of bandits storm her farmhouse, rape her, and steal all her cattle. Armed only with a sword and a severed head, she takes to the road.
  • The Seen and the Unseen – making its World Premiere at TIFF Kamila Andini’s The Seen and the Unseen is a magical tale of a young girl retreating into a fantasy world to cope with the impending death of her twin brother.

Japan

oh lucy still 2

  • Birds Without Names – Kazuya Shirasishi’s Dawn of the Felines followup stars Yu Aoi as a young woman living with an older man (Sadawo Abe) but pining for her violent ex-boyfriend.
  • Oh Lucy! – Atsuko Hirayanagi’s sleeper Cannes hit is the story of a lonely middle-aged office lady who discovers a new side to herself when a charismatic English teacher (Josh Hartnett) gives her a blonde wig giving birth to the alter ego Lucy.
  • Radiance – the latest from festival favourite Naomi Kawase, Radiance stars veteran actor Masatoshi Nagase as a photographer losing his sight.
  • The Third Murder – a departure for director Hirokazu Koreeda, The Third Murder is a tense courtroom thriller starring Koji Yakusho as the defendant in a seemingly open and shut murder case but his lawyer (Masaharu Fukuyama) has his doubts about his client’s testimony.
  • Vampire Clay – veteran makeup artist Soichi Umezawa makes his directorial debut with this B-movie inspired tale of plasticine demons devouring the students at a rural arts school.
  • Wolf Guy – another special treat, Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 Sonny Chiba starring tale of werewolf detectives gets a screening as part of the farewell to Midnight Madness’ Colin Geddes. Review.

Korea

poet and the boy still

  • The Poet and the Boy – Kim Yang-hee’s Jeju set character drama stars Yang Ik-june as a melancholy poet whose life changes when he encounters a handsome young man at a local donut shop.
  • The Day After – Hong Sang-soo’s third release in 2017 stars Kim Min-hee as a recent recruit to a publishing company where (unbeknownst to her) she’s taken over from a woman let go after an affair with the boss ended badly.

Philippines

Dark is the Night

  • Dark is the Night – Independent filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr returns with an urgent look at life in Duterte’s Philippines as a middle-aged couple make a little on the side selling drugs but decide to give it up because of the danger only for their addict son to go missing.

Taiwan

fish out of water

  • A Fish out of Water – A young boy becomes fixated on the idea of finding his “past parents” in the debut feature from Lai Kuo-An.
  • The Great Buddha+ – an extension to director Huang Hsin-Yao’s 2014 short, The Great Buddha+ follows two security guards as they spy on their womanising boss for kicks but find out something they were not supposed to know.

Thailand

samui osng still one

  • Samui Song – the highly anticipated return of Last Life in the Universe’s Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Samui Song is a violent thriller in which a soap opera actress plots to escape her wealthy husband who has been brainwashed by a cult.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from 7 – 17th October. The complete festival programme as well as full information on all the films can be found on the festival’s official website, and you can keep up with all the latest details through the official Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and YouTube channels.

A Day Makes UK Premiere at Nottingham’s Mayhem Film Festival

A Day posterCho Sun-ho’s time-loop drama A Day (하루, Haroowill make its UK premiere at Nottingham’s genre leaning film festival, Mayhem.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJun-young, a successful surgeon but less than successful father, witnesses a car accident involving his daughter only to wake up as if it were just a dream. Realising that the events of his dream are proceeding as he saw them, Jun-young tries to save his daughter only to fail and have the exact same events repeat themselves over and over again until he meets another man in the same position who has been trying to save the life of the other victim. Together, the two men unite to save the lives of their loved ones and escape the nightmarish temporal loop in which they are both trapped.

Fantasia film festival trailer

A Day screens at 1.45pm on 14th October.

The festival will also play host to Sion Sono’s surreal sci-fi/horror odyssey Tag which receives a long awaited UK DVD/blu-ray release from Eureka this November.

tagTag screens on 14th October at 12pm. Check out our review of the film here.

Mayhem runs at Nottingham’s Broadway cinema from 12th – 15th October, 2017. You can find the complete lineup as well as ticketing information on the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest festival news via the official Facebook page, and Twitter account.

The Night is Short, Walk On Girl Opens Kotatsu 2017

The Night is Short posterWales’ premier showcase for Japanese animation returns this September with some of the best in recent anime plus events and special guests. This year the festival runs for three bumper days at Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff (29th September – 1st October) before moving on to Aberystwyth Arts Centre for one day only, October 28th 2017.

Cardiff

night is short still 2Opening the festival will be the latest from Tatami Galaxy’s Masaaki Yuasa – The Night is Short, Walk on Girl in which a dark haired girl roams the dark city streets while her secret admirer waits patiently for an opportunity to reveal himself, little knowing that the dark haired girl feels exactly the same way…

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 29th September 6pm.


Hirune still 1Next up on Saturday 30th, Napping Princess sees the return of Ghost in the Shell SAC’s Kenji Kamiyama with a much more family friendly effort than might be expected. Regular teenage girl Kotone is sleeping her life away but her final summer vacation will provide unexpected adventures as she sets out to save the Tokyo Olympics from becoming an international disaster whilst solving the long buried mystery of her family origins. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 11am

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 11am


your name stillThis one likely needs no introduction, but for the uninitiated Makoto Shinkai’s latest effort, Your Name, is a body swapping tale of star crossed lovers which has a much happier conclusion than Shinkai’s generally melancholy fare. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 4.15pm


genocidal organ stillThe third in a series of three feature animations inspired by the works of late science fiction author Project Itoh (the other two being Harmony and Empire of Corpses), Genocidal Organ is a cyberpunk infused tale of global conspiracies in which nefarious forces have decided genocide is an unavoidable human evil that they need to ensure is remains in the category of “terrible things happening far away”. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 6.30pm

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 3.35pm


Belladonna of Sadness 
© Cinelicious PicsProduced by Osamu Tezuka, Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna of Sadness has been little seen since its 1973 release but a recent 4K restoration is helping to change that for the better so this psychedelic exploration of sex, witchcraft, and folklore can finally be properly appreciated. Review.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 30th September, 9pm


silent voice still 1Sunday’s first offering is a heartrending story of friendship and redemption between a girl with hearing problems and the boy who mercilessly bullied her in childhood only to get a taste of his own medicine and intensely regret it. Read our review of A Silent Voice here.

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 1st October, 11am


pigtails stillProduction I.G. is one of the most well regarded animation studios currently in operation this and series of four shorts by different directors demonstrates its strengths and versatility.

  • Pigtails – directed by Yoshimi Itazu and adapted from the manga by Machiko Kyo.
  • Drawer Hobs – directed by Kazuchika Kise
  • Lil’ Spider Girl – directed by Toshihisa Kaiya
  • Kickheart – directed by Masaaki Yuasa

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 1st October, 2pm


mind game horizontalMasaaki Yuasa’s 2004 debut, Mind Game, will also be screened as the closing movie in Cardiff on 1st October. Adapted from a manga by Robin Nishi, the anime follows an aspiring mangaka, also named Nishi, who runs into his teenage crush only to find out she is about to marry someone else, gets mixed up with yakuza, goes all the way to heaven and back, and then gets trapped inside a whale where he meets God…

Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff, 1st October, 5pm

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 6.15pm


In addition to the films on offer, there will also be a selection of special events taking place across the weekend including:

  • Japanese Marketplace
  • Kotatsu Festival Stand
  • Kotatsu display where you can try out a kotatsu for real! (Saturday night only)
  • Super Tomato – Cardiff based retailer of retro games and otaku goods
  • Keep It Secret – Bristol based store specialising in all things cute. (Saturday only)
  • Cherry Slug – handmade artwork inspired by manga and anime
  • Iconic Toos – tatooist specialising in otaku designs

That’s in addition to a Manga Drawing Workshop at 1.30pm on Saturday with manga artist Asuka Bochanska Tanaka, the Neo Craft Animation – A Certain Japanese Stop-motion Animation masterclass with Professor Yuichi Ito of Tokyo National University of Arts Graduate School, and a Japanese calligraphy workshop at 3pm on Sunday 1st October.


Aberystwyth

sword art online ordinal scale stillFollowing a second screening of Napping Princess at 11am, the festival continues at Aberystwyth Arts Centre with a screening of the Sword Art Online movie, Ordinal Scale, which follows Kirito and co. into the latest game using the brand new Augma system.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 28th October, 1.15pm


Sword Art Online will be followed by repeat screenings of Genocidal Organ (3.35pm) and Mind Game (6.15pm), and there will also be a raffle at 6pm!

Kotatsu 2017 runs at Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff from 29th September to 1st October and Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 28th October. Tickets are available from the respective box offices. You can find more information on all the films and the festival itself on the official website and you can keep up with all the latest news via the official Facebook Page and Twitter account.

 

Blade of the Immortal, Close-Knit Headline BFI London Film Festival 2017

blade of the immortal posterThe BFI London Film Festival returns this October for another twelve day celebration of the best in recent international cinema. Though East Asian offerings are not as plentiful as in previous years, there are a number of highly anticipated films from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Cambodia making their UK premieres across the various strands of the impressive 2017 programme.

China 

©22 HOURS FILMSChinese independent cinema has been in the ascendent recently, becoming a regular presence at high profile festivals. This year’s selection of films from the mainland includes two very different animated features alongside comedy, action and arthouse.

  • Angels Wear White –  Featured in competition at Vencie, Vivian Qu’s Trap Street followup follows two girls who are assaulted by a middle-aged man in a motel room, and the receptionist who says nothing for fear of losing her job.
  • Big Fish and Begonia – Animated family fantasy in which mystical beings observe the human world for one week only but are forbidden from contact. Picked up for UK distribution by Manga Entertainment.
  • Have a Nice Day – Grown up animated feature in which a delivery driver steals a bag of cash so his girlfriend can get plastic surgery. Picked up for UK distribution by Mubi.
  • King of Peking – A father and son resort to DVD piracy after a fire destroys their business in this charming Beijing-set comedy.
  • Life Imitation – An experimental look at youth in modern China mediated through the digital realm.
  • Wrath of Silence – Western infused martial arts drama starring Jiang Wu.

Hong Kong

our time will comeTwo giants of Hong Kong cinema return – celebrated filmmaker Ann Hui with a tale of love and resistance, and legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle shooting a noir fairytale for Jenny Suen.

  • Our Time Will Come – Zhao Xun’s schoolteacher takes up arms in the resistance movement against the Japanese occupation in Ann Hui’s tense spy thriller.
  • The White Girl – shot by Christopher Doyle, Jenny Suen’s quirky noir fairytale stars Joe Odagiri as a reclusive Japanese artist hiding out in Hong Kong.

Japan

blade of the immortal still 2Japanese entries are dominated by animation but there’s also space for Takashi Miike’s manga adaptation Blade of the Immortal which headlines the Thrill section, as well as Naoko Ogigami’s latest Close-Knit, and the recent 4K restoration of 60s avant-garde masterpiece Funeral Parade of Roses.

  • Blade of the Immortal – A return to the world of jidaigeki for the prolific director, Blade of the Immortal stars Takuya Kimura as a legendary swordsman who cannot die. Takashi Miike will also be present at the festival for a Screen Talk event. Picked up for UK distribution by Arrow Films.
  • Close-Knit – Less quirky than her previous work, Naoko Ogigami’s latest is a heartwarming family drama in which a neglected 11 year old is taken in by her uncle and his transgender girlfriend, Rinko (Toma Ikuta). Review.
  • Funeral Parade of Roses – Toshio Matsumoto’s avant-garde classic in its recent 4K restoration.
  • Lu Over the Wall – One of two films this year released by anime genius Masaaki Yuasa, Lu Over the Wall is a story of borderless love as a land boy and mermaid girl come together to ensure the survival of their respective communities. Picked up for UK distribution by Manga Entertainment.
  • Mutafukaz – crazy French/Japanese animated co-production.

Korea 

Bamseom Pirates Seoul InfernoEverything you’d expect from Korea from anarchic documentary to violent procedural and the annual return of Hong Sang-soo.

  • Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno – Jung Yoon-suk’s documentary following the Korean punk band
  • Becoming Who I Was – Chang-yong Moon & Jin Jeon’s reincarnation documentary.
  • Memoir of a Murderer – Byung-su, a retired serial killer recently diagnosed with dementia, attempts to catch his successor in this very Korean black comedy thriller. Picked up for UK distribution by JBG Pictures.
  • On the Beach at Night Alone – Hong Sang-soo returns with a close to home story of an actress (played by Kim Min-hee), taking refuge from the negative fallout from her high profile affair with a married film director…

Thailand

bad genius stillThailand’s two entries feature youth looking forward and age looking back.

  • Bad Genius – Playing just about every festival this season, Bad Genius is the story of brainy Thai teens and their elaborate scam to game the exams system.
  • Pop Aye – a middle-aged man tries to rescue an elephant who was his childhood friend and save them both from the ravages of “progress”.

Cambodia 

jailbbreak horizonta

  • Jailbreak – martial arts drama from Jimmy Henderson.

The BFI London Film Festival runs at various venues in Central London from 4th to 15th October 2017. Full details and screening times/dates are available from the official website. Champion members’ booking begins 10am 6th September with Members’ booking opening 7th September ahead of regular ticket sales beginning 14th September.

You can also keep up to date with all the latest festival news via the BFI’s Facebook Page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel.

Japan Foundation London’s Celebration of Culinary Cinema Returns for Second Helpings!

A-Tale-of-Samurai-Cooking-teaserFollowing their recent series of foodie films, The Japan Foundation London is back with a few more tasty morsels this August.

tale of samurai cooking still 2First up, A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story proves that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach (rather than through his chest with a sword). Headstrong Haru (Aya Ueto) gets “sent back” from her first marriage and then receives an interesting proposal from the Emperor’s own samurai cooks thanks to her awesome skills in the kitchen. Her husband to be, Yasunobu (Kengo Kora), is very unhappy about this seeing as he still wants to be a “real” samurai and is nursing a broken heart. Review.

A Tale of Samurai Cooking screens at Courthouse Cinema, 23rd August, 6.30pm.


chef of south polar stillBased on the writings of the real Jun Nishimura, Shuichi Okita’s The Chef of South Polar follows a put upon chef as he’s forced to leave his family and become the sole cook for seven research scientists marooned at the South Pole for a whole year. Despite the hazardous conditions Nishimura keeps churning out beautifully presented dishes while the guys all go slowly mad together. Review.

Chef of the South Polar screens at Courthouse Cinema on 24th August, 6.30pm


An stillNaomi Kawase’s An (Sweet Bean) is a less comedic tale of inter-generational friendship, social injustice and continuing stigma towards those suffering illness, and a celebration of tradition passed from one era to the next. Masatoshi Nagase plays a struggling doriaki chef who gets a few tips from a strange old lady (Kirin Kiki). He originally turns her down for a job at his stand because of her age and gnarled hands, but tasting her bean paste, there is no way he can refuse.

An (Sweet Bean) screens at Rich Mix on Saturday 26th August, 12.45pm.


tampopo stillAnd finally the greatest food movie of them all – Juzo Itami’s Tampopo! This iconic comedy follows the titular widow as she tries to make a success of her ramen stand with the help of lonely truck drivers Goro and Gun. While Tampopo is busy with her noodles, Itami ventures off on a cultural odyssey to explore the various ways food is used and misused in Japanese society. Review.

Tampopo screens at Rich Mix on Saturday 26th August, 3.15pm.


You can find further details for all the films on the Japan Foundation London website. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance and you can only register to attend two of the four screenings (if you apply for more than two you will be placed on the waiting list for the extra ones). A Tale of Samurai Cooking and Chef of the South Polar are currently fully booked but you can still apply to join the waiting list and be notified should spaces become available.

The First Lap, Sweating the Small Stuff Screen at Locarno 2017

Sweating the Small StuffNow in its 70th year, the Locarno Film Festival returns with another celebration of auteurist cinema from 2nd to 12th August, 2017. As usual there are a number of arthouse films from East Asia included in the programme hailing from China, Japan, Korea, and Myanmar.

dragon fly eyes stillVisual artist Xu Bing’s first debut feature Dragonfly Eyes is entirely composed of images taken from China’s many CCTV surveillance cameras as they capture the lives of two young people – Qu Ting, a young woman training to become a buddhist nun who returns to the secular world and takes a job at a dairy farm, and Ke Fan a young man who falls in love with her but finds himself sent to jail in the quest to win her heart. On his release he searches for her desperately only to discover she has reinvented herself as an online celebrity.


mrs fang stillWang Bing’s documentary Mrs. Fang tells the story of an elderly woman suffering with Alzheimer’s who is sent back to her rural village from the nursing home in which she had been living after it is decided they can offer no further treatment.


first lap stillIn Kim Dae-hwan’s The First Lap Su-hyeon and Ji-young have been living together for the last six years but the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy forces the pair to reassess their relationships with their old families before starting a new one.


sweating small stuff still 2Ryutaro Ninomiya directs himself in Sweating the Small Stuff as he plays a 27 year old mechanic who decides to pay a visit to the terminally ill mother of a friend he has been avoiding seeing despite knowing of her illness.


blood amber stillThe first feature documentary from Lee Yong Chao, Blood Amber takes a look at a Burmese forest controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in which the inhabitants eke out a living mining hoping to find a way out whilst also living in fear of military action.


There are also two short films from East Asia:

crossing river stillHan Yumeng’s Crossing River follows a group Chinese construction workers


signature stillKei Chikaura’s Signature centres on a young Chinese man lost in the middle of Shibuya.


The 70th Locarno Film Festival runs from 2nd – 10th August, 2017. You can find full details for all films as well as the complete lineup on the official festival website, and you can keep up with all the latest developments via the Festival’s Facebook Page, Twitter account, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.