BFI London Film Festival Confirms Complete Programme for 2020

The BFI London Film Festival returns for 2020 a little different than you remember it, but even within the concentrated programme there are a few East Asian gems to be found. This year’s edition will be a mix of online and physical events taking place at cinemas around the country and in your living room via BFI Player.

Days (日子)

Tsai Ming-liang’s latest stars Lee Kang-Sheng as a wealthy man who ventures into the city to seek treatment for neck pain and encounters a young masseur whose life is no less lonely if much less grand.

Screenings:

  • BFI Southbank, NFT 2: 8th October, 17.30
  • BFI Southbank, NFT 3: 8th October, 17.40
  • ICA: 9th October, 19.40

Online:

  • BFI Player: available 8th October, 18.30 – 11th October, 18.30

Striding Into the Wind (野马分鬃)

Semi-autobiographical road movie from Wei Shujun in which a young film student in his final year spends his time driving around China in a Jeep Cherokee.

Online:

  • BFI Player: available 16th October 18:30 – 19.00

Genus Pan (Lahi, Hayop)

The latest from Philippine filmmaker Lav Diaz runs a trim 156 minutes but once again engages with the complex history of the nation through the story of three miners traversing the unforgiving wilderness of a mythical island as they journey towards their home village.

Online:

  • BFI Player: available 11th October, 17.30 – 14th October, 17.30

A Day-Off for Kasumi Arimura (有村架純の撮休)

The first episode of the 2020 WOWWOW TV series directed by Hirokazu Koreeda starring actress Kasumi Arimura (Sekigahara, Narratage, Flying Colors) as a fictionalised version of herself enjoying a day off between filming. Only the first episode is available here but the eight-part series of self-contained stories also includes episodes directed by Rikiya Imaizumi (Their Distance, Little Nights, Little Love), Santa Yamagishi, Satoko Yokohama (Bare Essence of Life, The Actor), and Megumi Tsuno (Ten Years Japan “Data“). Koreeda also directed the third episode, while Rikiya Imaizumi doubles up directing episodes two and six. A followup series starring actor Ryoma Takeuchi and directed by Ryuichi Hiroki, Eiji Uchida, and Hana Matsumoto, airs in Japan in November.

Online:

  • BFI Player: available 10th October 13.00 – 13th October, 13.00

So how does it work? East Asian titles aside, a number of the bigger films will be screened in cinemas around the country including London’s BFI Southbank, ICA, Curzon Soho, Curzon Mayfair, Cine Lumiere, Barbican and Prince Charles Cinema, as well as HOME, in Manchester; Watershed, in Bristol; Glasgow Film Theatre; Broadway, in Nottingham; Showroom, in Sheffield; Queen’s Film Theatre, in Belfast; and Chapter, in Cardiff. All of the East Asian titles will however be available via BFI Player within a specific window during which you will need to press play. You will then have three hours to finish watching and you can only watch once. All titles are geolocked to the UK, and you can access BFI Player via PC or Mac, iOS or Android devices, or via the app on a compatible Samsung Smart TV. Prices for cinema tickets vary with venue (for BFI Southbank, tickets are priced at £14 with a £2 discount for members), while BFI Player virtual premieres are priced at £12, £10 for members. Tickets can be booked online or via telephone from 14th September for Patrons, 15th September for Champions, 16th September for Members, and 21st September for the general public.

The BFI London Film Festival runs 7th to 18th October, 2020. The complete programme can be found on the official website along with full details for all the films as well as ticketing links. You can also keep up to date with all the latest news via the festival’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, and YouTube channels.

Camera Japan Announces Complete Programme for 2020

Camera Japan returns for its 15th edition, not virtually but physically, with another packed screening schedule taking place as usual in Rotterdam Sept. 23 – 7, and Amsterdam, Oct. 1 – 4. With COVID-19 in mind, seating capacity in the venue has been reduced while safety measures will also be in place so everyone can enjoy the festival responsibly.

Contemporary Cinema

  • 108: Revenge and Adventure of Goro Kaiba – comedy from Suzuki Matsuo in which a man discovers his wife has had an affair through a social media post that got 108 likes so he decides to blow the money she’d get in the divorce by using it to sleep with 108 women as revenge.
  • A Girl Missing – limited perspectives and frustrated desires take centre stage as a home care nurse’s life is upended when she is unfairly implicated in a crime in Koji Fukada’s probing drama. Review.
  • Beautiful Goodbye – a nervous young man on the run and an undead woman looking for a way out find each other at the end of the road in Eiichi Imamura’s beautifully melancholic meditation on mutual salvation. Review.
  • Cry – Hirobumi Watanabe returns to the themes of 7 Days in a near wordless tale of a pig farmer’s simple existence in present day Tochigi. Review.
  • The Day of Destruction – Toshiaki Toyoda sets out to exorcise the demons of a venal city in an impassioned attack on societal selfishness and personal apathy. Review.
  • Extro – in a sometimes surreal mockmentary, Naoki Murahashi lampoons the Japanese film industry but has nothing but warmth and admiration for its unsung heroes, the extras. Review.
  • Fancy – Masatoshi Nagase stars as a postman who gets mixed up in a love triangle with amateur poet “Penguin” and his fan “Moonlit Night’s Star”.
  • The Hardness of Avocado – Pia Award-winning romantic drama in which an aspiring actor tries to pick up the pieces after his girlfriend dumps him.
  • Haruka’s Poetry – an office lady from Tokyo abruptly quits her job after falling in love with ceramics and attempts to get the closed off artist to open himself up to her enthusiasm.
  • His – years after his uni boyfriend broke up with him to lead a more conventional life, Shun is surprised to find him on his doorstep with his six-year-old daughter looking for a place to stay.
  • It Feels so Good – wounded former lovers cocoon themselves in an artificial bubble of intimacy in retreat from a world of constant anxiety in Haruhiko Arai’s steamy existential drama. Review.
  • Minori on the Brink – refusing to back down in the face of injustice, Minori finds herself on the brink of despair in Ryutaro Ninomiya’s clear-eyed takedown of an oppressively patriarchal society. Review.
  • Mother – toxic maternity drama from Tatsushi Omori starring Masami Nagasawa as a mother whose unconventional relationship with her son later leads to shocking tragedy.
  • Murders of Oiso – a series of suspicious deaths strain the toxic friendships of four young men drowning in small-town ennui in Takuya Misawa’s meta-mystery existential drama. Review.
  • My Identity – a lost young girl contemplates the “language barriers” which lead to hate and violence while finding herself on the run with an equally displaced older woman in Sae Suzuki’s indie drama. Review.
  • Not Quite Dead Yet – a young woman’s strained relationship with her father improves after he takes a drug which is intended to make him “dead” for a short while but proves more effective than intended.
  • Obake – celestial hecklers observe the life of an indie filmmaker.
  • One Summer Story – summer-themed road movie from Shuichi Okita in which a young woman convinces her friend to help her look for her estranged father.
  • The Other Home – a 17-year-old boy discovers his father has another woman and lives with her in another house. Hoping to put a stop to it, he wanders over there but it proves more difficult than he assumed it would be.
  • Romance Doll – romantic drama from Yuki Tanada adapting her own book about a man who hides the fact he sculpts sex dolls for a living from his wife.
  • Shape of Red – an unfulfilled housewife’s personal desire is reawakened when she runs into an old lover in Yukiko Mishima’s steamy adaptation of the Rio Shimamoto novel. Review.
  • Take Over Zone – after her parents’ divorce, Sari went to live with her dad and her brother Toma with their mother. After getting into a fight with a schoolmate, she discovers that her mum is now dating the other girl’s dad and decides to take her brother and run away.
  • Talking the Pictures – Masayuki Suo’s tribute to the age of the benshi silent movie narrator.
  • Taro the Fool – teen drama from Tatsushi Omori in which three aimless teenage boys discover a gun.
  • Three Nobunagas – three loyal retainers hide out in a ghost town trying to kidnap Oda Nobunaga only to end up with three of him!
  • Vampire Clay – Derivation – sequel to Vampire Clay in which students at an art school are once again terrorised by a vampiric monster.
  • Voices in the Wind – Nobuhiro Suwa returns to Japan after an 18-year absence for a tale of national catharsis as a young woman makes a painful journey home in search of making peace with the traumatic past. Review.

Classics

  • Conflagration – Kon Ichikawa’s 1958 adaptation of the Mishima novel in which an idealistic young man becomes disillusioned with the head priest at the temple where he is studying and is eventually pushed into madness, burning down the beautiful Kinkakuji because it is simply to good for this world. Review.

Documentaries

  • I-Documentary of the Journalist- – Fake’s Tatsuya Mori follows dogged Tokyo Shimbun reporter Isoko Mochizuki as she continues to speak truth to power in an otherwise frustratingly deferent press culture. Review.
  • Prison Circle – Kaori Sakagami digs deep into the legacy of trauma in following a collection of prisoners as they undergo an experimental rehabilitation program in the hope of returning to mainstream society. Review.

Animation

  • Happy-Go-Lucky Days – three-part anime omnibus themed around love including that between two women who meet at a wedding, a teacher caught on the spot by a student’s confession, and childhood friends who find themselves drifting apart as they approach adolescence.
  • On-Gaku Our Sound – deadpan slackers decide to start a band and discover unexpected sides to themselves in the joy of making music in Iwaisawa’s infinitely charming indie animation.
  • Seven Days War – Osamu Soda’s satirical novel is updated for the present day as a young woman runs away with a gang of school friends and holes up in a warehouse where they befriend a Thai immigrant in hiding and try to protect him from the authorities.

Camera Japan 2020 takes place in Rotterdam 23rd – 27th September and Amsterdam 1st – 4th October. Full information on all the films as well as ticketing links can be found on the official website and you can also keep up to date with all the latest news via Camera Japan’s official Facebook pageTwitter account, and Instagram channel.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Returns for Season 11!

Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns for its 11th season which will take place in both physical and online editions from Sept. 10 to Oct. 10 with a special Halloween sidebar. Seven movies will play at the Davis Drive-in while the remainder of the programme will be available to stream in the US via Festival Scope with a series of rotating strands featuring documentaries from Taiwan, anime and indie drama from Japan, Mainland arthouse, and comedy from Hong Kong. The festival will also be hosting its annual mid-autumn festival “Movie with Mooncakes” event with a drive-in screening of Chinese mountaineering epic The Climbers.

7-films @ Davis Drive-in at Lincoln Yards (1684 N. Throop Street). (Maximum 40 vehicles ONLY. $15 per vehicle.)

Door opens at 7:30 PM with exact showtimes based on sunset.

September 10: Paper Flower (OPENING NIGHT) – South Korea

A funeral director (Ahn Sung-ki) struggling to care for his sickly son bonds with a cheerful single mother while going against the city to assist in a public funeral for a noodle stall owner who became a hero to the homeless.

October 1: The Climbers – China (Mid-Autumn Festival “Movie with Mooncakes” FREE ADMISSIONS. RSVP is required.)

Patriotic drama starring Wu Jing as an ace mountain climber embittered by the world’s refusal to recognise his ascent to the summit of Everest and vowing to reclaim his country’s honour by going again. Review.

October 3: Edward – the Philippines – (A fundraiser hosted by FYLPRO.ORG)

A teenage boy receives a painful lesson in life and death when he’s forced to take temporary residence in a public hospital in order to care for his difficult father in Thop Nazareno’s moving coming-of-age drama. Review.

October 9: My Prince Edward – Hong Kong

(C)My Prince Edward Film Production Limited

A conflicted young woman reaches a crisis point when her controlling boyfriend makes a surprise public proposal and she’s forced to deal with the sham marriage to a Mainlander she underwent some years previously which was apparently never legally annulled. Review.

October 10: Beyond the Dream (CLOSING NIGHT) – Hong Kong

Romantic psychodrama starring Lau Chun Him as a man with schizophrenia who falls for the beautiful Cecilia Choi but suffers a relapse as he struggles with the decision of whether to disclose his condition.

October 30: Train to Busan – South Korea

A jaded workaholic dad gets a lesson in the costs of selfish and amoral capitalism when the train they’re on is plagued by zombies in Yeon Sang-ho’s live action followup to his earlier animation Seoul Station. Review.

October 31: Peninsula – South Korea

Lateral sequel to Train to Busan set four years later and following a former soldier who managed to escape overseas but is given a mission to return during which he encounters survivors.


The remaining programme will stream within the US via Festival Scope. Each film costs $5 to rent, is capped at 400 views, and can only be watched once with 30 hours available to finish watching after you press play.

September 10 – 14, South Korea Week: Diaspora: Arirang Road

Lee Kyu-chul’s documentary follows Korean-Japanese composer Yang Bang Ean as he explores the Korean diaspora through the prism of folksong Arirang.

September 15 – 19, Japan Week:

Happy-Go-Lucky Days

Three-part anime omnibus themed around love including that between two women who meet at a wedding, a teacher caught on the spot by a student’s confession, and childhood friends who find themselves drifting apart as they approach adolescence.

A Dobugawa Dream

Guild-ridden and traumatised by the death of a close friend, a young man finds himself on the run and taking refuge with a band of down-and-outs while he figures out how to deal with his rage and despair in Asato Watanabe’s indie drama. Review.

Life: Untitled

Kana Yamada adapts her own stage play dissecting the misogynistic society through the lives of a collection of sex workers trying to live as best they can in the contemporary capital. Review.

Life Finds A Way

Hirobumi Watanabe once again stars as a version of himself, a self-involved filmmaker not trying terribly hard to escape his creative block while procrastinating around his beloved Tochigi in this decidedly meta comedy. Review.

September 22 – 26, Taiwan Week: Spotlight in Documentaries

Formosan B.B. Is Coming

Director and mountaineer Mai Chueh-ming takes his team deep into the Taiwanese mountains to find a researcher engaged in the study of Taiwanese black bears.

Water with Life

World’s first 8K nature documentary exploring the seas around Taiwan and Japan.

Whale Island

Documentary exploring Taiwan’s relationship with the seas which surround it.

Walking Dharma

Documentary following a group of volunteers looking after vulnerable people in Taitung.

Tsunma, Tsunma: My Summer with the Female Monastics of the Himalaya

Taiwanese photographer Lin Li-fang documents the lives of Buddhist nuns living in the Himalayas.

September 29 – October 3, China Week:

Best Director

A film director who has recently won a prize abroad and a fashion photographer decide to register their marriage and quietly go on honeymoon only for their families to insist on a traditional wedding ceremony which quickly descends into a farce of cultural and generational misunderstandings.

All About ING

A family’s life changes when the father is diagnosed with terminal cancer causing his wife to become withdrawn and his son to reconsider his plans to study abroad.

A Touch of Spring

Following the breakup of her marriage, a young woman decides to return to her hometown in China after living in Montreal for 10 years. Reconnecting with her family and an old flame helps to show her new direction in her life.

October 6 – 10, Hong Kong Week:

Men On the Dragon (Free Streaming, RSVP is required. F-C-F-S)

A collection of dejected middle-aged men can no longer avoid facing their respective crises when forced to participate in the company dragon boat team in Sunny Chan’s heartfelt comedy drama. Review.

Women Who Flirt (5th anniversary special encore)

2014 Pang Ho-Cheung comedy starring Zhou Xun, Huang Xiao-ming and Sonia Sui in which a woman’s longterm BFF surprises her by falling for a woman he met on a business trip.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 11 runs Sept. 10 to Oct. 10 with a special Halloween sidebar at the drive-in Oct. 30/31. 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 FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Vimeo.

Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh Announces Lineup for First Ever Online Edition

Originally scheduled to take place in physical form for the very first time this year, the Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh has reconfigured itself as an online event showcasing a host of underseen classics from throughout the island’s cinematic history.

Taiwanese Hokkien-Language Cinema 

The Husband’s Secret (1960), dir. Lin Tuan-Chiu

A happily married woman tries to help a school friend who has fallen on hard times after becoming a single mother, but the situation is complicated when it turns out the father of her friend’s baby is actually her husband…

Six Suspects (1965), dir. Lin Tuan-Chiu

Stylishly shot noirish pro-police crime movie in which a blackmailer is offed leaving a series of suspects all annoyed by him because of his capacity to expose their dodgy dealings in the increasingly amoral post-war economy. Review.

The Bride Who Has Returned From Hell (1965), dir. Hsin Chi

Gothic mystery based on Mistress of Mellyn in which an entrepreneur believes that his wife has drowned after trying to elope with another man whose body was found after a boating accident along with a woman’s purse while she remains absent…

A Borrowed Hong Kong, the Imagined China in Taiwan, and Trans-regional Cinema 

A City Called Dragon (1970), dir. Tu Chun-Hsun

Sumptuous Taiwanese wuxia starring A Touch of Zen’s Hsu Feng as a revolutionary who ventures to the capital to meet up with a comrade and retrieve a secret map, only she later learns that he along with his whole family has already been executed…

Four Moods (1970), dir. Li Han-Hsiang, Pai Ching-Jui, Li Hsing, King Hu

Four-part portmanteau movie featuring folklore-themed contributions from Li Han-Hsiang, Pai Ching-Jui, Li Hsing, and King Hu.

Melodrama Divas

Where the Seagull Flies (1974), dir. Li Hsing 

A Taiwanese journalist encounters three identical young women but they each disappear right after he falls in love with them. In Hong Kong she is a woman attempting suicide after killing her husband, in Singapore a Filipina bar hostess, and in Taipei his younger sister’s uni friend. After discovering her identity and that she likes to play tricks on men, he plots his revenge…

Cheerful Wind (1981), dir. Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Early idol drama from Hou Hsiao-Hsien starring Fong Feifei as an independent young woman working in advertising who falls for Kenny Bee’s blind musician. Review.

Taiwan New Cinema and Its Legacy

The Sandwich Man (1983), dir. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Tseng Chuang-Hsiang, Wan Jen

Tripartite portmanteau film inspired by the short stories of Huang Chun-Ming and exploring the changes in Cold War Taiwanese society. Features contributions by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Tseng Chuang-Hsiang, and Wan Jen.

Kuei-Mei, a Woman (1985), dir. Chang Yi 

Melodrama inspired by the Xiao-Sa novel in which the heroine, Kuei-Mei escapes the Mainland for Taiwan to live with her cousin but is married off to a widowed Chinese refugee who already has three children and a massive gambling addiction leaving her with no choice other than to seek a better life in Japan.

When Love Comes (2010), dir. Chang Tso-Chi

A young woman living with her two mothers, father, uncle, and grandfather comes to understand more about her family when she is abandoned by her boyfriend after becoming pregnant.

God Man Dog (2007), dir. Chen Singing 

A hand model suffering from post-natal depression, a bereaved indigenous couple, their daughter in the city, and a one-legged man driving a giant Buddha bus, are brought together by a stray dog. Review.

Midi Z Selection

Jade Miners (2015), dir. Midi Z

Midi Z’s first documentary focusses on the jade miners continuing to work against the back drop of the continuing conflict with the Kachin Independence Organization which had brought the industry to a halt.

Ice Poison (2014), dir. Midi Z

When economic forces render his farm unviable, an old man sells his cow to buy a motorcycle for his son so he can make money taking people into town but he ends up becoming involved in drug trafficking to help a woman trying to bring her child back to Myanmar after being tricked into marriage in China.

The Palace on the Sea (2014), dir. Midi Z

Experimental short in which a Buddhist monk tries to free the ghost of a woman from a floating restaurant.

Docs: Exploring Diversity in Pursuing the Taiwanese Identity 

How Deep is the Ocean (2000), dir. Tang Hsiang-Chu

Documentary following a young man from the Tao indigenous minority who returns home to Orchid island after pursuing a better life on the Mainland.

Out/Marriage (2012), dir. Nguyen Kim-Hong

Documentary following a Vietnamese woman who came to Taiwan to marry but endured years of domestic abuse before escaping and becoming a single-mother to her son.

The Mountain (2015), dir. Su Hung-En 

Documentary following the director’s grandfather, Teymu Teylong, a hunter from an indigenous community.

The Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh will take place online from 18th to 27th September with all films streaming for free! Full details are available via the official website and you can also keep up with the festival via the official Facebook Page and Twitter account.

New York Asian Film Festival Confirms Lineup For 2020 Virtual Edition

Shifting from its usual spot in the early summer, New York Asian Film Festival becomes the latest to go online partnering with the Smart Cinema app to bring another fantastic selection of recent East Asian hits to homes around the US from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12.

The programme in full (titles in italics included in “Uncaged” competition):

Bhutan

  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom – a frustrated teacher is dismayed to learn he’s being sent to a remote mountain outpost but is eventually won over by the kids. Review.

China

  • Gone With the Light – sci-fi drama starring Huang Bo in which ordinary citizens mysteriously disappear in a flash of light.
  • Mr. Miao – animated historical adventure aimed at adults in which a team of martial artists faces an ethical dilemma caused by a plant which corrupts those who come close to it but only attracts kindhearted people.

Hong Kong Panorama

Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York

  • Chasing Dream – two crazy kids chase the Chinese Dream in the ring and on the stage in Johnnie To’s completely absurd but infinitely charming musical MMA rom-com. Review.
  • My Prince Edward – a young woman begins to consider her choices when her controlling boyfriend proposes and she’s forced to deal with the fallout from a sham marriage she entered into years earlier in Norris Wong’s humorous exploration of contemporary relationships. Review.
  • Hell Bank Presents: Running Ghost – supernatural horror comedy.
  • The Grand Grandmaster – martial arts New Year comedy. 
  • Legally Declared Dead – HK adaptation of Yusuke Kishi’s novel The Black House in which an insurance broker descends into paranoia after suspecting a client has faked his son’s suicide to collect on a policy.
  • Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down – four stories from contemporary Hong Kong.
  • Unleashed – boxing revenge drama starring Sam Lee.
  • A Witness out of the Blue – Louis Koo is a criminal mastermind on the run after a botched robbery while an eccentric cop tries to crack the case with the help of its only surviving witness – a parrot!

Indonesia

  • Abracadabra – charming family film in which a magician who’s lost faith in magic accidentally makes a child “disappear” and has to go on the run to figure out how to get them back.

Japan

  • Family Bond – a big hearted carpenter’s desire to help a single-mother doesn’t go down well with his family or apprentice.
  • A Beloved Wife – an unsuccessful screenwriter is henpecked by his understandably irate sake-guzzling wife in this autobiographical take on a toxic marriage. Review.
  • Miyamoto – sequel to a TV drama directed by Tetsuya Mariko (Destruction Babies) starring Sosuke Ikematsu as a shy salesman who falls for Yu Aoi’s office worker.
  • Dancing Mary – a jaded civil servant is awakened to the meaning of being alive through communing with the dead in SABU’s melancholy lament for an increasingly soulless society. Review.
  • Forgiven Children – societal bullying becomes a spiralling vortex of pain and anger in Eisuke Naito’s raw examination of the consequences of hate and the impossibility of redemption. Review.
  • One Night – drama from Kazuya Shiraishi in which grown-up siblings attempt to process the traumatic night that broke their family apart. 
  • Beneath the Shadow – friendship drama starring Go Ayano and Ryuhei Matsuda in which an introverted young man makes friends with a co-worker who abruptly disappears.
  • They Say Nothing Stays the Same – second directorial effort from actor Joe Odagiri following 2009’s 64-minute Looking for Cherry Blossoms shot by Christopher Doyle and starring Akira Emoto as a Meiji-era boatman about to be eclipsed by a bridge who rescues a young woman from the water.

Kazakhstan

  • Tomiris – historical epic inspired by the legendary Kazak warrior queen.

Malaysia

  • Geran – martial arts drama showcasing Malaysian Silat in which two men try to find their younger brother and bring him home after he runs off with a land grant
  • Soul (Roh) – 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 Ezwan’s atmospheric folk horror. Review.
  • Victim(s) – Nothing is as it first appears in Layla Zhuqing Ji’s thorny interrogation of a bullying society. Review.

Philippines

  • The Girl and the Gun – a saleswoman finds a gun on her doorstep and decides to use it to take revenge on a patriarchal society.
  • John Denver Trending – A teenage boy becomes the subject of a witchhunt after a video of him beating up a classmate goes viral on Facebook in Condez’s heartbreaking exploration of growing up in the post-truth internet age. Review.

SOUTH KOREA

Presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center New York

  • Secret Zoo – a rookie lawyer comes up with an innovative solution when he’s randomly sent to work in a zoo and discovers that actually it has no animals. 
  • Hitman: Agent Jun – action comedy in which a hitman retires to become a webtoon artist.
  • Forbidden Dream –  historical drama from Hur Jin-ho inspired by the life of legendary king Sejong
  • Lucky Chan-sil – film producer Chan-sil finds herself unemployed after the director she’d been working with suddenly dies, taking a job as a cleaning lady for an actress and bonding with a handsome French teacher.
  • Baseball Girl – sports drama following a young woman’s quest to become the first female player in the majors
  • Beasts Clawing at Straws – darkly humorous thriller in which a collection of desperate people are connected by a missing bag full of cash.
  • Beauty Water – animation in which a woman who believes herself ugly tries an experimental treatment to make herself beautiful.
  • Moving on – family drama in which a teenage girl moves in with her grandfather and divorced aunt after the breakup of her parents’ marriage
  • Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 – feminist drama following an ordinary woman’s path into middle-age in a fiercely patriarchal society.

SF8 Series: An anthology of eight science fiction films

  • The Prayer (Min Kyu-dong, 2020)
  • Empty Body (Kim Ui-seok, 2020)
  • Love Virtually (Oh Ki-hwan, 2020)
  • White Crow (Jang Cheol-soo, 2020)
  • Blink (Han Ga-ram, 2020)
  • Baby It’s Over Outside (Ahn Gooc-jin, 2020)
  • Joan’s Galaxy (Lee Yoon-jung, 2020)
  • Manxin (Noh Deok, 2020)

Taiwan

  • Wild Sparrow – a mother takes her 12-year-old son with her to the city so he can attend school but is forced into a series of degrading jobs and relationships in order to make ends meet.
  • Detention – Two teens try to fight their way out of the nightmare of the White Terror in John Hsu’s dramatisation of the hit video game. Review.
  • IWeirDO – madcap OCD rom-com shot on an iPhone.
  • Heavy Craving – a lunch lady hoping to lose weight strikes up unexpected friendships with a deliveryman and cross-dressing student. Review.
  • The Gangs, the Oscars and the Walking Dead – madcap comedy in which two aspiring filmmakers end up making a zombie film with a gangster who insists that his wife play the leading role. Review.
  • Dear Loneliness – an introverted bookseller quietly supports his customers through the art of letter writing.
  • Miss Andy – a transgender woman takes in a woman and her child after they escape from an abusive relationship.

Vietnam

  • Rom – a 14-year-old boy hopes to earn enough money to reunite with his parents through running lottery numbers while living a precarious existence in a rundown tenement.

Full details regarding ticket pricing and purchasing procedure will be announced shortly via the official website while the movies will be available to stream within the US via the Smart Cinema app for iOS, Android, and Smart TVs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12. You can also keep up with all the latest festival news via the official Facebook Page and Twitter account.

Fantasia International Film Festival Confirms Complete 2020 Programme

Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival returns for 2020 in an online edition bringing the latest genre hits from around the world to homes across Canada 20th August to 2nd September. As usual the programme features another fantastic selection of movies from East Asia both new and old.

China

  • Sheep Without a Shepherd – blockbuster Chinese remake of Indian thriller Drishyam in which a movie buff’s daughter accidentally kills a schoolmate who has powerful parents.

Hong Kong

  • Baby: Secret Diary of a mom to be – a high-flying PR executive wrestles with the idea of having it all when she suddenly becomes pregnant.
  • Chasing Dream – stylish romance from Johnnie To in which a boxer and singer fight for their respective dreams. Review.
  • A Hero Never Dies – Johnnie To classic from 1998 in which two noble hitmen find themselves at the mercy of the nihilistic underworld
  • Legally Declared Dead – HK adaptation of Yusuke Kishi’s novel The Black House in which an insurance broker descends into paranoia after suspecting a client has faked his son’s suicide to collect on a policy.
  • SPL Kill Zone – first in Wilson Yip’s SPL series starring Donnie Yen as a cop clashing with Sammo Hung’s gang boss.
  • Witness Out of the Blue – Louis Koo is a criminal mastermind on the run after a botched robbery while an eccentric cop tries to crack the case with the help of its only surviving witness – a parrot!

Japan

  • Air Doll – Kore-eda classic starring Bae Doona as a sex doll come to life.
  • Crazy Samurai Musashi – samurai action drama featuring the long-awaited return of Tak Sakaguchi.
  • Fly Me to the Saitama – absurdist comedy in which the residents of Saitama have become an oppressed minority. Review.
  • Fukuchan of Fukufuku Flats – quirky comedy from Yosuke Fujita about a cheerful man whose fear of women is challenged when an old friend returns.
  • HK: Forbidden Superhero – 2013 low-budget comedy from Yuichi Fukuda in which a nervous young man turns into a superhero after putting ladies knickers on his face.
  • HK2: The Abnormal Crisis – 2016 sequel in which the hero’s girlfriend is getting fed up with his underwear shenanigans.
  • Kakegurui – adaptation of the popular manga set in a school where heirarchy is determined by skill at gambling. Review.
  • Labyrinth of Cinema – final film from Nobuhiko Obayashi in which three youngsters find themselves lost in the movies. Review.
  • Life: Untitled – Kana Yamada adapts her own stage play set in the office of a Tokyo escort service. Review.
  • Milocroze: A Love Story – cult quirky comedy from 2011 starring Takayuki Yamada.
  • Monster Seafood Wars – comedic tokusatsu in which the son of a sushi shop’s experiments to solve world hunger through making foodstuffs giant has unexpected results.
  • No Longer Human – Mika Ninagawa’s dramatisation of the final days of Osamu Dazai along with the three women who inspired him: his wife, his mistress, and the woman he finally died with.
  • Project Dreams: How to Build Mazinger Z’s Hangar – employees at an engineering firm attempt to draft the hangar from the legendary mecha anime.
  • Special Actors – meta-narrative from One Cut of the Dead‘s Shinichiro Ueda in which a shy aspiring actor joins an unusual agency where he’s asked to play a part in other people’s “real life”. Review.
  • Tezuka’s Barbara – Macoto Tezka adapts the manga by his famous father in which a novelist (Goro Inagaki) becomes obsessed with a woman he picks up off the street (Fumi Nikaido). Review.
  • Travelling Cat Chronicles – tearjerking drama in which a young man goes on a road trip looking for someone to take care of his cat.
  • Woman of the Photographs – An isolated photographer’s life of stillness is interrupted by the arrival of a beautiful dancer in Takeshi Kushida’s gentle meditation on desire and reality. Review.
  • Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku – Yuichi Fukuda musical comedy adapted from the popular manga.

Korea

  • Beauty Water – animation in which a woman who believes herself ugly tries an experimental treatment to make herself beautiful.
  • Bring Me Home – a nurse’s tireless search for her missing son takes her to a fishing village with a dark secret.
  • Jesters: The Game Changers – Joseon-era street entertainers get into trouble for spreading fake news in a period drama from The Grand Heist’s Kim Joo-ho.
  • Me and Me – directorial debut from actor Jung Jin-young in which a policeman wakes up one day to discover he’s someone else.
  • My Punch-Drunk Boxer – a former boxer picks up the rhythms of pansori.
  • Vertigo – a young office worker is rescued from her sense of existential vertigo by the gentle presence of a chivalrous window washer. Review.

Taiwan

  • Detention – horror-inflected video game adaptation dramatising the trauma of the “White Terror” martial law era. Review
  • I WeirDo – madcap OCD rom-com shot on an iPhone.

Vietnam

  • Rom – a 14-year-old boy hopes to earn enough money to reunite with his parents through running lottery numbers while living a precarious existence in a rundown tenement.

The films will be available to stream in Canada from 20th August to 2nd September. “Tickets” for each film are limited in number comparable to the size of a physical auditorium and while much of the programme is available on demand selected films will stream live only. Full details for all the films are available via the the official website, and you can also keep up with all the latest news via the festival’s official Facebook pageTwitter account,  Instagram, and Vimeo channels.

Fantasia Confirms Second Wave of Titles for 2020 Virtual Edition

Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is the latest to head online in these troubled times and will bring its trademark brand of diverse genre cinema to homes across Canada from August 20 to September 2. With the second wave of the lineup now announced, here’s a look at how the East Asian selection is shaping up ahead of the full programme reveal on Aug. 6:

Japan

  • Crazy Samurai Musashi – samurai action drama featuring the long-awaited return of Tak Sakaguchi.
  • Labyrinth of Cinema – final film from Nobuhiko Obayashi in which three youngsters find themselves lost in the movies.
  • Life: Untitled – Kana Yamada adapts her own stage play set in the office of a Tokyo escort service. Review.
  • Project Dreams: How to Build Mazinger Z’s Hangar – employees at an engineering firm attempt to draft the hangar from the legendary mecha anime.
  • Special Actors – meta-narrative from One Cut of the Dead‘s Shinichiro Ueda in which a shy aspiring actor joins an unusual agency where he’s asked to play a part in other people’s “real life”. Review.
  • Tezuka’s Barbara – Macoto Tezka adapts the manga by his famous father in which a novelist (Goro Inagaki) becomes obsessed with a woman he picks up off the street (Fumi Nikaido). Review.

Korea

  • Beauty Water – animation in which a woman who believes herself ugly tries an experimental treatment to make herself beautiful.
  • Jesters: The Game Changers – Joseon-era street entertainers get into trouble for spreading fake news in a period drama from The Grand Heist’s Kim Joo-ho.
  • Me and Me – directorial debut from actor Jung Jin-young in which a policeman wakes up one day to discover he’s someone else.
  • My Punch-Drunk Boxer – a former boxer picks up the rhythms of pansori.
  • Vertigo – a young office worker is rescued from her sense of existential vertigo by the gentle presence of a chivalrous window washer. Review.

Taiwan

  • Detention – horror-inflected video game adaptation dramatising the trauma of the “White Terror” martial law era. Review
  • I WeirDo – madcap OCD rom-com shot on an iPhone.

This year’s festival will be entirely digital with all titles available to stream across Canada from August 20 to Sept. 2. Further details along with the full programme will be announced on August 6.

Queer East Announces Docs4Pride Free Streaming Series

Following the success of QE: HomeSexual, Queer East returns with another online streaming series marking this year’s Pride. Four LGBTQ+ docs will stream for free throughout July with all except for Of Love & Law which is restricted to UK & Ireland available worldwide.

July 3 – 10: Out Run

2016 documentary following Bemz Benedito as she leads Philippine LGBTQ+ political party Ladlad hoping to become the first transwoman to be elected to congress.

July 10 – 17: Shanghai Queer

Documentary focussing on grassroots activism in Shanghai sharing memories of the LGBTQ+ community from 2003 – 2018 featuring interviews with frontline activists, scholars, and artists.

July 17 – 24: Taipeilove*

Taipeilove* charts the course towards the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Taiwan through interviews with key activists, lawmakers, and ordinary queer people.

July 24 – 31: Of Love & Law (UK & Ireland only)

Hikaru Toda’s infinitely warm documentary following Love Hotel’s Kazu and Fumi who run Japan’s only LGBTQ+ law firm representing the marginalised in a largely conservative, conformist society. Review.

Each of the films will be available to stream for free for one week only via Queer East’s website and Vimeo channel. You can also keep up with all the latest festival news by following Queer East on Facebook,  TwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

Japan Cuts Announces Lineup for Online 2020 Edition

The latest festival to head online due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Japan Cuts has unveiled another characteristically packed programme of recent Japanese cinema hits (plus a few retro classics) available to stream within the US July 17 – 30.

Feature Slate

  • Extro – mockumentary in which a 64-year-old dental technician tries to fulfil a life long dream as a jidaigeki extra
  • Fukushima 50 – real life drama starring Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe inspired by the workers who stayed behind to mitigate the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
  • It Feels So Good – Steamy drama from Haruhiko Arai starring Tasuku Emoto as a young man retreating to his hometown where he reconnects with an old flame (Kumi Takiuchi) in the days before her wedding to another man.
  • Labyrinth of Cinema – final film from Nobuhiko Obayashi in which three youngsters find themselves lost in the movies.
  • Mrs. Noisy – a blocked writer blames all her problems on the noisy woman next-door in Chihiro Amano’s quiet plea for a little more understanding. Review.
  • My Sweet Grappa Remedies – latest from Akiko Ohku in which a lonely middle-aged woman finds love and friendship with the help of an outgoing colleague. Review.
  • On-Gaku: Our Sound – award-winning animation in which a trio of bored high school students decide to start a band.
  • Special Actors – meta-narrative from One Cut of the Dead‘s Shinichiro Ueda in which a shy aspiring actor joins an unusual agency where he’s asked to play a part in other people’s “real life”.
  • Tora-san, Wish You Were Here (Tora-san #50) – loving tribute to the classic Tora-san series
  • Voices in the Wind – a young woman travels back to her hometown in search of the famous “wind telephone” which has become a beacon of hope for those bereaved by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Next Generation

  • Beyond the Night – a brooding outsider connects with a young woman trapped in an abusive marriage.
  • Kontora – a young woman uses her grandfather’s wartime diary to look for buried treasure in Ansul Chauhan’s Bad Poetry Tokyo followup. Review.
  • Life: Untitled – Kana Yamada adapts her own stage play set in the office of a Tokyo escort service.
  • The Murders of Oiso – the everyday lives of four construction workers in a small town are thrown into disarray by the murder of their former teacher.
  • My Identity – a Taiwanese-Japanese teenager flees Tokyo with a harassed office worker.
  • Roar – parallel stories of violence in which a young man becomes involved with a vagrant paid to beat people up, while a radio host tries to fend off the aggressive attention of her boss.
  • Sacrifice – a former cult member who predicted the 2011 earthquake continues to have mysterious visions, while her classmate begins to suspect that another student is responsible for a murder.

Classics

Documentary Focus

  • Book-Paper-Scissors – Nanako Hirose explores the life of book designer Nobuyoshi Kikuchi. Review.
  • i -Documentary of the Journalist- – documentary following outspoken journalist Isoko Mochizuki. Review.
  • Prison Circle – documentary exploring therapy programs for prison inmates hoping to reintegrate into mainstream society
  • Reiwa Uprising – the latest documentary from Kazuo Hara follows newly formed left-leaning political party Reiwa Shinsengumi.
  • Seijo Story – 60 Years of Making Films – documentary exploring the 60-year professional relationship between Nobuhiko Obayashi and his wife/producer Kyoko Hanyu who met as students at Seijo University in 1959.
  • Sending Off – documentary by Ian Thomas Ash following a doctor who cares for terminally ill patients across rural Japan.
  • What Can You Do About It – a filmmaker with ADHD documents his friendship with a relative who has Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

Experimental Spotlight

There will also be a number of complementary events on offer including a series of panel discussions on such topics as the career of the late Nobuhiko Obayashi, cinema during the pandemic, and documentary, plus a live Q&A with Shinichiro Ueda, CUT ABOVE Awards: Koichi Sato & Ken Watanabe, and the Closing Night Live Q&A with the Obayashi Prize Recipient.

Limited numbers of “tickets” are available for each film and can been pre-booked from July 10 to be viewed July 17 to 30. After you start playing a film you will have 30 hours to finish watching. Features stream for $7 and shorts for $1.50 – $3.00. You can also pick up an all access pass for $99 or a selection of bundles for each strand. Full details for all the films as well ticketing links (when available) can be found on the official Japan Cuts platform, and you can also keep up with all the festival news as well as the year round programme via Japan Society New York’s website, or by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Announces “Father’s Day Cheer” Free Streaming Series

Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema is back with their final mini streaming series ahead of cinemas reopening this summer to keep you entertained while you keep safe at home! From June 19 to 21, you can catch three dad-themed Japanese comedies streaming online for free in the US as part of the Father’s Day Cheer selection supported in part by the Japan Foundation New York.

Friday June 19: The Hikitas Are Expecting

The life of a 49-year-old writer (Yutaka Matsushige) is upended when his much younger wife (Keiko Kitagawa) decides she would like to have children. After trying for a while with no success, they decide to go to the hospital for tests and receive some surprising news.

Saturday June 20: My Dad and Mr. Ito

Family drama from Yuki Tanada in which an ageing father (Tatsuya Fuji) is thrown out of his son’s house and goes to stay with his 34-year-old daughter (Juri Ueno) where he is scandalised to discover she is living with a man (Lily Franky) who is 20 years older than her and 20 years younger than him.

Sunday June 21: Survival Family

Post-apocalyptic comedy from Shinobu Yaguchi (Waterboys, Swing Girls) in which a family is forced to get reacquainted with the simple life when salaryman dad takes them out on the road after the power goes out one day and never comes back on. Review.

Each of the movies is available to stream in the US on the named date only from 2pm to 10pm CDT and is free to view but registration is essential as viewing numbers are capped at 300. After registering you will be emailed the link shortly before the viewing time and must activate it within the 8-hour window after which you will have 24 hours to finish watching the movie. You can find further information and registration links on Asian Pop-Up Cinema’s official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news by following them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.