Five Flavours Confirms Complete Programme for 2021 Hybrid Edition

Five Flavours Film Festival returns for its 15th edition in a hybrid format streaming across Poland Nov. 17 – 29 with cinema screenings taking place in Warsaw Nov. 17 – 24. This year’s festival will include the recent Wong Kar-Wai touring retrospective as well as specialist strands themed around The Olympics and Taiwanese queer cinema.

China

  • Cliff Walkers – taut 30s spy movie from Zhang Yimou following Communist Party agents as they attempt to extract a former prisoner who can blow the whistle on Japanese war crimes committed by Unit 731.
  • Spring Tide – an alienated investigative journalist struggles to free herself and her 9-year old daughter from the legacy of toxic parenting both personal and national in Yang Lina’s powerful family drama. Review.

Hong Kong

  • No.7 Cherry Lane – animation from Yonfan set in the Hong Kong of the 1960s.
  • The Empty Hands – a jaded young woman rediscovers a sense confidence through reconnecting with karate in Chapman To’s soulful character piece. Review.
  • The Way We Keep Dancing – a collective of artists finds itself torn between complicity and resistance in the face of rising gentrification in Adam Wong’s musical dance drama. Review.
  • Weeds on Fire – true life sporting drama following baseball team Shatin Martins.

Indonesia

  • Death Knot – Siblings enter a dark world of supernatural dread when unwisely returning for their estranged mother’s funeral in Cornelio Sunny’s eerie folk horror. Review.
  • We Are Moluccans – a motorbike taxi driver attempts to tackle religious division through an integrated children’s football team.
  • Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash – an impotent hitman living for nothing but violence falls for a female bodyguard after she effortlessly defeats him in Edwin’s genre hopping adventure romance.

Japan

  • The 12 Day Tale of the Monster That Died in 8 – Takumi Saitoh plays a version of himself raising “capsule kaiju” as means of combatting Covid helplessness in Shunji Iwai’s whimsical pandemic drama. Review.
  • A Balance – an idealistic documentarian’s journalistic ethics are strained when she uncovers scandal close to home in Yujiro Harumoto’s probing social drama. Review.
  • Blue – a trio of dejected boxers contemplate their place inside and outside of the ring in Keisuke Yoshida’s unconventional boxing drama. Review.
  • Last of the Wolves – sequel to Kazuya Shiraishi’s Blood of Wolves set in 1991 in which a rogue cop attempts to keep the peace between yakuza gangs.
  • Red Post on Escher Street – the extras reclaim the frame in Sion Sono’s anarchic advocation for the jishu life. Review.
  • The Wife of a Spy – an upperclass housewife finds herself pulled into a deadly game of espionage in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s dark exploration of the consequences of love. Review.

Korea

  • Fighter – a young woman from North Korea finds both purpose and a new sense of security in found family in the boxing ring in Jéro Yun’s gritty drama. Review.
  • The Foul King – dramedy by Kim Jee-woon starring Song Kang-ho as banker entering the wrestling ring.
  • Not in This World – gritty drama from Park Jung-bum in which a mountain recluse attempts to save a drop out teen.

Malaysia

Myanmar

  • Money Has Four Legs – an ambitious filmmaker turns to crime in order to escape his desperate circumstances in Maung Sun’s meta satire. Review.

Singapore

  • Number 1 – a straight-laced executive discovers a new sense of freedom after losing his job and taking up drag in Ong Kuo Sin’s cheerful Singaporean dramedy. Review.

Taiwan

  • The Silent Forest – an idealistic student is caught between justice and complicity when he uncovers a culture of bullying and abuse at a school for deaf children in Ko Chen-Nien’s hard-hitting drama. Review.
  • We are Champions – two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of an ideological divide as they chase their dreams of basketball glory in Chang Jung-Chi’s family-themed sports drama. Review.

Taiwanese Queer Cinema

  • Alifu, the prince/ss – empathetic drama in which a transgender woman from an indigenous community finds herself caught between conflicting cultural mores. Review.
  • As We Like It – a romantic exile meanders through an internet free corner of Taipei in Chen Hung-i & Muni Wei’s all-female adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Review.
  • Born to Be Human – a teenager’s life is upended when they discover they are intersex but have almost no rights over their bodily autonomy in Lily Ni’s elegantly designed social drama. Review.
  • Dear Tenant – a grief-stricken man lovingly takes care of his late partner’s family but finds himself continually othered in Cheng Yu-Chieh’s melancholy familial drama. Review.
  • Eternal Summer – 2006 classic in which the intense friendship between two boys is disrupted by a transfer student from Hong Kong.
  • Spider Lilies – two women connected by childhood tragedy struggle to overcome their respective anxieties in Zero Chou’s ethereal reflection on love and the legacy of trauma. Review.
  • The Teacher – a politically engaged teacher’s worldview is challenged when he starts dating a man who is HIV+ in Chen Ming-Lang’s sensitive drama set in the run-up to marriage equality. Review.

Thailand

  • Anatomy of Time – drama set in a rural village in the 1960s and present day Bangkok as a young woman finds herself torn between a calculating soldier and kindhearted local man.
  • The Medium – a shamaness suspects her niece’s shamanistic consciousness is awakening but soon discovers something far more sinister in play in this atmospheric Thai folk horror. Review.

Wong Kai-Wai Retrospective

  • As Tears Go By – Wong Kar-Wai’s moody triad debut stars a young Andy Lau as a lovelorn petty gangster who is forced to host a distant cousin (Maggie Cheung) when she comes to the city to seek medical treatment for a respiratory illness. Review.
  • Days of Being Wild – a rootless playboy breaks hearts all over Hong Kong in Wong’s ’60s tale of irresolvable longing and existential displacement. Review.
  • Chungking Express – lovelorn policemen seek new directions in Wong Kar-Wai’s frenetic journey through pre-Handover Hong Kong. Review.
  • Fallen Angels – lovelorn denizens of a purgatorial Hong Kong fail to connect in a world of alienation in Wong Kar-Wai’s chronicle of pre-Millennial loneliness. Review.
  • Happy Together – lovers on the run flee pre-Handover Hong Kong for Argentina to “start over” but discover only more loneliness and heartache in Wong’s melancholy romance. Review.
  • In the Mood for Love – betrayed spouses accidentally fall in love but are unable to act on their desires in an atmosphere of social repression in Wong Kar-Wai’s heady ’60s romance. Review.
  • 2046 – a quasi-sequel to In the Mood for Love and Days of Being of Wild, 2046 follows Tony Leung Chiu Wai’s Chow Mo-wan as he struggles to overcome his longing for Maggie Cheung.

Five Flavours takes place in Warsaw Nov. 17 – 24 and online throughout Poland Nov. 17 – 29. More information on all the films as well as screening times and ticketing links can be found on the official website, and you can keep up to date with all the latest news via the festival’s Facebook PageTwitter Account, Instagram, and YouTube Channels.

San Diego Asian Film Festival Announces Full Programme for 2021

The San Diego Asian Film Festival returns to cinemas Oct. 28 to Nov. 6 with another packed programme of recent hits from across the region and its diaspora. This year’s programme opens with pandemic rom-com 7 Days while Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s festival favourite Drive My Car will bring the event to a close on Nov. 6.

Here’s a rundown of the East Asian movies included in this year’s programme:

China

  • All About My Sisters – documentarian Wang Qiong explores the legacy of the One Child Policy and ongoing effects of entrenched patriarchy through the lens of her own emotionally complicated family story.
  • A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces – experimental documentary from Zhu Shengze exploring the Wuhan landscape.
  • One Second – long-delayed love letter to cinema from Zhang Yimou in which a man escapes a labour camp hoping to catch a glimpse of his daughter in a cinema newsreel.

Hong Kong

  • Inside the Red Brick Wall – documentary exploration of the 2019 Hong Kong Polytechnic University seige.
  • Time – an elderly hitman displaced by the modern society gets a second chance at life after taking up “euthenasia” in Ricky Ko’s darkly comic yet moving drama. Review.

Japan

  • And so the Baton is Passed – comedy from Tetsu Maeda (A Banana? At This Time of Night?) revolving around the close relationship between a high school girl and her step dad.
  • Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes – a diffident cafe owner faces an existential dilemma when trapped in a time loop with himself from two minutes previously in Junta Yamaguchi’s meticulously plotted farce. Review.
  • Drive My Car – a theatre director begins to overcome his sense of inertia after bonding with a young woman hired to drive his car in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s deeply moving drama. Review.
  • In Another Language – pandemic rom-com in which two people bond while meeting up to practice English.
  • Office Royale – office ladies go to war in Kazuaki Seki’s anarchic, Bakarhythm-scripted transposition of the yankee manga to the world of the OL. Review.
  • Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy – a series of chance meetings and a healthy dose of fantasy lead a collection of wounded souls towards a kind of liberation in Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s whimsical triptych. Review.

Korea

  • Clytaemnestra – a Korean theatre troupe travels to Athens to perform the famous play in Ougie Pak’s indie drama
  • In Front of Your Face – drama from Hong Sang-soo in which an actress trying to restart her career after spending time abroad meets a director looking to cast his latest film.
  • Introduction – latest from Hong Sang-soo in which a man travels to see his father at his clinic then goes abroad to see his girlfriend only to return and find his mother with another man.
  • Kim Min-Young of the Report Card – a young woman who decided not to go to uni meets up with a friend who did.
  • Sinkhole – a new homeowner sees his investment in the future crumble beneath his feet in Kim Ji-hoon’s harrowing disaster dramedy. Review.

Malaysia

  • Barbarian Invasion – Tan Chui Mui directs and stars as an actress making a comeback after retiring to become a housewife and mother only to be told the film can only be made if her ex co-stars.

Philippines

Singapore

  • Tiong Bahru Social Club – an earnest young man experiences an existential crisis while living in the “happiest neighbourhood in the world” in Tan Bee Thiam’s whimsical satire. Review.

Taiwan

  • As We Like It – a romantic exile meanders through an internet free corner of Taipei in Chen Hung-i & Muni Wei’s all-female adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Review.
  • Days Before the Millennium – epic drama following the lives of women who migrated to Taiwan from Vietnam in the 90s to the present day.
  • Execution in Autumn – Taiwanese “Healthy Realism” classic from Li Hsing in which a condemned man marries an orphan while in prison in order to preserve the family line. 
  • Listen Before You Sing – cheerful dramedy set within the indigenous community as a plan is hatched to save the local school from closure through winning a singing competition.
  • The Moon Represents My Heart – a Taiwanese Argentinian man travels to Taipei with questions of his father’s murder.

Thailand

  • Come Here – a group of artists contemplates the remains of the “Death Railway” in Anocha Suwichakornpong’s experimental drama.
  • Memoria – shooting outside Thailand for the first time, the latest from Apichatpong Weerasethakul stars Tilda Swinton as a woman visiting her sister in Colombia and becoming captivated by the local soundscape.

The San Diego Asian Film Film Festival runs Oct. 28 to Nov. 6 at venues across the county. Full details for all the films are available via the official website where you can also find ticketing links and screening information, and you can keep up with all the latest news by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Returns for Season 13!

Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns for its 13th season both in-person and online with a digital element now set to become a permanent part of the programme. Running Sept. 15 to Oct. 12, the festival will present 30 films in cinemas, at the drive in, and streaming via Eventive throughout the US with some regional restrictions. This season’s Career Achievement Award goes to Gordon Lam Ka-tung who stars in closing film Limbo as well as Hand Rolled Cigarette in addition to producing Ricky Ko’s black comedy, Time.

IN THEATERS

Opening Night of Season 13

Wednesday, September 15: Ascension (Jessica Kingdon, 2021) – US/China 

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

Jessica Kingdon’s documentary explores the fallacy of the “Chinese Dream” through the prisms of labour, consumerism, and wealth amid increasing social inequality.

Thursday, September 16, 7:00 PM: Gift of Fire (Kurosaki Hiroshi, 2020) U.S. Premiere – Japan

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

A conflicted scientist struggles to accommodate his responsibilities to science, his family, his nation, and his own conscience while researching how to build an atom bomb.

Tuesday, September 21, 7:00 PM: Anima (Cao Jinling, 2021) – China

Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave)

Two brothers find themselves on either side of an unbreachable divide when modernity begins dismantling their village in Cao Jinling’s timely eco drama. Review.

Wednesday, September 22, 7:00 PM: Escape From Mogadishu (Ryoo Seung-wan, 2021) – South Korea

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

North & South Korean diplomats are forced to set ideology aside to escape the increasing violence of the Somali Civil War in Ryoo Seung-wan’s intense action drama. Review.

Thursday, September 23, 7:00 PM: Three (Pak Ruslan, 2020) N. American Premiere – Kazakhstan/South Korea/ Uzbekistan

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

Inspired by true events, Ruslan Pak’s dark drama follows a rookie detective tackling a serial killer in 1979 only to discover his sister has become a target.

Friday, September 24, 11:00 AM: GO BACK (SEO Eun-young, 2020) South Korea – Free Admission

Korean Cultural Center of Chicago (9930 Capital Drive, Wheeling, IL)

An earnest rookie policewoman comes to suspect a social worker when one of the children she is looking after is kidnapped and the ransom leads back to a bank account connected to the welfare centre.

Saturday, September 25, 2:00 PM: Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue (Jia Zhang-ke, 2020) – China

Tower Auditorium of Illinois Institute of Technology (10 W. 35th Street)

Jia Zhangke charts the history of rural China in the 20th century through the stories of a series of authors from differing generations. Review.

Centerpiece for Season 13

Thursday, September 30, 7:00 PM: The Fable: The Killer Who Doesn’t Kill (Kan Eguchi, 2021) – Japan

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

Junichi Okada returns as the hitman with a no kill mission in Kan Eguchi’s action comedy sequel, this time squaring off against a duplicitous philanthropist. Review.

Thursday, October 7, 7:00 PM: You Are Not Normal, Either (Koji Maeda, 2021) N. American Premiere – Japan

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

Introverted cram school teacher Ohno longs to fall in love and get married but has no idea about romance. Teaming up with teenager Kasumi, he aims to steal the heart of Minako, the daughter of a wealthy family but Kasumi is secretly working her own angle to nab Minako’s boyfriend in this quirky Japanese comedy.

Saturday, October 9, 2:00 PM: Wuhan Wuhan (Yung Chang, 2021) – Canada/China

Chinese American Museum (328 W. 23rd Street):

Yung Chang’s observational documentary explores the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan as ordinary people and frontline healthcare workers attempt to come to grips with a new and mysterious illness.

DRIVE-IN

ChiTown Movies (2343 S. Throop) at sunset (8:00 – 8:30PM)

Monday, September 27 – World Premiere: The Dishwasher Squad (Shum Sek-Yin, 2021) – Hong Kong

Two friends recklessly buy a dishwashing factory on the cheap but discover that the business is in financial ruin and has no employees while existing contracts must be honoured at the risk of financial penalty. To solve their problem they decide to hire through a social worker so they’ll be eligible “special social enterprise” subsidy fund in this crowd-pleasing comedy.

Tuesday, September 28: Dragon Inn (King Hu, 1967) – Taiwan

The exiled children of a scholar executed by scheming courtiers hole up in an inn where they are lucky to make the acquaintance of a wandering expert swordsman in the seminal wuxia classic from King Hu. Review.

Wednesday, September 29: Just 1 Day (Erica Li, 2021) U.S. Premiere – Hong Kong

A terminally ill artist suffering with ALS asks a childhood friend experiencing a moment of romantic crisis to pose as his girlfriend for the day.

Tuesday, October 5: Time (Ricky Ko, 2020) – Hong Kong

An elderly hitman displaced by the modern society gets a second chance at life after taking up “euthenasia” in Ricky Ko’s darkly comic yet moving drama. Review.

Wednesday, October 6: Hand Rolled Cigarette (Chan Kin Long, 2020) – Hong Kong

A cynical former British soldier and a South Asian street thief find unexpected solidarity in Chan Kin Long’s gritty neo-noir. Review.

Closing Night for Season 13

Tuesday, October 12: Limbo (Soi Cheong, 2021) – Hong Kong

Morally compromised cops chase a serial killer in the rubbish-strewn junkyards of contemporary Hong Kong in Soi Cheong’s stylish noir. Review.

STREAMING

Wednesday, September 15 – Tuesday, September 21

Where is Pinki (Prithvi Konanur, 2020) – India

A middle class couple entrust their baby to a nanny who lends it to a friend as a prop for begging, but her friend puts it down in a tunnel to look for alcohol where it’s discovered by a street cleaner who takes it home. The couple must then search all over the city in order to discover what’s happened to their baby.

Drifting (Jun Li, 2021) – Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s homeless find themselves pushed ever further into the margins by an increasingly unequal society in Jun Li’s gritty drama. Review.

Gull (Kim Mi-jo, 2021) – South Korea

A 61-year-old fishmonger is ostracised after reporting a colleague for rape in Kim Mi-jo’s crushing condemnation of a misogynistic and classist society. Review.

Never Stop (Bowen Han, 2021) – China

A champion runner returns to his hometown after failing to break the record of an old rival only to discover he has given up on himself and no longer runs. Through competing with each other the two sportsmen eventually begin to find forgiveness and a sense of mutual solidarity.

Wednesday, September 22 – Tuesday, September 28 

Martial Arts Restored Classics

A Touch of Zen (King Hu, 1971) – Taiwan

An unsuccessful painter is captivated by a beautiful young swordswoman on the run from the general who murdered her entire family and joins her band alongside a rival general and mute monk in King Hu’s classic spiritual wuxia.

Dragon Inn (King Hu, 1967) – Taiwan

The exiled children of a scholar executed by scheming courtiers hole up in an inn where they are lucky to make the acquaintance of a wandering expert swordsman in the seminal wuxia classic from King Hu. Review.

Raining in the Mountain (King Hu, 1979) – Taiwan

An abbot about to retire enlists three advisors to assist him pick a successor: wealthy patron Esquire Wen, head of the local military General Wang, and Buddhist master Wu Wai, but unbeknowst to him Wen and Wang are secretly plotting a heist to steal a precious scroll…

Legend in the Mountain (King Hu, 1979) – Taiwan

A young scholar retreats to a remote town to transcribe a sutra which has immense power over the dead. Once there, he meets a strange woman who later turns up in his room and claims they slept together. The scholar marries her, but then meets another woman who falls for him and tries to protect him from malicious spirits.

Wednesday, September 29 – Tuesday, October 5

Beauty Water (Cho Kyung-hun, 2020) – South Korea

A young woman goes to great lengths to be accounted “beautiful” in Cho Kyung-hun’s animated body horror takedown of extreme patriarchal beauty standards. Review.

The Way We Keep Dancing (Adam Wong, 2020) – Hong Kong

A collective of artists finds itself torn between complicity and resistance in the face of rising gentrification in Adam Wong’s musical dance drama. Review.

The Fable (Kan Eguchi, 2019) – Japan

Junichi Okada stars as a hitman so good it’s becoming a problem, which is why his boss makes him take a sabbatical to live a normal life as an ordinary person in Osaka without killing anyone at all for a whole year only for his mission to be compromised when he accidentally gets caught up in a yakuza gang war. Review.

Love, Life and Goldfish (Yukinori Makabe, 2021) U.S. Premiere – Japan

An emotionally repressed bank clerk has a minor existential crisis when demoted to a rural backwater after a silly workplace mistake but thanks to his experiences with the goldfish-obsessed townspeople rediscovers the joy of feeling in Yukinori Makabe’s cheerfully absurd musical comedy.

Wednesday, October 6 – Tuesday, October 12 

Wuhan Wuhan (Yung Chang, 2021) – Canada/China

Yung Chang’s observational documentary explores the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan as ordinary people and frontline healthcare workers attempt to come to grips with a new and mysterious illness.

Ito (Itomichi) (Yokohama Satoko, 2021) – Japan

A shy young woman with a talent for Tsugaru shamisen grows in confidence after getting a job at a maid cafe in Satoko Yokohama’s warmhearted drama. Review.

The Reunions (Da Peng, 2020) U.S. Premiere – China

Da Peng reworks his previous short by adding a documentary sequence further critiquing his fracturing relationships with family members back in rural China. Review.

Georama Boy, Panorama Girl (Natsuki Seta, 2020) – Japan

Lovelorn teens experience parallel moments of romantic disillusionment in Natsuki Seta’s charmingly retro teen comedy. Review.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema runs in person and online Sept. 15 to Oct. 12. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links can be found on the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news by following Asian Pop-up Cinema on  FacebookTwitter,  Instagram, and Vimeo.

Chinese Visual Festival 2021 Announces Full Lineup

The Chinese Visual Festival returns for its 10th edition with another handpicked selection of contemporary Sinophone cinema taking place at the BFI Southbank and Genesis Cinema 15th to 25th July. Opening with Drifting and closing with Shadows, the festival will also include a Focus Hong Kong strand promising a rare screening of Johnnie To’s 2003 missing gun thriller PTU, while Vision Taiwan will feature screenings of satirical zombie movie Get the Hell Out and all-female Shakespeare adaptation As We Like It which screens in conjunction with Queer East alongside transgender documentary The Two Lives of Ermao.

15th July: Drifting

Tracey‘s Jun Li returns with a socially conscious drama exploring the lives of the increasingly marginalised homeless of contemporary Hong Kong.

16th July: As We Like It

A romantic exile meanders through an internet free corner of Taipei in Chen Hung-i & Muni Wei’s all-female adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Review.

17th July: Love Poem

Director Wang Xiaozhen stars in a meta exploration of art and marriage.

19th July: The Two Lives of Ermao

Documentary focussing on the life of a transgender woman in contemporary China.

20th July: PTU

Johnnie To’s ironic 2003 noir farce in which a bumbling policeman’s missing gun provokes an escalating crisis.

22nd July: Get the Hell Out

An idealistic former MP and a hapless, besotted security guard attempt to fight their way out of a zombiefied parliament in Wang I-Fan’s absurdist satire. Review.

23rd July: Cinema Comrades

Free online event featuring a discussion of Sinophone queer cinema as well as three short films.

24th July: Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue

Literary documentary from Jia Zhangke focussing on three generations of Chinese authors.

25th July: Shadows

Psychological noir starring Stephy Tang as a psychiatrist with a brain tumour which allows her to enter her patients’ traumatic memories. Teaming up with Philip Keung’s cynical cop, she finds herself in a battle of wits with a rival shrink who just might be a serial killer by proxy.

The Chinese Visual Festival runs at BFI Southbank and Genesis Cinema 15th – 25th July. 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 PageTwitter account, and Instagram channel.

NIFFF 2021 Confirms Complete Programme for 20th Edition

The Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) returns for 2021 in a hybrid format taking place online and at various locations across the Swiss city. This year’s edition will have a special focus on Taiwanese genre cinema with the Formosa Fantastica strand encompassing five features, the first two episodes of a TV series, and a collection of shorts streaming online and screening physically while visitors to the festival will also be able to enjoy a series of installations at Neuchâtel Natural History Museum from 2nd to 10th July.

New Cinema From Asia

Beauty Water

A young woman goes to great lengths to be accounted “beautiful” in Cho Kyung-hun’s animated body horror takedown of extreme patriarchal beauty standards. Review.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes

A diffident cafe owner faces an existential dilemma when trapped in a time loop with himself from two minutes previously in Junta Yamaguchi’s meticulously plotted farce. Review.

OK! Madam

A computer repair man wins a dream holiday to Hawaii and decides to take his wife who sells breadsticks at the market for their first family holiday. Disaster strikes, however, when the plane is hijacked!

Shock Wave 2

A HK bomb disposal officer finds himself putting out the fires of his own explosive resentment in a thematic sequel to Herman Yau’s high octane action drama Shock Wave starring Andy Lau and Sean Lau Ching-wan. Review.

The Fable the Killer Who Doesn’t Kill

Junichi Okada returns in a sequel to the hit action comedy The Fable as the hitman on sabbatical continues to live an ordinary life working at a design company only for his cover to be blown when an assassin comes for one of his colleagues!

International Competition

Midnight in a Perfect World

Philippine horror set in a near-future Manila where mysterious power outages are claiming the lives of citizens in random parts of the city after midnight.

Films of the Third Kind

Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro

The bored third-generation heir to a tonkatsu restaurant (Takumi Kitamura) experiences an awakening when he delivers a bento to a dance club and falls in love with the music, hoping to become a tonkatsu chef/DJ combo and thereby win the heart of his crush, Sonoko (Maika Yamamoto), in an anarchic rom-com from Ken Ninomiya (The Limit of Sleeping Beauty, Chiwawa).

Formosa Fantastica

As We Like It

All female retelling of the Shakespeare play set in an internet-free corner of contemporary Taipei in which the hero falls in love with the heroine in the guise of a man.

Get the Hell Out

An idealistic former MP and a hapless, besotted security guard attempt to fight their way out of a zombiefied parliament in Wang I-fan’s absurdist satire. Review.

My Missing Valentine

A lovelorn woman finds herself forced to reckon with the forgotten past when she somehow misplaces Valentine’s Day in Chen Yu-Hsun’s charmingly quirky rom-com. Review.

The Magician on the Skywalk

The first two episodes of the hit TV drama adapted from a series of short stories by Wu Mingyi in which a young boy has a life changing encounter with a mysterious magician in a shopping mall in 1985.

The Scoundrels

Intensely kinetic Taiwanese neo-noir in which a disgraced former basketball player takes to a life of crime only to find himself locked in a deadly battle with a mysterious and amoral thief known as the “Raincoat Robber”. Review.

The Tag-Along

Creepy Taiwanese horror inspired by a real life urban legend of a little girl in red who randomly photobombed a family on a hiking trip standing right behind a man who later died. Her latest victims are apparently a harried real-estate agent and his conflicted radio DJ fiancée whose reluctance to marry makes her a target for supernatural ire. Review.

The Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) runs online and in Switzerland 2nd to 10th July. Tickets are on sale now via the official website. You can keep up to date with all the latest news by following the festival on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

NIFFF 2021 Announces “Formosa Fantastica” Taiwan Spotlight

The Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) returns for 2021 in a hybrid format taking place online and at various locations across the Swiss city. This year’s edition will have a special focus on Taiwanese genre cinema with the Formosa Fantastica strand encompassing five features, the first two episodes of a TV series, and a collection of shorts streaming online and screening physically while visitors to the festival will also be able to enjoy a series of installations at Neuchâtel Natural History Museum from 2nd to 10th July.

As We Like It

All female retelling of the Shakespeare play set in an internet-free corner of contemporary Taipei in which the hero falls in love with the heroine in the guise of a man.

Get the Hell Out

An idealistic former MP and a hapless, besotted security guard attempt to fight their way out of a zombiefied parliament in Wang I-fan’s absurdist satire. Review.

My Missing Valentine

A lovelorn woman finds herself forced to reckon with the forgotten past when she somehow misplaces Valentine’s Day in Chen Yu-Hsun’s charmingly quirky rom-com. Review.

The Magician on the Skywalk

The first two episodes of the hit TV drama adapted from a series of short stories by Wu Mingyi in which a young boy has a life changing encounter with a mysterious magician in a shopping mall in 1985.

The Scoundrels

Intensely kinetic Taiwanese neo-noir in which a disgraced former basketball player takes to a life of crime only to find himself locked in a deadly battle with a mysterious and amoral thief known as the “Raincoat Robber”. Review.

The Tag-Along

Creepy Taiwanese horror inspired by a real life urban legend of a little girl in red who randomly photobombed a family on a hiking trip standing right behind a man who later died. Her latest victims are apparently a harried real-estate agent and his conflicted radio DJ fiancée whose reluctance to marry makes her a target for supernatural ire. Review.

The Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) runs online and in Switzerland 2nd to 10th July with the full programme to be unveiled 17th June when tickets will also go on sale. You can keep up to date with all the latest news by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

21st Nippon Connection ONLINE Film Festival Confirms Full Program

Nippon Connection is back for 2021 once again taking place entirely online! Running from 1st to 6th June, the festival will be bringing some of the best in contemporary Japanese cinema to homes around the world via their Shift72-powered streaming platform. Unfortunately not everything will be available everywhere with some titles streaming in Germany only, but unless otherwise stated all films stream in the original Japanese with English subtitles. Full details for all the films including streaming locations will be available via the official website from 22nd May with tickets priced at €6.

Full list of features:

NIPPON CINEMA

  • Aristocrats – a rich girl (Mugi Kadowaki) and a poor girl (Kiko Mizuhara) eventually find inter-class solidarity through failed relationships with the same man (Kengo Kora) in Yukiko Sode’s empathetic social drama.
  • Bolt – tripartite nuclear-themed omnibus movie directed by Kaizo Hayashi and starring Masatoshi Nagase
  • Can’t Stop The Dancing (AKA Dance with Me) – musical comedy from Shinobu Yaguchi starring Ayaka Miyoshi as an ambitious executive whose plans for career success are derailed when she’s accidentally hypnotised to break into song and dance every time she hears music. 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.
  • Family Of Strangers (AKA Closed Ward) – the lives of three patients at a psychiatric clinic are disrupted when a murder takes place at the facility.
  • A Girl Missing – a home care nurse’s life is turned upside-down when she’s wrongfully implicated in a kidnapping in Koji Fukada’s thought provoking drama. Review.
  • his – teenage lovers break up after uni each taking different paths while struggling with their sexuality but begin to see new hope reuniting some years later in Rikiya Imaizumi’s empathetic drama. Review.
  • Hit Me Anyone One More Time – farcical comedy from Koki Mitani in which a man gets hit on the head and loses his memory only to be told he is actually the prime minister of Japan!
  • My Blood And Bones In A Flowing Galaxy – SABU adapts the hugely popular novel in which a high school boy tries to save a bullied classmate.
  • One Night – adult children are forced to face the legacy of trauma and abuse when their mother returns after 15 years of exile in Kazuya Shiraishi’s raw family drama. Review.
  • Our 30-Minute Sessions – a ghostly intervention helps a collection of wounded adults find accommodation with grief in Kentaro Hagiwara’s bodyswapping take on the band movie. Review.
  • The Promised Land – Takahisa Zeze adapts the novel by crime writer Shuichi Yoshida revolving around the unsolved disappearance of a 12-year-old girl.
  • Red Post On Escher Street – epic drama from Sion Sono following a series of actors who audition for a festival darling director.
  • Sea Of Revival – a man tries and fails to make a new start as he searches for a sense of belonging in a land touched by tragedy in Kazuya Shirashi’s unconventional family drama. Review.
  • Shiver – dialogue free music movie from Toshiaki Toyoda filmed entirely on Sado island.
  • Special Actors – a nervous young man discovers his inner hero while infiltrating a shady cult as a “Special Actor” posing as a new devotee in Shinichiro Ueda’s absurdist followup to One Cut of the Dead. Review.
  • The Stormy Family – abandoned siblings reunite 10 years after their parents robbed a bank and disappeared.
  • To The Ends Of The Earth – Kiyoshi Kurosawa reunites with recent muse Atsuko Maeda as a lost TV presenter goes searching for herself while filming in Uzbekistan. Review. Original version with German and French subtitles only
  • Under The Open Sky – a pure-hearted man of violence struggles to find his place in society after spending most of his life behind bars in Miwa Nishikawa’s impassioned character study. Review.
  • 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.
  • Wonderful Paradise – a father has to sell the family flat after a career setback but his kids unwittingly turn the sad event in to an unpredictable party.
  • Special screening: A Town And A Tall Chimney – village youngsters stand up to industrial pollution in late Meiji Ibaraki. original version with German subtitles only

NIPPON VISIONS

  • © Kamata Prelude Film Partners
  • Ainu Mosir – coming-of-age drama in which an Ainu boy confronts the contradictions of his cultures.
  • Along The Sea – a migrant worker from Vietnam is faced with her lack of possibility after discovering she is pregnant while living undocumented in Akio Fujimoto’s unflinching social drama. Review.
  • Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes – a musician/cafe owner starts receiving messages from himself from two minutes in the future.
  • Company Retreat – docudrama in which a young woman is harassed by her boss while working as a hotel receptionist.
  • Daughters – two young women find themselves reassessing their ideas of womanhood and maternity in the wake of an unexpected pregnancy in Hajime Tsuda’s refreshingly positive drama. Review.
  • Extraneous Matter–Complete Edition – compilation of a series of short films about a woman who encounters something strange while living a sexless life with her boyfriend.
  • I’m Really Good – Hirobumi Watanabe shifts focus in capturing one ordinary, though strangely full, day in the life of a little girl living cheerfully in peaceful Tochigi. Review.
  • It’s A Summer Film! – high school drama in which a jidaigeki obsessive decides to make a samurai movie only to discover her lead actor is a time traveller from the future!
  • Kamata Prelude – four-part anthology film directed by Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, and Hirobumi Watanabe.
  • Kontora – a directionless high school girl finds a path towards the future through deciphering a message from the past in Anshul Chauhan’s ethereal coming-of-age drama. Review.
  • Nosari: Impermanent Eternity – an “ore ore” scammer ends up living with an elderly woman convinced he really is her grandson.
  • Sasaki In My Mind – a down on his luck actor thinks back on his high school days.
  • The Town Of Headcounts – a disaffected young man gets a fresh start in a utopian community but quickly becomes disillusioned in Shinji Araki’s slick dystopian thriller. Review.
  • yes, yes, yes – a family begins to fall apart under the weight of impending grief when a mother enters the final stages of a terminal illness in Akihiko Yano’s intense existential drama. Review.

NIPPON DOCS

  • Ainu Neno An Ainu – documentary by Laura Liverani, Neo Sora & Valý Þórsteinsdóttir exploring Ainu identity in contemporary Japan
  • I Quit, Being “Friends” – director Ayako Imamura turns the camera on herself and explores her sometimes complicated relationship with an autistic friend who struggles with communication.
  • Koshien: Japan’s Field Of Dreams – documentary following a high school baseball team as they battle through national championships
  • Me And The Cult Leader – sarin gas attack survivor Atsushi Sakahara takes a cult member on the road in search of understanding in an empathetic, self-directed doc. Review.
  • Sayonara TV – documentary marking the 60th anniversary of Tokai Television Broadcasting while contemplating the changing place of television in the contemporary media landscape.
  • SUMODO ~The Successors Of Samurai~ – documentary exploring the lives of sumo wrestlers.
  • The Witches Of The Orient – documentary focussing on the 1964 Olympic Gold medal-winning women’s volleyball team who inspired a host of manga and anime heroines.
  • A new feature documentary by Thomas Ash (details coming soon) world premiere

NIPPON ANIMATION

  • Lupin III: The First – 3DCG take on Monkey Punch’s iconic hero directed by Takashi Yamazaki. Original version with German subtitles only
  • ON-GAKU: Our Sound – deadpan slackers decide to start a band and discover unexpected sides to themselves in the joy of making music in Kenji Iwaisawa’s infinitely charming indie animation. Review.
  • Seven Days War – a group of idealistic teens holds the fort against duplicitous adult indifference in Yuta Murano’s openhearted anime adaptation of the cult novel. Review. Original version with German subtitles only
  • Sumikkogurashi: Good To Be In The Corner – cute animation starring the iconic San-X characters. original version with English subtitles / original version with German voice-over

The festival will also be hosting its usual series of lectures and special events via Zoom with the full program available from 22nd May via the official website where you’ll also be able to find ticketing and reservation links. This year’s online Nippon Connection runs 1st to 6th June via the festival’s dedicated streaming platform. To keep up with all the latest news you can also follow the festival on Facebook,  Twitter,  YouTubeFlickr, and Instagram.

Focus Hong Kong Returns for Online Easter Edition

Following the successful Chinese New Year edition, Focus Hong Kong is back for Easter with another fantastic selection of recent, and not so recent, cinema hits from Hong Kong streaming in the UK from 31st March to 6th April including six features (four contemporary and two classics) along with another round of Fresh Wave Shorts.

I Still Remember

A dejected real estate agent, a young woman hoping to lose weight to run with her idol, and a retired PE teacher trying to keep a promise to his late wife find direction in running in Lik Ho’s sporting drama.

Beyond the Dream

Traumatised romantics struggle to move beyond the dream of love in Kiwi Chow’s elegantly composed romantic psychodrama. Review.

My Prince Edward

(C)My Prince Edward Film Production Limited
(C)My Prince Edward Film Production Limited

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 in Norris Wong’s humorous exploration of contemporary relationships. Review.

Tracey

50-something Tai-hung is a married father of two grown-up children living a conventional life in contemporary Hong Kong, but a phone call informing him that a childhood friend has passed away forces him into a reconsideration of his life choices and a long delayed acceptance of a transgender identity in Li Jun’s moving drama. Screening in collaboration with Queer EastReview.

Throw Down

Louis Koo stars in Johnnie To’s 2004 classic as a former judo champ turned depressed barman unexpectedly challenged by Aaron Kwok’s young tough and former rival Tony Leung Ka-fai while his ageing mentor also enlists him to save the failing dojo and a girl from Taiwan needs his help to shield her from evil gangsters.

Once Upon a Time in China

Tsui Hark’s classic 1991 take on the legend of Wong Fei-hung and first in the cycle of films starring Jet Li as the umbrella wielding martial artist.

“Tickets” are on sale now via the official website for the reasonable price of £2.99 for features while shorts stream for free and an all access pass is also available for £8.99. You can keep up to date with all the latest news via the official websiteFacebook PageTwitter account, and Instagram channel.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Returns for Season 12!

Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns for a bumper 12th season operating both online throughout the US via Eventive March 15 to April 30 and in person at Lincoln Yards Drive-in from April 15 to May 1 with a small season of films submitted for the Oscars streaming via Asia specialist streaming app Smart Cinema USA. The Season 12 Bright Star Award will be going to Japanese actress Kasumi Arimura who stars in Sho Tsukikawa’s And Life Goes On while the first episode of her TV show collaboration with director Hirokazu Kore-eda, A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura (Episode 1: After My Homecoming), will also be getting a rare international outing.

Online via Eventive (streaming across the US unless otherwise noted):

March 15 – 19 Opening Night: The Town of Headcounts (Shinji Araki, 2020) – Japan  

A nameless protagonist on the run from loansharks is saved by a man in orange who whisks him away to “The Town” where others seeking refuge from a hostile society take shelter but his new idyll is shattered by the arrival of a young woman looking for her missing sister.

March 17 – 21:

And Life Goes On (Sho Tsukikawa, 2019) – Japan

Originally aired as a six-episode WOWWOW TV drama, Sho Tsukikawa’s And Life Goes On stars Kasumi Arimura as a young woman whose dreams of becoming an actress are derailed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Joining the relief effort she finds herself falling in love with a fellow volunteer student from Tokyo.

Chola (Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, 2019) – India, Hidden Gem Encore, Free Admission

Teenage lovers meet at dawn for a secret trip into town but a sinister third party spells doom from the outset in this  Malayalam-language psychological drama.

Coalesce (Jessé Miceli, 2020) – France/Cambodia

Three men try their luck in Phnom Penh: Songsa sells jeans for his father, Thy joins a biker gang and works in a gay bar, and father-to-be Phaerum hopes to become a car salesman, but all discover a different side of the contemporary city.

I, The Sunshine (Sengedorj Janchivdorj, 2019) – Mongolia

Mongolian drama in which a little boy narrates the stories of his mother, father, and himself spanning from life on the Steppe where a kid and his friends go on adventure to find a better TV signal, to the city where a contortionist’s life is changed by her mother’s injury, and finally to the contemporary society where the boy manages to escape being bullied after his computer mouse transforms into a girl capable of granting his every wish.

Keep Rolling (Doc) (Man Lim-chung, 2020) – Hong Kong

Candid documentary exploring the life and career of legendary director Ann Hui.

The Silent Forest (Ko Chen-nien, 2020) – Taiwan, (streaming in Illinois only)

A deaf teenager faces a dilemma when he transfers to a special school and witnesses a young woman being bullied this multiple award-winning drama from Taiwan.

March 24 – 28:

A Day-Off of Kasumi Arimura (Episode One: After My Homecoming) (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2020) – Japan

Kasumi Arimura stars as a fictional version of herself enjoying a rare day off visiting her mum in the first episode of the late night drama directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Review.

Changfeng Town (Wang Jing, 2019) – China

Nostalgic quirky drama set in small-town China following a small group of children over the course of a summer.

Chen Uen (Doc) (Wang Wan-jo, 2020) – Taiwan

Documentary exploring the life and career of legendary Taiwanese comics artist Chen Uen who sadly passed away at his desk at the young age of 58.

Come and See (Doc) (Nottapon Boonprakob, 2019) – Thailand

Documentary exploring controversial Thai Buddhist sect Dhammakaya and its leader Dhammachaiyo who claims to have met Buddha but has also been accused of money laundering and embezzlement.

Elisa’s Day (Alan Fung, 2020) – Hong Kong

A policeman is forced to face a mistake he made 20 years previously while investigating a crime of passion.

Search Out (Kwak Jung, 2020) – South Korea, Free Admission  

Three youngsters turn internet detectives after stumbling on a malicious Instagram profile which appears to manipulate the vulnerable towards suicide in Kwak Jung’s cyber thriller.

March 27 – 31:

Journey to the West (Doc) (Jill Coulon, 2015) – France/China

Taking its name from the classic story of the monk Tang Sanzang and his sidekick the Monkey King Jill Coulon’s documentary follows a series of Chinese tourists on a 10-day European bus tour .

No. 76 Horror Bookstore (David Chung, Pon Hung Tze-Peng, 2019) – Taiwan, Hidden Gem Encore, Free Admission

Four-part horror anthology from Taiwan featuring adaptations of spooky online stories in which a woman moves into a haunted apartment, a person tries to survive in a world in which food has been declared illegal, teenagers play hide and seek in an abandoned house, and a taxi driver who took his own life attempts to return to the mortal realm to reconcile with his daughter.

Wisdom Tooth (Liang Ming, 2019) – China

A young woman’s pain and confusion with the world around her is manifested as a dull ache in her jaw in Liang Ming’s icy coming-of-age drama. Review.

The Shell Collector (Yoshifumi Tsubota, 2016) – Japan, Hidden Gem Encore, Free Admission

Lily Franky stars as an introverted professor whose life changes after he saves a painter who washes up onshore by administering venom from a poisonous shell bringing further travellers to his door in search of various cures.

Two Blue Stripes (Ginatri S. Noer, 2019) – Indonesia

Indonesian family drama in which a teenage couple’s unplanned pregnancy provokes a confrontation with a series of cultural norms and social issues.

Watch List (Ben Rekhi, 2019) – USA/Philippines

A married couple join a voluntary rehabilitation programme in the midst of Duterte’s war on drugs only for the husband to be found dead in the street some time later beside a sign reading “I’m a pusher; don’t be like me” leaving the wife with no choice other than to become a police informant in order to provide for her children.

April 26 – 30:

14 Days 12 Nights (Jean-Philippe Duval, 2020) – Canada/Vietnam

A French-Canadian woman travels to the birthplace of her adopted daughter in Vietnam and ends up travelling the country with her birth mother.

April 1 – 15:

Oscar Contenders from Asia: streaming via Smart Cinema USA (further details to be revealed in late March)

True Mothers (Naomi Kawase, 2020) – Japan

Heartbreaking drama from Naomi Kawase in which a young couple adopt a baby only for the birth mother to resurface some years later.

Better Days (Derek Tsang, 2019) – Hong Kong

Derek Tsang’s Soul Mate followup stars Zhou Dongyu as a bullied young woman bonding with a bad boy played by boyband superstar Jackson Yee. Review.

The Man Standing Next (Woo Min-ho, 2020) – South Korea

Woo Min-ho re-examines the assassination of President Park Chung-hee through the lens of 70s conspiracy thriller. Review.

Roh (Soul) (Emir Ezwan, 2019) – Malaysia  

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 Emir Ezwan’s atmospheric folk horror. Review.

Lincoln Yards Drive-in:

Lincoln Yards Drive-in is located at 1684 N. Throop Street. Films will be shown at sunset on mostly Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun nights. Each film will be shown once only. Total capacity: 40 vehicles per screening Only. 

Thursday, April 15: CENTERPIECE One Second Champion (Chiu Sin Hang, 2020) – Hong Kong  

A single father takes to the boxing ring after developing the ability to see one second into the future.

Friday, April 16: Dear Tenant (Cheng Yu-chieh, 2020) – Taiwan  

A gay single father raising his late partner’s son faces a custody battle when his mother-in-law dies and the boy’s uncle returns from abroad after discovering that he intends to adopt him and take over the family property.

Saturday, April 17: I Still Remember (Lik Ho, 2021) – Hong Kong  

A dejected real estate agent, a young woman hoping to lose weight to run with her idol, and a retired PE teacher trying to keep a promise to his late wife find direction in running in Lik Ho’s sporting drama.

Sunday, April 18: One Summer Story (Shuichi Okita, 2020) – Japan

A high school girl embarks on a summer adventure of self discovery tracking down her estranged birth father in Shuichi Okita’s heartwarming coming-of-age drama. Review.

Thursday, April 22: Black Light (Bae Jong-dae, 2020) – South Korea, Free Admission, Advance RSVP is required

Two women working at the same factory are brought together by the discovery their husbands were involved in a fatal car crash, one passing away and the other remaining in a coma leaving his wife to raise their teenage daughter alone.

Friday, April 23: Moving On (Dan-bi Yoon, 2019) – South Korea, Free Admission, Advance RSVP is required  

A young girl learns a few harsh lessons about the adult world during a summer at grandpa’s in Yoon Dan-bi’s sensitive coming-of-age drama. Review.

Saturday, April 24: My Missing Valentine (Chen Yu-hsun, 2020) – Taiwan

A woman always in a hurry meets a dashing man on the way home from work and they agree to meet up for a special Valentine’s Day date but when she wakes up the next morning she discovers that Valentine’s Day has already passed…

Sunday, April 25: Fanfare (Lee Don-ku, 2019) – South Korea, Free Admission, Advance RSVP is required

A young woman is abducted by armed robbers after they raid the coffee bar she was hanging out in on Halloween killing the barista in the process

Saturday, May 1 CLOSING NIGHT Ready O/R Knot (Anselm Chan, 2020) – Hong Kong

Romantic comedy in which a couple together for five years have conflicting views on marriage and go to great lengths to defend their respective positions!

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 12 runs online March 15 – April 30, via Smart Cinema USA April 1 to 15, and at Lincoln Yards Drive-in April 15 to May 1. 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.

Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021 Announces Complete Lineup

The Osaka Asian Film Festival will return for its 16th edition as a physical event to be held in the city from 5th to 14th March. In line with coronavirus precautions, the festival will take place without guests or Q&As while a small selection of films previously screened at OAFF will also be available to stream online in Japan from 28th February. This year’s opening gala is the Ann Hui documentary Keep Rolling while Yuya Ishii’s The Asian Angel makes its World Premiere bringing the festival to a close on 14th March.

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

  • A Song for You – a nomad dreaming of becoming a folk singer encounters a young woman resembling the goddess of music who tells him he must record an album in this indie drama from Dukar Tserang.
  • Leap – Peter Chan’s New Year volleyball drama starring Gong Li as a legendary woman’s Olympic team coach.
  • A Summer Trip – warm hearted drama from Feng Keyu in which a grumpy old Korean war vet and his rebellious grandson go on a road trip in the days before the Beijing Olympics.

Hong Kong

  • Elisa’s Day – a policeman is forced to face a mistake he made 20 years previously while investigating a crime of passion.
  • Hand Rolled Cigarette – debut feature from Chan Kin-long starring Gordon Lam as a former soldier turned triad who bonds with a young South East Asian street thief.
  • Keep Rolling – documentary focussing on the life and career of director Ann Hui. Opening night gala.
  • The Way We Keep Dancing – artists and dancers come together to put on a show in protest to the increasing gentrification of the former Kowloon industrial district where they live.

Indonesia

  • Affliction – horror film from Teddy Soeriaatmadja in which a grieving wife tries to uncover the secret behind her mother-in-law’s decline.
  • Lovely Man – 2011 drama from Teddy Soeriaatmadja in which a young woman with strong religious views comes to the city in search of her estranged father who is now a transgender woman. Streaming online.

Japan

  • (C)Yukari Sakamoto
  • Along the Sea – drama from Akio Fujimoto following three young Vietnamese women who end up undocumented after leaving a training programme in Japan.
  • The Asian Angel – drama from Yuya Ishii in which a recently widowed novelist takes his young son to live with his brother in Seoul only to find his brother had exaggerated the degree of his success.
  • B/B – graduation film from Kosuke Nakahama in which a woman with multiple personality disorder is interviewed by police in connection with the killing of a convenience store owner in a 2020 which has also seen the Olympics cancelled due to corruption and a failed poison gas attack by a new religion.
  • Born in Hiroshima – personal documentary in which the director, born in Hiroshima but from Peking, charts his roots through the story of his izakaya-running family with whom he lived until the age of three.
  • Come and Go – A detective investigates the connection between the discovery of an old woman’s skeleton and a series of real estate scams by interviewing the local residents many of whom are migrant workers from other areas of Asia.
  • For Rei – A confused young woman begins to gain a degree of self-acceptance after facing the image of her absent father in Yukari Sakamoto’s indie drama. Review. First screened last year now streaming online.
  • Goto-san – drama following a young man living and working in a manga cafe who falls in love but then loses his job and place to live when the cafe is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Green Jail – documentary focussing on an old woman who is the last survivor of forced labourers trafficked from Taiwan to work in Okinawa’s “Green Jail” during the colonial era.
  • itomichi – latest drama from Satoko Yokohama (The Actor, Bare Essence of Life) in which a young woman skilled in playing the Tsugaru-shamisen starts working in a maid cafe in order to get over her shyness.
  • JOINT – yakuza drama in which a man gets out of prison and enlists two old friends to start a business selling data for telephone fraud to the yakuza only to find himself trapped in the criminal underworld.
  • Love and the Grand Tug-of-war – love story between a young man who’s staked his youth on the local tug-of-war, and a medical student from Korea.
  • A New Wind Blows – latest indie film from Yutaro Nakamura focussing on romantic confusion.
  • Over the Town – ensemble drama from Rikiya Imaizumi following a young man who rarely leaves Shimokitazawa where he works in a vintage clothing store whose life changes when he’s asked to appear in an indie film.
  • OZU – third in Zon Pilone’s trilogy of films focussing on Sadao Yamanaka, Setsuko Hara, and Yasujiro Ozu.
  • POP! – collaboration between The Man Who Was Eaten screenwriter Masashi Komura and musician Aru-2
  • Sweet Bitter Candy – strange sad tale of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood and a misfit man from Yutaro Nakamura.
  • yes, yes, yes – story of a family’s destruction and rebirth from Akihiko Yano.
  • Young Birds – youth drama at which a trio of students at Digital Hollywood University, one Japanese, one Chinese, and one Thai, team up to complete their graduation movie.

Korea

  • Beyond You – latest from Alone/A Fish director Park Hong-min in which a man confronts the daughter of his first love who thinks he might be her father.
  • The Slug – whimsical time-shifting drama in which a young woman is haunted by the image of her traumatised childhood self.
  • Three Sisters – drama starring Moon So-ri, Kim Sun-young and Jang Yoon-ju as a trio of sisters returning home for their father’s birthday only for their younger brother to start causing trouble.

Mongolia

  • Black Milk – two sisters find their bond frustrated by cultural differences when one returns after many years of living in Germany.

Philippines

  • Here and There – love story about a young couple who meet remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • KINTSUGI – romantic drama in which a Filipino man travels to Japan to expand his pottery business and falls in love with the Japanese heiress of a pottery factory.

Singapore

  • Tiong Bahru Social Club – a young man goes on a comical journey through a data-driven project to create the happiest neighbourhood in the world.

Taiwan

  • Born to be Human – drama in which a 14-year-old boy discovers he is intersex.
  • Get the Hell Out – An idealistic former MP and a hapless, besotted security guard attempt to fight their way out of a zombiefied parliament in Wang I-Fan’s absurdist satire. Review.
  • Gwan Gung Vs. Aliens – newly restored 1976 SFX drama in which an ancient general is reincarnated to fend off an attack from laser-wielding giant aliens. Streaming online.
  • Hotel Iris – adaptation of Yoko Ogawa’s novel shifted to Taiwan and starring Masatoshi Nagase as a translator who develops a twisted relationship with a young woman working at the hotel.
  • The Rice Dumpling Vendors – An arrogant businessman rediscovers what’s really important after he unfairly throws out his wife and is cheated out of his riches by a wily mistress in Hsin Chi’s male melodrama Taiyupian. Review. Streaming online.
  • Wrath of Desire – latest drama from lesbian filmmaker Zero Chou in which a traumatised judge struggling with her Catholic upbringing and brother’s suicide enters a rebound marriage with a genderless young man in fear of her feelings for a woman she sent to prison for killing a man who broke into her home.

Thailand

  • The Con-Heartist – a woman whose boyfriend ran out on her saddling her with his debts is targeted by a conman but convinces him to help her swindle her ex instead!
  • P-047 – 2011 drama in which a locksmith and a novelist develop a hobby of breaking into people’s homes not to steal but to temporarily experience the lives of others. Streaming online.

Vietnam

  • ROM – The residents of a rundown slum awaiting demolition stake everything on lucky numbers in Trần Thanh Huy’s gritty portrait of modern Saigon. Review.
  • Sister Sister – psychological drama in which a TV presenter takes in a young runaway only to discover she has ulterior motives.

The Osaka Asian Film Festival runs from 5th to 14th March at venues across the city (coronavirus regulations permitting) with a selection of films screened in previous years also available online from 28th February. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links are available via the official website. You can also keep up with all the latest details by following the festival on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and YouTube.