Youth, Hanagatami, Land at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018

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Always a staunch champion of East Asian cinema, the International Film Festival Rotterdam has revealed its full lineup for 2018. You can find full details for the complete program on the official website, but there are plenty of films from China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand to feast on in this year’s selection.

China 

Feng Xiaogang Youth still one

  • Dragonfly Eyes – Chinese artist Xu Bing assembles a modern story from China’s myriad CCTV cameras in which a young woman leaves a Buddhist monastery and meets a young man…
  • Impermanence – A monk with a shady past, a haunted innkeeper, and a lonely retiree are drawn to a remote Buddhist temple where their karmic debts are weighed in the debut from Zeng Zeng.
  • Mrs Fang – Winner of the Golden Leopard in Locarno, Wang Bing’s hardhitting documentary charts the last days of an ordinary woman in rural China.
  • Silent Mists – A small town is plagued by a series of violent rapes but no one seems very interested in catching the culprits in Zhang Miaoyan’s gritty drama.
  • Stammering Ballad – portrait of itinerant folk musician Ga Song.
  • The Widowed Witch – A widow is raped by her brother-in-law and takes to the road with her husband’s deaf brother.
  • Youth – Feng Xiaogang takes a nostalgic look back at turbulent ’70s China through the story of the revolutionary ballet division. Review.

Japan

Sweating the Small Stuff

  • Ambiguous Places – Akira Ikeda’s third feature follows the adventures of a woman who wakes up on a beach and finds an insect stuck to her head…
  • Funeral Parade of Roses – Toshio Matsumoto’s avant-garde classic in its new 4K restoration.
  • Hanagatami – a project 40 years in the making, Nobuhiko Obayashi tells the story of a generation about to be engulfed by the oncoming storm of war.
  • The Hungry Lion – Takaomi Ogata’s understated drama focusses on a teacher accused of sexual misconduct with a student and the school girl who is rumoured to be in the leaked sex tape.
  • Night is Short, Walk on Girl –  Masaaki Yuasa returns to the surreal world of Tatami Galaxy’s Tomihiko Morimi for another drunken night in Kyoto as a girl chases her future and a boy chases a girl. Review.
  • Outrage Coda – Takeshi Kitano returns for the third in his “Outrage” series of violent yakuza action movies.
  • Radiance – The latest from Naomi Kawase, Radiance stars Masatoshi Nagase as a photographer slowly losing his sight.
  • Sweating the Small Stuff – Ryutaro Ninomiya stars in a semi-autobiographical tale of a small town loner dealing with the long buried trauma of the death of his mother from illness when he was a child. Review.

Indonesia

marlina the murderer in four acts still one

  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts – A woman takes to the road seeking revenge after her ranch is raided in Mouly Surya’s Eastern western.
  • Satan’s Slaves – Joko Anwar remakes an ’80s Indonesian classic in which a young woman and her siblings are left alone in a creepy old house following the death of their mother and soon begin receiving mysterious visitations…

Korea

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  • The Day After – One of three films Hong Sang-soo released in 2017, The Day After focusses not on an egotistical film director but on an egotistical publisher who takes on new girl Kim Min-hee after having to fire his last assistant because his wife found out about their affair… Review.
  • The Fortress – Lee Byunhun stars in Hwang Donghyuk’s historical epic in which the King has retreated in order to protect himself from the encroaching Qing but is left only with a choice of graceful defeat.
  • Hit the Night – Jeong Gayoung’s Bitch on the Beach followup promises more Hong Sang-soo inspired sorrow and soju but infused with the actor/director’s characteristic bite and flair.
  • I Have a Date With Spring – Baek Seungbin’s hopeful drama follows three people as they each receive visitations from someone who returns something important to them and thereby holds off the end of the world.
  • A Lion in Winter – the latest from Lee Kwang-kuk (Romance Joe, A Matter of Interpretation), A Lion in Winter follows failed writer Gyeongyu when he’s kicked out by his girlfriend on the same day a tiger escapes from the zoo…
  • The Villainess – a young girl is raised as an assassin but starts to fall in love with her cover life just as the past returns to haunt her in Jung Byung-gil’s impressively choreographed action thriller. Review.

Philippines 

The Ashes and Ghosts of Tayug 1931

  • The Ashes and Ghosts of Tayug 1931 – Christopher Gozum looks back to a tragic episode of Philippine history in the failed revolt of 1931.
  • Neomanila – Mikhail Red tells a story of youth betrayed on the streets of Duterte’s Manila.
  • Nervous Translation – a shy girl in ’80s Manila hears tell of a magical pen that will make her life wonderful…
  • Respeto – underground rapper Hendrix tries to make it in Pandacan while the Duterte regime hovers all around the edges…
  • Those Longhaired Nights – transgender sex workers Tuesday, Amanda, and Barbie live their ordinary lives in Manila’s red light district.

Taiwan

The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful

  • The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful – ambitious widow Tang Yue-ying’s world threatens to come crashing down in Yang Ya-che’s Golden Horse winning drama.
  • Father to Son – a 60 year old man is diagnosed with a serious illness but decides to travel to Japan and look for the father who abandoned him rather than get treatment.

Thailand

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The International Film Festival Rotterdam runs from 24th January to 4th February at various venues in Rotterdam city centre. Tickets are available from 8pm (local time) on 19th January via the official website and you can also keep up to date with all the latest news via the official Facebook Page, Twitter account, Instagram, and YouTube channel.

(Un)true Colours: Secrets and Lies in Japanese Cinema – The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018

the long excuse still 2The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme returns for 2018 with another diverse selection of recent and not so recent Japanese cinema. This year’s theme is secrets and lies and each of the films on offer attempts to shine a light on the various delusions at the heart of everyday life.

After School

after school landscapeYo Oizumi stars as a high school teacher investigating the disappearance of a friend in another darkly comic, twist filled farce from Kenji Uchida (Weekend Blues, A Stranger of Mine).

Birds Without Names

birds without names still 1Kazuya Shiraishi (Dawn of the Felines) adapts the popular novel by Mahokaru Numata in which a young woman (Yu Aoi) lives with an older man (Sadao Abe) but continues to pine for an old boyfriend who has apparently been missing for the last five years…

The Dark Maidens

Dark MaidensWhen a schoolgirl falls off a roof foul play is suspected. Who better to investigate than her fellow members of the literature club at an elite academy catering to the daughters of the rich and famous?

Gukoroku – Traces of Sin

gukouroku stillA young reporter (Satoshi Tsumabuki) investigates the brutal murder of a model family whilst trying to support his younger sister (Hikari Mitsushima) who is currently in prison for child neglect while his nephew remains in critical condition in hospital. Interviewing friends and acquaintances of the deceased, disturbing truths emerge concerning the systemic evils of social inequality. Review.

Initiation Love

initiation love still 1Based on a best selling romantic novel which captured the hearts of readers across Japan, Initiation Love sets out to expose the dark and disturbing underbelly of real life romance by completely reversing everything you’ve just seen in a gigantic twist five minutes before the film ends…

Japanese Girls Never Die

Japanese Girls Never DieA young woman goes missing and unwittingly becomes the face of a social movement in Daigo Matsui’s anarchic examination of a misogynistic society.

Joy of Man’s Desiring

joy of man's desiringA brother and sister are orphaned after a natural disaster and taken in by relatives but struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of such great loss.

The Long Excuse

the long excuse stillMiwa Nishikawa adapts her own novel in which a self-centred novelist is forced to face his own delusions when his wife is killed in a freak bus accident. Review.

Memoirs of a Murderer

Memoirs of a Murderer still 1When the statute of limitations passes on a series of unsolved murders, a mysterious man (Tatsuya Fujiwara) suddenly comes forward and confesses while the detective (Hideaki Ito) who is still haunted by his inability to catch the killer has his doubts in Yu Irie’s adaptation of Jung Byoung-Gil’s Korean crime thriller Confession of Murder.

The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji

mole song stillToma Ikuta stars as maverick cop Reiji in Takashi Miike’s madcap manga adaptation. Reiji has been kicked off the force for trying to arrest a councillor who was molesting a teenage girl but gets secretly rehired to go undercover in Japan’s best known yakuza conglomerate.

MUMON: The Land of Stealth

mumon stillYoshihiro Nakamura (Snow White Murder Case, Golden Slumber) journeys back to the feudal era as a lazy ninja faces the twin pressures of Oda Nobunaga and his newly wedded wife’s material concerns.

Room for Let

room for let dvd coverYuzo Kawashima would have turned 100 in 2018. A comic tale of life on the Osakan margins, Room For Let is a perfect example of the director’s well known talent for satire and stars popular comedian Frankie Sakai as an eccentric writer/translator-cum-konnyaku-maker whose life is turned upside down when a pretty young potter moves into the building.

Oh Lucy!

oh lucy still 2Embittered 55 year old OL Setsuko gets a new lease on life when introduced to an unusual English conversation teacher, John, who gives her a blonde wig and rechristens her Lucy. “Lucy” falls head over heels for the American stranger and decides to follow him all the way to the states… Review.

Sing My Life

sing-my-life-horizontal.jpgA remake of Korean hit Miss Granny, Sing My Life stars Mitsuko Baisho as an evil granny who gets a second chance to experience the happiness of which she was cruelly robbed in her youth when she’s magically transformed into her 20 year old self (Mikako Tabe) and ends up becoming the lead singer in her grandson’s rock band!

Sword of the Stranger

sword of the stranger still 1A small boy recruits the mysterious samurai “No Name” as a bodyguard after his dog is injured in an ambush in the landmark animation from 2007.

Where I Belong

Where I belong landscape posterA no good lowlife makes his way by stealing from elderly women but experiences a change of heart when he’s taken in by a kindly old lady deep in the mountains.

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme runs at London’s ICA from 2nd – 11th February, 2018 before touring to:

You can keep up with all the latest news via the Japan Foundation’s official website, Twitter Account, and Facebook Page.

Ann Hui’s Our Time Will Come Opens Five Flavours 2017

our time will comePoland’s Five Flavours Film Festival returns for the 11th year from 15th to 22nd November bringing with it more of the best in recent Asian cinema plus retrospectives and classic screenings. This year’s festival will open with Ann Hui’s latest epic of Hong Kong history, Our Time Will Come and Hui will also be honoured with a retrospective featuring seven more films from throughout her Career.

Portrait: Ann Hui

our time will come bannerA giant of Hong Kong cinema, Hui began her time in the director’s chair in the late ’70s following a two year stint at the London Film School. Throughout her long and varied career which has featured both commercial and more personal cinema, Hui’s work is noted for its probing social commentary and political fearlessness.

  • Our Time Will Come – Opening the festival, Hui’s latest work once again returns to the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and to the resistance fighters who risked all to free their homeland. Review.
  • The Secret – A murder mystery, Hui’s cinematic debut is inspired by a real life crime which leads its detective into an investigation of Hong Kong at a cross-roads of tradition and modernity.
  • Boat People – Hui’s best known work is also among her most political in examining post-war Vietnam through the eyes of a Japanese photographer.
  • Summer Snow – A humorous examination of Hong Kong’s ageing society and the developing social problems accompanying it.
  • The Way We Are – a portrait of those struggling to get by in Hong Kong’s impoverished Tin Shiu Wai.
  • A Simple Life – Deanie Ip’s elderly nanny/housekeeper suffers a stroke and is looked after by her employer (Andy Lau) in a moving examination of modern family ties.

Focus: Bhutan

golden cousin still.jpgShining a light on a new, under appreciated film culture, Five Flavours presents a series of new films from Bhutan.

  • Golden Cousin – two cousins growing up in a small village are destined for marriage but when one travels to the city for university he comes to understand the dangers of such close familial relationships.
  • Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait – every 12 years people meet in the mountains to take part in a religious cleansing ritual…
  • Honeygiver Among the Dogs – A policeman investigating the disappearance of a prioress is directed to a solitary newcomer whom the villagers believe to be demonically possessed…
  • In a Defiled World – Two men fall for the same girl in this modern city story.
  • Norbu, My Beloved Yak – A guru and his daughter move into a village where the girl makes friends with a local boy whose best friend is a yak!
  • Prophecy – a young girl studying in the city returns home to care for her sickly mother only to discover her return may not have been as unexpected as she assumed…
  • The Next Guardian – an ordinary family is tested by changing times.
  • Travellers and Magicians – Dondup wants to go to America but he has to travel the Himalayas to get there..
  • Short films from Bhutan – collection of five short films.

Japan

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  • Bangkok Nites – Katsuya Tomita’s Saudade followup picks up on latent themes in the first film for another look at the destructive effects of colonialism ancient and modern. Review.
  • A Bride for Rip Van Winkle – a timid school teacher is sent on a strange odyssey of self discovery in Shunji Iwai’s long awaited return to feature filmmaking. Review.
  • Close-Knit – a neglected child goes to live with her uncle and his transgender girlfriend in Ogigami’s heartfelt drama. Review.
  • Yamato California – Daisuke Miura’s drama examines Japanese/American relations through the story of a hip hop obsessed teen played by Hanae Kan. review.
  • Vampire Hotel – feature length cut-down of Sion Sono’s nine hour vampire themed TV drama.
  • Tokyo Drifter – Seijun Suzuki’s surreal gangster drama.

Roman Porno Reboot

dawn of the felines stillAs cinema receipts dwindled in the early 1970s, Japanese studios considered the best way to stay afloat. Nikkatsu, whose output had largely skewed towards youth drama, decided to reboot itself wholesale and embark on production of levelled up “pink film” only with better production values. 40 years later, Nikkatsu’s “Roman Porno” line has been resurrected with four films directed by four of today’s most interesting directors. Five Flavours presents two of the four reboot movies paired with an original from the 1970s.

  • Dawn of the Felines – Kazuya Shirashi’s somber reworking of Night of the Felines centres around three women working in Tokyo’s red light district. Review.
  • Night of the Felines – the original sex comedy from Roman Porno master Noboru Tanaka.
  • Wet Woman in the Wind – a blocked writer moves to the country for a spot of peaceful contemplation only to be confronted with the persistent attentions of a nymphomaniac waitress in Akihiko Shiota’s take on the Roman Porno genre.
  • Lovers are Wet – an impulsive rebel returns home in Tatsumi Kumashiro’s 1976 classic.

Korea

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China

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  • Crosscurrent – Poetic Chinese odyssey shot by Mark Lee Ping-bing. Review.
  • Free and Easy – an unidentified body is discovered in a moribund Chinese town…
  • Soul Mate – tragic story of female friendship lost and found. Review.

Hong Kong

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  • Mad World – an estranged father and son are brought back together when the son is released from a mental institution after treatment for bipolar disorder.
  • Made in Hong Kong – Fruit Chan’s classic 1997 tale of alienated youth in its new 4K restoration.

Taiwan

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  • Godspeed – a down on his luck petty gangster gets in the wrong taxi in this absurd black comedy.

Thailand

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  • The Promise – two wealthy girls decide on a drastic solution to Thailand’s 1997 financial crisis…

Philippines 

Dark is the Night

  • Dark is the Night – An ordinary couple in Duterte’s Philippines take to drug trafficking to make ends meet with tragic consequences.

Indonesia

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Malaysia

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  • Mrs. K – Kara Hui plays a former assassin whose past comes back to haunt her.

Vietnam

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  • KFC – arthouse leaning cannibal drama.

Five Flavours takes place in Warsaw from 15th to 22nd November 2017. 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 Page, Twitter Account, Instagram, and YouTube Channels.

Abertoir 2017 to Screen Vampire Clay, Tokyo Ghoul, The Mimic

Abertoir 2017 posterWales’s premier horror festival, Abertoir, returns for 2017 with another varied selection of chillers old and new. This year there are quite a few East Asian titles on offer including festival favourites Mon Mon Mon Monsters, The Sleep Curse, and The Mimic.

Meatball Machine Kodoku

Meatball Machine Kodoku still 1Another addition to the Meatball Machine universe, Kodoku follows a debt collector recently diagnosed with terminal cancer who realises his condition makes him immune to the mind control of invading alien Necroborgs. More splatter action from Yoshihiro Nishimura.

Screening Tuesday 14th November at Midnight.

Mon Mon Mon Monsters

Mon Mon Mon Monsters still 1.jpgA group of horrible kids capture a strange creature and then mercilessly torture it in Giddens Ko’s surprising foray into the world of teen horror.

Screening Wednesday 15th November, 5.30pm.

The Housemaid

The Housemaid (vietname) still 1Set in 1953, Derek Nguyen’s The Housemaid is a classic gothic horror story in which an orphaned Vietnamese country girl, Linh, finds work on a plantation and later love with the owner of the estate, Captain Sebastien Laurent. Resented by the other members of staff, Linh’s world is further shaken by Sebastien’s late wife and some very strange goings on…

Screening Sunday 19th November, 12pm.

The Mimic

The Mimic still 1Hee-yeon moves to a small village near Mt. Jang with her husband after their son goes missing. Bonding with a little girl who seems to be lost herself, Hee-yeon soon becomes embroiled in the strange events occurring around the mountain.

Screening Friday 17th November, 3.45pm

The Sleep Curse

the sleep curse’90s neurologist Lam Sik-ka (Anthony Wong) can’t sleep. Contacted by a fellow insomniac former girlfriend, he begins investigating and finds the answer lies all the way back in the Japanese occupation…

Screening Thursday 16th November, 5pm

Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul still 1.jpgAn adaptation of the manga by Sui Ishida, Tokyo Ghoul is the story of Ken Kaneki who wakes up in hospital to discover he’s been given transplants from a “Ghoul” and is now part Ghoul himself which means he needs to eat human flesh to survive…

Screening Wednesday 15th November, 8pm

Vampire Clay

vampire clay still 1Students at a remote art school start mysteriously disappearing, could the creepy clay statues possibly be to blame?

Screening Wednesday 15th November, 12.15

The Abertoir Film Festival takes place in Aberystwyth from 14 – 19 November, 2017. Passes for the festival (£60) are currently available from Aberystwyth Arts Centre in person or by phone with individual tickets released at a later date.

You can keep up with all the latest Abertoir news via the official website, Facebook Page, Twitter Account, and Flickr.

Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers

©Little More Co.

wild berries posterFollowing the last series of free film screenings which took place over the summer, the Japan Foundation London is back this winter for a season of films dedicated to female filmmakers. Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers features two narrative films and a documentary as well as a panel discussion chaired by Kate Taylor with Jasper Sharp, Alejandra Armendáriz Hernández, and the season’s curator Irene Silvera.

Bare Essence of Life

©Little More Co.Released in 2009, the second feature from Satoko Yokohama stars Kenichi Matsuyama as Yojin – an Aomori farm boy who lives on a slightly different plane of existence to everyone else. When a pretty school teacher (played by Kumiko Aso) arrives from Tokyo, Yojin becomes determined to win her heart, whatever the eventual costs may be!

Screening at Courthouse Cinema on 30th November, 6.30pm.

Death of a Japanese Salesman

ending note still 1.jpgAlso known as Ending Note, Mami Sunada’s documentary follows the last days of her father, a lifelong salaryman who retired aged 67 only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer soon after. Realising that he had only a short time left to live, Sunada began preparing for his death, creating his own bucket list and thinking about the “ending note” (a kind of personal testament) that he would leave behind for his family.

Screening at Courthouse Cinema, 1st December 6.30pm

Wild Berries

wild berries still 1Miwa Nishikawa whose The Long Excuse has been doing the festival rounds this year began her career as a student staff member on Koreeda’s Afterlife before ADing on Yoshimitsu Morita’s Black House and then again for Koreeda on Distance. Released in 2003 and produced by Koreeda, Wild Berries is her debut feature and neatly mixes the influences of both her mentors in an anarchic family drama. The Akechis had been getting along just fine until prodigal son Shuji decided to return bringing a few chickens home to roost with him.

Screening at Rich Mix, 2nd December 12pm

Panel Discussion

©Little More Co.Directly after the screening of Wild Berries, there will be a panel discussion examining the rise of female filmmakers over the last 15 years. Chaired by Kate Taylor – East Asian programmer for the BFI London Film Festival, the panel will also feature film scholar Jasper Sharp (co-founder of Midnight Eye, author of Behind the Pink Curtain), film researcher Alejandra Armendáriz Hernández, and the season’s curator, Irene Silvera.

The Panel Discussion takes place at Rich Mix, 2nd December, 2.30pm.

In conjunction with the series, there will also be a screening of Naoko Ogigami’s Rent-a-Cat as part of the regular free screenings programme at the Japanese Embassy on 22nd November. Tickets are free and can be booked by the usual methods following the instructions on the Embassy’s Filmshow page.

More information can be found on Japan Foundation London’s website – each of the screenings is free to attend but tickets must be booked in advance.

You can also keep up to date with all the latest Japan Foundation events via their official Twitter account and Facebook Page.

Creative Visions: Hong Kong Cinema 1997-2017

paradox posterThe latest in a series of events marking the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, Creative Visions: Hong Kong Cinema 1997-2017 will feature free screenings of nine films from the last 20 years including three UK premieres taking place from 17th to 19th November.

Paradox

paradox still 2The latest instalment in Wilson Yip’s SPL series stars Louis Koo as a Hong Kong cop on a mission to rescue his daughter from Thai kidnappers. Co-star Gordon Lam will be in attendance to present the film’s UK premiere.

Ordinary Heroes

ordinary heroes still 1Ann Hui’s 1999 drama documents the struggle of a group of idealists fighting for the rights of boat people and their mainland wives.

PTU

ptu still 1Simon Yam and Lam Suet star in Johnnie To’s missing gun thriller.

Mad World

mad world still 1Eric Tsang plays the estranged father of a young man (Shawn Yue) recently released from psychiatric care in Wong Chun’s powerful debut. UK Premiere.

Gallants

gallants horizontalA tribute to the kung-fu classics of the ’60s and ’70s, 2010’s Gallants follows two martial artists patiently waiting for their master to wake up from the coma he’s been in for the last 30 years. Co-star Gordon Lam will be in attendance.

Made in Hong Kong

made in hong kongFruit Chan’s 1997 story of tragic youth in its 2017 restoration which premiered at the Udine Far East Film Festival.

Echoes of the Rainbow

echoes of the rainbow still 1.jpgDirector Alex Law paints an autobiographical tale of growing up in a working class family in late ’60s Hong Kong.

Trivisa

Trivisa still 1Three infamous criminals smuggle themselves into Hong Kong for the biggest heist ever in a crime thriller produced by Johnnie To and directed by three proteges from his Fresh Wave short film programme.

The Brink

the brink still 1A grizzled cop chases a gold smuggling fisherman through storms literal and metaphorical in Jonathan Li’s feature debut. UK premiere – Co-star Gordon Lam will be in attendance.

The screenings take place from 17th to 19th November at Ham Yard and Soho Hotels and are free to attend but places must be booked in advance via Eventbrite. You can book one ticket only for each film and for a maximum of four films per person.

In addition to the London event, Creative Visions will also visit Udine, Vancouver, Toronto, Berlin, Seoul, Moscow, Paris, Manchester and Prague.

The Day After Opens London Korean Film Festival 2017

The day after posterFollowing a long series of teaser screenings which culminated with Cannes hit The Villainess, the London Korean Film Festival has now revealed the complete lineup for this year’s event which runs from 26th October to 19th November 2017.

Opening Gala

The day After Still 2The London Korean Film Festival 2017 will open with one of three films released this year by prolific director Hong Sang-soo – The Day After. Another whimsical comedy of manners from Hong, The Day After stars Kim Min-hee as the new girl at a publishing firm completely unaware that she’s taken the place of the previous new girl who has been “let go” after an affair with the boss ended badly.

Closing Gala

first lap stillClosing the festival will be the second film from Kim Dae-hwan who picked up the best new director award at Locarno for this awkward tale of familial disconnection. The First Lap revolves around young couple Ji-young and Su-hyeon who are not married but have been living together for a few years. Discovering they might be about to have a child of their own, the pair decide to try and reconnect with their old families before starting a new one.

Special Focus: Korean Noir, Illuminating the Dark Side of Society

The Merciless still 1The special focus for this year’s festival is Korean Noir and Korean cinema has certainly had a long and proud history of gritty, existential crime thrillers. Running right through from the ’60s to recent Cannes hit The Merciless, the Korean Noir strand aims to illuminate the dark side of society through its compromised heroes and conflicted villains.

  • Black Hair – Lee Man-hee’s 1960s genre hybrid neatly mixes noir with melodrama as a gang boss’ wife is blackmailed after having been raped by one of her husband’s underlings only to be facially disfigured and cast away when her husband learns of her assault. Read the Review.
  • The Last Witness – Lee Doo-young’s 1980 mystery thriller follows a police officer’s investigation into the murder of a brewery owner which leads him back to events of 25 years earlier and into the darkest parts of his own soul. Director Lee Doo-young will be in attendance for a Q&A.
  • Dead End – Darkly humorous 19 minute short directed by City of Madness’ Kim Sung-soo.
  • The Rules of the Game – released in 1994, the second film from Jan Hyun-soo follows a young man who comes to the city to join a gang but ends up selling his girlfriend into prostitution.
  • Green Fish – the 1997 debut from the now legendary Lee Chang-dong follows a recently demobbed soldier who returns home to find nothing waiting for him and eventually falls in with gangsters.
  • Nowhere to Hide – Lee Myung-se’s experimental 1999 noir stars Ahn Sung-ki as a ruthless gangster.
  • KilimanjaroThe Shameless director Oh Seung-uk’s 2000 debut also stars Ahn Sung-ki as a gangster alongside Park Shin-yang playing a pair of twin brothers one of whom is a criminal and the other a policeman. Director Oh Seung-uk will be in attendance for a Q&A.
  • Die badVeteran / Battleship Island’s Ryoo Seung-wan made his debut with this 2000 four part crime themed portmanteau film.
  • A Bittersweet Life –  Kim Ji-woon’s 2005 existential hitman thriller stars Lee Byung-hun as a conflicted mobster.
  • A Dirty Carnival – Yoo Ha’s celebrated gangland thriller from 2006
  • New World – an all powerful policeman tries to bring down a crime syndicate through underhanded means while an undercover cop begins to wonder if his mission will ever end in Park Hoon-jung’s tense psychological thriller.
  • Coin Locker Girl – a baby found in a coin locker gets sold to a gangland organ trafficker who decides to raise her as her own in Han Jun-hee’s dark 2013 drama
  • The Merciless – Premiered at Cannes in 2017 Byung Sung-hyun’s The Merciless is a violent thriller in which an undercover cop and the leader of a prison gang team up for gangland domination.

The Noir section will also feature a panel event, Forum on Korean Noir, featuring Eddie Muller (president Film Noir Foundation), Huh Moonyoung (film critic), Last Witness director Lee Doo-young, and Kilimanjaro director Oh Seung-uk.


Cinema Now 

master still one.jpgThe best in recent cinema across the previous year ranging from period drama to financial thriller, gangland action, social drama, and horror.

  • Come, Together – Shin Dong-il examines the destructive effects of financial pressures on a middle class family.
  • Crime City – turf war drama starring  Ma Dong-seok. Director Kang Yoon-sung will be present for a Q&A.
  • In Between Seasons – Intimate family drama following a mother’s reaction to discovering the relationship between her son and his best friend is closer than she thought.
  • Warriors of the Dawn – historical drama set in 1592 in which a group of mercenaries attempt to protect the newly crowned prince on a perilous journey.
  • Master – corporate thriller in which a team of fraud specialists led by Gang Dong-won attempt to unmask a dodgy financial guru played by Lee Byung-hun. Read the Review.
  • The Mimic – horror movie in which a monster lures children away to eat them by impersonating familiar voices.

Indie Fire Power

Bamseom Pirates Seoul InfernoProgrammed by Tony Rayns, this year’s indie strand has a special focus on documentary filmmaker Jung Yoon-suk who will be attending the festival in person to present his films.

  • Non Fiction Diary – 2014 documentary directed by Jung Yoon-suk centring on a notorious clan of serial killing cannibals. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • The White House in My Country – documentary short by Jung Yoon-suk. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • Ho Chi Minh – documentary short by Jung Yoon-suk. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • Bamseom Pirates Inferno – 2017 documentary by Jung Yoon-suk focussing on an underground punk band. Director Jung Yoon-suk will be present for a Q&A
  • Merry Christmas Mr. Mo – indie comedy/drama from Lim Dae-hyung in which a dying barber’s only wish is to star in a short film directed by his estranged son.
  • A Confession Expecting a Rejection – witty drama following characters on and off screen as they discuss various topics from failed relationships to disappointing film courses.

Women’s Voices 

jamsil still 1Focussing on female viewpoints this year’s Women’s Voices strand includes one narrative feature and four short films.

  • Jamsil – drama focussing on the lives of two women. Director Lee Wanmin will be present for a Q&A.

Shorts

  • Candle Wave Feminists – an examination of the misogyny hidden inside the campaign to unseat Park Geun-hye Director Kangyu Garam will be present for a Q&A.
  • My Turn – 15 minute drama focussing on pregnancy in the workplace.
  • Mild Fever – 36 minute drama in which a secret comes between a husband and wife.
  • Night Working – 28 minute drama exploring the relationship between a Korean factory worker and a Cambodian migrant.

Classics Revisited: Bae Chang-ho Retrospective

whale hunting still 2Three films from legendary director Bae Chang-ho each starring Ahn Sung-ki.

  • People in the Slum – drama revolving around a single mother who always wears black gloves and has a rebellious son with a tendency to steal things.
  • Whale Hunting – a boy gets rejected by his crush and runs away to hunt whales but ends up wandering round with a tramp and helping a mute girl find her voice again.
  • The Dream – a monk breaks his vows of chastity, attacks a young woman, leaves the monastery to start a family with her, but never captures her heart.

Documentary

good bye my heroWorkers’ rights and examinations of the Yongsan tragedy in which five civilians and one police officer lost their lives during a protest against redevelopment dominate the feature documentary strand.

  • Two Doors – documentary examining the Yongsan tragedy. Director Kim Il-rhan will be present for a Q&A.
  • The Remnants – documentary examining the Yongsan tragedy. Director Kim Il-rhan will be present for a Q&A.
  • Goodbye My Hero – an unemployed father battles for reinstatement
  • Dream of Iron – industrial ship building documentary

Animation

lost in the moonlight still 1Two charming yet very different animated adventures aimed at a younger/family audience.

  • Lost in the Moonlight – a shy young girl dreaming of the spotlight gets lost in a fantasy world.
  • Franky and Friends: A Tree of Life – Franky and Friends head off on a journey to save the world after nearly destroying it through wastefulness

Mise-en-scène Shorts

tombstone refugee still 1A selection of shorts from the Mise-en-scène International Short Film Festival.

  • Tombstone Refugee – alternative burial drama.
  • Home Without Me – a young girl looks for familial love
  • Thirsty – a man struggles to makes ends meet
  • Between You and Me – behind the scenes comedy drama.
  • Dive – drama about a boy’s love of water
  • The Insect Woman – centres on a young girl obsessed with insects.
  • 2 Nights 3 Days – follows a couple on the eve of their wedding anniversary.

Artist Video

This year’s collaboration with LUX | Artists’ Moving Image focusses on the work of two artists – Lim Minouk and Koo Dong-hee.

Lim Minouk

  • New Town Ghost
  • Wrong Question
  • Portable Keeper
  • The Weight of Hands
  • The Possibility of the Half
  • S.O.S. – Adoptive Dissensus

Koo Dong-hee

  • Tragedy Competition
  • The King Fish
  • Under the Vein: I Spell on You
  • Crossxpollination
  • What’s Not There

The London Korean Film Festival runs from 26th November to the 19th October at multiple Central London venues before heading out on tour to Glasgow Film Theatre, Manchester HOME, Sheffield Showroom, Nottingham Broadway Cinema, and Belfast Queen’s Film Theatre.

The full programme including details for all the films, screening times and ticketing information will be available on the official website in due course but you can also keep up with all the latest developments via the festival’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Flickr, YouTube and Instagram channels.