BFI Japan 2020 to Celebrate More Than 100 Years of Japanese Cinema

The Olympics may have been postponed and everything seems like it’s on pause, but the BFI’s planned mammoth Japan season is still doing all it can to make its way to us in the 2020 that never was. With the cinemas closed for the foreseeable future, the BFI will be making the first part of the season available online via BFI player with strands dedicated to golden age directors Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu as well as a series of classics including films by Mikio Naruse and Seijun Suzuki, cult movies, and the best in 21st century cinema. Once the BFI reopens, we can also look forward to some rarer treats from this century and the last.

BFI Player

A series of strands will begin streaming via BFI Player over a six month period beginning with Akira Kurosawa and Classics (11th May), followed by Yasujiro Ozu (5th June), Cult (3rd July), Anime (31st July), Independence (21st August), 21st Century (18th September), and J-Horror (30th October). Subscriptions to BFI Player are available for £4.99 p/m following a two week free trial.

Akira Kurosawa (11th May)

  • Seven Samurai – classic jidaigeki gets a post-war twist as a collection of down on their luck samurai come to the rescue of peasants beset by bandits.
  • Throne of Blood – eerie retelling of Macbeth starring Toshiro Mifune as the man who would be king and Isuzu Yamada as his ambitious wife.
  • Yojimbo – samurai western starring Toshiro Mifune as a ronin drifter wandering into a turf war.
  • Sanjuro – sequel to Yojimbo in which Mifune reprises his role as the titular Sanjuro as he helps some locals stand up to samurai corruption.
  • Rashomon – a series of witnesses provides contradictory accounts of the same event in an adaptation of the story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, and Masayuki Mori.
  • The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail – comedic kabuki adaptation in which a samurai attempts to escape with his retinue after being betrayed by his brother by disguising himself as a monk.
  • Drunken Angel – post-war tragedy starring Toshiro Mifune at his most dashing as gangster dying of TB and Takashi Shimura as the compassionate yet alcoholic doctor trying to save him.
  • Stray Dog – a policeman (Mifune) and his partner (Shimura) scour post-war Tokyo for a missing gun.
  • Ikiru – existential drama starring Takashi Shimura as a civil servant reflecting on his life after discovering he has a terminal illness.
  • Hidden Fortress – two bumbling peasants agree to escort a general and a princess in disguise to safe territory in return for gold.
  • The Bad Sleep Well – contemporary take on Hamlet starring Toshiro Mifune as man enacting an elaborate revenge plot against the corrupt CEO who drove his father to suicide. Review.
  • Red Beard – humanistic drama starring Toshiro Mifune as a gruff yet compassionate doctor to the poor. Review.
  • Ran – King Lear relocated to feudal Japan.
  • Sanshiro Sugata Pt 1 & 2 – drama inspired by the life story of a legendary judo master.
  • The Most Beautiful – naturalistic national policy film from 1944 following the lives of female factory workers.
  • No Regrets for Our Youth – 1946 drama starring Setsuko Hara as a professor’s daughter who marries a radical leftist later executed as a spy.
  • One Wonderful Sunday – post-war drama in which an engaged couple attempt to have a nice day out in Tokyo for only 35 yen.
  • I Live in Fear – Toshiro Mifune stars as a factory owner so terrified of nuclear attack that he becomes determined to move his family to the comparative safety of Brazil while they attempt to have him declared legally incompetent on account of his intense paranoia.
  • The Lower Depths – 1957 adaptation of Gorky’s novel following the lives of a collection of people living in an Edo-era tenement.
  • High and Low – Toshiro Mifune stars as a wealthy man encountering a dilemma when his chauffeur’s son is kidnapped after being mistaken for his own.
  • Dodes’ka-den – Kurosawa’s first colour film exploring the lives of a collection of people living in a shantytown above a rubbish dump.

Classics (11th May)

  • Late Chrysanthemums – Naruse’s 1954 drama following the lives of four former geishas (played by Haruko Sugimura, Chikako Hosokawa, Yuko Mochizuki, and Sadako Sawamura) as they try to get by in the complicated post-war economy.  
  • Floating Clouds – Naruse’s 1955 romantic drama starring Hideko Takamine and Masayuki Mori as former lovers floundering in the post-war landscape. Review.
  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs – Naruse’s 1960 drama starring Hideko Takamine as a widow turned Ginza bar hostess.
  • Onibaba – period horror from Kaneto Shindo in which a mother and daughter survive by murdering samurai and selling their armour.
  • Kwaidan – horror anthology from Masaki Kobayashi featuring adaptations of classic Japanese folktales.
  • Hana-Bi – noirish poetry from Takeshi Kitano as a former policeman takes on an unwise loan from yakuza to care for his terminally ill wife. Review.
  • Black Rain – Shohei Imamura’s 1989 drama set in the aftermath of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima.
  • Branded to Kill – the anarchic 1967 hitman drama that got Seijun Suzuki fired from Nikkatsu.
  • Woman of the Dunes – Hiroshi Teshigahara’s adaption of the Kobo Abe novel in which a bug collector is imprisoned in a sand dune after missing the last bus home and being persuaded to spend the night in the home of a local woman.
  • After Life – poignant drama from Hirokazu Koreeda in which the recently deceased are permitted to recreate a favourite memory. Review. (not included in subscription, £3.50 to rent)
  • Youth of the Beast – Seijun Suzuki drama starring Jo Shishido as a mysterious figure playing double agent to engineer a gang war. Review.
  • Gate of Hell – period drama starring Machiko Kyo as a loyal wife who tricks a man trying to kill her husband to have her for himself to kill her instead.
  • Cruel Story of Youth – post-Sun Tribe youth drama from Shochiku directed by Nagisa Oshima. Review.

Yasujiro Ozu (5th June)

  • I Was Born, But… – 1932 silent in which two little boys have a hard time accepting that their dad has an inauthentic work persona. Review.
  • Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice – 1952 drama starring Shin Saburi and Michiyo Kogure as an unhappily married couple.
  • Tokyo Story – post-war classic in which an old couple from the country make a rare trip to the city to see their grown up children but are disappointed to discover that they don’t have much time for them.
  • Good Morning – consumerist comedy in which two little boys go on a pleasantries strike to get their parents to buy them a TV.
  • Late Autumn – drama in which a young widow tries to marry off her daughter with the help of old friends from college.
  • An Autumn Afternoon – Ozu’s final film stars Chishu Ryu as an ageing widower preparing to marry off his only daughter. Review.
  • Early Summer – a family’s attempt to marry off a daughter is frustrated when they realise she is carrying a torch for the widower next door.
  • Equinox Flower – drama of generational conflict in which an authoritarian father is forced to accept his daughter’s right to choose her own husband without asking for his advice or consent.
  • Late Spring – classic in which a young woman’s close relationship with her widowed father leaves her reluctant to marry.
  • Dragnet Girl – silent crime film starring Kinuyo Tanaka as a gangster’s moll who decides to reform after meeting the sister of a new gang member.
  • Walk Cheerfully – silent crime film in which a gangster wants to go straight after falling for an ordinary girl.
  • I Flunked, But… – silent college comedy.
  • Days of Youth – two students compete for the affections of the same girl.
  • Where Now the Dreams of Youth? – tragedy enters a carefree college existence when a naive young man games the system to offer all his friends jobs after inheriting his father’s company.
  • Woman of Tokyo – silent drama in which a student is devastated to learn that his older sister is not a translator as he thought but works as a bar hostess to finance his education.
  • Early Spring – rare Ozu drama exploring the taboo of an extra-marital affair.
  • Tokyo Twilight – grown up sisters reunite with the mother who abandoned them as children to run off with another man.
  • That Night’s Wife – 1930 crime drama in which a man is hunted by police after resorting to robbery to pay for his daughter’s medication.
  • The Lady and the Beard – 1931 comedy in which a traditionally minded man’s refusal to shave off his beard makes it difficult to move on with his life.
  • A Mother Should Be Loved – a young man discovers the woman who raised him is not his birth mother.
  • The Only Son – drama in which a mother visits her grown-up son and is disappointed to learn he has a wife and child he never told her about.
  • What Did the Lady Forget? – a modern girl visits her professor uncle but is disturbed to see him henpecked by his traditionalist wife.
  • Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family – a widow discovers that her grown up children are unwilling to support her and their younger sister when their father suddenly dies leaving them deep in debt.
  • There Was a Father – a father’s attempts to do the best for his son perpetually keep them apart.
  • A Hen in the Wind – a returned soldier struggles to accept his wife’s decision to resort to prostitution to pay for a doctor to save their son’s life in Ozu’s atypically dark post-war drama.

Cult (3rd July)

  • Gushing Prayer – pink film from Masao Adachi dramatising despair in the wake of the failure of the student movement.
  • Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss – first in the Stray Cat Rock series starring Akiko Wada and Meiko Kaji.
  • Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion – Meiko Kaji stars as a woman falsely imprisoned.
  • Lady Snowblood – Meiko Kaji stars as a young woman seeking revenge against the men who raped her mother.
  • House – surreal horror from Nobuhiko Obayashi in which a high school girl takes some friends to visit her aunt but ends up in a colourful nightmare world.

Anime (31st July)

The full lineup for the anime strand will be confirmed at a later date.

Independence (21st August)

  • Funeral Parade of Roses – Toshio Matsumoto’s avant-garde take on Oedipus Rex.
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man – surrealist body horror from Shinya Tsukamoto.
  • Maborosi – a young widow struggles to come to terms with the apparent suicide of her husband in Hirokazu Koreeda’s debut feature. (not included in subscription, £3.50 to rent)
  • Sawako Decides – an aimless young woman struggles to find direction in her life in an early comedy from Yuya Ishii starring Hikari Mitsushima.
  • Getting Any? – zany pop culture comedy from Takeshi Kitano in which a man goes to great lengths to get a car solely so he can have sex in it. Review.
  • The Woodsman and the Rain – comedy from Shuichi Okita in which a film director bonds with a lonely lumberjack while shooting a zombie movie.
  • Love Exposure – 4-hour epic from Sion Sono in which the son of a priest becomes obsessed with upskirt photography.
  • The Mourning Forest – a bereaved mother bonds with the elderly resident of a care home where she works in an award winning drama from Naomi Kawase.
  • A Scene at the Sea – poetic drama from Takeshi Kitano about a deaf refuse collector who becomes fixated on surfacing. Review.
  • Dangan Runner – three men ricochet towards an inevitable ending in the debut feature from SABU. Review.
  • Zigeunerweisen – surreal drama from Seijun Suzuki starring Yoshio Harada as a nomad on the run after being suspected of seducing and killing the wife of a fisherman.

21st Century (18th September)

  • Still the Water – island coming of age drama from Naomi Kawase. (not included in subscription, £3.50 to rent)
  • Sweet Bean – a dorayaki salesman bonds with an old woman who helps him improve his bean paste in Naomi Kawase’s moving drama.
  • Nobody Knows – siblings are left to fend for themselves when their mother abandons them in Hirokazu Koreeda’s gritty drama. (not included in subscription, £3.50 to rent)
  • Still Walking – Hirokazu Koreeda’s moving depiction of a typical family. Review. (not included in subscription, £3.50 to rent)
  • Cold Fish – Sion Sono’s gory serial killer drama inspired by a real life incident.
  • Tokyo Tribe – a rap musical manga adaptation from Sion Sono.
  • Mitsuko Delivers – a heavily pregnant woman returns to her home town and proceeds to solve everyone’s problems in Yuya Ishii’s cheerful comedy.
  • For Love’s Sake – musical manga adaption celebrating the Showa era songbook from Takashi Miike.
  • Journey to the Shore – haunting romantic drama from Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Review.
  • Creepy – Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s eerie mystery drama. Review.
  • The Lust of Angels – edgy train groping drama from Nagisa Isogai.
  • Harmonium – a family is torn apart by unexpected tragedy when a face from the past pays a visit in Koji Fukada’s probing drama. Review.

Early films 1894-1914 (12th October)

The BFI will also be showcasing restored gems from their archive featuring footage of turn of the century Japan.

  • Japanese Dancers (1894) – rare footage of Japanese women performing an imperial dance.
  • Ainus of Japan (1913) – footage depicting the indigenous people of Hokkaido.
  • Japanese Festival (1910) – footage of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Yokohama Harbour
  • Shooting the Rapids on the River Ozu in Japan (1907) – 1907 river journey.

J-Horror (30th October)

  • Ring – a deadly curse is transmitted via videotape in Hideo Nakata’s J-horror classic.
  • Dark Water – a woman in the midst of a divorce and custody battle is haunted by the spectre of a lonely child in Hideo Nakata’s adaptation of the Koji Suzuki novel. Review.
  • Audition – Takashi Miike’s deceptive drama begins as a gentle romcom before edging slowly towards the horrific.
  • Gozu – truly strange yakuza horror comedy from Takashi Miike.
  • The Happiness of the Katakuris – Takashi Miike’s strangely cheerful musical take on the Korean film The Quiet Family.
  • Battle Royale – controversial drama from Kinji Fukasaku in which high school students are shipped to a remote island and forced to fight to the death.
  • Tetsuo II: Body Hammer – sequel to Shinya Tsukamoto’s cyberpunk body horror.
  • Pulse – death is eternal loneliness in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s tech fearing horror classic. Review.
  • Cure – Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s noirish horror starring Koji Yakusho as a detective investigating a series of bizarre murders.
  • Kuroneko – ghost cat film from Kaneto Shindo.
  • Snake of June – erotic drama from Shinya Tsukamoto in which a mysterious man targets a repressed woman and forces her to engage in illicit sex acts.

BFI Southbank

The season will continue at the BFI Southbank once the venue reopens.

  • Golden Age – season programmed by Alexander Jacoby and James Bell showcasing Japanese cinema from the 1930s to the 60s including work by Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse, and Akira Kurosawa, and starring Kinuyo Tanaka, Setsuko Hara, Hideko Takamine, and Toshiro Mifune.
  • Radicals and Rebels – also curated by Alexander Jacoby and James Bell, the Radicals and Rebels strand focuses on film after 1964 from the New Wave to the genre classics of the ’90s including work by Seijun Suzuki, Nagisa Oshima, and Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida.
  • 21st Century – contemporary classics co-presented by Japan Foundation and curated by Junko Takekawa.
  • Anime – major two month season curated by Justin Johnson and Hanako Miyata showcasing modern masters such as Satoshi Kon, Mamoru Oshii, Makoto Shinkai, Mamoru Hosoda, and Naoko Yamada.

For the full details on this and other BFI seasons be sure to check out the BFI’s official website where you can also find a link to BFI Player. You can also keep up with all the latest news by following the BFI on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Queer East Film Festival Reveals Full Programme For Inaugural Edition

The Queer East Film Festival has announced the complete programme for its inaugural edition running at venues across London from 18th April to 2nd May. This year’s lineup features a diverse selection of films both classic and contemporary exploring LGBTQ+ life in East Asia opening with Hong Kong transgender drama Tracey, and closing with a 35mm screening of landmark Taiwanese teen movie Blue Gate Crossing.

Tracey

18th April, Lexi Cinema Plus Intro by How Wee Ng, University of Westminster

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. Review.

The Shepherds (UK Premiere)

19th April, Lexi Cinema Plus Intro by by Christopher Brown, University of Sussex

Documentary focussing on the lives of LGTBQ+ Christians in Taiwan.

Between the Seasons (UK Premiere)

21st April, Lexi Cinema

Hae-soo moves to a new city and opens a cafe where high schooler Ye-jin becomes a regular and eventually starts working. The two women draw closer but each have closely guarded secrets.

Funeral Parade of Roses

22nd April, Deptford Cinema

Toshio Matsumoto’s avant-garde classic inspired by Oedipus Rex and starring Peter as a bar hostess involved in a complicated love triangle with drag queen Leda and bar owner Gonda.

Memories of My Body (UK Premiere)

22nd April, Barbican plus intro by film critic Eric Sasono

A Lengger dancer looks back on his life as a tale of growing acceptance of sensuality lived against a turbulent political backdrop. Review.

Sisterhood (UK Premiere) + Director Q&A

24th April, Barbican. Followed by a ScreenTalk with director Tracy Choi

A woman returns to Macau after 15 years in Taiwan and begins reconsidering her relationship with her best friend, realising the emotions she felt for her may have been romantic in Tracy Choi’s subtly political melodrama.

Girlfriend Boyfriend – GF*BF

25th April, Lexi Cinema Plus Intro by by Christopher Brown, University of Sussex

Yang Ya-che’s modern classic in which the friendship between three young people fighting for democracy at the tail end of the Martial Law era is tested by their conflicting feelings for each other.

A Dog Barking at the Moon

26th April, Curzon Goldsmiths

A pregnant writer returns home to Beijing to visit her family with her French husband and is struck by the realities of her parents’ unhappy marriage in which her mother has retreated into a bizarre buddhist cult and her father has taken a male lover.

Malila: The Farewell Flower

26th April, Lexi Cinema

Reeling from tragic loss, a young man reunites with the love of his youth only to discover he has terminal lung cancer and has chosen to forgo all treatment in Anucha Boonyawatana’s melancholy mediation of love, life, and transience. Review.

Spider Lilies + Director Q&A

26th April, Genesis

Zero Chou’s lesbian classic in which a web-cam girl visits a tattooist’s studio and becomes obsessed with the spider lily tattoo on her arm. Hoping to get to know her better, she asks her to give her the same tattoo but the experience reawakens memories which threaten to force the two women apart.

Lilting

27th April, Prince Charles Cinema

A man tries to connect with the mother of his late partner who speaks only Cambodian-Chinese and remained unaware of her son’s sexuality in Hong Khaou’s deeply moving debut feature.

Turning 18

27th April, Regent Street Cinema

Documentary following the lives of two indigenous Taiwanese girls who meet on a vocational training programme and each experience difficult family circumstances.

The Wedding Banquet

28th April, Rio Cinema

Ang Lee’s 1993 Asian-American classic in which a gay Taiwanese New Yorker agrees to participate in a green card marriage to a Chinese artist to get his nagging parents off his back.

Queer Japan

29th April, Prince Charles Cinema

Graham Kolbeins’ documentary exploring LGBTQ+ life in contemporary Japan including contributions from mangaka Gengoroh Tagame (My Brother’s Husband), drag queen Vivienne Sato, and Aya Kamikawa who recounts her path to becoming the first transgender elected official in Japan.

Song Lang

30th April, Barbican

Beautifully tragic romance set in ’80s Saigon in which a conflicted street punk falls in love with a Cai Luong opera singer. Review.

The Teacher (UK Premiere)

1st May, Genesis Cinema Plus Intro by Christopher Brown, University of Sussex

A teacher’s personal and professional lives are destabilised by his support for equal marriage and relationship with a closeted, HIV+ older man.

Looking For? (UK Premiere) + Director Q&A

2nd May, Rio Cinema followed by a Q&A with directors Tung-Yen Chou and Popo Fan.

Documentary exploring questions of intimacy in contemporary gay life interviewing men from Taipei, Beijing, New York and London to find out what it is they’re looking for.

Blue Gate Crossing (35 mm)

2nd May, Genesis Cinema Plus Introduction by Christopher Brown, University of Sussex.

Taiwanese classic from Yee Chih-yen starring Gwei Lun-mei and Chen Bo-lin as high school students pursuing conflicting romantic destinies.

Queer East 2020 runs at venues across London from 18th April to 2nd May. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links can be found on the official website, while you can also keep up with all the latest news by following Queer East on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 Announces Complete Lineup

The Osaka Asian Film Festival returns for its 15th edition from 6th to 15th March bringing with it some of the best in recent East Asian Cinema. This year’s edition will open with the Malaysian film The Garden of Evening Mists starring Hiroshi Abe as a reclusive Japanese gardener, and close with the anthology movie Kamata Prelude featuring four segments helmed by Japanese indie directors Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, and Hirobumi Watanabe.

China

  • Better Days – 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.
  • Spring Tide – a repressed journalist is caught between her old school loyal to the party mother and cheerful daughter Yang Lina’s familial drama.
  • Wisdom Tooth – the close relationship between a brother and sister is threatened by his new girlfriend, her undocumented status, and a suspicious death at sea.

Hong Kong

  • Apart – melancholy student activist drama running from the Umbrella Movement to the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill protests.
  • Fagara – a young woman discovers the existence of two half-sisters, one from Taiwan and the other mainland China, following the death of her estranged father. Review.
  • The Fallen – the daughter of a drug kingpin comes home with revenge on her mind in Lee Cheuk-pan’s G Affairs followup.
  • My Prince Edward – a woman working at a bridal shop has met her Prince Charming and wants to get married, the only problem being the sham marriage she was paid to take part in several years previously.

Indonesia

(C)PT Screenplay Sinema Film
  • Hit & Run – action comedy in which a celebrity policeman reality TV star is teamed up with a conman to catch a drug kingpin who has recently escaped from prison.

Japan

  • Good-bye – a young woman quits her job to work part-time in a nursery and bonds with the father of one of the kids.
  • For Rei – an introverted young woman dreams of meeting her absent father.
  • Kamata Prelude – Four-part anthology film directed by Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, and Hirobumi Watanabe.
  • Kontora – a young woman uses her grandfather’s wartime diary to look for buried treasure in Ansul Chauhan’s Bad Poetry Tokyo followup.
  • The Modern Lovers – a married salaryman with a baby on the way reconnects with an ex.
  • The Murders of Oiso – the everyday lives of four construction workers in a small town are thrown into disarray by the murder of their former teacher.
  • On the Edge of Their Seats – high school drama adapted from a stage play set on the bleachers of a baseball game.
  • Naked Uncle – a failed actor returns to his hometown and tries to reconnect with his resentful brother.
  • Reiko and the Dolphin – family drama from pink director Shinji Imaoka in which a young couple try to come to terms with the loss of their daughter in the devastating earthquake which struck Kobe in 1995.
  • setsuko – continuation of the fantasy drama series from Zon Pilone which imagines a pre-war love triangle between actress Setsuko Hara and legendary directors Sadao Nakajima and Yasujiro Ozu.
  • Woman of the Photographs – a model with a disfiguring scar asks a photographer to retouch her photos but begins to feel conflicted about misrepresenting herself.
  • VIDEOPHOBIA – latest from Daisuke Miyazaki in which a young woman discovers that she has become the victim of revenge porn.
  • Yan – a young man is compelled to take a message to his estranged older brother in Taiwan whom he hasn’t seen since the end of their parents’ marriage.

Korea

  • Birthday – powerful drama following a family bereaved by the Sewol ferry tragedy. Review. (screening with Japanese subtitles only)
  • Children Gone to Poland – documentary exploring the little known story of children evacuated to Poland during the Korean War.
  • House of Hummingbird – a young girl’s perspective widens when she connects with her enigmatic Chinese teacher. Review. (screening with Japanese subtitles only)
  • Lucky Chan-sil – film producer Chan-sil finds herself unemployed after the director she’d been working with suddenly dies, taking a job as a cleaning lady for an actress and bonding with a handsome French teacher.
  • Malmoe The Secret Mission – an illiterate crook teams up with a man from a wealthy, pro-Japanese family to compile a Korean dictionary during the Colonial era in which the Korean language was banned. (screening with Japanese subtitles only)
  • Sunshine Family – a Filipino family living in Korea finds itself in a difficult situation after the father knocks someone over in a hit and run.
  • Way Back Home – a woman’s peaceful family life is threatened when she receives a call to say the man who raped her ten years previously has been apprehended.

Malaysia

(c)2019 ASTRO SHAW, HBO ASIA, FINAS, CJ ENTERTAINMENT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  • The Garden of Evening Mists – a young Malayasian woman travels to meet a reclusive Japanese gardener to ask him to design a memorial for her sister but ends up becoming his apprentice.

Philippines

  • Babae at Baril (The Girl with the Gun) – a saleswoman finds a gun on her doorstep and decides to use it to take revenge on a patriarchal society.
  • LSS(Last Song Syndrome) – two young people are repeatedly brought together by the music of Ben and Ben in this indie romance.
  • Metamorphosis – drama exploring the lives of intersex people.
  • Write about Love – rom-com in which an aspiring female screenwriter gets her screenplay greenlit but only on the condition she teams up with a male veteran to “improve” it.

Taiwan

  • The Gangs, the Oscars, and the Walking Dead – madcap comedy in which two aspiring filmmakers end up making a zombie film with a gangster who insists that his wife play the leading role.
  • Heavy Craving – a lunch lady hoping to lose weight strikes up unexpected friendships with a deliveryman and cross-dressing student. Review.
  • Miss Andy – a transgender woman takes in a woman and her child after they escape from an abusive relationship.
  • Nobody – a grumpy old man bonds with a teenage girl after she breaks into his apartment to spy on her dad whom she suspects is having an affair.
  • Your Name Engraved Herein – drama set in 1988 in which two boys fall in love but struggle to find acceptance in a changing society.

Thailand

(C)2019 GDH 559 Co., Ltd.
  • Happy Old Year – a young woman’s conflicted feelings about the end of her relationship are revived while attempting to have a clean out in the latest from Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit.

The Osaka Asian Film Festival runs from 6th to 15th March at venues across the city. 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, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

CinemAsia Announces Complete Programme for 2020

CinemAsia returns to Amsterdam from 4th to 8th March for its 13th edition bringing with it another fantastic selection of recent East Asian cinema. This year’s festival opens with the European premiere of Japanese indie Mrs Noisy, and closes with heartwarming Taiwanese drama Heavy Craving, both of which are directed by female filmmakers.

Bhutan

China

  • Balloon – Tibetan-language drama from Pema Tseden (Jinpa) following a sheep farming family facing a crisis thanks to the recently instituted One Child Policy. Review.
  • Saturday Fiction – Gong Li stars as an actress returning to Shanghai after a long absence to star in a play directed by an old flame but may have ulterior motives in the latest from Lou Ye.
  • The River in Me – documentary exploring traditional folksong in modern China
  • The Wild Goose Lake – Black Coal, Thin Ice’s Diao Yinan returns with another neo noir in which a smalltime mob boss tries to survive after he kills a policeman by mistake.

Hong Kong

  • Fagara – a young woman discovers the existence of two half-sisters, one from Taiwan and the other mainland China, following the death of her estranged father. Review.
  • Little Q – touching drama following the life of a guide dog who is assigned to a grumpy pastry chef. Review.
  • Suk Suk – voted the best HK film of 2019 by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society, Suk Suk follows two older men who meet by chance and fall in love after decades of keeping their true identities secret.

Indonesia

  • A Man Called Ahok – biopic of controversial political figure Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
  • Bumi Manusia – period romance adapted from the novel by Pramoedya Ananta Toer in which a member of the Javanese royal family falls for a girl who is half-Dutch.
  • Gundala – superhero action from Joko Anwar
  • Homecoming – a couple get into an accident on the way to spend Eid with family bringing them into contact with the mysterious Santi.

Japan

  • Complicity – an undocumented man from China embraces his cover identity and takes a job in a soba restaurant but struggles to maintain his sense of self in Chikaura’s sensitive drama. Review.
  • Mrs Noisy – a writer struggling to come up with new material after winning a major award is distracted by a vendetta with her noisy neighbour.
  • Tezuka’s Barbara – Macoto Tezka adapts the manga by his famous father in which a novelist (Goro Inagaki) becomes obsessed with a woman he picks up off the street (Fumi Nikaido).

Korea

  • Exit – an unemployed rock climbing enthusiast finds himself in his element when his family is trapped by a mysterious white mist in a high rise restaurant he booked for his mother’s 70th birthday only because an old flame works there. Review.
  • Moonlit Winter – drama in which a teenage girl finds a love letter addressed to her recently divorced mother and determines to identify the sender, little knowing the secret her mother has been keeping.
  • Princess Aya – a princess with the power to turn into an animal marries an enemy prince to broker peace but finds herself beset by new threats in this charming animation.
  • Yellow Ribbon – Ju Hyun-sook’s documentary focussing on the aftermath of the Sewol ferry disaster.

Malaysia

  • Two Sisters – horror in which a young woman is discharged from a psychiatric hospital into the care of her novelist sister only to discover a new threat lurking in the family home.

Philippines

  • John Denver Trending – youth drama based on a true story in which a farm boy’s life is turned upside down when a video of him beating up a classmate goes viral.
  • Overseas – documentary following those training to become overseas domestic helpers.
  • Verdict – a woman suffering domestic abuse tries to get help after her drunken husband hurts their child but struggles to find justice in a patriarchal society.

Taiwan

  • Detention – Lonely high schooler Fang falls for guidance councillor Zhang who alone seems to understand her. She joins his secret study group to read banned books, but Zhang soon “disappears” while only Fang and another student seem to remember him in this gothic horror set during Taiwan’s repressive martial law period.
  • Heavy Craving – a lunch lady hoping to lose weight strikes up unexpected friendships with a deliveryman and a cross-dressing student. Review.

CinemAsia takes place in Amsterdam from 4th to 8th March, 2020. Full details for all the films can be found on the official website where tickets are already on sale, 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 10!

Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns March 10 to April 9 with another handpicked selection of the best in recent East Asian cinema! This landmark 10th Season kicks off with Aaron Kwok homelessness drama i’m livin’ it which is nominated in 10 categories at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards, and closes with Yukiko Mishima’s much anticipated romantic drama Shape of Red.

March 10, 7pm: i’m livin’ it

Introduction and Q&A with Director Wong Hing Fan and Actress Kathy Wu

Receiving 10 nominations at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards including all the major categories, i’m livin’ it stars Aaron Kwok as a once successful banker who has unexpectedly become homeless and spends his nights in a 24hr fast food restaurant among others facing similar difficulties.

March 11, 7pm: A Witness Out of the Blue

Introduction and Q&A with Director Fung Chih-Chiang

A detective finds himself investigating a murder in which the only witness is a parrot! Louis Koo is up for best actor at the Hong Kong film awards for his role as the prime suspect while Philip Keung also gets a nod for best supporting as a senior detective.

March 12, 7pm: First Night Nerves

Stanley Kwan’s starry drama pits two warring divas against each other in a battle for the spotlight as they rehearse for a new play penned by a transwoman who struggles to find acceptance in the surprisingly conservative theatre industry. Review.

March 14, 2pm: Men on the Dragon

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

March 16, 6.30pm: A Touch of Spring

Introduction and Q&A with Director He Xiao-Dan

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

March 18, 7pm: Red Flowers and Green Leaves

A young man who assumed he’d never marry because of a longterm illness suddenly finds himself with a beautiful wife through an arrangement made by his family.

March 19, 7pm: 3 Adventures of Brooke

A young Chinese woman has three very different adventures while traveling in Northern Malaysia, trying on different identities as she encounters different people.

March 21, 7pm: Vanishing Days

Zhu Xin’s debut feature follows a little girl, Li Sen-Lin, who loses her pet turtle while her dad is away on business. Overhearing other relatives talk about an alternate “Sen-Lin”, she begins to wonder if her aunt is really her mother.

March 25, 7pm: We Are Champions

Introduction and Q&A with Producer Rachel Chen and Actor Berant Zhu who will also pick up the Bright Star Award before the screening.

Taiwanese sporting drama in which teenage brothers attempt to change their fates through success on the basketball court.

March 26, 7pm: Detention

Lonely high schooler Fang falls for guidance councillor Zhang who alone seems to understand her. She joins his secret study group to read banned books, but Zhang soon “disappears” while only Fang and another student seem to remember him in this gothic horror set during Taiwan’s repressive martial law period.

April 1, 7pm: Vertigo

Introduction and Q&A with Director Jeon Gye-Soo

A woman in her 30s begins to feel a sense of existential vertigo, trapped in a dead end relationship with a feckless boyfriend while worrying that her career is going nowhere either. Then, she meets a tightrope walking window cleaner.

April 2, 7pm: Paper Flower

Introduction and Q&A with Director Koh Hoon and Actor Ahn Sung-ki who will also receive the Career Achievement Award.

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

April 4, 7pm: Life Finds a Way

Introduction and Q&A with Director Hirobumi Watanabe

Hirobumi Watanabe once again stars as a version of himself as he experiences a creative crisis as a director while hanging out with his elderly grandmother in sunny Tochigi.

April 8, 7pm: Samurai Marathon

A small fiefdom is thrown into crisis when a ninja spy mistakes his lord’s intentions to toughen up his men as a prelude to rebellion in this unusual samurai drama directed by Bernard Rose. Review.

April 9, 7pm: Shape of Red

Kaho stars as a happily married woman who embarks on a passionate affair with an old flame (Satoshi Tsumabuki) in Yukiko Mishima’s steamy adaptation of the novel by Rio Shimamoto.

Asian Pop-up Cinema Season 10 runs in Chicago from March 10 to April 9. Full details for all the films are available via the festival’s official website where tickets are already on sale. You can also keep up with all the latest news by following Asian Pop-up Cinema on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Vimeo.

New York Asian Film Festival Returns for Second Winter Showcase

NYAFF is back for its second Winter Showcase and this time around the theme is food! Each of the seven films screening from Feb. 14 – 16 at SVA Theatre will be paired with a selection of matching cuisine available after the screening.

Friday Feb. 14, 7pm: Extreme Job

Bumbling Cops open a chicken shop as a cover for staking out a suspected drug den only for the store to prove an unexpected success. Review.

Food: BBQ Chicken Ktown will be on hand with some specially prepared “Galbi” fried chicken just like in the movie.

Saturday Feb. 15, 1pm: Tampopo

A truck driver helps a struggling widow perfect her soup in Juzo Itami’s classic ramen western! Review.

Food: “Tampopo” tonkotsu ramen by Brooklyn Ramen

Saturday Feb. 15, 3.30pm: Eat Drink Man Woman

A master Taiwanese chef faces changing times as each of his three, very different daughters, considers their futures.

Food: Taiwanese casual dining from 886!

Saturday Feb. 15, 6.30pm: God of Cookery

Classic 1996 Stephen Chow comedy about a cynical “chef” who actually knows nothing about cooking but runs a successful food empire.

food: Asian food specialists Char Sue offer up their take on “Char Siu Rice”.

Sunday Feb. 16, 1pm: The Lunchbox

Romantic drama in which a lonely widower strikes up a friendship with an unhappily married woman after accidentally receiving a lunch box intended for her husband.

Food: Chapati Man’s spicy Indian wraps.

Sunday Feb. 16, 3.30pm: Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast

A young woman returns home to the country after failing in Taipei but is disappointed to discover her family restaurant has been reduced to a single noodle stand. Luckily, a master chef agrees to help them get back on their feet.

Food: second helpings from 886!

Sunday Feb. 16, 6.30pm: The First Supper

A family reunites for their father’s funeral, sharing their memories of him through the food that he cooked while reaching new understandings in this foodie family drama from Japan.

Food: Takoyaki bites from Karl’s Balls!

The New York Asian Film Festival Winter Showcase runs February 14 – 16 at SVA Theatre. Tickets are available now via Elevent and you can keep up with all the latest news including the upcoming summer season via the festival’s official websiteFacebook page, and Twitter account.

Happiness is a State of Mind – The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2020

bento harrassment still 2

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is back for 2020 with another handpicked selection of recent (and not so recent) Japanese cinema hits. This year’s theme is “happiness”, encompassing not only life’s ups but also its down in the pursuit of fulfilment in contemporary Japan.

My Love Story!!

My Love StoryTakeo is a big guy with a big heart but awkward when it comes to romance. When he saves timid transfer student Rinko from a street harasser and falls in love at first sight, he is convinced she must have fallen for his super-handsome friend and determines to get them together in this charmingly innocent high school rom-com. Review.

Our Meal for Tomorrow

Our Meal for tomorrowAn introverted high school boy and outgoing girl grow closer after participating in a joint sack race, but their romance is threatened by a dark secret…

Her Sketchbook

Her sketchpadAn introverted otaku has become a virtual shut in so her father finds her a quiet job testing video games which doesn’t require much interpersonal interaction. Whilst there, she meets a sympathetic colleague who encourages her to express herself designing character illustrations for the games.

A Banana? At This Time of Night?

A banana at this time of nightYo Oizumi stars as a man with muscular dystrophy who is determined to live an independent life in his own home. After striking up a friendship with medical student Hisashi (Haruma Miura) he falls for volunteer carer Misaki and asks Hisashi to help him woo her little knowing she is his girlfriend.

Organ

OrganWartime drama starring Erika Toda as a kindergarten teacher who evacuates her children to a nearby temple to try and protect them from the firebombing of Tokyo.

The Actor

the actorKen Yasuda stars as a jobbing actor experiencing a small revolution when he’s brought in for a big film role for a foreign director and falls for the pretty daughter of a local izakaya owner.

Little Nights, Little Love

little lights little love27-year-old Sato is patiently waiting for love. A chance encounter with a smartly dressed woman who agrees to fill in one of his questionnaires could be just what he’s been looking for…

Jesus

jesus still 1A small boy is forced to relocate to the mountains after his grandfather dies. Though the family is not Christian, he finds himself doubly out of place having to attend a Catholic school where a little bit of religious confusion sees him befriended by a Tiny Jesus. Review.

Another World

Another World still 1Three high school buddies reunite in their small-town home hoping to restore the easy bond of their adolescence while battling middle-aged disappointment in the latest from Junji Sakamoto. Review.

Bento Harassment

Bento Harrassment still 1Fed up with her teenage daughter’s moodiness, a single mother tries to communicate with her via passive aggressive bento in this charming family drama. Review.

My Dad is a Heel Wrestler

My Dad is a Heel Wrestler still 1Former pro-wrestler Takashi Omura injured his knee and now makes a living playing a “heel” – a cockroach mask-wearing villain of the ring. Takashi’s 9-year-old son Shota had no idea what he does for a living until he snuck into the ring. Horrified to discover he’s such a loser, Shota tells his classmates that his dad’s the hero wrestler Dragon George…

Lying to Mom

lying to mom still 1Yuko is knocked out trying to save her son who has hanged himself in his bedroom. Unfortunately he didn’t make it, but when she wakes up she has no memory of the incident and her family don’t have the heart to tell her what really happened, electing to keep up the elaborate pretence that he is alive and well and living in Argentina. Review.

Shadowfall

Shadowfall bannnerA burglar gets a nasty surprise when he breaks into a house where a woman is preparing to commit a murder!

And Your Bird Can Sing

And your bird can sing still 1Three slackers struggle to accept love in modern day Tokyo in Sho Miyake’s contemporary adaptation of Yasushi Sato’s Akutagawa Prize-winning novel. Review.

Sea of Revival

Sea of revival still 1A man moves to his partner’s hometown when her father falls ill, but tragedy follows him and his gambling addiction spirals out of control.

The House Where the Mermaid Sleeps

House where the mermaid sleeps still1Kaoruko is separated from her husband and has two small children. One day she gets a call to say that her daughter has drowned in a swimming pool and has been declared brain dead. She and her husband then have a difficult choice to make, donate her organs so another child can live, or wait until her heart stops beating.

Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler

Kakegurui bannerIt’s high stakes high school in this adaptation of Homura Kawamoto & Toru Naomura’s gambling manga Kakegurui in which grades are decided at the gaming tables!

Ten Dark Women

10 dark womenKon Ichikawa’s classic black comedy in which a sleazy TV exec gets his comeuppance when his wife and nine mistresses team up to plot his death.

I Go Gaga, My Dear

I Go Gaga, My Dear bannerTV doc director Naoko Nobutomo follows her ageing parents as her mother’s Alzheimer’s-related dementia intensifies. Review.

Ride Your Wave

ride yourwave bannerThe latest feature from Masaaki Yuasa in which a surfer and fireman fall in love only for him to die in an accident at sea which convinces her to stay away from the water until…

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2020 runs at London’s ICA from 31st January to 16th February before touring to:

Full details for all the films are available on the official Touring Film Programme website. You can also keep up to date with all the year round events organised by Japan Foundation London via their main siteFacebook page, and Twitter account.