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.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Announces “Happy Lunar New Year!” Free Streaming Series

Asian Pop-Up Cinema is back with another fantastic free streaming series to keep you entertained over Chinese New Year bringing an auspicious seven recent hits from the Mainland to homes across the US Feb. 12 – 18.

Four Springs

Director Lu Qingyi’s beautiful documentary follows his own family through four celebrations of New Year bringing with them both joy and sorrow. Review.

Ne Zha [Birth of the Demon Child, Nezha]

This beautifully animated family film draws inspiration from the classic Chinese legend and follows the titular Ne Zha, a naughty little boy misunderstood by the world around him as he struggles against his “demonic” destiny. Review.

The Unity of Heroes

Vincent Zhao stars as Wong Fei Hung as he finds himself battling a corrupt pharmaceuticals company intent on distributing a dangerous drug across the nation!

The Island

Apocalyptic satire starring Huang Bo as a dejected office worker with a crush on a pretty colleague (Shu Qi) who suddenly finds himself in his element when the amphibious bus they are travelling on is whisked away to an uninhabited island mere seconds after he realises that he has finally won the lottery. Review.

Last Letter

Romantic drama from Shunji Iwai subsequently remade in Japan in which a middle-aged woman (Zhou Xun) finds herself impersonating her late sister at a school reunion on running into a man who once loved her.

I Belonged To You

Ensemble love story inspired by the work of Zhang Jiajia and starring Deng Chao as late night DJ Chen whose girlfriend Xiao (Du Juan) abruptly breaks up with him after which they make a bet that if Chen can top the ratings Xiao must marry him but if he fails he must parade around the city with a sign letting everyone know he’s an idiot.

Forever Young

Youthful drama set at a performing arts college revolving around a young couple, Yan Xi (Zhang Huiwen) and Xu Nuo (Li Yifeng), who are working hard to achieve their dreams of becoming a ballet dancer and rock star respectively but find a series of obstacles in their way.

Each of the seven films is available to stream for free across the US Feb. 12 – 18 and registration is currently open via Eventive. You can find further information for all the films on Asian Pop-Up Cinema’s official website and you can also keep up with all the latest news by following the festival on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Focus Hong Kong Film Festival to Launch in UK in February 2021

With cinemas closed for the foreseeable future, the team behind Chinese Visual Festival is the latest to head online with a brand new mini film festival dedicated to Hong Kong cinema arriving just in time for Chinese New Year. Focus Hong Kong will stream five features, one classic and four contemporary, as well as a series of Fresh Wave Shorts to homes around the UK from 9th to 15th February.

Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain

Anarchic wuxia action from Tsui Hark in which a reluctant Tang Dynasty soldier ventures through a crevice and into a supernatural conflict. Released in the wake of Star Wars this zeitgeisty 1983 SFX fest has lost none of its charm.

Memories to Choke On, Drinks to Wash them Down

Leung Ming Kai & Kate Reilly’s omnibus film explores the unique culture of Hong Kong at a moment of crisis through four very different stories. Review.

A Witness out of the Blue

An eccentric policeman investigates a murder based on the testimony of the only eyewitness, a parrot, in Andrew Fung Chih-chiang’s absurdist noir thriller. Review.

Till We Meet Again

Struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother a decade earlier, a fragile man undergoes a psychological crisis in Steven Ma’s sensitive, semi-autobiographical drama.

The Empty Hands

A young woman reaches a crisis point when her Japanese father suddenly dies and she discovers he’s left half the dojo (which was also their home) to a former pupil who pledges to sign his share over to her if she can last three rounds in a fight in this unusual character drama directed by and starring Chapman To with a stand out leading performance from Stephy Tang.

“Tickets” are on sale now via the official website for the reasonable price of £2.99 for features while shorts stream for free and you can also pick up an all access pass for £8.99. The festival will be back for another mini fest in March before returning later in the year for its first full edition and you can keep up to date with all the latest news via the official website, Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram channel.

This is My Place – The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is back for 2021 in a brand new online edition with another handpicked selection of recent Japanese cinema hits for you to enjoy safely in the comfort of your own home, streaming across the UK 19th February to 10th March.

Shape of Red

An unfulfilled housewife’s (Kaho) personal desire is reawakened when she runs into an old lover (Satoshi Tsumabuki) in Yukiko Mishima’s steamy adaptation of the Rio Shimamoto novel. Review.

A Girl Missing

Mariko Tsutsui stars as a veteran home care nurse whose life falls apart she after is implicated in the kidnapping of her employer’s youngest daughter in Koji Fukada’s emotional drama. Review.

Extro

In a sometimes surreal mockmentary, Naoki Murahashi lampoons the Japanese film industry but has nothing but warmth and admiration for its unsung heroes, the extras. Review.

His

Shun has been living quietly in the country keeping his sexuality a secret but is surprised one day to discover his old over from his university days who had broken up with him in the belief that there could be no future for their relationship standing on his doorstep with his six-year-old daughter.

Farewell: Comedy of Life Begins with a Lie

In a loose adaptation of an unfinished novel by Osamu Dazai, Yo Oizumi stars as a lecherous magazine editor who has realised that having so many girlfriends is a definite drain on his resources but being too cowardly to break up with them himself has enlisted the help of the brassy Kinuko (Eiko Koike) to pose as his wife.

Haruka’s Pottery

(c)2019 "Haruka's Pottery" Film Partners

An aimless young woman finds a purpose in pottery in Naruhito Suetsugu’s loving ode to the traditional craft of Bizen ware. Review.

Little Miss Period

An anthropomorphised period in the form of a giant fuzzy pink monster arrives monthly to wreak havoc on women’s lives but is also a source of warmth and solidarity in Shunsuke Shinada’s delightfully whimsical comedy. Review.

Miyamoto

A mild-mannered salaryman embarks on a pugilistic quest to assert his manhood in a discomfortingly cheerful romantic drama from Tetsuya Mariko (Destruction Babies). Review.

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 mild-mannered student discovers a mysterious cassette tape which enables a recently deceased musician to possess his body for 30 minutes at a time in this college drama from Tokyo Ghoul’s Kentaro Hagiwara.

Hello World

A young man living in the Kyoto of 2027 is visited by his future self who enlists him to save the life of his soon-to-be girlfriend who will otherwise be struck by lightning at an upcoming fireworks festival in this sci-fi romance anime from Tomohiko Ito (Erased, Sword Art Online, Silver Spoon). 

Labyrinth of Cinema

A poetic advocation of the transformative power of art, Obayashi’s final film takes a surrealist odyssey through the history of warfare as three youngsters chase the image of Japan in the labyrinths of cinema. Review.

Mrs Noisy

A self-involved writer learns the error of her ways when a vendetta with a noisy neighbour becomes an online viral phenomenon in Chihiro Amano’s empathetic plea for a little more peace and understanding. Review.

Soiree

An aspiring actor/con man bonds with a traumatised young woman working at a care home and ends up on the run with her after they commit an accidental crime in Bunji Sotoyama’s sensitive drama.

A Beloved Wife

An unsuccessful screenwriter is henpecked by his understandably irate sake-guzzling wife in this autobiographical take on a toxic marriage from 100 Yen Love screenwriter Shin Adachi. Review.

Me & My Brother’s Mistress

Filled with adolescent confusion a teenage girl begins to figure out what she wants out of life while conspiring with her brother’s mistress to wreck his impending wedding in Sho Suzuki & Takashi Haga’s coming-of-age comedy. Review.

Samurai Shifters

A nerdy librarian (Gen Hoshino) is forced to take on the poison chalice of taking charge when his clan is unfairly ordered to move domains in Isshin Inudo’s egalitarian samurai dramedy. Review.

Not Quite Dead Yet

A resentful young woman comes to understand her awkward scientist dad only after he becomes temporarily deceased in Shinji Hamasaki’s delightfully zany comedy. Review.


This year’s Touring Film Programme will take place online streaming for free in the UK from 19th February to 10th March. Full details for all the films are available on the official Touring Film Programme website with streaming dates and ticketing information to be announced 22nd January. 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.

Five Flavours Confirms Complete Programme for 2020 Online Edition

Warsaw’s Five Flavours Film Festival is the latest to go online in these troubled times. Streaming in Poland 25th November to 6th December the 14th edition of the nation’s premier showcase for East Asian film once again boasts a fantastic selection of recent hits from across the region.

China

  • Wisdom Tooth – 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.

Hong Kong

  • Apart – Star-crossed lovers find themselves pulled in different directions while Hong Kong finds itself at a crossroads in Chan Chit-man’s youth drama following a group of Umbrella Movement students into the Anti-Extradition Bill era. Review.
  • Lost in the Fumes – documentary following politician and activist Edward Leung
  • Witness Out of the Blue – An eccentric policeman investigates a murder based on the testimony of the only eyewitness, a parrot, in Fung’s absurdist noir thriller. Review.
  • Memories to Choke on Drinks to Wash them Down – Leung Ming Kai & Kate Reilly’s omnibus film explores the unique culture of Hong Kong at a moment of crisis through four very different stories. Review.
  • My Prince Edward – A young woman begins to consider her choices when her controlling boyfriend proposes and she’s forced to deal with the fallout from a sham marriage in Norris Wong’s humorous exploration of contemporary relationships. Review.
  • Suk Suk – two elderly, closeted men meet by chance and fall in love.
  • Trivisa – three part omnibus directed by young directors discovered as part of Johnnie To’s Fresh Wave programme. Review.

Indonesia

  • Gundala – superhero action from Joko Anwar.
  • Impetigore – Joko Anwar horror in which a woman returns to her village to claim an inheritance but is caught up in sinister goings on.

Japan

  • Bento Harassment – a harried mother bonds with her distant adolescent daughter by trolling her with bento! Review.
  • Bittersweet – lowkey BL drama in which a young woman with an irrational loathing of vegetables is encouraged to make peace with her rural roots after falling for a gay guy who happens to be a vegetarian. Review.
  • Daughters – flatmates attempt to deal with unplanned pregnancy.
  • Kamome Diner – surreal drama in which a middle-aged woman opens a cafe in Finland and bonds with a group of similarly displaced Japanese women.
  • One Night – adult children are forced to face the legacy of trauma and abuse when their mother returns after 15 years of exile in Shiraishi’s raw family drama. Review.
  • The Takatsu River – laidback rural drama in which a middle-aged man desperately tries to preserve the art of Kagura dance.
  • The Tale of Samurai Cooking – period drama in which a moody samurai is forced to learn the culinary arts.
  • 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.

Korea

  • A Hard Day – a corrupt policeman runs a man over on the day of his mother’s funeral and comes up with an ingenious place to hide the body.
  • Beasts Clawing at Straws – An elusive Louis Vuitton bag full of cash sends a collection of disparate souls into a desperate frenzy in Kim Yong-hoon’s darkly humorous thriller. Review.
  • Beauty Water – animation in which a woman who believes herself ugly tries an experimental treatment to make herself beautiful.
  • Dust and Ashes – a young woman enduring extreme poverty finds herself dealing with the unthinkable.
  • Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 – an ordinary woman is pushed to breaking point by the cognitive dissonance of living in a fiercely patriarchal society in Kim Do-young’s sensitive drama. Review.
  • Little Forest – beautifully laidback drama in which a young woman returns to her country home after becoming weary of the city. Review.
  • Loser’s Adventure – three hapless young men chase wrestling glory.
  • Lucky Chan-sil – a producer undergoes an existential crisis when her longterm collaborator suddenly dies in Kim Cho-hee’s charmingly whimsical drama. Review.
  • Mermaid Unlimited – light comedy in which a government body decides to recruit a team of traditional Haenyo divers as a warmup act for a synchronised swimming competition.
  • Microhabitat – a young woman living in poverty couch surfs when priced out of life’s only pleasures. Review.

Malaysia

  • Geran – martial arts drama showcasing Malaysian Silat in which siblings try to find their younger brother after he runs off with the deed to their family home.
  • Sometime, Sometime – the relationship between mother and son is tested when mum gets a boyfriend.

Philippines

  • Sea Serpent – atmospheric island drama in which three siblings lose their father at sea.
  • 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.

Singapore

  • Not My Mother’s Baking – sweet rom-com in which a muslim Malay chef falls for a Chinese guy whose family run a roast pork stall.

Taiwan

  • Boluomi – a young Malaysian student bonds with a lonely Filipina migrant worker.
  • Ohong Village – a young man returns to his home village after experiencing disappointment in the city

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.

Cambodia/Laos/Myanmar/Thailand/Vietnam

  • Mekong 2030 – five directors from different nations along the Mekong River contemplate what life might be like in 10 years’ time in this five-part omnibus. Review.

Five Flavours streams in Poland 25th November to 6th December. More information on all the films as well as streaming windows and links can be found on the official website, and you can keep up with all the latest news via the festival’s Facebook PageTwitter Account, Instagram, and YouTube Channels.

Queer East Announces Lineup for Hybrid 2020 Edition

Queer East returns for 2020 with a revised hybrid edition online and in cinemas from late October into early 2021! In addition to the previously announced programme much of which remains, the festival will also be teaming up with Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh for UK premieres of two recent Taiwanese LGBTQ+ movies, as well as Iris Prize Festival, and Barbican On Demand, while there will also be a selection of cinema screenings across the UK.

Blue Gate Crossing (35mm)

22 October | Genesis Cinema

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

Alifu, the Prince/ss

25 October | Genesis Cinema

Empathetic drama in which a transgender woman from an indigenous community finds herself caught between conflicting cultural mores. Review.

Between the Seasons (UK Premiere)

9 – 31 October 2020| Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival | Online

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. Review.

The Teacher (UK Premiere)

10 – 31 October 2020| Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival | Online

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

Sisterhood (UK Premiere)

23 October – 5 November 2020 | Barbican Cinema on Demand | Online

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.

Song Lang

23 October – 5 November 2020 | Barbican Cinema on Demand | Online

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

Turning 18 

Tuesday 3 November 2020 | Riverside Studios

Thursday 26 November 2020 | HOME Manchester

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

Funeral Parade of Roses

6 November | Catford Mews

Toshio Matsumoto repurposes Oedipus Rex to explore the impossibilities of true authenticity in an anarchic voyage through late ’60s counterculture Shinjuku. Review.

Looking For? (UK Premiere)

7 November | Catford Mews

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.

Tracey

8 November | Riverside Studios

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.

Memories of My Body (UK Premiere)

23 November 2020 | HOME Manchester

19 January 2021| Barbican Centre

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

A Dog Barking at the Moon

November 2020 (TBC) | Curzon Goldsmiths

An expectant mother is forced to confront the idea of family while staying with her emotionally estranged parents in Xiang Zi’s melancholy indie drama. Review.

The Shepherds (UK Premiere)

30th October to 5th November | Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh | Online

Documentary focussing on a series of pastors advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ Christians in Taiwan often at great personal cost.

Nobody (UK Premiere)

30th October to 5th November | Taiwan Film Festival Edinburgh | Online

A lonely teenage girl processing the bourgeois hypocrisies of her upper-class family bonds with a mysterious old man with secrets of his own in Lin Chun-hua’s moving drama. Review.

Queer Japan

November 2020 (TBC)

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.

Girlfriend Boyfriend

November 2020 (TBC)

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.

Spider Lilies

November 2020 (TBC)

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.

The Wedding Banquet

November 2020 (TBC)

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.

Lilting

Early 2021 (TBC)

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.

Malila: The Farewell Flower

Early 2021 (TBC)

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 meditation on love, life, and transience. Review.

Queer East 2020 runs online and in cinemas October 2020 to January 2021. 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 FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

London Korean Film Festival Announces Full Programme for 2020

The London Korean Film Festival returns for 2020 in an unprecedented digital edition bringing some of the best in contemporary Korean cinema to homes across the UK along with a few select physical cinema screenings in London. This year’s Special Focus is dedicated to Friends and Family reminding us of our essential connections as we continue to face the effects of the pandemic.

Opening

  • Pawn – tearjerking dramedy from Kang Dae-kyu in which a debt collector (Sung Dong-Il) becomes the accidental guardian of a little girl when her mother offers her up as collateral on a loan but is then deported for being an undocumented migrant.

Closing

  • Bori – the only hearing member of her family, Bori struggles with the idea of difference as she tries to adjust to communicating verbally at school eventually wishing that she too were deaf.

Special Focus: Friends and Family

  • Family Ties – tripartite family comedy from 2006 following two unusual family units which eventually merge.
  • The Happy Life – 2007 musical drama from Lee Joon-ik in which former members of a college band decide to reform after the lead singer dies.
  • Juvenile Offender – 2012 drama from Kang Yi-Kwan in which a 16-year-old delinquent reunites with the estranged mother who gave him up at birth.
  • Intimate Strangers – Korean remake of the international hit Perfect Strangers in which a collection of respectable bourgeois couples have their lives upended after they agree to share all their mobile communications during the course of a dinner party. Review.
  • Moving On – moving coming-of-age drama in which a little girl and her brother move in with grandpa in the wake of their parents’ divorce.

Cinema Now

  • Vertigo – an office worker suffering existential vertigo is comforted by the presence of a fearless window cleaner. Review.
  • Jesters: The Game Changers – Joseon-era street entertainers get into trouble for spreading fake news in a period drama from The Grand Heist’s Kim Joo-ho.
  • Ashfall – A bomb disposal expert with a baby on the way is dragged into a covert mission to the North when Mt. Baekdu suddenly erupts in Lee Hae-jun & Kim Byung-seo’s starry disaster movie. Review.
  • Me and Me – directorial debut from actor Jung Jin-young in which a policeman wakes up one day to discover he’s someone else. Review.
  • The Woman Who Ran – the latest from Hong Sang-soo starring Kim Min-hee as a married woman taking a solo vacation to visit old friends.

Women’s Voices

  • An Old Lady – hard hitting drama in which a 69-year-old woman struggles to get justice after she is raped by a nurse at a hospital.
  • Gull – a middle-aged woman faces social ostracisation while seeking justice after being raped by an influential co-worker.

Classics

  • Eul-hwa – Byeon Jang-ho drama from 1979 based on a famous story in which a shamaness finds herself at the mercy of changing times and at odds with her son who has converted to Christianity.
  • Divine Bow – Im Kwon-taek’s 1979 drama starring Yoon Jeong-hee as a former shamaness who gave up her practice after a traumatic incident.
  • Daughter of Fire – Im Kwon-taek drama from 1983 in which a man from a shamanistic background who married a Christian is visited by his mother in his dreams.

Documentary

  • My Own Breathing – final instalment in a trilogy of films featuring testimony from former comfort women.
  • Itaewon – documentary following three women living in Itaewon

Animation

  • Underdog – a collection of stray dogs finds a place without humans where they are free to become themselves in this charming family animation.

Bong Joon-ho Shorts

The festival will also be showcasing a series of rarely seen early short films from Parasite director Bong Joon-ho.

  • Incoherence – 1994 student short
  • Influenza – 30-minute short from 2004 shot in front of real CCTV cameras in Seoul.
  • Some Light? – 2009 short directed by Kang Dae-hee featuring Bong in a rare acting appearance.

The London Korean Film Festival runs 29th October to 12th November online across the UK and in London cinemas. Full details for all the films as well as screening times and ticketing information will be available shortly via the official website and you can keep up with all the latest news by following the festival on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

BFI London Film Festival Confirms Complete Programme for 2020

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

Days (日子)

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

Screenings:

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

Online:

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

Striding Into the Wind (野马分鬃)

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

Online:

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

Genus Pan (Lahi, Hayop)

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

Online:

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

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

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

Online:

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

So how does it work? East Asian titles aside, a number of the bigger films will be screened in cinemas around the country including London’s BFI Southbank, ICA, Curzon Soho, Curzon Mayfair, Cine Lumiere, Barbican and Prince Charles Cinema, as well as HOME, in Manchester; Watershed, in Bristol; Glasgow Film Theatre; Broadway, in Nottingham; Showroom, in Sheffield; Queen’s Film Theatre, in Belfast; and Chapter, in Cardiff. All of the East Asian titles will however be available via BFI Player within a specific window during which you will need to press play. You will then have three hours to finish watching and you can only watch once. All titles are geolocked to the UK, and you can access BFI Player via PC or Mac, iOS or Android devices (unfortunately LFF titles are not available via the Samsung TV app and are not compatible with AirPlay or Chromecast). Prices for cinema tickets vary with venue (for BFI Southbank, tickets are priced at £14 with a £2 discount for members), while BFI Player virtual premieres are priced at £12, £10 for members. Tickets can be booked online or via telephone from 14th September for Patrons, 15th September for Champions, 16th September for Members, and 21st September for the general public.

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