Fantasia Confirms Second Wave of Titles for 2022

The Fantasia International Film Festival returns to cinemas for its 26th edition taking place once again in Montreal from July 14 to Aug. 3. With the full programme announced later this month here’s a look at the East Asian titles so far confirmed amid an impressive lineup of global genre cinema.

Japan

  • Anime Supremacy – adaptation of the novel by Mizuki Tsujimura following three women in the anime industry.
  • Baby Assassins – a pair of mismatched high school girls raised as elite assassins get swept into gangland conflict while forced to live together to learn how integrate into society in Yugo Sakamoto’s deadpan slacker comedy. Review.
  • Convenience Story – comedy from Satoshi Miki in which a failed comedian encounters a mysterious woman at a convenience store.
  • Girl from the Other Side – dark anime adaptation of the manga by Nagabe in which a little girl lost in the forest bonds with a mysterious beast.
  • Goodbye, Donglees! – animation in which two boys head off into the woods after being falsely accused of starting a fire.
  • Just Remembering – bittersweet love story from Daigo Matsui inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth.
  • Inu-Oh – a blind Biwa player and a cursed young man exorcise the spirits of the Heike through musical expression in Masaaki Yuasa’s stunning prog rock anime. Review.
  • Kappei – quirky comedy in which a collection of adults raised for an apocalypse that never happened must try to live normal lives.
  • Missing – darkly comic thriller in which a young girl searches for her father who went missing after saying he was going to claim the bounty on a serial killer he spotted in town.
  • The Mole Song: Final – undercover cop Reiji finds himself increasingly conflicted in his mission to take down Todoroki in the final instalment of the comedic trilogy. Review.
  • The Pass: Last Days of the Samurai – holding fast to samurai ideals a progressive retainer realises his era is at an end in Takashi Koizumi’s homage to classic samurai cinema. Review.
  • Popran – a self-involved CEO gets a course correction when his genitals suddenly decide to leave him in Shinichiro Ueda’s surreal morality tale. Review.
  • Shari – experimental film in which a red monster invades the ordinary life of a snowy town.
  • Shin Ultraman – big budget adaptation of the classic tokusatsu series directed Shinji Higuchi with a screenplay by Hideaki Anno.
  • What to Do with Dead Kaiju – satire from Satoshi Miki in which bureaucrats must try to decide how to dispose of the corpse of a defeated kaiju.

Korea

  • Chun Tae-il: The Flame That Lives On – animated biopic of labour activist Chun Tae-il who self-immolated in protest of Korea’s exploitative employment environment.
  • Heaven: To the Land of Happiness – a chronically ill thief and a “poetic fugitive” find themselves on the run from a “philosophical gangster” in Im Sang-soo’s playful existential drama. Review.
  • Next Door – drama inspired by the life of Kim Dae-jung in which the leader of the opposition tries to battle a government which has installed a surveillance team in the house next door.
  • On the Line – a former policeman gets back on the case when his wife is targeted by telephone scammers in Kim Gok & Kim Sun’s steely action thriller. Review.
  • The Roundup – sequel to The Outlaws starring Ma Dong-seok as a detective who pursues a vicious killer all the way to Vietnam.
  • Stellar – dramedy in which a man comes to understand his father while on the run in his beat up Hyundae Stellar.

Philippines

  • Whether the Weather is Fine – Philippine drama in which a mother and son search for missing loved ones in the aftermath of disaster.

Thailand

  • Fast and Feel Love – drama in which a world champion sport stacker has to learn to look after himself after his girlfriend dumps him.
  • One for the Road – a New York club owner returns to Thailand on learning that his friend has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The Fantasia International Film Festival runs in Montreal, Canada, July 14 to Aug 3. Full details for all the films are available via the the official website, and you can also keep up with all the latest news via the festival’s official Facebook pageTwitter account, Instagram, and Vimeo channels.

Museum of the Moving Image Announces Complete Lineup for First Look 2022

New York’s Museum of the Moving Image has announced the complete programme for this year’s First Look which takes place in person March 16 – 20. As usual there are a number of East Asian films on offer including the latest short from Tsai Ming-Liang, an absurdist voyage through mid-20th century China as seen through the eyes of a Sichuan Opera performer, a documentary focusing on the lives of Burmese oil drillers, and a surreal Indonesian parable about the corrosive effects of toxic masculinity and its links to oppressive authoritarianism.

The Night

(Screening alongside opening night feature Murina)

This 20-minute short from Tsai Ming-Liang captures the atmosphere of nighttime Hong Kong during the 2019 Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement protests.

A New Old Play

Qiu Jiongjiong’s absurdist epic charts China’s mid-20th century history through the eyes of a Sichuan Opera performer on his way to the afterlife beginning with his childhood in post-Imperial china through to the dark days of the Cultural Revolution.

A Thousand Fires

Director Saeed Taji Farouky will be attending in person March 19

Saeed Taji Farouky’s beautifully shot documentary explores the lives of a family of independent oil drillers in Myanmar as a mother and father consider whether or not their son might be better off playing for a youth football team in the city.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

Lead Actress Ladya Cheryl will be attending in person March 19

An absurdist parable about the corrosive effects of toxic masculinity and its links to oppressive authoritarianism, Edwin’s outlandish retro grindhouse drama sees a young man contend with literal and societal impotence through the medium of violence while falling in love with a woman equally in desire of revenge against her misuses at the hands of a misogynistic society. 

First Look runs March 16 – 20 at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image. Full details for all the films as well as the complete programme can be found on the official website where tickets are already on sale. You can also keep up with all the latest news by following the Museum on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Osaka Asian Film Festival 2022 Announces Complete Lineup

The Osaka Asian Film Festival returns as a physical event taking place in the city from March 10 to 20, with a small retrospective of 10 Japanese indie features from previous editions streaming worldwide from March 3 to 21. This year’s edition will open with Zhang Lu’s Yanagawa, and close with Danish, Norwegian and Japanese co-production Miss Osaka.

China

  • Journey to the West – a true believer in the existence of extraterrestrial life travels to the mountains where he meets a man claiming to be in touch with aliens.
  • Love Will Tear Us Apart – youth romance adapted from a popular web novel in which a man looks back on his youthful love after receiving a phone call informing him she plans to marry someone else.
  • ON STAGE – documentary following the lead singer of rock band Second Hand Roses.

Hong Kong

  • Anita – biopic of the late Cantopop star and actress Anita Mui.
  • Far Far Away – quirky rom-com from Amos Why in which a 28-year-old IT guy finds himself the object of attraction for five women who each hail from distant corners of Hong Kong.
  • The First Girl I Loved – romantic drama in which two women reflect on their high school romance the night before one is set to marry someone else.
  • Mama’s Affair – latest drama from Kearen Pang (29+1) starring Teresa Mo as a woman who returns to work after raising her son.
  • My Indian Boyfriend – romantic comedy in which a boy from India romances a Hong Kong dancer who is also courted by a rich yet chauvinistic family friend.
  • Time – An elderly hitman displaced by the modern society gets a second chance at life after taking up “euthanasia” in Ricky Ko’s darkly comic yet moving drama. Review.

Japan

  • Angry Son – indie drama in which an angry young man from the country raised by a Filipina single mother contends with local xenophobia while looking for the father he has never known.
  • Confession – drama from actor/director Hideo Sakaki in which a young woman is confronted with her traumatic past after her estranged step-brother visits to tell her her mother has passed away. no longer screening
  • Far Away, Further Away – romantic drama from Shinji Imaoka in which an unhappily married woman bonds with a brokenhearted estate agent.
  • Howling – after losing his job having been accused of sexual harassment, 40-year-old Ryuji is propositioned by 20-year-old Akane only to discover she wants him to kill her father while his first love Chisato has married their former high school bully and is trapped in an abusive relationship.
  • To Be Killed by a High School Girl – outlandish manga adaptation starring Kei Tanaka as a handsome teacher who joined the profession because he has a taboo fetish of being murdered by a high school girl.
  • The Light of Spring – neorealist docudrama told from the point of view of a little boy who returns home to discover his mother and sister have left because his parents are separating.
  • Our House Party – semi-autobiographical LGBTQ+ indie drama from Shuichi Kawanobe in which a student begins exploring his sexuality after an encounter with the owner of a gay bar in Tokyo’s Shinjuku 2-chome.
  • Melting Sounds – MOOSIC LAB drama from Kahori Higashi in which a young woman returns to her grandmother’s home to find an old man in her garden recording ambient sounds so he can bury them in a “sound tomb”.
  • Miss Osaka – Danish-Norwegian-Japanese co-production in which a directionless young woman steals the identity of a Japanese friend after she mysteriously disappears.
  • Random Call – a struggling actor’s world expands after he’s drawn into a social experiment reconnecting with old friends through random phone calls.
  • Sanka: Nomads of the Mountains – drama set in 1965 in which a teenager studying for his exams encounters the Sanka, a community of nomads whose way of life is on the brink of extinction.
  • The Second Sino-Japanese War in Toy Films – silent compilation of early Showa documentary and propaganda films
  • Switchback – four teenagers are brought together by a summer workshop encouraging them to look deeper at their small hometown of Obu.
  • The Wonder of a Summer Day – sisters separated by divorce are reunited by a summer at grandma’s.
  • Yanagawa – latest drama from Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu in which two brothers decide to visit “the Venice of Japan” in search of a woman they both loved 20 years previously
  • YU-GEKI~side story of “Love’s Twisting Path”~ – documentary following veteran director Sadao Nakajima during the production of Love’s Twisting Path.

Korea

  • Aloners – A solitary call centre employee is forced into a reconsideration of her way of life when a neighbour dies a lonely death in Hong Sung-eun’s melancholy character study. Review.
  • Boundary: Flaming Feminist Action – documentary focussing on the feminist action group formed in the wake of the violent murder of a woman at Gangnam Station in 2016.
  • The Girl on a Bulldozer – an angry young woman rebels when her father is injured in an accident which seems to be connected to a shady politician.
  • In Front of Your Face – An ageing actress returns to Seoul after many years abroad carrying with her a sense of melancholy vulnerability in Hong sang-soo’s gentle character study. Review.

Malaysia

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

Mongolia

  • The Sales Girl – a shy student of nuclear physics begins to explore her sexuality when covering a friend’s shift at a sex shop.

Philippines

  • Big Night – a gay beautician is confronted with her own complicity with injustice when her name is placed on a watch list.
  • Whether the Weather Is Fine – Philippine drama in which a mother and son search for missing loved ones in the aftermath of disaster.
  • You and Me and the Ending – a fugitive and a hotel maid find love at a holiday resort during a COVID-19 lockdown

Taiwan

  • Days Before the Millennium – Two Vietnamese women who came to Taiwan 20 years apart and in very different circumstances discover a sense of mutual solidarity in Chang Ten-Yuan’s migratory epic. Review.
  • Increasing Echo – marital drama in which a woman attempts to force her adulterous husband to visit his former mistress in a nursing home where she is living with dementia but he refuses and runs away.
  • Leave Me Alone – a petty gangster falls for a wealthy gallery owner while working as her driver.
  • Girls’ School <Digitally Remastered> – new restoration of the 1982 drama revolving around the transgressively close friendship between two high school girls.

Thailand

  • 4 Kings – a hardworking family man reflects on his time as a teenage delinquent after his daughter is involved in gang violence.

Vietnam

  • Camellia Sisters – three wealthy sisters plot against each other in this opulent melodrama.

Director in Focus: Satoko Yokohama

  • Chiemi And Kokkunpatcho – Yokohama’s mid-length graduation project in which a young woman working as a dental technician receives a wedding invitation from an old friend with whom she had previously fallen out.
  • German plus Rain – Yokohama’s first theatrical feature following a teenage girl who dreams of being a singer but works as an apprentice gardener along with a German guy who calls her “gorillaman”.
  • Bare Essence of Life – Aomori-set drama in the Tsugaru dialect starring Kenichi Matsuyama as an eccentric young man who falls in the love with a kindergarten teacher who has recently arrived in the town in search of her late boyfriend’s missing head. Review.
  • The Granny Girl – 30-minute short revolving around the life of an ordinary Tokyo couple
  • A Girl in the Apple Farm – 42-minute short starring Masatoshi Nagase and Youki Kudo as parents to a runaway daughter.
  • Camping, eating, and sleeping, alone. #7 Corned beef yukke in Nishiizu – 24-minute episode from the TV series starring Takahiro Miura.
  • A DAY-OFF OF KASUMI ARIMURA #5 The Lid 26-minute episode of the TV series starring Kasumi Arimura as a fictionalised version of herself in which she experiences difficulty trying to open a jar and ventures out in disguise in search of help.
  • Honsundonsukosuko – 4-minute short produced for TV starring Ryohei Suzuki

Osaka Asian Film Festival Online < Theater ONE >

Streaming worldwide with English subtitles March 3 to 21.

  • Torso – 2009 drama from Yutaka Yamazaki starring Makiko Watanabe, Sakura Ando, Arata Iura, Sora Aoi, and Renji Ishibashi revolving around an isolated office lady whose only comfort is a limbless male inflatable doll.
  • Breathless Lovers – 20-minute short from 2017 directed by Shumpei Shimizu in which a man chases the ghost of his late boyfriend.
  • Chigasaki Story – whimsical 2014 drama from Takuya Misawa (Murders of Oiso) in which students and teachers come together during a wedding at a hotel.
  • The Faceless Dead – 2009 feature from Kishu Izuchi in which an aspiring writer receives a phone call to tell her she is in the hospital and decides to visit to find out why someone is using her identity.
  • Jeux de Plage – Rohmerian drama in which college friends Sayaka and Yui take a trip to the beach where they meet up with Yui’s old pal Momoko but find their dynamic disrupted by sleazy passersby and mutual awkwardness. Review.
  • Mechanical Telepathy – 2018 feature from Aya Igarashi in which a researcher loses consciousness while trying to develop a machine to visualise the human mind
  • Nice to Meet You – 2011 drama from Takamasa Oe in which a student living alone with his mother discovers her diary in which she converses with his unborn brother.
  • Reiko and the Dolphin – 2019 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.
  • The Sound of Light – 2011 first feature from Juichiro Yamasaki in which a former musician returns home from Tokyo to take over the family farm.
  • The Sower – 2016 drama from Yosuke Takeuchi in which a man recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital falls under suspicion following a family tragedy. Review.

This year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival runs at venues across the city March 10 to 20, and online March 3 to 21. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links are available via the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest details by following the festival on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 14 to Open with Heaven: To the Land of Happiness

Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema will return for its 14th season March 13 – April 10 in hybrid format with 17 films streaming online and 11 screening in cinemas across the city. The full programme will be revealed in early March, but to whet your appetite the festival has announced its opening, closing, and centerpiece galas as well as confirming that this season’s Bright Star Award will go to Taiwanese actor Kai Ko whose latest film Grit will also be screening.

Opening Film: Heaven: To The Land of Happiness (헤븐: 행복의 나라로, Im Sang-soo, 2021)

March 13 at AMC Niles 12 in Niles

The latest film from Im Sang-soo stars Youn Yuh-Jung alongside Choi Min-sik and Park Hae-il as a man with an incurable illness (Park) who cannot afford his treatment goes on the run with a white collar criminal (Choi) who has less than two weeks to live.

Sunday League (선데이리그, Yi Sung-il, 2020)

March 13 at AMC Niles 12 in Niles. Director Yi Sung-il scheduled to attend.

Washed up former football prodigy Jun-il makes ends meet as a temporary coach at a kids’ training centre but is about to be fired because he’s temperamentally unsuited to teaching small children. Offered the chance to coach three seemingly hopeless players for a new futsal team he unenthusiastically agrees and is promised a permanent position if only he can take the new side all the way to the league finals in Yi Sung-il’s sporting comedy.

Centerpiece Film: Arc (アーク, Kei Ishikawa, 2021)

April 3 at AMC River East 21

Inspired by a Ken Liu short story, Kei Ishikawa’s sci-fi drama follows a drifting young woman in search of immortality who encounters a mysterious cosmetics company that specialises in dead body sculptures while her mentor’s brother begins using the technology in order to prevent ageing among the living.

Closing Film: Waiting For My Cup of Tea (一杯熱奶茶的等待, Phoebe Jan Fu-hua, 2021)

April 10 at AMC River East 21

Taiwanese romance which begins on a cold Valentine’s Day when a fed-up university student hands a warm coffee to a boy shivering waiting for his girlfriend only to find herself swept into her classmate’s complicated love life and an unexpected romance of her own.

Grit (鱷魚, Chen Ta-pu, 2021)

April 10 at AMC River East 21

A young gangster named Croc goes back to work for his old boss at the city councillor’s office after his release from prison and is tasked with taking care of a stubborn farmer who flat out refuses to give up her land for redevelopment in a quirky rom-com from director-cinematographer Chen Ta-pu.

The full programme will be revealed in early March. Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season 14 runs online and in cinemas across Chicago March 13 – April 10. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing links will be available via the official website in due course and you can also keep up with all the latest news by following Asian Pop-up Cinema on  FacebookTwitter,  Instagram, and Vimeo.

Glasgow Film Festival Announces 2022 Programme

The Glasgow Film Festival returns to cinemas following last year’s online edition bringing another packed programme of recent cinema hits from around the world to screens in the city and beyond 2nd to 13th March. As usual there are a few East Asian offerings including Zhang Yimou’s long delayed One Second and the hotly anticipated animation Inu-Oh from Masaaki Yuasa.

Baby Assassins (ベイビーわるきゅーれ, Yugo Sakamoto, 2021)

Action comedy in which a pair of teenage girls are forced to become roommates after graduating from assassin school while working regular jobs trying to blend in with mainstream society only to accidentally get mixed up with yakuza!

Inu-Oh (犬王, Masaaki Yuasa, 2021)

Animated feature from Masaaki Yuasa (The Night is Short Walk on Girl, Lu Over the Wall, Ride Your Wave) featuring character design from Taiyo Matsumoto and based on the novel Tales of the Heike: INU-OH by Hideo Furukawa in which a young boy forced to wear a mask because of his unusual physical features befriends a blind biwa player.

Love, Life and Goldfish (すくってごらん, Yukinori Makabe, 2021)

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

Hommage (오마주, Shin Su-Won, 2021)

The latest film from Shin Su-Won (Pluto) stars Lee Jung-eun as a filmmaker re-evaluating her career after the poor reception of her last movie. An offer from a film archive to help restore a film by one of Korea’s earliest female filmmakers takes her back to the 1960s and allows her to rediscover her love for cinema.

One Second (一秒钟, Zhang Yimou, 2020)

Long delayed love letter to cinema from Zhang Yimou in which a man escapes a labour camp hoping to catch a glimpse of his daughter in a cinema newsreel.

Yuni (Kamila Andini, 2021)

Indonesian drama from Kamila Andini in which a young woman wanting to go to university becomes a subject of rumour after she rejects a series of potential suitors in her conservatively-minded local community.

The Glasgow Film Festival takes place at Glasgow Film Theatre and Cineworld Renfrew Street with some screenings at partner venues throughout the country 2nd to 13th March. Full details for all the films as well as the full programme are available via the official website, and you can stay up to date with all the latest news by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Five Flavours Confirms Complete Programme for 2021 Hybrid Edition

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

China

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

Hong Kong

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

Indonesia

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

Japan

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

Korea

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

Malaysia

Myanmar

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

Singapore

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

Taiwan

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

Taiwanese Queer Cinema

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

Thailand

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

Wong Kai-Wai Retrospective

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

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

San Diego Asian Film Festival Announces Full Programme for 2021

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

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

China

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

Hong Kong

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

Japan

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

Korea

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

Malaysia

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

Philippines

Singapore

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

Taiwan

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

Thailand

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

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

Asian Pop-Up Cinema Returns for Season 13!

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

IN THEATERS

Opening Night of Season 13

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

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

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

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

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

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

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

Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave)

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

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

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

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

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

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centerpiece for Season 13

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

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

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

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

AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

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

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

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

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

DRIVE-IN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Night for Season 13

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

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

STREAMING

Wednesday, September 15 – Tuesday, September 21

Where is Pinki (Prithvi Konanur, 2020) – India

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

Drifting (Jun Li, 2021) – Hong Kong

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

Gull (Kim Mi-jo, 2021) – South Korea

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

Never Stop (Bowen Han, 2021) – China

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

Wednesday, September 22 – Tuesday, September 28 

Martial Arts Restored Classics

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

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

Dragon Inn (King Hu, 1967) – Taiwan

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 29 – Tuesday, October 5

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

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

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

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

The Fable (Kan Eguchi, 2019) – Japan

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 6 – Tuesday, October 12 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chinese Visual Festival 2021 Announces Full Lineup

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

15th July: Drifting

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

16th July: As We Like It

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

17th July: Love Poem

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

19th July: The Two Lives of Ermao

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

20th July: PTU

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

22nd July: Get the Hell Out

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

23rd July: Cinema Comrades

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

24th July: Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue

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

25th July: Shadows

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

The Chinese Visual Festival runs at BFI Southbank and Genesis Cinema 15th – 25th July. Full details for all the films are available via the official website and you can keep up with all the festival’s latest details via the official Facebook PageTwitter account, and Instagram channel.

NIFFF 2021 Confirms Complete Programme for 20th Edition

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

New Cinema From Asia

Beauty Water

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

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes

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

OK! Madam

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

Shock Wave 2

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

The Fable the Killer Who Doesn’t Kill

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

International Competition

Midnight in a Perfect World

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

Films of the Third Kind

Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro

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

Formosa Fantastica

As We Like It

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

Get the Hell Out

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

My Missing Valentine

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

The Magician on the Skywalk

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

The Scoundrels

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

The Tag-Along

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

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