New York Asian Film Festival Confirms Lineup For 2021 Hybrid Edition

New York Asian Film Festival returns for 2021 in a new hybrid edition with physical screenings taking place at Lincoln Center & SVA Theatre while much of the programme will be available online in the US via Lincoln Center’s Virtual Cinema from Aug. 6 to 22. To mark its 20th anniversary, the festival will also be co-hosting a special outdoor screening of the Tsui Hark classic Dragon Inn AKA New Dragon Gate Inn on Aug.11.

China

  • Anima – a young man becomes an outcast after killing a bear to save his younger brother.
  • 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.
  • The Old Town Girls – drama in which a teenage girl receives a visit from her estranged birth mother.
  • Rising Shaolin: the Protector – kung fu drama from Stanley Tong in which an innkeeper starts a scam fake robbing passersby so he can rescue them as a means of guiding them towards his inn.
  • Tough Out – documentary following a junior baseball team in Beijing

Hong Kong

  • All U Need is Love – all-star ensemble comedy from Vincent Kok in which a hotel is placed on a 14-day Covid quarantine.
  • Breakout Brothers – the political equilibrium of a prison is shaken by the arrival of a new prisoner
  • Hand Rolled Cigarette – A cynical former British soldier and a South Asian street thief find unexpected solidarity in Chan Kin-long’s gritty neo-noir. Review.
  • Keep Rolling – documentary focussing on the life and career of director Ann Hui. Review
  • Limbo – Morally compromised cops chase a serial killer in the rubbish-strewn junkyards of contemporary Hong Kong in Soi Cheang’s stylish noir. Review.
  • One Second Champion – A dejected single-father with a “useless” superpower finds a new lease of life in the boxing ring in Chiu Sin-hang’s plucky social drama. Review.
  • Shadows – Psychological noir starring Stephy Tang as a psychiatrist with a brain tumour which allows her to enter her patients’ traumatic memories.
  • The Story of Woo Viet – A Chinese-Vietnamese soldier’s dreams of finding love and freedom in the US are frustrated by the legacy of violence in Ann Hui’s fatalistic action drama. Review.
  • Time – an ageing hitman takes up a new career in euthanasia in Ricky Ko’s black comedy. 
  • 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.
  • Zero to Hero – biopic of gold medal winning-Paralympian So Wa Wai.

Japan

  • The Asian Angel – The lonely souls of Japan and Korea are brought together by angelic intervention in Yuya Ishii’s wistful drama. Review.
  • A Balance – a documentary film director discovers a hidden truth while investigating school violence
  • Blue – A trio of dejected boxers contemplate their place inside and outside of the ring in Keisuke Yoshida’s unconventional boxing drama. Review
  • The Fable: The Killer Who Doesn’t Kill – Junichi Okada returns as the hitman with a no kill mission in Kan Eguchi’s action comedy sequel. Review.
  • From Today, It’s My Turn!! – ’80s set adaptation of the high school fighting manga from Yuichi Fukuda
  • Hold Me Back – latest from Akiko Ohku in which a happily single 31-year-old woman’s peaceful life is disrupted by romance.
  • jigoku-no-hanazono: Office Royale – delinquent office lady comedy drama
  • Joint – A gangster in search of reform finds himself caught between old school organised crime and the shady new economy in Oudai Kojima’s noirish take on yakuza decline. Review.
  • Junk Head – new theatrical edit of the sci-fi horror stop motion animation.
  • 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.
  • Ninja Girl – political satire from Yu Irie
  • Over the Town – An awkward young man chases love and romance on the streets of Shimokitazawa in Rikiya Imaizumi’s soulful ode to the ever changing district. Review.
  • Sensei, Would You Sit Beside Me? – a manga artist pens a story about adultery which causes her husband to wonder if she knows about his ongoing affair with her editor
  • Tonkatsu DJ Agetaro – The nerdy heir to a tonkatsu restaurant finds his heaven on the dance floor in a surprisingly wholesome turn from Ken Ninomiya. Review.
  • 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.
  • Zokki – omnibus movie inspired by Hiroyuki Ohashi’s manga directed by Naoto Takenaka, Takayaki Yamada, and Takumi Saitoh.

Kazakstan

  • Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It – after arguing with his wife a husband gets more than he bargained for while fishing with friends.

Korea

  • The Book of Fish – historical drama from Lee Joon-ik following exiled scholar Jeong Yak-jeon.
  • Escape from Mogadishu – drama from  Ryoo Seung-wan set during the Somalian Civil War in which the North Korean embassy is forced to ask for help from South Korea as they attempt to escape from the capital.
  • Fighter – a North Korean refugee pins her hopes on boxing to bring her father to the South
  • I Don’t Fire Myself – a young woman is determined to stick out a year with a subcontracting company
  • Midnight – thriller in which a deaf woman becomes a target for a killer after witnessing a murder.
  • The Prayer – a caregiving robot is conflicted witnessing a daughter’s exhaustion attempting to care for her mother who has been bedridden for the past decade.
  • Samjin Company English Class – three office ladies pin their hopes on TOEIC to get promoted but end up exposing an industrial scandal in Lee Jong-pil’s ’90s drama
  • Snowball – teenage friendship drama in which three high school girls run away together only for their relationship to descend into bullying and animosity on their return.
  • Ten Months – indie drama charting a game designer’s pregnancy
  • Three Sisters – Three middle-aged women rediscover their sisterly bond when forced to face their traumatic past in Lee Seung-won’s subtle condemnation of a relentlessly patriarchal society. Review.

Malaysia

  • Babi – controversial school violence drama directed by rapper Namewee
  • 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.
  • Nasi Lemak 1.0 – Namewee directs a “prequel” to Nasi Lemak 2.0 following 15th century explorer Admiral Cheng Ho

Myanmar

  • Money Has Four Legs – an aspiring film director struggling to complete a project considers robbing a bank.

The Philippines

  • Here And There – A pair of anxious youngsters find lockdown love, or something like it, in JP Habac’s sophisticated, zeitgeisty rom-com. Review.

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.
  • City Of Lost Things – animated drama in which 16-year-old leaf is swept away to the City of Lost Things where he befriends 30-year-old sentient plastic bag, Baggy.
  • A Leg – relationship drama in which a bereaved wife refuses to let go of the amputated leg of her late husband.
  • 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 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.

Thailand

  • The Con-Heartist – A scorned woman teams up with a fraudster to scam her ex only to fall for the conman in Mez Tharatorn’s crime caper rom-com. Review.

The 2021 New York Asian Film Festival runs at Lincoln Center, SVA Theatre, and online in the US Aug. 6 to 22 with tickets on sale from July 23. Full details for all the films as well as ticketing information will shortly be available via the official website while you can also keep up with all the latest festival news via the official Facebook Page and Twitter account.