Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) Confirms 2018 Lineup

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The Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) has long been a champion of East Asian cinema and returns for 2018 with another exciting selection of recent hits from China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.

China

Operation Red Sea

  • Operation Red Sea – a team of elite special forces soldiers handles the extraction of Chinese diplomatic staff caught up in a Middle Eastern coup in Lam’s Operation Mekong followup. Review.
  • Monster Hunt 2 – Wuba returns! When the Monster village is raided, the little radish guy finds himself on the run and is taken in by a cynical gambler and his Monster partner while he looks for his human mum and dad. Review.

Indonesia

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  • Satan’s Slaves – Joko Anwar revisits an Indonesian classic in which a family is torn apart by vengeful spirits. Review.

Japan

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  • Kasane – adaptation of the manga in which a young woman with a facial scar dreams of becoming an actress and inherits a magical lipstick that allows her to take on the appearance of anyone she kisses.
  • Woman of the Dunes – Hiroshi Teshigahara’s classic adaptation of the Kobo Abe novel in which a bug enthusiast finds himself trapped in a hole in the beach with a mysterious woman.
  • Hanagatami – Nobuhiko Obayashi realises a longtime ambition of filming Kazuo Dan’s 1937 tale of youth on the brink of war. Review.
  • Inuyashiki – Shinsuke Sato adapts the popular manga in which a mildmannered middle-aged salaryman unexpectedly gets superpowers. Review.
  • Laplace’s Witch – Takashi Miike adapts Keigo Higashino’s “scientific mystery” in which a series of mysterious deaths occur at a hot springs resort.
  • Mutafukaz – French/Japanese anime co-production in which a pizza delivery boy becomes embroiled in a conspiracy.
  • Liverleaf – a bullied student gets her revenge!
  • One Cut of the Dead – hilarious zombie action from Shinichiro Ueda.  Review.

Korea

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  • Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum – a team of social media stars venture into a haunted asylum in search of additional views and find more than they bargained for…

Thailand

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  • Bad Genius – brainy teens plan a heist to scam the exams system. Review.
  • Premika – a vengeful karaoke obsessed ghost terrorises a group of guests at hotel!

The Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival runs from 6th – 14th July 2018 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. You can find the complete programme as well as screening times and ticketing information on the official website, and you can also keep up with all the latest news via the official Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram, and YouTube channels.

 

New York Asian Film Festival Confirms Complete 2018 Lineup

NYAFF 2018 posterThe New York Asian Film Festival returns for its 17th edition with a packed programme of recent hits from East Asia. This year’s festival will open with Masanori Tominaga’s Dynamite Graffiti and close with the World Premiere of Erik Matti’s BuyBust. Hong Kong’s Dante Lam will receive the Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action Cinema, while the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Japan’s Masato Harada and the Star Asia Awards will honour actors Kim Yun-seok and Jiang Wu.

The programme in full:

China 

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  • Dude’s Manual (Kevin Ko, 2018) – the first Mainland film from Taiwanese director Kevin Ko is a ribald sex comedy in which one student attempts to teach another a lesson in love. Q&A with director Kevin Ko
  • End of Summer (Zhou Quan, 2017) – coming of age football drama in which a little boy’s obsession with the world cup irritates his headmaster dad.
  • The Ex-Files 3: The Return of the Exes (Tian Yusheng, 2017) – final film the Ex-Files series.
  • Looking for Lucky (Jiang Jiachen, 2018) – a graduate student loses his professor’s dog and ropes in his dad to help him find it.  Director Jiang Jiachen in attendance.
  • The Looming Storm (Dong Yue, 2017) – a factory worker tries to solve a serial killing case in 1997. Q&A with director Dong Yue
  • Old Beast (Zhou Ziyang, 2017) – an old man spends his final years gambling and womanising.
  • Wrath of Silence (Xin Yukun, 2017) – a mute minor searches for his missing son. ReviewQ&A with director Xin Yukun and actor Jiang Wu

Hong Kong Panorama

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  • Beast Stalker (Dante Lam, 2008) – Dante Lam’s 2008 thriller starring Nicholas Tse and Nick Cheung. Director Dante Lam will be in attendance
  • The Big Call (Oxide Pang, 2017) – noble policeman Ding goes in hard chasing villainous phone scammers in Oxide Pang’s high octane thriller.
  • The Brink (Jonathan Li, 2017) – Jonathan Li makes his feature debut with a metaphorical police procedural in the form of a salty sea shanty. Review.
  • The Empty Hands (Chapman To, 2018) – a young woman thinks she’s finally free of her father’s legacy only to realise he’s left half his dojo to a former pupil who says she can only have his share if she wins a fight. Q&A with actress Stephy Tang
  • House of the Rising Sons (Antony Chan, 2018) – musical biopic of ’70s Hong Kong band The Wynners directed by the band’s drummer Antony Chan. Preceded by a live performance. Q&A with director Antony Chan.
  • Men on the Dragon (Sunny Chan, 2018) – Francis Ng stars as the leader of a team of salarymen forced to join the company dragon boat team. Q&A with director Sunny Chan and actress Jennifer Yu
  • Operation Red Sea (Dante Lam, 2018) – a team of elite special forces soldiers handles the extraction of Chinese diplomatic staff caught up in a Middle Eastern coup in Lam’s Operation Mekong followup. ReviewQ&A with director Dante Lam and producer Candy Leung
  • Paradox (Wilson Yip, 2017) – Louis Koo becomes embroiled in a conspiracy when his daughter goes missing in Thailand. Review.
  • Unbeatable (Dante Lam, 2003) – Nick Cheung stars as a down on his luck boxer starting over in Macau. Director Dante Lam will be in attendance

Indonesia

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  • Buffalo Boys (Mike Wiluan, 2018) – Indonesian Western in which two brothers come back from California to avenge the death of their father. Q&A with director Mike Wiluan 

Japan

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  • Blood of Wolves ( Kazuya Shiraishi, 2018) – Kazuya Shiraishi takes jitsuroku into the ’80s as Koji Yakusho’s rogue cop tries to keep the lid on a gang war. Review.
  • Dynamite Graffiti (Masanori Tominaga, 2018) – biopic of porn-mag mogul Akira Suei. Q&A with director Masanori Tominaga and actor Tasuku Emoto
  • The Hungry Lion (Takaomi Ogata, 2017) – a teenage girl is harassed when she is rumoured to be the girl in a sex tape featuring a high school teacher. Q&A with director Takaomi Ogata
  • Inuyashiki (Shinsuke Sato, 2018) – a mild mannered middle-aged man and an angry teen are given mysterious super powers and decide to use them in very different ways. Review.
  • Kakekomi (Masato Harada, 2015) – a small temple becomes an Edo era women’s refuge for those seeking escape from abusive marriages in Masato Harada’s light hearted drama. ReviewDirector Masato Harada will be in attendance
  • Kamikaze Taxi (Masato Harada, 1995) – Koji Yakusho plays a taxi driver taken hostage by a rage fuelled yakuza out for revenge on the politician who killed his girlfriend. Q&A with director Masato Harada
  • Liverleaf ( Eisuke Naito, 2018) – manga adaptation in which a teenage girl takes revenge on her bullies. Q&A with director Eisuke Naito
  • Midnight Bus (Masao Takeshita, 2017) – a bus driver’s second chance at life is ruined when his estranged ex-wife, salaryman son, and engaged daughter all come home. Director Masao Takeshita will be in attendance
  • One Cut of the Dead (Shinichiro Ueda, 2018) – real zombies suddenly invade a film set in Shinichiro Ueda’s hilarious madcap horror comedy. Review.
  • River’s Edge (Isao Yukisada, 2018) – disaffected teens fight ennui with a studied appreciation of death in Yukisada’s adaptation of the classic ’90s manga. Review.
  • The Scythian Lamb (Daihachi Yoshida, 2017) – a rural town opens itself up to a government backed scheme to repopulate through employing ex-cons in Daihachi Yoshida’s thoughtful drama. Review.
  • Sekigahara (Masato Harada, 2017) – historical epic starring Junichi Okada and Koji Yakusho dramatising events leading up to the famous battle. ReviewQ&A with director Masato Harada
  • Smokin’ on the Moon (Kanata Wolf, 2017) – indie slacker drama about two guys who work at a midnight bar and also deal marijuana. Q&A with director Kanata Wolf
  • The Third Murder (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2017) – Hirokazu Koreeda puts the law on trial. Review.

Malaysia 

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  • Crossroads: One Two Jaga (Nam Ron, 2018) – corruption drama in which a straight-laced rookie turns out to be the most dangerous destabilising element in a fracturing society. Review. Q&A with director Nam Ron and actor Ario Bayu.
  • Dukun (Dain Said, 2018) – shelved for over a decade, Dukun is the controversial tale of a nightclub singer suspected of murdering a politician seeking immortality through ritual sacrifice!

Philippines 

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  • BuyBust (Erik Matti, 2018) – high octane action thriller from Erik Matti in which a young rookie police officer gets caught up in a bust gone wrong. Q&A with director Erik Matti and actors Anne Curtis & Brandon Vera
  • Neomanila (Mikhail Red, 2017) – neo noir in which a young man becomes an apprentice to an older woman taking out drug dealers for the government.
  • On the Job (Erik Matti, 2013) – a conspiracy is uncovered when a drug dealer is murdered. Director Erik Matti will be in attendance
  • Respeto (Treb Monteras, 2017) – intergenerational hip hop drama in which a young rapper comes into conflict with a Marcos-era poet. ReviewDirector Treb Monteras, actor Abra, and producer Monster Jimenez will be in attendance
  • Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story (Irene Villamor, 2018) – rom-com in which an insomniac stock broker pays a waitress to talk through his troubles. Q&A with actress Anne Curtis
  • We Will Not Die Tonight (Richard Somes, 2018) – genre thrills as a former stuntwoman is forced to defend herself against hordes of bad guys.

South Korea

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  • 1987: When the Day Comes (Jang Joon-hwan, 2017) – powerful democracy movement drama. ReviewQ&A with director Jang Joon-hwan and actor Kim Yoon-seok
  • After My Death (Kim Ui-seok, 2017) – a high school girl’s disappearance raises fears of suicide and also puts her best friend in the firing line.
  • The Age of Blood (Kim Hong-sun, 2017) – period drama in which a top swordsman is demoted to prison guard.
  • Counters (Lee Il-ha, 2017) – documentary centring on anti-racist protest in Japan.
  • Hit the Night (Jeong Ga-young, 2017) – Jeong Ga-young once again stars in her Bitch on the Beach followup as a young woman unafraid to ask “inappropriate” questions while researching a screenplay. Q&A with director/actress Jeong Ga-young
  • I Can Speak (Kim Hyeon-seok, 2017) – an old woman convinces a young man to teach her English and gives voice to a dark part of her nation’s history.
  • Little Forest (Yim Soon-rye, 2018) – gentle tale in which a wounded young woman retreats to her country home to figure things out. Review.
  • Microhabitat (Jeon Go-woon, 2017) – a young woman decides rent is an unnecessary expense and commits to couch surfing her way through life. Q&A with director Jeon Go-woon and actor Ahn Jae-hong
  • The Return (Malene Choi, 2018) – two Danish-Korean adoptees return to the country where they were born for the first time.
  • What a Man Wants (Lee Byeong-hun, 2018) – social satire in which an adulterous husband and his mild-mannered brother-in-law become involved with a sexy dance teacher.

Taiwan

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Thailand

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  • Premika (Siwakorn Jarupongpa, 2017) – horror comedy in which guests at a resort are terrorised by a karaoke obsessed ghost! Actress Gena Desouza will be in attendance
  • Sad Beauty (Bongkod Bencharongkul, 2018) – the friendship between two women is tested by a violent encounter. Q&A with director Bongkod Bencharongkul and producer Kongkiat Khomsiri
  • Tears of the Black Tiger (Wisit Sasanatieng, 2000) – cult classic Thai western!

The 17th New York Asian Film Festival runs from 29th June to 15th July. Full details for all the films are available via the official website where you can also find screening times and ticketing information. You can also keep up with all the latest festival news via the official Facebook Page and Twitter account.

Ramen Shop, Hanagatami Bookend Japan Cuts 2018

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Japan Cuts returns for its 12th instalment bringing some of the best recent mainstream and indie hits to Japan Society New York from 19th to 29th July. This year’s Japan Cuts Cut Above Award goes to much loved actress Kirin Kiki who will be on hand to present the North American premiere of Shuichi Okita’s Mori, The Artist’s Habitat.

The programme in full:

Ramen Shop

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Takumi Saitoh stars in Singaporean director Erik Khoo’s cross cultural family drama in which the son of a ramen shop owner discovers a suitcase full of old photos which belonged to his late Singaporean mother and decides to travel to the place of his mother’s birth to find out more about his family history. Opening Night Gala featuring intro and Q&A with director Eric Khoo and star Takumi Saitoh.

Of Love & Law

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Hikaru Toda reunites with Love Hotel’s Fumi and Kazu who run a small law firm in Osaka specialising in representing the LGBT community. ReviewIntro and Q&A with director Hikaru Toda.

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Actor Takumi Saitoh steps behind the camera for this atypical family drama in which a young man travels home for the funeral of his estranged father only to find himself charmed by the roguish stories of his fellow mourners. Intro and Q&A with director Takumi Saitoh.

Violence Voyager

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Experimental animation from The Burning Buddha Man director Ujicha in which an American boy called Bobby and his friend Akkun take off for the mountains but end up trapped in an abandoned theme park called Violence Voyager.

Born Bone Born

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Set once again in Okinawa, the second feature from comedian Toshiyuki Teruya follows a pregnant woman home to a remote island to mourn her late mother while her family continues to fall apart and neighbours gossip about the absent father of her unborn child.

Dream of Illumination

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High schooler Nana has been dragged around by her divorced father Ueda who works as an immoral real estate broker facilitating cheap land sales for foreign buyers but an extended stay in Rokujo forces the pair to reassess the past and their current way of life in Thunder Sawada’s rural drama. Intro and Q&A with director Thunder Sawada, star Yuya Takagawa and producer Kazuyuki Kitaki

Last Winter, We Parted

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Tomoyuki Takimoto adapts the award winning novel by Fuminori Nakamura in which an ambitious journalist decides to look into the mysterious case of a beautiful female model who died in a horrific fire on the set of a shoot by a famous fine arts photographer.

Passage of Life

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A small family from Myanmar attempts to get by undocumented only to face an uncertain future when their application for refugee status is rejected. The two children born in Japan struggle to identify with their Burmese heritage while their parents face more immediate concerns for the family’s safety and security. Intro and Q&A with director Akio Fujimoto.

The Night is Short, Walk On Girl

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Masaaki Yuasa adapts Tomihiko Morimi’s novel in which a university student undergoes a surreal odyssey through nighttime Kyoto in search of a beloved childhood book while her not so secret admirer has a few adventures of his own in the hope of winning her heart. Review.

We Make Antiques!

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Comedy from Masaharu Take in which a smoozy antiques dealer is unwittingly sold a fake tea cup claiming to have belonged to famous tea master Sen no Rikyu only to decide if you can’t beat ’em join ’em and plan a heist with the guys who just scammed him.

Toward a Common Tenderness

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Documentarian Kaori Oda weaves together unused footage from her time with Béla Tarr at his Film Factory in Sarajevo in 2013-2016 as well as her life in Japan to explore a path towards connection. Intro and Q&A with director Kaori Oda 

Side Job.

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Ryuichi Hiroki adapts his own novel in which a young woman living in temporary accommodation following the 2011 earthquake attempts to escape the crushing inertia of her uncertain life through undertaking casual sex work in Tokyo. Review.

Sennan Asbestos Disaster

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Kazuo Hara follows the residents of Sennan, Osaka as they pursue legal compensation from the government for exposing them to pollution from asbestos factories. Intro and Q&A with director Kazuo Hara, producer Sachiko Kobayashi, and film participants 

Yocho (Foreboding)

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Kiyoshi Kurosawa revisits the world of Before We Vanish with a cut down of his TV companion piece in which a factory worker stumbles on the alien invasion thanks to her corrupted healthworker husband. Review.

Call Boy

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An apathetic student begins to find a sense of purpose when sucked into the world of the male escort in the latest from Daisuke Miura.

KUSHINA, what will you be

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Okinuma took off and founded an all female colony in the woods with her pregnant 14-year-old daughter, Kagu. Now that Kagu’s daughter Kushina is approaching the same age her mother was when they first left modern society behind she is beginning to ask questions about the outside world. When an anthropologist and her male assistant stumble onto the colony Okinuma will do whatever it takes to protect it. Intro and Q&A with director Moët Hayami and star Tomona Hirota

Radiance

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A young woman attempting to create audio description scripts for the visually impaired is tested by a former photographer trying to come to terms with losing his sight in Naomi Kawase’s romantic drama. Review.

Mori, The Artist’s Habitat

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Shuichi Okita chronicles the later life of artist Morikazu Kumagai who has barely left his garden in the last 30 years but must prepare to bid it goodbye as a modern apartment complex nears completion. ReviewIntro and Q&A with star Kirin Kiki plus Cut Above Award ceremony.

Still Walking

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Family divisions, secrets, and prejudices are brought to the surface as a family gathers for the memorial service for their eldest son who was killed trying to save a child from drowning in Koreeda’s classic family drama. Review.

Empty Orchestras and the Speed of Your Voice

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Five experimental short films including Yohei Suzuki’s YEAH! ReviewIntro and Q&A with dir. Nao Yoshigai, dir. Yohei Suzuki and actress Elisa Yanagi

Abnormal Family

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Masayuki Suo’s only pink film takes the form of an Ozu pastiche centring on one very unusual family.

Tremble All You Want

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Unfulfilled office lady Yoshika is still nursing a high school crush but when a colleague suddenly confesses his love for her, Yoshika’s cheerful fantasy world threatens to implode. Review.

Thicker than Water

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Print shop owner Yuria is desperate to attract the attentions of client Kazunari but he only has eyes for her assistant and younger sister Mako. Meanwhile, Kazunari is also contending with his rowdy brother just released from jail and crashing at his apartment. Intro and Q&A with director Keisuke Yoshida 

Outrage Coda

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Kitano returns with the third and final instalment in the Outrage trilogy which finds Otomo in exile in Korea.

BLEACH

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Tite Kubo’s hit manga gets a live action adaptation helmed by I am a Hero’s Shinsuke SatoSota Fukushi stars as Ichigo – an ordinary high school boy with orange hair and the ability to detect spirits, who comes to the rescue of imperilled Soul Reaper Rukia (Hana Sugisaki) and soon finds himself battling Hollows on her behalf. Intro and Q&A with director Shinsuke Sato.

Dear Etranger

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Divorced father Makoto has remarried and has two step-daughters but when his second wife discovers she is carrying their child, he begins to worry that the new baby may pull his blended family apart in this very modern family drama from Yukiko Mishima. Review.

Amiko

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Lonely 16-year-old Amiko finds a kindred spirit in footballer Aomi, but when he abruptly takes off for Tokyo with a former student Amiko cannot help but follow him hoping to make sense of his sudden betrayal. Intro and Q&A with director Yoko Yamanaka.

TOURISM

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Nina wins the lottery and takes her friend Su with her on a trip to Singapore where they quickly grow bored of tourist hotspots and retreat to the global anonymity of shopping malls. When Nina loses track of her friend and her phone, the trip sends her on a different kind of odyssey through the “real” Singapore in the latest from Daisuke Miyazaki.

Hanagatami

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Nobuhiko Obayashi realises a long held ambition of filming Kazuo Dan’s 1937 novella of youth living in the shadow of an oncoming tragedy. Review.

Japan Cuts runs from 19th to 29th July at Japan Society New York. Full details for all the films along with ticketing links are available via the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest details by following the festival’s official Facebook page and Twitter account.

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018 to Screen An Elephant Sitting Still, Radiance

radianceThe Edinburgh International Film Festival returns for 2018 bringing with it an impressive selection of recent East Asian cinema:

China

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  • An Elephant Sitting Still – The first and only feature film from the late Hu Bo, An Elephant Sitting Still is a story of stagnation and the dream of escape.
  • Girls Always Happy – A mother and daughter lead frustratingly interdependent lives in Yang Mingming’s drama.

Hong Kong

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  • No. 1 Chung Ying Street – drama contrasting 1967 pro-China demonstrations against the British Government, and the Umbrella democratisation movement in present day Hong Kong.

Japan

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  • Party ‘Round the Globe – Hirobumi Watanabe returns with another deadpan classic in which he stars as a lonely man on a roadtrip with a neighbour.
  • Radiance – The latest from Naomi Kawase, Radiance stars Masatoshi Nagase as a photographer slowly losing his sight.

Taiwan

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  • The Great Buddha+ – an extension to director Huang Hsin-Yao’s 2014 short, The Great Buddha+ follows two security guards as they spy on their womanising boss for kicks but find out something they were not supposed to know.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from 20th June to 1st July. You can find the complete details for all the films, as well as screening times and ticketing information on the official website and you can also keep up with all the latest festival news via the official Twitter account, Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube channels.

Nippon Connection 2018 to Open with Mori, The Artist’s Habitat

39415762940_128b534524_oNippon Connection, the largest showcase for Japanese cinema anywhere in the world, returns with over 100 brand new and classic films screening in Frankfurt from 29th May to 3rd June. The festival will open with the latest from Shuichi Okita, Mori: The Artist’s Habitat, and pay tribute to guest of honour Shinobu Terajima with screenings of Oh Lucy!, The City of Betrayal, and Dear Etranger, plus a special presentation of Ryuichi Hiroki’s Vibrator. The programme in full:

Nippon Cinema

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  • Bamy – school friends reunite after many years, but their burgeoning romance is frustrated by a dark secret – the ability to see ghosts!
  • Birds Without Names – A young woman lives with an older man for reasons of convenience while continuing to pine for the violent boyfriend who has been missing for the last eight years in Kazuya Shiraishi’s dark romance. Review.
  • The Blood of Wolves – Koji Yakusho stars as a rogue cop trying to keep a lid on a yakuza gang war as Kazuya Shirashi updates Battles Without Honour for the bubble era. Review.
  • The City of Betrayal – an unhappy housewife and a depressed young man begin an unwise affair in Daisuke Miura’s romantic drama – with award presentation for guest of honour Shinobu Terajima. Review.
  • Dear Etranger – Tadanobu Asano stars as a “batsuichi” step-father encountering unexpected resistance from the elder of his second wife’s two daughters as the new couple expect their first child.
  • Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura – Mystery author Masakazu wakes up one morning to discover his wife has disappeared in the legendary city of Kamakura where humans and spiritual creatures co-exist.
  • Enokida Trading Post – Kiyohiko Shibukawa stars in this small town comedy in which a young man returns home from Tokyo to start afresh.
  • Flower and Sword – Samurai flower arranging!
  • Foreboding – Kiyoshi Kurosawa presages the apocalypse in this companion piece to Before We Vanish. Review.
  • Hanagatami – Nobuhiko Obayashi completes a personal passion project in examining youth on the brink of war.
  • Moon and Thunder – Yasuko, a young woman living alone, is prompted into a reevaluation of her life after her family unexpectedly descend on her home.
  • Mori: The Artist’s Habitat – Shuichi Okita returns with another portrait of an eccentric in the serene and sometimes surreal life of artist Mori Kumagai. Opening Night Gala.
  • Occult Bolshevism – A seance in an abandoned factory provokes malicious results in this horror feature from Ring scriptwriter Hiroshi Takahashi.
  • Oh Lucy! – a middle-aged office lady gets a new lease on life after an eccentric English teacher gives her a blonde wig and rechristens her “Lucy”. Review.
  • Outrage Coda – Takashi Miike closes out the Outrage trilogy.
  • Pumpkin and Mayonnaise – Tsuchida works as a hostess to support her aspiring musician boyfriend but her life is derailed when he finds out about the nature of her work while the resurfacing of an ex-lover also awakens long buried feelings.
  • Recall – A corporate scandal is exposed when an innocent woman is killed by a tire flying off a truck.
  • River’s Edge – A gay student bullied by his classmates discovers a dead body near a polluted river and shows it to his best friend in Isao Yukisada’s adaptation of the classic ’90s manga.
  • Blue Film Woman – a young woman attempts to blackmail the corrupt banker responsible for the deaths of her parents in Ken Mukai’s pink film from 1969.
  • Vibrator – a 30-something freelance writer embarks on a journey of self discovery after a chance meeting with a truck driver in Ryuichi Hiroki’s 2003 adaptation of Mari Akasaka’s novel
  • The Third Murder – Hirokazu Koreeda puts justice on trial in a tense courtroom drama in which a once convicted murderer pleads guilty to a second crime while his cynical lawyer becomes ever more uncertain his client is telling the truth. Review.
  • Tremble All You Want – a painfully shy woman with a long standing unrequited crush on a high school classmate reaches a crisis point when a bashful colleague confesses his love for her. Review.
  • We Are – coming of age story in which seven friends part ways after high school some heading to Tokyo some staying behind but their paths always crossing.

Nippon Visions

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  • Breath of Rokkasho – childhood friends and former political activists are forced to question their ideals.
  • Cyclops – A man wrongfully incarcerated for the murder of his wife decides to look for the real killer alongside the policeman riddled with regret that he helped frame an innocent man.
  • The Hungry Lion – When a teacher is arrested for an inappropriate relationship with a minor, a video circulates online depicting him with another girl. As the girl rumoured to be on the tape, Hiromi’s life spirals out of control.
  • Ice Cream and the Sound of Raindrops – Shot in one 74 minute continuous take, Daigo Matsui’s drama follows six teens auditioning for a local theatre production.
  • The Name – A depressed former salaryman leading a series of double lives is given a sense of new possibilities by the appearance of a mysterious high school girl. Review.
  • The Night I Swam – A sleepy little boy goes on a snowy adventure in this magical, dialogue free odyssey. Review.
  • Noise – A stabbing spree in Akihabara continues to reverberate 10 years later in Yusaku Matsumoto’s debut feature. Review.
  • One Cut of the Dead – Real zombies invade the set of a horror movie in Shinichiro Ueda’s hilarious behind the scenes farce. Review.
  • Party ‘Round the Globe – Hirobumi Watanabe returns with another deadpan classic in which he stars as a lonely man on a roadtrip with a neighbour.
  • Passage of Life – an undocumented Burmese family living in Tokyo face intense pressure because of their precarious status.
  • Strange Fruit: Shorts – three short films by Kohei Nakayama, Noriko Yuasa, and Tetsuhiko Tsuchiya.
  • Topknot Detective – Australian mockumentary examining the creation of the titular TV series.
  • Wilderness – two men bond in the boxing ring in Yoshiyuki Kishi’s adaptation of the novel by Shuji Terayama.

Nippon Animation

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Nippon Docs

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  • Danchi Woman – Akiko Sugimoto follows an 85-year-old woman who has been living in a danchi for over 30 years only to face upheaval when the estate is scheduled for demolition.
  • Exclusive Screening by NHK World-Japan – showcase of three NHK docs featuring traditional subjects including tea ceremony and ninjas, plus the docudrama following the life of Hokusai’s daughter Oei starring Aoi Miyazaki and Ryuhei Matsuda.
  • A Free Man – Andreas Hartmann follows a young man wilfully living on the streets to pursue a life of freedom.
  • Inland Sea – Kazuhiro Soda explores a traditional fishing village slowly dying out due to depopulation.
  • Japan Institute of the Moving Image: Short Docs – two documentary shorts focussing on the 2008 Akihabara attack and a young man who wanders the streets doing odd jobs.
  • Love and Walbachia – Sayaka Ono considers the interplay between love and gender.
  • Of Love and Law – Hikaru Toda reunites with Kazu and Fumi as they fight tirelessly to win recognition for those underrepresented in Japan’s conformist society. Review.
  • Ramen Heads – Koki Shigeno follows ramen chef Osamu Tomita.
  • Trace of Breath – Haruka Komori captures the life around a small garden centre in a town which was heavily affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
  • Zen and Bones – Takayuki Nakamura tells the amazing story behind Japanese/American monk  Henry Mittwer.

Nippon Retro

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  • Kiru – Also known as Destiny’s Son, Kenji Misumi’s Kiru is the story of a young boy who trains to become a skilled swordsman and then sets out on a journey to learn the secrets of his past.
  • On the Road Forever – sequel to Kiru in which the hero tracks down a man who may have been involved with the death of his father.
  • Red Peony Gambles Her Life – first instalment in the Red Peony series in which Junko Fuji plays female gambler Oryu.
  • Samurai Rebellion – a model samurai (Toshiro Mifune) decides he’s had enough of feudalism when his son is force married to the lord’s cast off only to have her called back once he’s fallen in love with her in Masaki Kobayashi’s enraged drama. Review.
  • Sanjuro – sequel to Yojimbo in which Mifune reassumes the role of the wandering hero to fight corruption.
  • Kurama Tengu – Screening of the 1928 silent film with benshi accompaniment. German subtitles only.
  • Sword of Doom – Tatsuya Nakadai stars as Kihachi Okamoto’s nihilistic swordsman.
  • Thirteen Assassins – remade by Takashi Miike in 2010, 13 Assassins follows the plot to take down a corrupt lord who raped a woman and murdered her husband but got away with it because of his connections.
  • Yojimbo – Kurosawa’s classic in which wandering ronin Sanjuro comes to the rescue of a town caught up in a gang war.

Nippon Connection takes place in Frankfurt, Germany from 29th May to 3rd June. Tickets are already on sale via the official website where you can also find full details on all the films as well as timetabling information. Unless otherwise stated, films screen in Japanese with English subtitles. In addition to the films the festival will also host a series of events including director talks and workshops in a rich cultural programme. You can keep up with all the latest information by following the festival on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram.

Burning, Shoplifters, Headline Cannes 2018

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photo_pcThe Cannes film festival has announced its first clutch of titles and while it’s not a bumper year for East Asian cinema, the few titles selected are among the most highly anticipated.

Japan

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  • Asako I & II – Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s followup to Happy Hour is another lengthy drama following a young woman whose boyfriend mysteriously disappears. Two years later, she meets a man who looks exactly like him but has a totally different personality.
  • Shoplifters – the latest from festival favourite Hirokazu Koreeda, Shoplifters boasts an A-list cast including Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Kengo Kora, Sosuke Ikematsu, Chizuru Ikewaki, Yuki Yamada, Yoko Moriguchi and Akira Emoto and centres on a family of petty criminals who take in an orphaned little girl.

China

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  • Ash Is Purest White – Jia Zhangke returns with another socially conscious crime drama as a woman shoots a gang member to protect her mobster boyfriend and winds up in prison for five years. When she gets out, she goes looking for her former love…
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Bi Gan’s followup to the critically acclaimed Kaili Blues stars Tang Wei, Sylvia Chang, and Huang Jue and follows a murderer who returns to his hometown haunted by memories of the woman he killed for.
  • Dead Souls – Wang Bing’s eight-hour documentary about dying expands on the themes of his previous doc, Mrs. Fang.

Korea

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  • Burning – the long awaited return by Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong, Burning adapts a short story by Haruki Murakami and revolves around three people – a novelist, another man, and a fashion model, as they become embroiled in a strange incident.
  • The Spy Gone North – Yoon Jong-bin’s thriller follows a South Korean spy on an infiltration mission in the North.

Thailand

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  • 10 Years in Thailand – inspired by the Hong Kong original, four Thai directors – Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnon Sriphol, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, consider what their nation will look like in 10 years time.

The Cannes film festival runs 8 – 19th May, 2018. Further titles may well be announced in the coming weeks. You can keep up to date with all the latest Cannes news via the festival’s official website, Facebook Page, Twitter account, Instagram and YouTube Channels.

Steel Rain, Night Bus Bookend 20th Udine Far East Film Festival

27352385278_5690a7d84e_oThe Udine Far East Film Festival returns for its 20th edition in just over a week’s time. As usual, the festival has brought together some of the most highly anticipated East Asian cinema releases in its 81 film programme which also includes a retrospective dedicated to veteran actress Brigitte Lin who will be receiving the festival’s coveted Golden Mulberry Award. The festival will open with Netflix Original Steel Rain making its Festival Premiere, while Emil Heradi’s Indonesian thriller Night Bus will close the festival on 28th April.

Full programme:

China

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  • A Better Tomorrow 2018 – Ding Sheng’s remake of the ’80s John Woo classic in which two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the law.
  • Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield – Lu Yang’s prequel to the 2014 original follows Shen Lian as he searches for clues to expose a conspiracy.
  • The Legend of the Demon Cat – Chen Kaige adapts a Japanese novel by Yoneyama Mineo in which a poet and a monk follow a cat to track down a murderer. Features Chinese/Japanese cast including Shota Sometani, Huang Xuan, Hiroshi Abe, Qin Hao, and Keiko Matsuzaka.
  • Never Say Die – hilarious Chinese body swap comedy! Review.
  • Love Education – Sylvia Chang’s latest explores the impact of China’s feudal legacy as two women fight for the remains of a polygamous man.
  • Transcendent – existential science fiction thriller.
  • Wolf Warrior II – Wu Jing’s gung-ho action sequel in which Leng Feng takes the fight to Africa.
  • Wrath of Silence – a mute father searches for clues regarding the disappearance of his son in Xin Yukun’s probing crime drama. Review.
  • Youth – Feng Xiaogang looks back at the Cultural Revolution through the story of the Revolutionary Ballet corps. Review.

Hong Kong/China

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  • Operation Red Sea – Dante Lam’s Operation Mekong sequel finds elite Chinese military forces evacuating diplomatic staff after war breaks out in the Middle East. Review.
  • Our Time Will Come – Ann Hui tells the story of the resistance movement in World War II HK. Review.

Hong Kong

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  • The Empty Hands – comedy from Chapman To in which a half-Japanese Hong Kong woman’s dreams of freedom from her father’s martial arts legacy are dashed when he leaves 51% of his dojo to another pupil who challenges her to a match for the right to win his controlling share.
  • No. 1 Chung Ying Street – drama contrasting 1967 pro-China demonstrations against the British Government, and the Umbrella democratisation movement in present day Hong Kong.
  • The Bride with White Hair – Ronny Yu’s classic wu xia. Brigitte Lin retrospective.
  • Chungking Express – Wong Kar-Wai’s HK classic. Brigitte Lin retrospective.
  • Dragon Inn – 1992 wuxia classic from Raymond Lee. Brigitte Lin retrospective.
  • Red Dust – 1990 melodrama in which a novelist falls in love with a Japanese collaborator during World War II. Brigitte Lin retrospective.
  • My Heart Is That Eternal Rose – Patrick Tam’s 1989 romantic crime drama.
  • Throw Down – premiere of the new restoration of Johnnie To’s 2004 martial arts drama starring Louis Koo and Aaron Kwok.

Indonesia

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  • My Generation – teen movie affectionately satirising Indonesian millennials.
  • Night Bus – civilians catch a bus to Sampar – a town rich in natural resources but heavily guarded by the army who are keen to defend against rebel militias. Closing night gala.
  • Satan’s Slaves – Joko Anwar remakes the 1980 classic horror movie in which a mother rises from the dead to collect her children.

Japan

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  • The 8-Year Engagement – romantic tearjerker starring Takeru Satoh and Tao Tsuchiya.
  • The Blood of Wolves – Koji Yakusho plays a possibly dodgy cop investigating a missing persons case in Kazuya Shirashi’s ’80s crime drama.
  • Yocho (Foreboding) – the theatrical cutdown of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s TV companion piece to Before we Vanish.
  • Inuyashiki – Shinsuke Sato adapts Hiroya Oku’s science-fiction manga in which an old man gets superpowers and decides to use them to do good, meanwhile a young man has the opposite reaction.
  • Mori, The Artist’s Habitat – the latest from Shuichi Okita stars Kirin Kiki and Tsutomu Yamazaki in the story of an elderly artist and his wife of 52 years.
  • The Name – bankrupt businessman Masao discovers a new side to himself after encountering mysterious high school girl Emiko.
  • One Cut of the Dead – experimental zombie fun from Shinichiro Ueda.
  • The Scythian Lamb – Ryuhei Matsuda stars in Daihachi Yoshida’s adaptation of Tatsuhiko Yamagami and Mikio Igarashi’s manga in which prisoners are released from jail on the condition that they help repopulate declining rural towns.
  • Tremble All You Want – an office lady experiences a number of romantic difficulties in this off-kilter love comedy.
  • Ramen Heads – documentary following “Ramen King” Osamu Tomita.
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA – documentary following the legendary composer.
  • SUKITA: The Shoot Must Go On – David Bowie x photographer Masayoshi Sukita documentary.
  • Blue Film Woman – premiere of a new restoration of the classic 1969 pink film by Ken Mukai.
  • Women Hell Song – premiere of a new restoration of the classic 1970 pink film by Mamoru Watanabe.
  • Tampopo – Juzo Itami’s classic “ramen western”. Review.

Malaysia

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  • Crossroads:One Two Jaga –  gritty migrant worker drama from Nam Ron.

South Korea

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  • 1987: When the Day Comes – democracy movement drama from Jang Joon-hwan.
  • The Battleship Island: Director’s Cut – extended cut of Ryoo Seung-wan’s wartime drama in which a musician and his daughter are conscripted for offshore forced labour. Review of the theatrical edition.
  • Be with You – remake of the 2004 jun-ai classic in which a bereaved husband and son discover a woman who looks like their lost wife and mother wandering in the forest.
  • The Chase – a retired policeman teams up with a landowner to solve a 30-year-old cold case.
  • Forgotten – a nervous young man begins to doubt his surroundings after his brother is kidnapped. Review.
  • Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum – a TV crew travel to an abandoned asylum with a notorious past and get a lot more than they bargained for.
  • Last Child – powerful drama in which a grieving couple warm to the child their son died saving.
  • Little Forest – remake of the Japanese foody drama starring Kim Tae-ri
  • Midnight Runners – two police trainees decide to pursue justice alone in this hugely enjoyable buddy cop action comedy. Review.
  • The Outlaws – Ma Dong-seok stars in an anarchic crime drama. Review.
  • The Running Actress – actress Moon So-ri writes, directs, and stars in this feature length compilation of three shorts.
  • A Special Lady – Kim Hye-soo stars as the second in command of a corporate gangster outfit in this noirish thriller.
  • Steel Rain – A North Korean operative brings the wounded leader to the South to escape a coup and then must cooperate with an intelligence officer to prevent a nuclear war. Opening night gala. Review.
  • Courtesy to the Nation – Kwon Gyeong-won’s documentary focuses on democracy activist Chang Ki-hoon who became the centre of the Fake Will Scandal.
  • Veteran – Ryoo Seung-wan’s 2015 action drama. Review.

Philippines 

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  • Chedeng and Apple – two old ladies set off on a quest to discover lost love with a severed head in a handbag along for the ride.
  • The Portrait – musical World War 2 drama.
  • Smaller and Smaller Circles – Raya Martin adapts the novel by F. H. Batacan in which two priests investigate murders of small boys in a Manila slum.
  • Himala– 1982 religious drama from Ishmael Bernal.
  • Moral – classic 1982 youth drama from Marilou Diaz-Abaya.

Singapore

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  • Diamond Dogs – a terminal cancer patient enters an underground social experiment.
  • Wonder Boy – ’70s musical biopic.

Taiwan

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  • All Because of Love – teen romance.
  • Dear Ex – family drama
  • Gatao 2: Rise of the King – sequel to the gangster drama.
  • On Happiness Road –  charming animation in which a woman returns to her childhood home.
  • Take Me to the Moon – timeslip comedy in which a young man attempts to save his friend from a life decision that will eventually lead to both their deaths.
  • Cloud of Romance – restored melodrama from 1977. Brigitte Lin retrospective.
  • Outside the Window – 1973 Taiwanese age-gap romantic melodrama. Brigitte Lin retrospective.

Thailand

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  • Bad Genius – a high school girl hatches a plan to cheat the exams system. Review.
  • The Promise – two women pledge to commit suicide together but when one backs out the other returns 20 years later to haunt her!
  • Sad Beauty – two female friends get mixed up in a murder.

Vietnam

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  • The Tailor – a tale of dressmaking and family in ’60s Vietnam.

Full details for each of the films will be shortly available via the official website where you can also find the daily screening schedule. Screenings take place both at the Teatro Nuovo, and the Visionario cinema. You can keep up with all the latest festival news via the festival’s Facebook Page, Instagram and YouTube channels, Twitter account, and Tumblr.