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.