Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Koreeda, Lee Chang-dong, Jia Zhangke in packed East Asian Programme

Aasako 1 & IIThe Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) returns from 6th to 16th September and, as usual, brings with it an impressive selection of highly anticipated cinema from East Asia including Koreeda’s Shoplifters, the latest from Zhang Yimou and Jia Zhangke, and a long awaited return from Lee Chang-dong.


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  • Graves Without a Name – Rithy Panh’s documentary followup to The Missing Picture explores the continuing effects of the Cambodian genocide.



  • An Elephant Sitting Still – four troubled people make their way to Manzhouli where an elephant is said to be sitting still, free of worldly troubles in the first, and sadly last, film from Hu Bo who took his own life shortly after the film’s completion.
  • Ash Is Purest White – Zhao Tao stars in Jia Zhangke’s latest attempt to chart the course of modern China through crime thriller as a gangster’s moll takes the fall for her man only to be released and discover the world has changed and he has someone new.
  • Baby – Yang Mi stars as a woman who was abandoned at birth because of a genetic defect and tries to stop the same thing happening to another baby in Liu Jie’s latest social drama.
  • Hidden Man – Eddie Peng stars in Jiang Wen’s ’30s epic as a spy who comes back to China with revenge on his mind but finds himself in the middle of something much bigger.
  • Legend of the Demon Cat – Director’s Cut – Chen Kaige directs Shota Sometani as a monk who comes to China to study and ends up investigating a mysterious cat entity with the help of an eccentric poet (Huang Xuan)
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night – a man returns to his home village after many years for his father’s funeral and to look for lost love in Bi Gan’s Kaili Blues followup.
  • Shadow – Zhang Yimou returns to the world of period epics with a tale of proxy war as a great general (Deng Chao) makes use of a double to combat palace intrigue.
  • The Crossing – a schoolgirl turns smuggler to keep up with a wealthy friend in Bai Xue’s coming of age drama.



  • Asako I & II – Ryusuke Hamaguchi adapts Tomoka Shibasaki’s novel in which a young woman spots a man who looks exactly like her long absent lover in cafe, only he has a completely different personality.
  • Complicity – first time director Kei Chikaura charts a course of cross cultural interaction through the tale of an undocumented man from China trying to survive in Japan who is unexpectedly offered the chance to become an apprentice to a soba chef.
  • Killing – Shinya Tsukamoto takes on the samurai drama as a ronin (Sosuke Ikematsu) falls for a farmer’s daughter (Yu Aoi) while the winds of change blow all around them.
  • Shoplifters – Hirokazu Koreeda’s Palme d’Or winning drama follows a family of shoplifters who take in an abused little girl.
  • Vision – Juliette Binoche goes rare herb hunting in Japan in the latest from Naomi Kawase.



  • Burning – Lee Chang-dong makes a long awaited return with an adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story in which a lonely author’s burgeoning crush on a childhood friend is threatened by a wealthy playboy.
  • Hotel by the River – Hong Sang-soo’s latest follows a poet, his sons, and two women to a gloomy hotel.
  • Our Body – a disaffected middle-aged woman becomes obsessed with a graceful female runner in Han Ka-ram’s pressing social drama.


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  • Cities of Last Things – Ho Wi Ding works backwards from the suicide of a depressed policeman to find out what prompted him to take his own life.


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  • Manta Ray – a fisherman takes in a Rohingya refugee in the debut film from Phuttiphong Aroonpheng.


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  • Jinpa – delivery driver Jinpa knocks over a sheep and then finds himself picking up a hitchhiker also called Jinpa who is on a journey to avenge the death of his father.


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  • The Third Wife – a 14-year-old girl becomes the third wife of a wealthy landowner in 19th century Vietnam.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from 6 – 16th September, 2018.

The complete festival programme as well as full information on all the films can be found on the festival’s official website, and you can keep up with all the latest details through the official Facebook pageTwitter account, Instagram and YouTube channels.

Feng Xiaogang’s Youth Headlines Impressive East Asian Lineup at TIFF

Feng Xiaogang Youth still 2Toronto International Film Festival (affectionately known as TIFF) has always been a proud champion of East Asian cinema and this year is no exception with a number of eagerly awaited films from high profile directors including the World Premiere of the latest from Feng Xiaogang and highly anticipated return to action cinema for John Woo alongside interesting debuts from up and coming new directors.


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  • Youth  Feng Xiaogang’s followup to I am Not Madame Bovary makes its World Premiere at TIFF. A national coming of age story, Feng’s drama focusses on a ’70s military arts troupe as one particular dancer suffers at the hands of her peers but later emerges as a heroine.
  • Angels Wear White – Featured in competition at Venice, Vivian Qu’s Trap Street followup focusses on a pair of teenage girls assaulted in a hotel room and the receptionist who says nothing for fear of losing her job,
  • Dragonfly Eyes – the debut feature from artist Xu Bing, Dragonfly Eyes uses footage assembled from China’s many surveillance cameras to tell a sad love story.
  • Manhunt – John Woo returns to the realms of heroic bloodshed with a remake of a ’70s Japanese action classic starring Masaharu Fukuyama and Zhang Hanyu.
  • Mrs Fang – Wang Bing’s affecting documentary focusses on an elderly woman left alone to die in a small Chinese village.
  • Struggling – TIFF teams up with China Film Archive for a screening of this recently restored Chinese silent film from 1932.
  • The Conformist – Set on the Sino-Russian Frontier, Cai Shangjun’s The Conformist is an existential crime thriller revolving around a double agent working for the police whilst inhabiting the local underworld.


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  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts – an Indonesian feminist western, Mouly Surya’s third feature follows a young widow out on a quest of revenge after a gang of bandits storm her farmhouse, rape her, and steal all her cattle. Armed only with a sword and a severed head, she takes to the road.
  • The Seen and the Unseen – making its World Premiere at TIFF Kamila Andini’s The Seen and the Unseen is a magical tale of a young girl retreating into a fantasy world to cope with the impending death of her twin brother.


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  • Birds Without Names – Kazuya Shirasishi’s Dawn of the Felines followup stars Yu Aoi as a young woman living with an older man (Sadawo Abe) but pining for her violent ex-boyfriend.
  • Oh Lucy! – Atsuko Hirayanagi’s sleeper Cannes hit is the story of a lonely middle-aged office lady who discovers a new side to herself when a charismatic English teacher (Josh Hartnett) gives her a blonde wig giving birth to the alter ego Lucy.
  • Radiance – the latest from festival favourite Naomi Kawase, Radiance stars veteran actor Masatoshi Nagase as a photographer losing his sight.
  • The Third Murder – a departure for director Hirokazu Koreeda, The Third Murder is a tense courtroom thriller starring Koji Yakusho as the defendant in a seemingly open and shut murder case but his lawyer (Masaharu Fukuyama) has his doubts about his client’s testimony.
  • Vampire Clay – veteran makeup artist Soichi Umezawa makes his directorial debut with this B-movie inspired tale of plasticine demons devouring the students at a rural arts school.
  • Wolf Guy – another special treat, Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 Sonny Chiba starring tale of werewolf detectives gets a screening as part of the farewell to Midnight Madness’ Colin Geddes. Review.


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  • The Poet and the Boy – Kim Yang-hee’s Jeju set character drama stars Yang Ik-june as a melancholy poet whose life changes when he encounters a handsome young man at a local donut shop.
  • The Day After – Hong Sang-soo’s third release in 2017 stars Kim Min-hee as a recent recruit to a publishing company where (unbeknownst to her) she’s taken over from a woman let go after an affair with the boss ended badly.


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  • Dark is the Night – Independent filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr returns with an urgent look at life in Duterte’s Philippines as a middle-aged couple make a little on the side selling drugs but decide to give it up because of the danger only for their addict son to go missing.


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  • A Fish out of Water – A young boy becomes fixated on the idea of finding his “past parents” in the debut feature from Lai Kuo-An.
  • 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.


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  • Samui Song – the highly anticipated return of Last Life in the Universe’s Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Samui Song is a violent thriller in which a soap opera actress plots to escape her wealthy husband who has been brainwashed by a cult.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from 7 – 17th October. The complete festival programme as well as full information on all the films can be found on the festival’s official website, and you can keep up with all the latest details through the official Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and YouTube channels.