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Thread: New York Asian Film Festival 2020

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    New York Asian Film Festival 2020

    Aug. 28-Sept 12, 2020



    FESTIVAL COVERAGE THREAD

    For all festival information go HERE.

    For all the films for rental during the festival via Smart Cinema go HERE.

    LINKS TO THE REVIEWS
    Beasts Clawing at Straws 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 (Kim Yong-hoon 2020)
    A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語 (Shin Adachi 2019)
    Beneath the Shadow 影裏( (Ohtomo Keishi 2019)
    Dancing Mary Y ダンシング・マリ (Sabu 2019)
    Detention 返校 (John Hsu 2019)
    Dear Loneliness 致親愛的孤獨者 (Lien Chien-hung, Sunny Yu, Liao Che-yi 2019)
    Forbidden Dream 천문: 하늘에 묻는다 (Hur Jin-ho 2019)
    Forgiven Children 許された子どもたち (Naito Eisuke 2020)
    IWeirDo 怪胎 ( Liao Ming-yi 2020)
    Kim JI-young Born 1982 82년생 김지영( Kim Do-young 2019)
    Legally Declared Dead 死因無可疑 (Yuen Kim Wai 2019)
    Lucky Chan-sil / 찬실이는 복도 많지 (Kim Cho-hee 2019)
    Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down (Leung Ming-kai, Kate Reilly 2019)
    Miyamoto 宮本から君へ (Mariko Tetsuya 2019)
    Moving On (Yoon Dan-bi 2019)
    One Night ひとよ (Shiraishi Kazuya 2019)
    RM (Tran Thanh Huy 2019)
    They Say Nothing Stays the Same ある船頭の話 (Odagiri Joe 2019) Centerpiece Film
    Victim(s)) 加害者,被害人 (Layla Zhuqing Ji 2020)
    Witness Out of the Blue 犯罪現場 (Andrew Fung 2019)



    Introduction. The festival goes virtual, so not tied to New York this year.

    The 19th edition of the NYAFF will be a special virtual edition from August 28 to September 12, 2020. It will be available all over the US during this period as pay-for-view for individual films. See the Smart Cinema page link above: that's where you can access individual films or buy a pass for all of them. (But you have to download the Smart Cinema app and that only works on "cross-platform devices including iOS/Android mobile phones and smart TVs." this PDF File HERE for a list of all the titles at glance giving any restrictions to availability.

    The organizers note that this year the fest features a focus on women filmmakers: WOMEN TRANSFORMING FILM, starting with the opening film, the North American premiere of The Girl and the Gun/Babae at Baril, directed by Rae Red and with a superb lead by Janine Gutierrez, produced by Iana Celest Bernardez (in a first-time producing role) and Bianca Balbuena.

    Other female-directed titles include Heavy Craving from Taiwan, Lucky Chan-sil and Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 from South Korea, My Prince Edward from Hong Kong, and Victim(s) from Malaysia, among others.

    The CENTERPIECE film marks both a departure from genre as well as the festival’s embrace of an ever-expanding range of films: They Say Nothing Stays the Same by Odagiri Joe, one of Japan’s best-known actors in a feature directorial debut. Odagiri is joined by a remarkable cast and crew including cinematographer Christopher Doyle; veteran actor Emoto Akira, with acast including Nagase Masatoshi, Asano Tadanobu and Aoi Yu, plus musician Hosono Haruomi; Oscar-winning costume designer Wada Emi; and a score by Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan.

    FULL LINEUP (51 films) as of 8/10 (program still subject to change)
    Titles in bold are included in the "Uncaged" Competition.

    ===
    Bhutan

    Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Pawo Choyning Dorji, 2019) New York Premiere

    China

    – Gone With the Light (Dong Runnian, 2019) North American Premiere
    – Chaogtu with Sarula (Wang Rui, 2019) North American Premiere
    – Mr. Miao (Li Lingxiao, 2020) International Premiere

    Hong Kong Panorama

    Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York
    – Chasing Dream (Johnnie To, 2019) New York Premiere
    – My Prince Edward (Norris Wong, 2019) East Coast Premiere
    – Hell Bank Presents: Running Ghost (Mark Lee, 2020) World Premiere
    – The Grand Grandmaster (Dayo Wong, 2020) North American Premiere
    – Legally Declared Dead (Yuen Kim Wai, 2019) U.S. Premiere
    – Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down (Leung Ming-kai, Kate Reilly, 2019) North American Premiere
    – Unleashed (Ka Hei Kwok and Ambrose Kwok, 2019) North American Premiere
    – A Witness out of the Blue 犯罪現場 (Fung Chih Chiang, 2019) New York Premiere 犯罪現場
    Available: Aug. 28 - Sept. 12, All USA
    The irrepressible Louis Koo stars as a dastardly robber and prime suspect in a murder where the only witness is a talking parrot. A stoic and surprisingly principled criminal badass, he can control any situation.

    Indonesia

    – Abracadabra North American Premiere
    Abracadabra (Faozan Rizal, 2019 )
    Others | Drama | 96 mins

    In an audacious alternate universe a magician makes a boy disappear. When he can’t bring the child back it sets off a Rube Goldberg chain of misadventures. Much like Orson Wells and Fellini, cinematographer turned director Faozan Rizal equates cinematic storytelling with sleight of hand. This maverick auteur also empowers women in his refreshing take on the hero’s journey, which includes, among many other delights, an homage to Frida Kahlo. It’s a mutant mix of Jodorowsky and Wes Anderson with a dash of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure showcasing exotic locales and dazzling haute couture fashions.

    Japan

    – Family Bond 太陽の家 (aka House of the Sun) (Gonno Hajime 2019) Singer-songwriter Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi marks a singular return to film after a 20-year break with this rib-tickling, heartwarming tale of a master builder named Shingo. A fiercely individualistic type whose greatest work may be his own chiseled physique, Shingo sees no problem with chasing skirt even as he remains a devoted husband and father. But after he forms an attachment to a fatherless boy — or is it to the boy’s mother? — and starts to build a house for them, his disapproving apprentice (Eita, Monsters Club, NYAFF 2012) steps in to stop the selfish/selfless folly. Director Gonno Hajime channels Yamada Yoji in this skillfully crafted, lively story of family, friendship and woodworking. Cast: Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi, Iijima Naoko, Yamaguchi Mayu, Yunho, Eita, Hirosue Ryoko. 2020; 123 min.

    – A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語 (Adachi Shin, 2019) From the award-winning author of the indie hit 100 Yen Love comes this supremely cringey semi-autobiographical tale of marital disaster, sure to delight fans of Sideways and Larry David, et al. A diminutive loser screenwriter awaits his big break but is mired by perennial writer’s block and the fact that he isn’t getting any.

    – Miyamoto (Mariko Tetsuya, 2019) 宮本から君へ
    Available: Aug. 28 - Sept. 12, All USA
    (Destruction Babies) takes flying fists, obsessive love and viewer discomfort to a whole new level in this must-see film. Ikematsu Sosuke (The Long Excuse) stars as overly impassioned Miyamoto, the would-be protector of Yasuko (Aoi Yu, Japanese Girls Never Die), who uses the hapless salaryman to get rid of an unwanted boyfriend, but then falls for him. New York Premiere


    – Dancing Mary (Sabu, 2019) North American Premiere

    – Forgiven Children (Naito Eisuke, 2019) International Premiere

    – One Night (Shiraishi Kazuya, 2020) North American Premiere

    – Beneath the Shadow 影裏(OHtomo Keishi, 2019)
    North American Premiere Available: Aug. 28 - Sept. 12, All USA Limited seating: The blockbuster director of Rurouni Kenshin reveals a contemplative side with his first arthouse film, set in Otomo’s hometown near the 2011 Fukushima disasters. Like its award-winning literary inspiration, the enigmatic tale of fly fishing, drinking and male bonding — between stars Ayano Go, NYAFF 2016 Rising Star Asia winner, and Matsuda Ryuhei —skirts obvious interpretation.

    – They Say Nothing Stays the Same ある船頭の話 (Odagiri Joe, 2019)] U.S. Premiere Available: Sept. 3 ONLY, All USA. Limited seating: If you expected something fashionably modern from actor Odagiri Joe’s feature debut, you’ll be surprised to find it feels more like the measured work of a classic auteur. Set in Meiji era Japan but timeless in its concerns —the sacrifices made in the name of progress, the loss of cherished traditions — it follows a lonely old ferryman (Emoto Akira), whose life is transformed when he rescues a mysterious young woman from drowning. Gorgeously lensed by Christopher Doyle, with costumes by Emi Wada, the film also features brief but potent cameos by a who's-who of Japan’s top stars.


    Kazakistan

    – Tomiris (Akan Satayev, 2019) North American Premiere

    Malasia

    Geran (Areel Abu Bakar, 2019) North American Premiere

    – Soul (Roh) (Emir Ezwan, 2020) North American Premiere
    – Victim(s) (Layla Zhuqing Ji, 2020) North American Premiere

    Philippines

    – The Girl and the Gun (Rae Red, 2019) North American Premiere
    – John Denver Trending (Arden Rod Condez, 2019) East Coast Premiere

    South Korea

    Presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center New York
    – Secret Zoo (Son Jae-gon, 2019) New York Premiere.

    Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art
    – Hitman: Agent Jun (Choi Won-sub, 2020) North American Premiere

    – Forbidden Dream (Hur Jin-ho, 2019) International Premiere

    Lucky Chan-sil (Kim Cho-hee, 2019) North American Premiere.
    Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

    – Baseball Girl (Choi Yuntae, 2019) International Premiere

    – Beasts Clawing at Straws (Kim Yong-hoon, 2019) n/a. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

    – Beauty Water (Cho Kyung-hun, 2020) U.S.

    – Moving on (Yoon Danbi, 2019)

    – Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (Kim Do-young, 2019) US Continental Premiere

    – SF8 Series: An anthology of eight science fiction films:


    The Prayer (Min Kyu-dong, 2020) International Premiere

    Empty Body (Kim Ui-seok, 2020) International Premiere

    Love Virtually (Oh Ki-hwan, 2020) International Premiere

    White Crow (Jang Cheol-s, 2020) International Premiere

    Blink (Han Ga-ram, 2020) International Premiere

    Baby It’s Over Outside (Ahn Gooc-jin, 2020) International Premiere

    Joan’s Galaxy (Lee Yoon-jung, 2020) International Premiere.

    Manxin (Noh Deok, 2020)
    International Premiere

    Taiwan

    – Wild Sparrow (Shih Li, 2019) New York Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

    – Detention (John Hsu, 2019) New York Premiere
    – IWeirDO (Liao Ming-yi, 2020) US Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

    – Heavy Craving (Hsieh Pei-ju, 2019) East Coast Premiere

    – The Gangs, the Oscars and the Walking Dead (Kao Pin-chuan, 2019) US Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

    – Dear Loneliness (Lien Chien-hung, Sunny Yu, Liao Jhe-yi, 2019)
    North American Premiere

    – Miss Andy (Teddy Chin, 2020) North American Premiere

    About Opening Film, The Girl and the Gun (Rae Red)
    Cast: Janine Gutierrez, Felix Roco, JC Santos. Produced by Iana Celest Bernardez and Bianca Balbuena at Epicmedia, Cignal Entertainment and QCinema. The film won Best Director and Best Actress (Janine Gutierrez) at QCinema International Film Festival’s Asian Next Wave Competition. Rae Red’s sophomore feature and first solo directorial effort features a local department store saleslady who finds a gun right on her doorstep one night and decides that she has had enough of being the underdog. Her life drastically changes as she discovers how much power owning a gun can give you.

    The Screen International Rising Award and the Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action Cinema will be announced separately.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-12-2020 at 04:22 PM.

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    Descriptions of the films


    They Say Nothing Stays the Same

    CENTERPIECE FILM
    They Say Nothing Stays the Same ある船頭の話

    If you expected something fashionably modern from actor Odagiri Joe’s feature debut, you’ll be surprised to find it feels more like the measured work of a classic auteur. Set in Meiji era Japan but timeless in its concerns —the sacrifices made in the name of progress, the loss of cherished traditions — it follows a lonely old ferryman (Emoto Akira), whose life is transformed when he rescues a mysterious young woman from drowning.

    Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art
    Filter by Section:

    Beasts Clawing at Straws
    지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들

    “No Country for Old Men meets Pulp Fiction” (THR) might be the best summary of this meteoric debut about the fateful, slow-mo collision of colorful lowlifes who clash over a bag full of cash left in a locker room.
    The Gangs, The Oscars, and The Walking Dead 江湖無難事
    Movie genres madly mix and mash up in this no-holds-barred, no-brow comedy about two young aspiring directors, BS (Roy Chiu, of Dear Ex fame) and Wenxi (Huang Di-yang). Sick of indulging in the stuff and fluff of pipe dreams, they decide to turn fantasy into reality and make a real zombie flick.


    U.S. Premiere
    IWeirDo
    怪胎
    Available: Aug. 28 - Sept. 12, All USA except California and Hawaii

    Eerily timely in its focus on formalized paranoia as a lifestyle, the film follows the prudent footsteps of Po-Ching and Chen Ching, two young oddballs cursed with germaphobia and OCD, as they walk through life clad in personal protective equipment.


    North American Premiere
    Lucky Chan-sil
    찬실이는 복도 많지
    Available: Aug. 28 - Sept. 12, All USA

    Limited seating

    A spunky female sendup of the Hong Sangsoo genre of filmmaking, minus the male chauvinism, and with the additional bonus of poignancy and profundity: Lee Chan-sil is a down-on-her-luck film producer.


    New York Premiere
    Secret Zoo
    해치지않아
    Available: Sept. 5 at 8pm EST & Sept. 8 at 5pm EST ONLY, All USA

    Limited seating

    Deceptively kicking off as a deadpan corporate drama about the frustrations of legal trainee Tae-soo (rising star Ahn Jae-hong), a bottom feeder at his law film, Secret Zoo is actually a laugh-out-loud comedy that treats matters like friendship and resilience very seriously.


    New York Premiere
    Wild Sparrow 野雀之詩

    Gritty, erotic, poetic, this is the tale of Li, a beautiful broken girl, suddenly tasked to raise her estranged son, Han.
    Abracadabra
    Others | Drama | 96 mins

    In an audacious alternate universe a magician makes a boy disappear. When he can’t bring the child back it sets off a Rube Goldberg chain of misadventures. Much like Orson Wells and Fellini, cinematographer turned director Faozan Rizal equates cinematic storytelling with sleight of hand. This maverick auteur also empowers women in his refreshing take on the hero’s journey, which includes, among many other delights, an homage to Frida Kahlo. It’s a mutant mix of Jodorowsky and Wes Anderson with a dash of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure showcasing exotic locales and dazzling haute couture fashions.
    A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語 (Shin Adachi 2019 )
    Japan | Drama/Family | 117 mins

    From the award-winning author of the indie hit 100 Yen Love comes this supremely cringey semi-autobiographical tale of marital disaster, sure to delight fans of Sideways and Larry David, et al. A diminutive loser screenwriter awaits his big break but is mired by perennial writer’s block and the fact that he isn’t getting any. When a golden job opportunity is just a road trip away, he takes his disgruntled wife and kid along for the ride to what turns out to be… hell and back. An acidic comedy that unfolds like a horror movie yet is perversely empowering for its put-upon matriarch.
    A Witness out of the Blue
    China/Hong Kong | Suspense/Thriller/Crime | 104 mins

    The irrepressible Louis Koo stars as a dastardly robber and prime suspect in a murder where the only witness is a talking parrot. A stoic and surprisingly principled criminal badass, he can control any situation. His maneuvers of distraction and escape leave the cops dizzy and befuddled. Louis Cheng plays the detective protagonist as refreshingly humanized: brave yet vulnerable; an everyman instead of a supercop. A finely crafted pulp crime thriller that boils over into a suspenseful tte--tte, the film harkens back 1990s HK cinema with a new realism and an added edge of humanity in crisis.
    Baseball Girl
    South Korea | Drama/Sport | 104 mins

    Indie film star Lee Joo-young gives a tour-de-force performance as the eponymous baseball girl. A tenacious high schooler, she is a talented and passionate athlete determined to get signed by a professional team no matter how high the male chauvinist odds are stacked against her. Despite the overt sexism the protagonist must face, it’s refreshing and liberating how her male coaches and peers treat her as an equal instead of a girl in a guy’s sport. This is the kind of cathartic, root-for-the-underdog story that truly deserves to be heard, breaking new ground on an old playing field.
    Beasts Clawing at Straws
    South Korea | Thriller/Crime | 108 mins

    “No Country for Old Men meets Pulp Fiction” (THR) might be the best summary of this meteoric debut about the fateful, slow-mo collision of colorful lowlifes who clash over a bag full of cash left in a locker room. The first one to find the bag, Jung-man, has sleepwalked through life working at a sauna. This could very well be a turning point for the part time worker. Or it could be a lifesaver for customs officer Tae-Young (Jung Woo-sung), who borrowed a considerable sum from a loan shark. The cash inconveniently vanished, along with enigmatic girlfriend Yeon-Hee (Jeon Do-yeon). It’s game on!
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-28-2020 at 11:24 AM.

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    BENEATH THE SHADOW (Ohtomo Keishi 2019)

    Based on the prizewinning first novel of the same name by Shinsuke Numata, this account of an intense, strange, ultimately troubling friendship that arises before the Fukushima earthquake has performances by stars Anano Go and Ryhei Matsuda. It reminded me of the way a short story by Haruki Murakami about a strange friendship was made into Lee Chang-dong's powerful Burning. Though this hasn't quite the same wattage, it sizzles at times, for sure.

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    'Kim Ji-Young: Born 1982,' starring Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi, will screen at the film festival NYAFF [Forbes]

    There's an interesting Forbes magazine preview of the NYAFF featuring the South Korea section and its sci-fi episode series that it says has been compared with "Black Mirror."
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-28-2020 at 11:20 AM.

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    BELOVED WIFE (Shin Adachi 2019)

    This comic road trip from hell features an autobiographical depiction of an unsuccessful screenwriter with his shrewish alcoholic wife and poor little daughter caught in the crossfire. Daringly realistic, perhaps influenced by kitchen sink Eighties TV series the filmmaker grew up with, this is a high-profile Tokyo Film Festival item showing Adachi to be cutting edge, I gues, and someone for Japan film-watchers to know about, for sure. He has many screenwriting credits; this is his second as a director.

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    THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME ある船頭の話 (Odagiri Joe 2019)

    Odagiri, a Goth-style women's idol with many film and TV acting credits and a Japanese Wikipedia entry a mile long, directs a surprisingly contemplative and beautiful arthouse-style film, with cinematography by the great Christopher Doyle, set in the late Meiji era about a lonely, aging (but impressively stoical) river boatman whose world is fading as a bridge is being built nearby. Beautiful and a little long. People come, people go, nothing ever happens. And then it does.

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    MARIKO TETSUYA: MIYAMOTO 宮本から君へ (2019)

    Wild manga story of a young salaryman who's over-the-top about his loyalties. Cringe-inducing but kinda heartwarming too.

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    ONE NIGHT ひとよ (Shiraishi Kazuya 2019)

    Continuing to focus on the Japan section of the fest. . . Wild guy Shiraishi Kazuya tries a family melodrama this time. Mom has killed the abusive dad to set free the three kids, goes to jail for a few years. The story begins when she returns as she promised 15 years later and follows where the three kids have gotten to and what mom's return causes. Top cast. From a play.

    Lots more to come from South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan . . .and others.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-06-2020 at 12:50 PM.

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    BEASTS CLAWING AT STRAWS 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 (Kim Yong-hoon 2020)

    A Korean genre riff on the old story of people running around after a big cache of money. The first-time director, a late bloomer previously working in media, features several big Korean stars - Jung Woo-sung (The Good, the Bad, and the Weird) and Jeon Do-yeon (Secret Sunshine); some tasty visuals, nice music, and violent action with the requisite twists and turns. If it left me wanting more, that's not a bad thing in this time of overlong movies.

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    WITNESS OUT OF THE BLUE 犯罪現場 (Andrew Fung 2019)

    Intra-police department suspicions, a red parrot that's the sole witness of a murder, and a charismatic jewel thief in hiding are some of the ingredients of this entertaining Hong Kong crime thriller.

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    MOVING ON On 남매의 여름밤 (Yoon Dan-bi 2019)

    From young first-time Korean woman director Yoon Dan-bi, this tranquil look at a moment of transition for a small family inspired by the work of Ozu won prizes at Busan and Rotterdam.

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    DECLARED LEGALLY DEAD 死因無可疑 (Yuen Kim Wai 2019)

    A life insurance scam story is slick Hong Kong fare but not psychologically penetrating or creepy or violent enough for fans of genre.

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    FORGIVEN CHILDREN 許された子どもたち (Naito Eisuke 2020)

    Naito reexamines bullying in Japan, memorably, media-conscious, seeing the bully as victim.

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    DETENTION 返校 (John Hsu 2019)

    An elegantly executed version of a videogame that refers to the nearly taboo-to-mention, horrific 40-year "White Terror" period in Taiwan's history. Won a raft of awards at home and is banned in mainland China. It's presented as an adventure thriller horror story. Go figure.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-06-2020 at 12:53 PM.

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