film festivals

NYAFF Capsule Review: Partners in Crime

Jul 23 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219686:42500:0[/embed] Partners in Crime (共犯)Director:Country: Taiwan  
Partners in Crime photo
Jungle of breadcrumbs
Partners in Crime is the reason I love the New York Asian Film Festival. It's the reason I love film festivals in general. It's the sort of gem that you will likely never see outside of a festival. I have always been imp...

Japan Cuts Capsule Review: Pieta in the Toilet

Jul 23 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219688:42498:0[/embed] Pieta in the Toilet (Toire No Pieta | トイレのピエタ)Director: Daishi MatsunagaCountry: Japan 
Pieta in the Toilet photo
Don't let the name fool you
Pieta in The Toilet is done a disservice by its name. From the country that brought us Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead, there are certain expectations that come with a name of that sort. And the use of such a well-known religi...

Japan Cuts Capsule Review: Strayer's Chronicle

Jul 22 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219670:42496:0[/embed] Strayer's Chronicle (Sutoreiyazu Kuronikuru | ストレイヤーズ・クロニクル)Director: Takahisa ZezeCountry: Japan 
Strayer's Chronicle photo
X-Men for nihilists
It's hard to make a rip-off of X-Men without hundreds of millions of dollars to back up the production. With a relatively minimal budget, any version of the mutants with superpowers who have to fight other mutants with (bette...

NYAFF Capsule Review: Kabukicho Love Hotel

Jul 22 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219626:42495:0[/embed] Kabukicho Love Hotel (Sayonara Kabukicho | さよなら歌舞伎町)Director: Ryuichi HirokiCountry: Japan 
Kabukicho Love Hotel photo
No hope for the hopeless
When director Ryuichi Hiroki came out to introduce Kabukicho Love Hotel, he said something to the effect of, “Please stay through the credits. After the credits, you will see some hope.” It wasn’t really adv...


Japan Cuts Capsule Review: I Alone

Jul 21 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219665:42490:0[/embed] I Alone (この世で俺/僕だけ | Kono yo de ore/Boku dake)Director: Sho TsukikawaCountry: Japan 
I Alone Review photo
Save the baby
I Alone is a film about a lot of things. It's about political corruption and kidnapping, sure, but it's also about responsibility and staying true to one's own beliefs. It's about fighting until the bitter end, because i...

NYAFF Capsule Review: Revivre

Jul 14 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219609:42489:0[/embed] RevivreDirector: Im Kwon-TaekCountry: South Korea 
Revivre Review photo
The End
Revivre is director Im Kwon-Taek’s 102nd film. Think about that. Really, really think about what that means. Even if most of his early films were essentially throwaways created to entertain the unwashed masses, this man...

NYAFF Capsule Review: Coin Locker Girl

Jul 14 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219612:42486:0[/embed] Coin Locker Girl (Chinatown | 차이나타운)Director: Han Jun-HeeCountry: South Korea 
Coin Locker Girl photo
Family values
Director Han Jun-Hee introduced Coin Locker Girl as a "fun" film. He said that he doesn't joke much but he made a fun movie and hoped we would have fun with it. And either his translator really missed the point of his in...

NYAFF Capsule Review: Chasuke's Journey

Jul 13 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219663:42484:0[/embed] Chasuke's Journey (天の茶助 | Ten no Chasuke)Director: SabuCountry: Japan 
Chasuke's Journey photo
Mr. Angel's Screenwriting Workshop
Chasuke’s Journey is an indictment of dramatic shortcuts in writing. The head tea server in heaven works among the screenwriters who decide the fates of everyone below, but their stories are trite. The immortal one who ...

NYAFF Capsule Review: Nowhere Girl

Jul 13 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219660:42485:0[/embed] Nowhere Girl (Tōkyō Mukokuseki Shōjo | 東京無国籍少女)Director: Mamoru OshiiCountry: Japan 
Nowhere Girl Review photo
Whup whup whup whup
New York Asian Film Festival co-programmer Samuel Jamier has a tendency to describe films as “interesting,” and he will sometimes say the word five times in half as many minutes when introducing them. He didn&rsqu...

NYAFF Review: Tokyo Tribe

Jul 07 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219610:42463:0[/embed] Tokyo TribeDirector: Sion SonoRating: NRCountry: Japan  If you asked a small child to describe to you what they thought when they heard the phrase "rap battle," you'd probably get something like Tokyo Tribe. This isn't a film about a few MCs spittin' some ill beats in order to prove themselves and ultimately win the respect of their peers; it's a film about a city ravaged by rap-related crime and the ultimate gang war that breaks out. And much of the dialogue spoken between the characters flows against the thumping beats that back the entire film. It's a rap musical; it's a martial arts action film; and it's a sardonic comedy eviscerating systemic issues with Japanese culture. It's everything you could possibly want it to be and a whole lot more shoved into just two hours of screentime. (It's also a manga adaptation. Shocker, that.) I honestly wonder who will find the music more grating: people who hate rap, or those who love it. It's pretty obvious why the former would hate it, but the latter is the more interesting thing to discuss. This is a film that clearly has reverence for rap music, but more often than not it makes a pretty poor case for the genre. Rapping is hard. (I should know. My dream is to be a white rapper some day, but I'm terrible at it, and it definitely won't happen.) I get the impression that a lot of people don't appreciate the linguistic ability and agility required to really get some funky fresh rhymes going. Unfortunately, those are things the general cast of Tokyo Tribe lack. When the credits rolled, a couple of Japanese names (written in Japanese letters) were followed by "Young Dais." I'd been expecting something like that, because I knew right off the bat that Kai, the head of the Peace and Love gang, was actually a rapper. Everyone else had an awkwardness to their rhythm that Kai had on point from start to finish. Everyone else was amateur by comparison. And yeah, of course they were. They're actors, and he's a rapper for one of Japan's various boy bands. It was a good casting choice, but it made me wish that there were more rappers and fewer actors. (There were some others that were clearly rappers as well (I particularly liked the heads of the female gang), but they weren't crucial to the story and didn't get much screentime.) Sion Sono has played up style at the expense of substance in the past, but never so dramatically as here. Tokyo Tribes oozes more character from an average frame than most films in their runtime. Whether it’s the ridiculous and elaborate sets or the bizarre image distortions and lens flares (or a combination of the two), this is a movie that is distinctive and memorable. Love it or hate it, you cannot deny it. You don’t forget that you’ve seen a movie like Tokyo Tribes. You can’t, unless you legitimately have a memory disorder. And if you do… well, you’ll get to see it for the first time all over again, and there’s something magical about that too.  But, of course, form can overtake function, and that undoubtedly happens here. During the film’s final confrontation, one of the characters raps The Point of the movie, and I nearly said (out loud), “Oh! So it’s a film with a message.” It wasn’t funny then, and it’s not funny now, but up until that moment the film wasn’t building up to anything other than a battle. I mean, there’s a “Good vs. Evil” thing in the sense that the bad guys hate Kai's gang because of the peace and love thing, but that never feels like more than a way to artificially build conflict. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but to pretend at the 11th hour that this was all in service of something? Come on.  The only time when style gets away from the film is in the moments of pathetically poor CGI. There are a few moments where it’s so blatantly fake that the veracity of the moment is ruined. You have to suspend a whole lot of disbelief in order to get into this movie, but there’s still a limit. A tank that looks like something a child would make in a My First AutoCAD class is that limit. And it’s not just that tank, though that’s the most obvious example of it. What’s worse is the blood. In the past, Sion Sono films have been horrifyingly bloody, but the blood was real. It felt like a thing that existed in the film. My only real problem with Why Don’t You Play in Hell? was that it took the easy way out on occasion (and lower-budget Asian cinema clearly hasn’t figured out digital blood sprays yet (come on guys, Fincher had this shit down in 2007)). But here it's worse, because even if the initial spray in his previous film was sometimes faked, at least the blood staining the floors and the people after the fact were real. The moment could be forgiven in service of the greater good. Not so here. The film verges on being bloodless, because the red stuff has no feel to it. It's just an effect lazily thrown onto the screen a few times and then forgotten about. But those are all relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. People have said that Tokyo Tribes is too much of a good thing, and I don't think that's quite accurate. It's not too much of a good thing, because it's too many things to be too much of any one of them This film throws the proverbial kitchen sink at the screen and does so with an ungodly amount of technical flair. When you get sick of rapping, it turns into a (fantastic) action movie. The punches may not always land, and the wirework is very clearly wirework, but ya know what? It's freaking awesome. And then there's more rapping. And then there's some rapping and fighting. And it's all awesome. A plausible argument could be made that there's just too much movie, that it could have been cut down by 20 or 30 minutes without much narrative impact. But to what end? The content of the film is nothing if not excessive. Why shouldn't the film itself embody that as well?
Tokyo Tribe Review photo
Well then.
My favorite film to play at last year's New York Asian Film Festival was Sion Sono's cinematic love-letter/masterpiece Why Don't You Play in Hell?. It's a spectacular film, and now that it's seen a domestic release, y'all hav...

Fantasia 2015 photo
Fantasia 2015

Full 2015 Fantasia Film Festival lineup unveiled


Festival season keeps going strong
Jul 07
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
Although we've just kicked off coverage of one film festival and will soon be covering another, this seems like as good a time as any to let you know that there is a third pretty awesome festival that happens every July: the ...

NYAFF Review: Meeting Dr. Sun

Jul 01 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219608:42457:0[/embed] Meeting Dr. Sun (Xingdong daihao: Sun Zongshan)Director: Chih-yen Yee Rating: NRCountry: Taiwan  Everyone knows the rule of threes. You can do a joke three times before it becomes grating. If done well, that repetition can make it amazing, but going beyond that just becomes frustrating. I don't know who who it came from, but I've heard it said that the trick to Family Guy's humor is that things become funny again after you've done them for the 27th time. It's funny, funny, funny, not funny, not funny, infuriating... kinda funny, funny, amazing. And that's kind of accurate. I'm sure there's something in our brains, probably a fear response, that tells us that eventually this thing that is making us uncomfortable with its repetition is actually something to be laughed at (again), lest we drive ourselves actually crazy. Whatever it is, it works. Sometimes. Meeting Dr. Sun really wants that to be true. Or at least, its editor does. Because apparently he left the editing bay after he put together his rough cut and someone walked by and shouted, "It's perfect!" Every single scene is too long. Every. Damn. One. You could cut at least 10 seconds from the end of every sequence in the film and it would only benefit the film. Most shots go on too long, and every joke definitely goes on too long, but sometimes they become funny again. Meeting Dr. Sun is a heist movie, of sorts. Some kinds can't afford to pay their class fees, so they decide to steal a statue and sell it for scrap. But they have to steal it. But because they're children (end of middle school/beginning of high school (or the Taiwanese equivalent of that), if I had to guess), everything is inherently very silly. As it's presented, there are no great stakes, and there are no serious dangers. It's not even really clear what it would mean if the kids didn't pay their class fees. (Here my American ignorance is probably at issue, though the film's dialogue makes it seem like it's not a necessity to get through the year.) The whole thing feels appropriately childish, and on some level the humor actually works like that as well.  Some years ago, I was having dinner with a friend and his extended family. His very young cousin wanted to be the center of attention, and so he said to said to his dad, "Hi mommy!" and everyone laughed. And then he went to every single person around the table (nearly a dozen of us) and said, "Hi mommy!" to all the men and "Hi daddy!" to the women. The first couple of times, it was adorable. By the time he got to me? It was infuriating. But the kid thought he was the cat's pajamas, and he kept doing it until his dad (thankfully) stopped him. He would have done another round of the table, I'm sure, because he didn't understand what actually made it funny, just that other people were laughing. And that's what the humor in Meeting Mr. Sun is like. I laughed pretty hard on multiple occasions, and some of the people around me laughed so hard I literally (not figuratively) thought they were going to die, but then once I'd moved on, the young kids onscreen wanted to keep doing the joke. They keep pantomiming or dancing or talking or moving or doing any of those other things that kids do, because... they're kids. What else are they gonna do?  That said, there's a weird, dark undercurrent about issues of socioeconomic class structures throughout the film. And while it's always there, it doesn't come up explicitly until the end, when it hits in a fascinating, mood-wrecking kind of way. And thinking back on the film through that lens, it's actually pretty seriously depressing; a (very) long sequence involving two characters trying to prove that their family is worse off is played for humor, sort of, but it's really very sad. At the time, that was in the back of my mind, but it didn't snap into focus until that moment near the end. But this theme seems so at odds with the comedic intentions of the film. Director Yee wanted us to laugh. But here was this grand theme about poverty and what it forces people to do, even on a small scale. And... we were supposed to laugh at it? I mean, I definitely did. I'm just not sure how I feel about having done so.
Meeting Dr. Sun Review photo
Child's play
In the two hours leading up to the US premiere of Meeting Dr. Sun, I saw director Chih-yen Yee speak twice. First was at a reception hosted by New York Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. The second was just minute...

NYAFF 2015 photo
NYAFF 2015

The 2015 New York Asian Film Festival lineup and schedule are here


My favorite festival of the year returns
Jun 08
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
The New York Asian Film Festival is very near and dear to my heart. When I started at Flixist in 2011, I was a news writer. I wasn't supposed to be writing reviews or doing any of that high-minded stuff. But then my girlfrie...
Japan Cuts 2015 photo
Japan Cuts 2015

2015 Japan Cuts Film Festival lineup unveiled


And it's pretty flipping cool
Jun 05
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
One of the best parts about being an Asian film lover in New York is the late-June-through-mid-July run of Asian-centric festivals. The second half of that time is taken up by the Japan Cuts Film Festival, a showcase at the N...

Tribeca Review: Maggie

May 08 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219246:42343:0[/embed] MaggieDirector: Henry HobsonRelease Date: May 8, 2015 (limited)Rating: PG-13 Wade (Schwarzenegger) brings his daughter Maggie home from the city after she's attacked by a zombie. Bite victims slowly turn. Symptoms include necrosis, cataracts, dizzy spells, respiratory problems, and a heightened sense of smell. It's only a matter of time before Maggie will need to be killed or sent to a quarantine center, and the latter may be a worse fate. At certain points of Maggie, I was struck by how Schwarzenegger has aged in an interesting way. The texture of his face is like tree bark from certain angles and in certain light. More than that, the expressiveness of his brow and his eyes has increased. Same goes for his mouth, as if the stoic straight line we're accustomed to from his blockbusters is able to communicate more with age. It's not just a one-liner dispenser, and his scowls seem layered. Patiently holding a shot on Schwarzenegger has the potential to reveal his inner emotional machinery. This unexpected depth in Schwarzengger's performance comes mostly from the film's quiet moments. In one scene, like something out of a Terrence Malick film or an Andrew Wyeth painting, Wade wanders a field introspectively. His silhouette from behind has a heftier grimness in the dimming light. It's impossible to forget he's Arnold Schwarzenegger, and yet maybe the moment works better than it would otherwise because it's Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to negate his own Arnold-Schwarzenegger-ness for the sake of the story. Maggie is at its best when it uses zombie-ism to explore the impending loss of a loved one to a terminal illness. In Maggie's case, it's about coming to terms with the inevitability of death. Had Schwarzenegger not been cast, the film would have been billed as a showcase for Breslin. She carries at least half of the film. (She's the title character, after all.) When not succumbing to fits of dread, Maggie tries to live just like a teenager. There's a normalcy about living with her condition. In a brief sidetrip from the farmhouse, we see Maggie with her friends being carefree before going back to high school in the fall. Infected or not, to them, at least for now, she's still Maggie. The film's handful of missteps have less to do with the performances than the occasional saccharine note in the script. Bits here and there feel a little too much like "father and daughter bonding" beats in a movie. Breslin and Schwarzenegger perform them well, but the actors seem more natural when exchanging small looks and little lines together throughout the film rather than dedicating a full scene to semi-expository bonding. An accretion of affection is almost always preferable to a tenderness dump. For a film that's propelled more by its quiet moments, the wind down of Maggie features an overbearing bombast in the sound design and David Wingo's otherwise low-key score. It undermines some of the control that Hobson maintains for the film, and I wonder how much better a scene or two would play if they were muted. This might be one of the few times that anyone's called for an even quieter and more delicate finale to a movie featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but in Maggie, the performances are able to do the emotional heavy lifting on their own.
Maggie Review photo
I know now why you cry
Maggie is one of the last things you'd expect out of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Abigail Breslin, who plays the title character? Okay. Joely Richardson, who plays Maggie's stepmother? Sure. But not Arnie. Though Maggie's a post-ap...

 photo

Tribeca Film Festival tickets go on sale March 31st


The New York City festival will feature appearances by George Lucas, Monty Python, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Mary J. Blige, Christopher Nolan, and maybe movies
Mar 27
// Hubert Vigilla
The Tribeca Film Festival will run from April 15th-26th here in New York City. American Express holders can order festival tickets on March 31st, and the general public can order tickets starting April 6th. The festival will ...
Kung Fu Fest NYC photo
Kung Fu Fest NYC

NYC's Old School Kung Fu Fest 2015 has so many ninjas


You don't even know
Mar 24
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
The folks over at Subway Cinema head up the annual New York Asian Film Festival, my favorite of all the year's festivals, and I'm always excited to see what else they cook up. Last month, we brought news of their efforts to f...
 photo

Help fund The Old School Kung Fu Fest 2015 in NYC


There will be ninjas this year--NINJAS!
Feb 24
// Hubert Vigilla
We here at Flixist love the people at Subway Cinema. Not only do they put on the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) and the New York Korean Film Festival, they also hold a great showcase of classic martial arts movies here ...
 photo

SXSW 2015 film lineup released


Let's get this party started
Feb 03
// Matthew Razak
SXSW is my favorite festival to cover and one of the few I do regularly. I won't be able to attend this year because of the impending birth of my first child, but it looks like I'll be missing out on some great stuff. Plenty ...
SAIFF 2014 photo
SAIFF 2014

Here comes the South Asian International Film Festival


November 18-23 at the SVA theater
Nov 14
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
As is often the case, it's a festival of festivals here in New York. And if you're particularly fond of Indian and/or Pakistani films, this is probably the one you've been waiting for. The South Asian International Film Festi...
NYKFF Returns photo
NYKFF Returns

Here comes the 12th Annual New York Korean Film Festival


Runs from November 20-23 at BAM
Nov 11
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
When February came and went with no mention of the New York Korean Film Festival, I was disheartened. With all of the far-less-deserving festivals in this fine city, I couldn't accept that this one had gone away. Fortunately,...
NYFF 52 photo
It starts tonight!
Hello everyone. It's festival time again! The 52nd New York Film Festival kicks off tonight with the world premiere of David Fincher's Gone Girl, and continues through October 12th, closing with Alejandro González I&nt...

Japan Cuts 2014 continues where NYAFF leaves off

Jul 07 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema  July 10-20, 2014 at Japan Society New York, NY -- North America’s largest showcase of Japanese film and “One of the loopiest… and least predictable of New York’s film festivals” (New York Magazine),JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema returns for its eighth annual installment. Running July 10-20 and screening 27 features with 8 special guests, JAPAN CUTS 2014 encompasses a thrilling cross section of cinephilic genre oddities, sword-swinging period action, profound documentaries, cathartic melodramas, warped comedies and cutting-edge arthouse cinema made in and around Japan. Guests include superstar performers and independent auteurs opening up in rare Q&As and dynamic parties rocking Japan Society’s historic theater and waterfall atrium. As in past years, the festival dovetails with the 13th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), co-presenting 13 titles in the JAPAN CUTS lineup July 10-13. JAPAN CUTS 2014 again earns the distinction as “New York’s premiere Japanese cinema event,” every title never before screened in New York City, “unspooling across a kaleidoscopic range of taste and aesthetics” (The Wall Street Journal). Boasting 1 World Premiere, 3 International Premieres, 7 North American Premieres, 6 U.S. Premieres, 5 East Coast Premieres, and 4 New York Premieres, every day of the festival provides a must-see event for the NYC cinephile, follower of Japanese art and culture, and devoted world cinema aficionado alike.  The festival opens July 10 with the U.S. Premiere of Takashi Miike’s candy-colored undercover cop saga The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji, followed by the yakuza-turned-filmmaker movie magic that is Sion Sono’s Why Don't You Play in Hell?. The screening is joined by young actress Fumi Nikaido, named by Variety this year as its International Star You Should Know, who joins for an introduction and Q&A, as well as the JAPAN CUTS Opening Night “Let’s Play in Hell!” Party. The festival centerpiece is the World Premiere on July 17 of director Momoko Ando’s masterful dark comedy 0.5mm—a wicked critique of patriarchy following an assisted living caregiver who survives unemployment by taking advantage of elderly men. Ando visits Japan Society to present and discuss her film, as well as participate in the intimate reception after the screening. JAPAN CUTS’ closing film is the magnificent The Tale of Iya, with its North American Premiere July 20. Director Tetsuichiro Tsuta joins to present his renowned work that tells a timeless story on beautiful 35mm, showing a vanishing part of rural Japan through a mode of film artistry which is itself disappearing. A sign of the times, JAPAN CUTS 2014 marks the debut of a new digital cinema projection system in the Lila Acheson Wallace auditorium of Japan Society’s landmark building, continuing to show viewers the best of this vibrant international film scene in the best cinematic conditions possible. The festival also celebrates the career of brave and unpredictable international starKazuki Kitamura, who receives JAPAN CUTS’ annual prize, the CUT ABOVE Award for Excellence in Film. Kitamura has proven to be not only a versatile performer in dramatic and comedic roles in Japan’s Tragedy and Thermae Romae, but a trailblazer in transnational filmmaking in The Raid 2 and Killers, receiving Kinema Junpo's Best New Actor award for his work in Rokuro Mochizuki's Minazuki and Takashi Miike's Ley Lines (Nihon Kuroshakai). Kitamura joins the festival July 19 to share Dave Boyle’s Japanese-American thriller Man from Reno along with the director, including an introduction and Q&A following the East Coast Premiere of this sexy, moody neo-noir. Kitamura will receive the award as part of the International Premiere of the irresistible comedy Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, in which Kitamura plays a deadly ronin whose heart is melted by his feline target, followed by the Japan CATS Party!. Other festival highlights include the hotly anticipated East Coast Premiere ofUnforgiven, Sang-il Lee’s adaptation of Clint Eastwood’s original Western masterpiece. Starring Ken Watanabe, this samurai-western remains in the realm of greatness, while completely reformed for the new setting. Japan’s controversial mega-blockbuster The Eternal Zero will screen for the first time in the U.S., giving local audiences a chance to see its amazing aerial dogfight sequences as well as confront the film’s contested vision of history. Yuya Ishii’s The Great Passage, a moving tribute to the power of language and Japan’s Oscar entry, receives its awaited New York Premiere, and anime fans get their fix with the North American Premiere of Keisuke Yoshida’s rapturous My Little Sweet Pea, an emotional rollercoaster of a family melodrama about an aspiring anime voice actress otaku. Also slated is the U.S. Premiere of Aya Hanabusa’s Tale of a Butcher Shop and the East Coast Premiere of Yoju Matsubayashi’s The Horses of Fukushima, two remarkable documentaries that tackle inequality and post-3/11 life through the exploration of human-animal relationships. July 18 sees a euphoric night of exceeding depravity, with the International Premiere of Ryoko Yoshida’s must-be-seen-to-be-believed comic tale of sex and possession The Passion adapted from Kaoruko Himeno’s acclaimed novel, U.S. Premiere of Daisuke Miura’s brilliant orgy-cum-psychodrama Love’s Whirlpool, and the East Coast Premiere of Eiji Uchida’s bloody intergenerational battle to the death Greatful Deadwith newcomer Kumi Takiuchi. Zany director Katsuhito Ishii takes on the children’s genre with the North American Premiere of Hello! Junichi (kids get in for only $6 following Ishii’s own efforts to conscript young cinephiles during the Japanese release!). Award-winning writer for the screen and stage Shiro Maeda makes his directorial debut with the hilarious and profound The Extreme Sukiyaki, presented here in its North American Premiere. Maeda will join for a Q&A via live video stream to discuss this remarkable film.  “Curating annual festivals of a national cinema is necessarily problematic, swinging between exhaustive cultural surveys or limited selections of titles with international arthouse appeal, between a lineup that is representative and one that is exceptional. Our tactic at JAPAN CUTS--and I believe this is especially so this year--has been to focus on diversity,” says filmmaker/scholar Joel Neville Anderson, programmer for JAPAN CUTS 2014. “And the results have been surprising, politically incendiary, and always entertaining. I see the festival’s ongoing engagement with high and low genre, mainstream and experimental forms, as an extension of Japan Society’s century old mission of cultural exchange. The lineup demonstrates Japan’s film cultures navigating issues such as discrimination, aging, regional transformation, and widespread social precarity, evincing a nationalist groundswell attempting to revise history, as well as positive political awakenings following the natural and human-made disasters of 3/11." Tickets: $13/$10 Japan Society members, seniors and students, except for the July 10screening Why Don’t You Play in Hell? and the July 19 screening of Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~: $20/$15, including after parties. Tickets for Hello! Junichi are $6 for any child 12-years-old or younger accompanied by an adult. Patrons who purchase more than 5 tickets for at least 5 different films receive $2 off of each ticket (this special offer is available only in person at the box office or by telephone, not with online purchases, and is not valid for the July 10 screening of Why Don’t You Play in Hell?,July 19 screening of Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, or the discounted $6 ticket forHello! Junichi.) General admission tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or at www.japansociety.org. The box office will be closed July 4-7 in observance of the July 4th holiday weekend. SCREENING SCHEDULE AT-A-GLANCE Thursday, July 10 6:00 – THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI 8:30 – WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? + guest intro/Q&A + party Friday, July 11 6:00 – THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE 8:30 – MARUYAMA, THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER Saturday, July 12 12:30 – THE GREAT PASSAGE 3:00 – THE ETERNAL ZERO 6:00 – THE DEVIL’S PATH 8:30 – MISS ZOMBIE 10:30 – THE PINKIE  Sunday, July 13 12:30 – WOOD JOB! 3:00 – MONSTERZ 5:30 – ALL-ROUND APPRAISER Q: THE EYES OF MONA LISA 8:00 – UZUMASA LIMELIGHT + guest intro/Q&A    Tuesday, July 15 6:00 – THE HORSES OF FUKUSHIMA 8:30 – UNFORGIVEN Wednesday, July 16 6:30 – THE EXTREME SUKIYAKI + guest intro/Q&A Thursday July 17 6:30 – 0.5MM + guest intro/Q&A + reception Friday, July 18 6:30 – THE PASSION 8:30 – LOVE’S WHIRLPOOL 10:45 – GREATFUL DEAD Saturday, July 19 12:00 – TALE OF A BUTCHER SHOP 2:15 – MY LITTLE SWEET PEA 4:30 – MAN FROM RENO + guest intro/Q&A 7:30 – NEKO SAMURAI ~SAMURAI ♥ CAT~ + guest intro/Q&A + party 11:00 – KILLERS + guest intro Sunday, July 20 12:30 – PECOROSS’ MOTHER AND HER DAYS 3:00 – HELLO! JUNICHI 6:00 – THE TALE OF IYA + guest intro/Q&A JAPAN CUTS 2014 SCREENINGS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) All films are in Japanese with English subtitles unless otherwise noted.  0.5mm (0.5 miri) – CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION Thursday, July 17 at 6:30 pm **World Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with Director Momoko Ando, followed by a reception Japan. 2014. 198 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Momoko Ando. With Sakura Ando, Junkichi Orimoto, Toshio Sakata, Masahiko Tsugawa, Akira Emoto. Sawa, an assisted living caregiver for a middle class family with an elderly infirm grandfather, is forced to stretch her morals to keep her job. As a result, she finds herself broke and out on the street. She survives her first night by striking up an ambiguous friendship with a kindly old man, gaining access to a portion of the immense wealth held by Japan's aging population. She continues with similar encounters, and while these begin as scams or revenge on rampant sexism, they ultimately become vulnerable intergenerational exchanges. Director Momoko Ando (Kakera: A Piece of Our Life, 2009) masterfully crafts this journey through Japan's embattled sexual landscape, confronting aging, class and patriarchy. Adapted from the director's first novel, 0.5mm features Sakura Ando (the director's sister), who charges each scene with as much humanity as its impeccably photographed frames can handle. This is a dark and profound comedy of the best sort. “Her debut film (Kakera) is a finely tuned meditation on what it means to be loved and to love, regardless of boundaries and social constructs." --Film International --- All-Round Appraiser Q: The Eyes of Mona Lisa (Bannou Kanteishi Q Mona Riza no Hitomi) Sunday, July 13 at 5:30 pm **North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 119 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shinsuke Sato. With Haruka Ayase, Tori Matsuzaka, Eriko Hatsune, Charles Deladonchamps, Hiroaki Murakami. The Japanese will always have Paris! In this adaptation of the arch-popular eponymous mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, the city of l'art et l'amour provides the gorgeous backdrop for a grand intrigue involving the world's most iconic artistic treasure: the Mona Lisa. Armed with quasi-supernatural powers of deduction, bottomless knowledge on a limitless array of subjects, and last but not least, cute-and-sexy librarian good looks that would give Audrey Tautou a run for her money, Riko Rinda (Haruka Ayase) is a brilliant appraiser whose "All-Round Appraiser Q" reputation earns the attention of The Louvre as a Mona Lisa exhibition is to be held for the first time in Japan. Accompanied by sidekick Yuto Ogasawara (Tori Matsuzaka), a magazine editor who follows Riko for professional and possibly most personal purposes, she goes to Paris and finds her judgment challenged by the shroud of mystery and threats of theft surrounding the masterpiece as well as the Mona Lisa herself. Minds will be blown, puzzles will be solved, but will a 500-year-old curse be removed? By the director who gave you the Gantz and Library Wars blockbusters. --- The Devil's Path (Kyoaku) Saturday, July 12 at 6 pm **East Coast Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 128 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kazuya Shiraishi. With Takayuki Yamada, Pierre Taki, Lily Franky, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kazuko Shirakawa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Katsuya Kobayashi, Yu Saito. The Devil's Path shows the hell of guilt and conscience as it chronicles the case of a condemned yakuza. A massive monster of a thug (actor-singer Pierre Taki) seeks revenge on his former accomplice and hopes to achieve his goal by telling his story to a journalist (Takayuki Yamada), revealing three unknown killings. The film is a sullen journey that hardens its emotions, anxieties and energies into a shell of obsession. For the death-row gangster, who's now found God, killing was just part of the cost of doing business. For his accomplice (Lily Franky), killing is just fun. A modest, quiet man, Yamada stands in for the viewer as Taki's mesmerizing, murderous presence absorbs the space around him, inviting him in to encounter a possibly even more evil man, his former partner in crime. As it tells their deeds, the movie becomes an expression of philosophical despair. Nominated for Picture of the Year, Director of the Year and Screenplay of the Year at the 37th Japan Academy Prize --- The Eternal Zero (Eien no Zero) Saturday, July 12 at 3 pm **U.S. Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 144 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Takashi Yamazaki. With Junichi Okada, Haruma Miura, Mao Inoue, Hirofumi Arai, Shota Sometani, Min Tanaka, Isao Natsuyagi. Japan's biggest hit last year, one of the 10 top-grossing Japanese films of all time, will no doubt provide the most unique and extreme film experience of the NYAFF/JAPAN CUTS 2014 lineup. As infuriating in its ideological and political black holes as it is exhilarating in visual artistry, The Eternal Zero follows a young man who, as he investigates the life and times of his grandfather, a reluctant kamikaze pilot during the Pacific War, goes from troubling revelations to shocking truths about heroism, history and his own family. Adapted from a hugely popular novel by Naoki Hyakuta, the film tells the tale of tokkotai ("special section," or kamikaze) pilot Kyuzo Miyabe in flashbacks that progressively reveal his alleged cowardice in battle actually concealed a specific moral philosophy of survival. From the cruelties of war to breathtaking airborne battles, this kinetic, emotionally intense, but also politically ambivalent film will leave no one indifferent. --- The Extreme Sukiyaki (Ji, Ekusutorimu, Sukiyaki) Wednesday, July 16 at 6:30 pm **North American Premiere **Featuring Q&A with Director Shiro Maeda via streaming video Japan. 2013. 111 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shiro Maeda. With Arata Iura, Yosuke Kubozuka, Mikako Ichikawa, Kana Kurashina. Reaching a crisis in his post-college life, Horaguchi (Arata Iura) abandons his job and searches out his best friend from his school days. However the bitter and unemployed Ohkawa (Yosuke Kubozuka) hasn't heard from his friend in 15 years and is reluctant to resume their friendship. He is given no choice in the matter. Joined by Ohkawa's partner Kaede (Kana Kurashina) and Horaguchi's former love interest Kyoko (Mikako Ichikawa), the four set off on an aimless day trip to the beach, sukiyaki pot in tow. Ohkawa brings along the one thing that excites him--a crude boomerang he's carved.The Extreme Sukiyaki marks the reunion of Iura and Kubozuka, who shot to stardom after appearing side by side in Ping Pong (2002). This is the directorial debut of award-winning writer and playwright Shiro Maeda, whose film is adapted from his own novel. Directorial debut of Shiro Maeda, winner of the 52nd Kishida Drama Award and 22nd Mishima Yukio Prize --- The Great Passage (Fune wo Amu) Saturday, July 12 at 12:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 134 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yuya Ishii. With Ryuhei Matsuda, Aoi Miyazaki, Joe Odagiri, Haru Kuroki, Misako Watanabe, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kaoru Yachigusa, Kaoru Kobayashi, Go Kato. Cult arthouse director Yuya Ishii (Sawako Decides) racked up top honors at the Japan Academy Awards this year (best picture, best director, best actor for Ryuhei Matsuda, best script plus technical prizes) with this captivating existential drama/comedy featuring a charmingly nerdy editor, Majime Mitsuya (Ryuhei Matsuda), who spends decades writing and compiling definitions for a "living language" dictionary while courting his landlady's granddaughter. Set in the mid-1990s, The Great Passage starts as the responsibility for putting together the massive dictionary project is passed on from long-time editor Kouhei Araki (Kaoru Kobayashi) to Majime Mitsuya, a much younger man with a degree in linguistics and an obsessive love for words. An oddball ode on the surface, the film is in fact a deeply humanist tribute to the power of language to connect people, a poignant study of life's slow but steady progression, and ultimately, about finding a reason to live. “At once accessibly humanist and endearingly nerdy, suffused with a deep love of language and a quiet awe at the possibilities of human collaboration” – Variety Selected as the Japanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards --- Greatful Dead (Gureitofuru Deddo) Friday, July 18 at 10:45 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2014. 97 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Eiji Uchida. With Kumi Takiuchi, Takashi Sasano, Kkobbi Kim. Wealthy young Nami (Kumi Takiuchi) has found herself a hobby to while away the time between ordering new appliances and fashion accessories--surveilling the lives of the crazed and lonely, or "Solitarians," as she calls them. Perched atop the city with powerful binoculars, she tracks the descent of the elderly and unemployed into madness and death, gleefully snapping a selfie beside their freshly decaying corpses. When one of her most prized Solitarians (Takashi Sasano) is snatched up by Christian volunteers and becomes hopeful once again, Nami is sent into a murderous rage, pitting young against old in an epic, bloody battle. Eiji Uchida's genre pleaser is also a cutting critique of Japan's post post-bubble insularity and consumerism. "Dark, bloody, unflinchingly brutal, yet also laugh-out-loud funny, genuinely touching and with a profound social conscience, Greatful Dead is the real deal." --Twitch Film --- Hello! Junichi (Halo! Junichi) Sunday, July 20 at 3 pm **North American Premiere Japan. 2014. 90 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Kanoko Kawaguchi, Atsushi Yoshioka. With Amon Kabe, Hikari Mitsushima, Ryushin Tei, Chizuru Ikewaki, Tatsuya Gashuin, Yoshiyuki Morishita. Katsuhito Ishii (Funky Forest: The First Contact and The Taste of Tea) takes on the story of Junichi--a timid third grader who can't muster the courage to return an eraser he borrowed from his secret crush--and turns it into a children's rock 'n' roll comedy. Junichi's world is turned upside down as apprentice teacher Anna-sensei (Hikari Mitsushima) scraps her lesson plan to show the rambunctious students about life as an adult. With Anna's unorthodox style, Junichi and his friends are able to gain confidence and pursue their goal of putting on a big concert. Co-directed with Kanoko Kawaguchi and Atsushi Yoshioka, Hello! Junichi brings out the kid in adults and lets kids be kids. Boasting Ishii's signature dance numbers and Yoshiyuki Morishita (the "Japanese Steve Buscemi") as the band's homeroom teacher, it's a unique experience built for future and current movie maniacs. "Extraordinary." --Udine Far East Film Festival Special price of $6 for children 12-years-old and under! --- The Horses of Fukushima (Matsuri no Uma) Tuesday, July 15 at 6 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2013. 74 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoju Matsubayashi. Fukushima's Minami-soma has a ten-centuries-long tradition of holding the Soma Nomaoi ("chasing wild horses") festival to celebrate the horse's great contribution to human society. Following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, local people were forced to flee the area. Rancher Shinichiro Tanaka returned to find his horses dead or starving, and refused to obey the government's orders to kill them. While many racehorses are slaughtered for horsemeat, his horses had been subjected to radiation and were inedible. Yoju Matsubayashi, whose Fukushima: Memories of the Lost Landscape is one of the most impressive documentaries made immediately after the disaster, spent the summer of 2011 helping Tanaka take care of his horses. In documenting their rehabilitation, he has produced a profound meditation on these animals who live as testaments to the tragic bargain human society made with nuclear power. Note: Some scenes contain graphic animal imagery. Winner of the Muhr AsiaAfrica Documentary Best Film Award at the 2013 Dubai International Film Festival --- Killers (Kirazu)   Saturday, July 19 at 11 pm   **East Coast Premiere   **Introduction by actor Kazuki Kitamura  Indonesia/Japan. 2014. 137 min. Blu-ray, in English, Indonesian and Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by The Mo Brothers (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto). With Kazuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Mei Kurokawa, Denden.  Kazuki Kitamura's tour de force performance as an eerily handsome and decadently deranged serial killer centers this remarkable Indonesian-Japanese co-production. Nomura (Kitamura), a wealthy expat returned to Tokyo from the U.S. after the financial crisis, has taken to killing young women and uploading videos of the acts. Bayu Aditya (rapper Oka Antara), an honest Jakarta journalist whose personal life has been destroyed by a corrupt politician, encounters Nomura's viral snuff films online and his sense of vigilante justice becomes a dangerous bloodthirst. Communicating anonymously online, Nomura encourages the fledgling killer, but when Bayu wants out, Nomura forces him to complete the transformation in a bloody, operatic finale. Executive produced by Gareth Evans of The Raid, Killers channels American Psycho and Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill via Johnnie To's Fulltime Killer. By turns funny and assaultive, Killers is one of the most disturbing and rewarding viewing experiences in years.    "One of the most interesting, disturbing, and provocative takes on the world of the serial killer ever made." –Twitch 18+ This film is unrated, but may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older. --- Love's Whirlpool (Ai no Uzu) Friday, July 18 at 8:30 pm **U.S. Premiere Japan. 2014. 123 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Daisuke Miura. With Sosuke Ikematsu, Mugi Kadowaki, Kenichi Takito, Eriko Nakamura, Hirofumi Arai, Yoko Mitsuya, Ryusuke Komakine, Seri Akazawa. In a fancy split-level condo in Tokyo's Roppongi nightlife district, four women and four men gather from midnight to 5 am. They've all paid to be there (men more than women), and they have only one thing in common--they seek anonymous sex. Using no names, they're known only by their types: freeter (temp or part-time worker), mild-mannered salaryman, duplicitous OL (office lady), self-conscious working class factory worker, perfectionist teacher, veteran pervert, shy NEET ("not in education, employment or training") and bashful college student. Together, they unravel their identities in a night of increasing debauchery. Daisuke Miura's adaptation of his critically acclaimed 2005 play of the same name explores Japan's fuzoku (sex industry) with depth, humor and freewheeling indecency. This surprising, erotic and disturbing film features breakout performances by Sosuke Ikematsu and Mugi Kadowaki, who are tempted to mix love with sex. 18+ This film is unrated, and may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older. Original stage play winner of the 50th Kishida Drama Award --- Man from Reno (Rino kara Kita Otoko) Saturday, July 19 at 4:30 pm **East Coast Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with Director Dave Boyle and Actor Kazuki Kitamura USA/Japan. 2014. 111 min. DCP, in English and Japanese with bilingual subtitles. Directed by Dave Boyle. With Ayako Fujitani, Kazuki Kitamura, Pepe Serna, Elisha Skorman, Hiroshi Watanabe. A Japanese bestselling crime novelist visiting San Francisco finds herself embroiled in a real life mystery after a night with a handsome stranger. The man--Japanese and supposedly from Nevada--disappears the next morning, after which increasingly strange and dangerous events begin to occur. This beautifully photographed Japanese-American co-production overturns the gender stereotypes of the mystery thriller, casting international star Kazuki Kitamura as its homme fatale. Kitamura effortlessly slides between gentle and sinister, while Ayako Fujitani fits perfectly into the role of author-turned-detective. One of this accomplished transnational film's greatest features is a rare leading turn from Pepe Serna, veteran character actor of over 100 Hollywood films (Scarface, The Black Dahlia). Set in San Francisco, this neo-noir offers not only a compelling portrayal of gender and globalization, but a model for vibrant independent filmmaking across borders. "Uncovers exhilarating new takes on genre conventions." --Los Angeles Film Festival --- Maruyama, The Middle Schooler (Chuugakusei Maruyama) Friday, July 11 at 8:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 119 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Kankuro Kudo. With Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Takuma Hiraoka, Kenji Endo, Ik-June Yang, Maki Sakai, Toru Nakamura, Nanami Nabemoto, Yuiko Kariya, Fumina Hara, Ryo Iwamatsu. Though described by acclaimed actor/scriptwriter/director Kankuro Kudo as a "self-fellatio" comedy, Maruyama is also a moving coming-of-age story and an exploration of the infinite possibilities of the human imagination. Maruyama, a sex-crazed 14-year-old (Takuma Hiraoka) is not only dedicated to auto-eroticism but desires to defy the limitations of his body and transcend himself--until his spine literally cracks. When he encounters a newcomer, a nerdy, single father (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi) who finds fault with his neighbors, things take a weird turn as corpses are found in the otherwise ordinary neighborhood. As Maruyama's imagination gets out of control, his fantasies go joyously wild and free as he reimagines his family and the inhabitants of the entire apartment complex as manga-like characters cast in an action-packed saga of assassinations and revenge. “[A] hugely entertaining, sensitive, hilarious and whimsical pop-comedy gem.” – Twitch Film --- Miss Zombie Saturday, July 12 at 8:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 85 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by SABU. With Ayaka Komatsu, Toru Tezuka, Makoto Togashi, Riku Ohnishi, Tateto Serizawa, Takaya Yamauchi. In a future or parallel world, family-man Dr. Teramoto (Toru Tezuka) receives a very special delivery: a crate containing a mail order female zombie (Ayaka Komatsu), complete with an instruction manual prescribing a vegetarian diet, a cautionary note against any meat, and a gun--just in case. Teramoto's wife (Makoto Togashi) promptly puts the zombie to work, assigning her the task of scrubbing the garden patio. In lieu of wages, she gets daily rations of rotten greens. Things take a disturbing turn when two contractors working at the villa molest the zombie girl. Witnessing this, the doctor becomes turned on and makes her his plaything. The zombie shows no particular emotional response and yet, as she stoically sews back her wounds, a sense of foreboding emerges. Fate comes knocking at the door when Teramoto's young son, Kenichi (Riku Onishi), has a dreadful accident. The tables begin to turn for master and servant. “A deadpan social satire, an ode to motherhood, and a self-consciously grungy homage to classic silent horror-thrillers” – Variety Winner of the Grand Prize at the 2014 Gérardmer Film Festival; Winner of Best Film Award at the 2014 Fantasporto Film Festival --- The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji (Mogura no Uta Sennyu Sousakan REIJI)– OPENING FILM Thursday, July 10 at 6 pm **U.S. Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 130 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Takashi Miike. With Toma Ikuta, Riisa Naka, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Kamiji, Takashi Okamura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Kenichi Endo, Sarutoki Minagawa, Ren Osugi, Koichi Iwaki. Takashi Miike leaves respectability, restraint and decency at the door in this out-and-out balls-to-the-wall cops vs. yakuza farce. Inept rookie cop Reiji Kikukawa (Toma Ikuta) falls short of busting a city councilor who's caught molesting a teenage girl. Fired without ceremony, he is quickly rehired for an undercover mission to infiltrate a yakuza clan. Reiji's new colleagues give him a baptism of fire with an unorthodox initiation rite: he gets beaten up, tied naked to the hood of a car and driven around at top speed, and is coerced into shooting another cop. Reiji soon befriends Crazy Papillon (Shinichi Tsutsumi), the No. 2 in the gang. Sharing Reiji's taste in fashion as well as his distaste for drugs, they face down the diamond-toothed "cat" Nekozawa (Takashi Okamura) and his gang. How far will Reiji go in the yakuza underworld, and will he be able to bring down the gangsters in the end? ”Takashi Miike hits a home run with an irresistible cops and yakuza romp” – The Hollywood Reporter “Anyone who falls asleep during this extremely exuberant film can ask for his money back.” – International Film Festival Rotterdam 2014 --- Monsterz (Monsutazu) Sunday, July 13 at 3 pm **North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2013. 111 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Hideo Nakata. With Tatsuya Fujiwara, Takayuki Yamada, Satomi Ishihara, Tomorowo Taguchi, Motoki Ochiai, Taiga, Masaki Miura, Mina Fujii, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Yusuke Hirayama. Japanese horror master Hideo Nakata (Ringu, Dark Water) returns with a remake of the 2010 South Korean film Haunters, a paranormal thriller that offers an original, exciting variation on the tale of two men with supernatural abilities locked in a duel to the death. The nameless villain is a brooding loner (Tatsuya Fujiwara) who uses his mind control to rob banks to fund his solitary lifestyle. He is thrown off guard when delivery man Shuichi Tanaka (Takayuki Yamada) remains unaffected by his power, even after everyone standing in a public square has been placed under the control of his menacing sapphire eyes. Feeling threatened, the malevolent mind-bender sends a speeding truck after Shuichi and leaves him for dead. The young man mysteriously recovers and finds a job working for the driver, Mr. Kumoi (Tomorowo Taguchi), a guitar-shop owner. But when the mind-bender finds out that Shuichi is still alive, it is a war to the death between the two men. --- My Little Sweet Pea (Mugiko-san to) Saturday, July 19 at 2:15 pm **North American Premiere Japan. 2013. 95 min. DCP, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Keisuke Yoshida. With Maki Horikita, Kimiko Yo, Ryuhei Matsuda, Yumi Asou, Yoichi Nukumizu. It isn't easy to find a dream to chase when you're young, but Mugiko (Maki Horikita) has one: she can't wait to become an anime voice actress. Saving up for classes while she works part-time in a manga store, she lives with her older gambling brother (Ryuhei Matsuda), her father having passed away. When the mother (Kimiko Yo) she never knew turns up out of nowhere and moves in, it only causes irritation for the aspiring otaku. But when she disappears just as quickly, it leaves Mugiko (or "Sweet Pea") searching for answers, bringing her back to her mother's hometown to discover what happened to her mother’s own dream. Featuring fun animated sequences produced especially for the film by renowned studio Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell, Blood: The Last Vampire), My Little Sweet Pea boasts hilarious and moving performances all round, with director Keisuke Yoshida's signature comic timing and snappy dialogue. A consummate two hanky melodrama, My Little Sweet Pea won't leave a dry eye in the house. “You’ll feel like calling Mom after this one.” --Mark Schilling --- Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~  (Neko Zamurai) Saturday, July 19 at 7:30 pm **International Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with actor Kazuki Kitamura, with CUT ABOVE Award Ceremony, Followed by the Japan CATS Party! Japan. 2014. 100 min. HDCAM, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshitaka Yamaguchi. With Kazuki Kitamura, Misako Renbutsu, Yasufumi Terawaki, Kanji Tsuda, Shigeyuki Totsugi. The ever versatile Kazuki Kitamura stars as masterless samurai Kyutaro Madarame, a feared swordsman who has fallen on hard times in old Edo. Caught between two warring gangs in an epic battle of cat lovers and dog lovers, he begrudgingly accepts the canine faction's offer to assassinate the opposite leader's beloved pet: an adorable white cat. Yet upon raising his lethal sword, he cannot bring himself to go through with the act, and the cat melts his ronin heart. But before finding peace as a newly minted cat person, the still fearsome Madarame will have to take on both gangs in a classic samurai street brawl. Kitamura and the cat ("Tamanojo") form a winning onscreen pair in this charming and hilarious romp. Directed by former Takashi Miike Assistant Director Yoshitaka Yamaguchi, Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~ is perfect for cat lovers and cinephiles alike. "Obviously, this is a must see film. Let's not even kid around about that." --Badass Digest --- The Passion (Junan) Friday, July 18 at 6:30 pm **International Premiere Japan. 2013. 95 min. DCP, in Japanese with live English subtitles. Directed by Ryoko Yoshida. With Mayuko Iwasa, Kanji Furutachi, Yasushi Fuchikami, Kumiko Ito. A singular deadpan comedy, The Passion tells a story of a young woman raised in a convent named Frances-ko (Mayuko Iwasa), after Saint Francesco. Distressed by not knowing about love and sex, she calls out for a sign from above, but instead hears a voice from below. A human-faced growth speaks to her from between her legs, constantly berating her, calling out "Woman, you are worthless!" Mr. Koga, as she names it, continues the verbal abuse, yet Frances-ko somehow adapts, forming an adversarial yet symbiotic relationship. This bizarre film, based on Kaoruko Himeno's acclaimed 1997 novel of the same name, is skillfully directed by Ryoko Yoshida, lensed by veteran cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa, grounded by Iwasa's show-stopping performance and enlivened by the hilarious Kanji Furutachi, who lends his voice to the chauvinistic Koga. The soundtrack boasts an unmissable eclectic score by legendary experimental musician and composer Otomo Yoshihide. 18+ This film is unrated, and may only be viewed by persons 18 years of age and older. Original novel shortlisted for the prestigious Naoki Prize --- Pecoross' Mother and Her Days (Pekorosu no Haha ni Ai ni Iku) Sunday, July 20 at 12:30 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2013. 113 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Azuma Morisaki. With Ryo Iwamatsu, Harue Akagi, Kiwako Harada, Ryo Kase, Naoto Takenaka, Kensuke Owada. Laid-back baby boomer Yuichi (Ryo Iwamatsu) is a middle-aged manga artist and singer-songwriter when he isn't at his salaryman day job or watching out for his elderly mother. Suffering from increasing dementia since her husband's death, Mitsue (Harue Akagi) is a constant source of comic energy or annoyance for Yuichi, and he and his son must soon decide if they should put her in a home for the elderly. Jumping back in time, we see how Mitsue (played by Kiwako Harada) tracked the tumult of the latter half of the 20th century, being raised as one of 10 brothers and sisters, surviving the war, and having to push her alcoholic husband (Ryo Kase) along in life. Pecoross is directed by the oldest active film director in Japan, Azuma Morisaki (b. 1927), who creates an emotionally complex work that is only the more profound and life-affirming for its cartoonish portrayal. Awarded Best Japanese Film of 2013 by Kinema Junpo and Eiga Geijutsu --- The Pinkie (Samayou Koyubi) Saturday, July 12 at 10:30 pm **New York Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 65 min. Blu-ray, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Lisa Takeba. With Ryota Ozawa, Miwako Wagatsuma, Haruka Suenaga, Reon Kadena, Takashi Nishina, Mondo Yamagishi, Kanji Tsuda. The winner of the Grand Prix at the 24th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, Lisa Takeba's debut feature is a hyper-imaginative sci-fi(ish) drama about a slacker and his clone. Devil-may-care Ryosuke is taking it easy, nice and easy, particularly with the girls. Unfortunately, the latest beauty he seduces turns out to be a yakuza's moll. Reckoning comes when gangsters beat him up and chop off his pinkie, which falls in the hands of Momoko, a naughty girl who has been stalking him. She gets herself a cloning kit and grows her own Ryosuke-clone. It performs beyond expectations and proves to be a remarkable lover. Frantically paced, The Pinkie is chock-full of Western and Japanese pop culture references and jokes, as if Gen Sekiguchi's Survive Style 5+ had been directed by the minds behind Sushi Typhoon splatter films, mixing Weird Science, Battles Without Honor and Humanity and The Terminator into 65 minutes of concentrated weirdness. “The best thing about The Pinkie is its total adherence to a vision. That this vision is so utterly bizarre is what makes it special.” – Film.com --- The Snow White Murder Case (Shirayukihime Satsujin Jiken) Friday, July 11 at 6 pm **U.S. Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 126 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. With Mao Inoue, Go Ayano, Misako Renbutsu, Nanao, Shihori Kanjiya, Nobuaki Kaneko, Erena Ono. Yoshihiro Nakamura's Snow White Murder Case (helmer of Fish Story and Golden Slumbers) offers one of the best brain teasers of the year. Based on a novel by bestselling author Kanae Minato, the film dissects the odd goings-on behind the grim discovery of a corpse in the woods of a national park near Tokyo. The victim is a beautiful young office worker, Noriko Miki (Nanao), the object of much jealousy at the cosmetic company where she was employed. Suspicions soon turn toward her co-worker Miki Shirono (Mao Inoue), who has vanished after the murder. Blogger/journalist Yuji Akahoshi (Go Ayano) takes his investigation to the world of social media and the case quickly turns into a witch hunt with a full-blown Twitter storm. As the plot makes brain-bending twists and turns, the camera takes a cold, hard but not humorless look at the damage wrought by the pettiness of a passive-aggressive society. “Exceptionally well-written and skillfully lensed, The Snow White Murder Case is definitely one of the most compelling crime thrillers to come out of Japan in the last few years.” – Twitch Film --- Tale of a Butcher Shop (Aru Seinikuten no Hanashi) Saturday, July 19 at 12 pm **U.S. Premiere Japan. 2013. 108 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Aya Hanabusa. The Kitades run a butcher shop in Kaizuka City outside Osaka, raising and slaughtering cattle to sell the meat in their store. The seventh generation of their family's business, they are descendants of the buraku people, a social minority held over from the caste system abolished in the 19th century that is still subject to discrimination. As the Kitades are forced to make the difficult decision to shut down their slaughterhouse, the question posed by the film is whether doing this will also result in the deconstruction of the prejudices imposed on them. Though primarily documenting the process of their work with meticulous detail, Aya Hanabusa also touches on the Kitades' participation in the buraku liberation movement. Hanabusa's heartfelt portrait expands from the story of an old-fashioned family business competing with corporate supermarkets, toward a subtle and sophisticated critique of social exclusion and the persistence of ancient prejudices. Note: Some scenes contain graphic animal imagery. Official selection 2013 Busan International Film Festival and 2013 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival --- The Tale of Iya (Iya Monogatari--Oku no Hito--) – CLOSING FILM Sunday, July 20 at 6 pm **North American Premiere **Featuring Intro and Q&A with Director Tetsuichiro Tsuta Japan. 2013. 169 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Tetsuichiro Tsuta. With Rina Takeda, Shima Ohnishi, Min Tanaka, Hitoshi Murakami, Naomi Kawase. Shot on 35mm in Tokushima Prefecture's gorgeous Iya Valley, Tetsuichiro Tsuta's second feature feels like the work of a seasoned filmmaker. The Tale of Iya depicts the story of a shrinking rural community and traditional ways of life encroached on by modern society and consumerism. A grandfather (legendary dancer Min Tanaka) and his granddaughter, Haruna (actress and martial artist Rina Takeda), live together in a small mountain town, eating food they grow and hunting in the forest. Haruna is about to finish high school and must choose whether she will stay or move to the city. Tanaka is powerful and nearly wordless in this indelible screen performance, matched by Takeda, who provides the film with its emotional anchor. Through the appearance of a young man from Tokyo (Shima Ohnishi), Tsuta subtly portrays the dilemmas of leaving, staying and the politicized fights to conserve the environment or temporarily boost the economy. "5/5 stars… a work of instant and startling brilliance." --The Telegraph (UK) --- Unforgiven (Yurusarezaru Mono) Tuesday, July 15 at 8:30 pm **East Coast Premiere Japan. 2013. 135 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Sang-il Lee. With Ken Watanabe, Koichi Sato, Akira Emoto, Yuya Yagira, Shiori Kutsuna. In adapting Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), Sang-il Lee paid tribute to the film's grandiosity and scale while exchanging America's Western frontier for Meiji-era Japan, a time of immense social and political change after the fall of the Shogunate. Jubei (Ken Watanabe), once a samurai assassin, has survived to raise his children as an impoverished farmer. Before his wife's death, he promised her that he would lay down his sword, but when Kingo Baba (Akira Emoto) comes with news of a bounty on two men who mutilated the face of a prostitute, he can't turn him down. Young Goro (Yuya Yagira) joins the hunt, but they'll have to get through sadistic police chief Ichizo Oishi (Koichi Sato) first, and Jubei must confront even greater injustices, as well as his past deeds and killer heart. With gorgeously choreographed action set pieces in Hokkaido's beautiful and cruel landscape, this Unforgiven stands tall and alone. "Unexpectedly brilliant." --Time Out London ---  Uzumasa Limelight (Uzumasa Laimulaito) Sunday, July 13 at 8 pm **International Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF **Featuring Intro and Q&A with director Ken Ochiai and actress Chihiro Yamamoto Japan. 2014. 103 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Ken Ochiai. With Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto, Hiroki Matsukata, Masashi Goda, Hirotaro Honda, Hisako Manda. A moving, nostalgic portrait of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films), Uzumasa Limelight goes behind the scenes of the distinctive film genre for which Japan is famous. A professional extra named Kamiyama (Seizo Fukumoto, a real-life kirare-yaku, or chambara extras whose job it is to get killed on screen) has devoted 50 years of his life as a kirare-yaku in sword-fighting movies produced at Kyoto's Uzumasa Studios. A master of the art, he lives to die--or more exactly "to be cut"--and show a beautiful, spectacular death on screen. Now an elderly man, Kamiyama lives very modestly but has earned immense respect from his peers, some of them movie stars. When the studio where he works decides to discontinue its chanbara productions, Kamiyama finds himself at a loss. Hope arrives in the form of a young girl named Satsuki, who soon becomes Kamiyama's disciple. Will the art of dying by the sword live on? --- Why Don't You Play in Hell? (Jigoku de Naze Warui) Thursday, July 10 at 8:30 pm **NYC Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF **Introduction and Q&A with actress Fumi Nikaido, Followed by the LET’S PLAY IN HELL! Opening Night Party Japan. 2013. 126 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Sion Sono. With Jun Kunimura, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Fumi Nikaido, Hiroki Hasegawa, Gen Hoshino, Tomochika. A tribute to old-school yakuza cinema and shoe-string amateur filmmaking based on a screenplay Sion Sono wrote 17 years ago. The Fuck Bombers, a group of film geeks led by Hirata (Hiroki Hasegawa), try to turn brawler Sasaki (Tak Sakaguchi) into their new Bruce Lee but are nowhere near making their action masterpiece. An ambush set up by a yakuza clan comes to a gory end in the home of boss Muto (Jun Kunimura) with only one man, Ikegami (Shinichi Tsutsumi), surviving. When Mitsuko, the Mutos' young daughter, makes an unexpected entrance, Ikegami is instantly smitten. Ten years later, she has become one sultry mean mess of a girl (Fumi Nikaido). Determined to make Mitsuko a star, her father gives Hirata a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make his movie, with the yakuza as film production crew and the Bombers joining the "real" action--the ultimate sword battle between the Muto and Ikegami clans. "Quite possibly mankind’s greatest achievement, Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell” is less of a question than it is a glorious grindhouse requiem for an entire mode of filmmaking… “– Film.com --- Wood Job! (Ujjobu! Kamusari Naanaa Nichijo) Sunday, July 13 at 12:30 pm **North American Premiere, Co-presented with NYAFF Japan. 2014. 116 min. DCP, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Shinobu Yaguchi. With Shota Sometani, Masami Nagasawa, Hideaki Ito, Yuki Hirano, Naoki Ishii, Yoki Iida. The new film from Shinobu Yaguchi, director of Water Boys, is based on Shion Miura's bestseller, a bittersweet coming-of-age novel. Yuki Hirano (Shota Sometani), an ordinary 18-year-old high school graduate, fails his university entrance exams. Finding himself without a job or anything much in the way of career prospects, he abruptly decides to leave the city life behind, prompted by a brochure with a dishy girl on the cover (Masami Nagasawa) that advertises a one-year forestry program. He winds up in Kamusari, a backwater village nestled deep in the mountains, far beyond civilization, convenience stores and mobile phone coverage. There, he meets Iida (Hideaki Ito), a combination of mountain boy scout, dreamboat, handyman and wildman. Alongside Iida, Yuki learns and grows to love the Thoreau-like lifestyle in the woods and he finds himself embracing the dream of forging a fresh green life--and finding the girl from the brochure. “[Yaguchi’s] latest … is a return to comic form, with more laugh-out-loud gags than his films have produced in many years.” – The Japan Times   GUEST SPOTLIGHTS Kazuki Kitamura (Neko Samurai ~Samurai ♥ Cat~, Man from Reno, Killers) - An incredibly versatile, talented actor, Kazuki Kitamura has established himself over the past two decades as one of Japan's most sought-after stars. Embodying devilishly handsome villains and dashing heroes in dramatic and comedic performances of equal virtuosity, he'll present three of his latest films at JAPAN CUTS: the hilarious Neko Samurai, the the Japanese-American independent thriller Man from Reno, and the Indonesian-Japanese co-produced horror-thriller Killers. Recently taking on ambitious transnational projects such as the Indonesian action film The Raid 2, Kitamura hails from Osaka, and made a name for himself in 2000 when he received Kinema Junpo's Best New Actor award for his work in Rokuro Mochizuki's Minazuki and Takashi Miike's Ley Lines (Nihon kuroshakai). That same year he was awarded Best Supporting Actor at the Yokohama Film Festival for his work in Minazuki, Ben Wada'sPerfect Education (Kanzen-naru shiiku), and Kazuhiro Kiuchi's Kyohansha. Since then, Kitamura has continued to impress with a wide range of memorable leading and supporting roles in film and television, including the deliciously evil alien commander in Godzilla: Final Wars, the Thermae Romae franchise and acting opposite Tatsuya Nakadai in Japan's Tragedy. JAPAN CUTS 2014 celebrates Kitamura's career with candid introductions and Q&As for Man from Reno, Killers and Neko Samurai followed by the Japan CATS Party! Momoko Ando (0.5mm) is a multitalented filmmaker, artist and writer, and a rising star of Japan's independent filmmaking scene. Ando's first film, Kakera: A Piece of Our Life, was released in 2009 to great acclaim, scored by the Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha.0.5mm, her tour de force second feature, is adapted from her debut novel of the same name, and stars her sister, actress Sakura Ando. (From an immensely creative family, Momoko Ando is also the daughter of actor/director Eiji Okuda and essayist Kazu Ando.) While critically approaching contemporary issues of gender and patriarchy, Ando's films evince a classical visual style and brilliant comic touch. JAPAN CUTS presents the world premiere of 0.5mm as the festival's Centerpiece Presentation, including an introduction, Q&A and reception with the director. Dave Boyle (Man from Reno) is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker once memorably described by the Wall Street Journal's Jeff Yang as "the best Asian American filmmaker who's not actually in any way Asian American." After debuting with the bilingual comedy Big Dreams Little Tokyo (2006), in which he also starred as a young American businessman obsessed with Japanese culture, Boyle's sophomore featureWhite on Rice starring Hiroshi Watanabe and Nae Yuuki was released in theaters in 2009. In 2011, he embarked on a multi-film collaboration with San Francisco musician Goh Nakamura, who played himself in both Surrogate Valentine and Daylight Savings. JAPAN CUTS presents his fifth feature film, Man from Reno, accompanied by an introduction and Q&A with the director, and star Kazuki Kitamura. Shiro Maeda (The Extreme Sukiyaki) is a writer/director/actor and leading figure in Japan’s contemporary performing arts scene, also establishing himself through his work on novels, TV and movies. Born in the 1970s, Maeda is said to represent the voices of Japan’s “Lost Decade,” which refers to those who have lived through times of economic downturn and social uncertainty. Maeda is most recognized and praised for the way he deals with heavy and universal issues through levity, subtle humor and even absurdism. He is recipient of Japan’s most prestigious award for playwrights, the 52nd Kishida Drama Award, and the 22nd Mishima Yukio Prize for literature. Adapted from his novel, Maeda presents his directorial debut The Extreme Sukiyaki and joins JAPAN CUTS for a Q&A via streaming video. Fumi Nikaido (Why Don't You Play in Hell?), one of Japan's most popular rising stars, was scouted at the age of 12 to become a model and television actress. Hailing from Naha, a southern coastal town on Okinawa Island, Nikaido made her film debut in Koji Yakusho's 2009 Toad's Oil. For her stirring performance in Sion Sono's 2011 Himizu, she received the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the Venice International Film Festival with co-star Shota Sometani, the festival's highest prize for emerging talent, never before awarded to a Japanese performer. Nikaido joins JAPAN CUTS to present Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell?, including an introduction and Q&A followed by the Let's Play in Hell! Opening Night Party on the festival's opening night Ken Ochiai, Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto (Uzumasa Limelight) - Ken Ochiai is a writer/director based in Los Angeles who works in both the U.S. and Japan. Having made his first film at age 12, he left his native Tokyo after high school to pursue filmmaking in the U.S., graduating from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with a BA in Production and the American Film Institute. Seizo Fukumoto entered Toei Studio Kyoto at 15. Since then he has been featured in film and TV for more than half a century. Chihiro Yamamoto started learning Tai Chi at 3 and won gold and silver medals at the World Junior Wushu Championship. This is her film debut. The director and stars present Uzumasa Limelight at JAPAN CUTS, joining for an introduction and Q&A. Tetsuichiro Tsuta (The Tale of Iya) studied filmmaking at Tokyo Polytechnic University, where he began using black-and-white 16mm film. His first feature, Islands of Dreams was produced on this now rare format, and his magnificent second film, The Tale of Iya, is shot on color 35mm in the mountains not far from his hometown. The Tale of Iya, starring legendary dancer Min Tanaka, was awarded a Special Mention in the Asian Future section of the Tokyo International Film Festival, and chronicles not only a disappearing part of Japan, but a rare mode of film craftsmanship. Tsuta joins to present his spectacular work as JAPAN CUTS’ Closing Film, with an introduction and Q&A.
Japan Cuts 2014 photo
It never ends
With our NYAFF coverage still running strong, it seems an appropriate time to let you know that there's much, much more where that came from. Starting this Thursday, July 10th, the Japan Society kicks off their NYAFF crossove...

The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival is about to rock you

Jun 23 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER and SUBWAY CINEMA in association with Japan Society announce the Complete Lineup for THE 13th NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL June 27 – July 14, 2014 Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s crime thriller OVERHEARD 3 will make its International Premiere as the Opening Film, and the North American Premiere of Park Chan-kyong’s documentary MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS will close the festival. Previously announced North American premiere of Umin Boya’s period baseball epic KANO is festival’s Centerpiece Presentation. Chinese cinema legend, Taiwan’s Jimmy Wong Yu (THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, WUXIA) will be presented with the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, while the Star Asia Award will go to both Hong Kong’s queen of comedy Sandra Ng (GOLDEN CHICKENS trilogy) and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu.  Two inaugural awards will also be presented: The Celebrity Award will go to Park Joong-hoon and the Screen International Rising Star Award to Fumi Nikaido. Three special focus programs are also on the menu: a spotlight on resurgent local Hong Kong cinema, Hong Kong Forever!, a retrospective: Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute, and as previously announced, the 2014 Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae.   New York, NY, May 30, 2014 – The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema in association with Japan Society announce the full lineup today for the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which will take place June 27 – July 14. The festival of popular Asian cinema will showcase 60 feature films, including 1 major international premiere, 20 North American premieres, 6 U.S. premieres, and 11 more films making their New York City debuts. The festival will be attended by over 20 star filmmakers and celebrity guests traveling from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. NYAFF’s Opening Night presentation will be the International Premiere of Overheard 3, the highly anticipated finale to the immensely popular Hong Kong franchise. A stand-alone story of loyalty and morality that Sergio Leone might have made had he been working in Hong Kong, graced with a star-studded cast, and geared with heart-busting action, the ultimate episode in the epic saga, after tackling insider trading and stock market manipulation, sees writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong—the creators of the Infernal Affairs trilogy—turning to real estate conspiracies in the Hong Kong New Territories. The Closing Film will be Park Chan-kyung’s Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits, a cinematic feast for the mind and the senses, a thought-provoking mystical journey into the psyche of Korea and its modern history through the life story of Korea’s most famous living shaman, Kim Keum-hwa. Both the story of Kim—who was born in 1931 and became a shaman at 17—and significant moments of modern Korea are chronicled through rare archival footage, performances of shamanistic gut rituals, dramatic reenactment of real stories (actress Moon So-ri portrays Kim in the 1970s), and even animation and fantasy sequences. Umin Boya’s baseball epic Kano was previously announced as NYAFF’s Centerpiece Presentation. Produced and co-written by Taiwan’s hit maker director Wei Te-Sheng (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale), it’s a triumph of Taiwanese cinema and one of the highest-grossing local films of all time. Other highlights include Lou Ye’s Berlinale Golden Bear contender Blind Massage, considered by many critics as his masterpiece, and Japanese director Kazuaki Kumakiri’s My Man, the quietly disturbing tale of two lost soulsfatefully brought together by a natural disaster, and the only Japanese film competing at the 36th Moscow International Film Festival in June).    NYAFF will honor Jimmy Wong Yu with the 2014 Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently enjoying a bright Indian Summer in his long career, with juicy roles in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia (aka Dragon, 2011) and Chung Mong-hong’s art-house slasher Soul (2013), he has set the template for modern kung-fu movies with The Chinese Boxer (1970), and was instrumental in kicking off the swordfighting (wuxia) movie craze with his star-making performance in Chang Cheh’s The One Armed-Swordsman (1967). Star Asia Award recipients will include Hong Kong’s award-winning Queen of Comedy and most bankable actressSandra Ng, who has starred in over 100 movies (including the Golden Chicken trilogy), and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu, an absolute powerhouse of an actor who has a career that spans both high art (Oasis) and mass-appeal blockbusters (Cold Eyes). The inaugural The Celebrity Award will be presented to Park Joong-hoon, who’s been Korea’s top leading man since the 1980s (Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere to Hide), and who has made an impressive transition to directing with Top Star (2013). Fumi Nikaido will be the first Screen International Rising Star Award honoree. At 20 years old, she is already a full-fledged actress whose career has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, and who has shown incredible talent and range in various films ranging from Sion Sono’s Himizu and Why Don’t You Play in Hell? to Koji Fukada’s summer-at-the-beach drama Au revoir l’été, and the superbly disturbing My Man by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri. NYAFF will also feature three focus programs for this 13th edition of the festival of popular Asian cinema: Hong Kong Forever!, Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae, and Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute. These three programs, along with the main selection, highlight the film legacy of East Asia, and its current, crucial role in today’s ever-changing world of film, one that can’t (and shouldn’t) be shelved in the dusty corner conveniently and dismissively known as “world cinema.” At a time when many major film festivals are more Eurocentric and West-dominated than ever, NYAFF aims every year to show that the life of cinema is out there.   HONG KONG FOREVER! For Hong Kong cinema in 2013 and 2014, it’s all been about the renewed confidence and energy of the local film productions, and a return to the uniquely Hong Kong–focused stories. The tide started to turn with Pang Ho-cheung’s 2012 comedy about filmmaking, Vulgaria (Opening Film of NYAFF 2013). It became one of the highest grossing Hong Kong films of 2012, as Pang made Hong Kong audiences feel important again by producing a film filled with local humor for a homegrown audience. Critical and commercial successes continued for Hong Kong films throughout 2013 and local films even returned to the top of the Lunar New Year box office in 2014, led by outrageous comedy Golden Chickensss. So this year, we’re celebrating this restored strength of Hong Kong films with: 3D Naked Ambition, Aberdeen, As the Light Goes Out, Control, Firestorm, From Vegas to Macau, Golden Chicken, Golden Chickensss, May We Chat, Mr. Vampire, Overheard 3, Portland Street Blues, Rigor Mortis, andThe White Storm. Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   KOREAN ACTOR IN FOCUS: LEE JUNG-JAE Discovered while working at a café in the trendy Seoul neighborhood of Apgujeong, Lee Jung-jae began his career as a model. He made the transition to television in 1993 with Dinosaur Teacher and became a star almost overnight. He gained his first film role in 1994 in The Young Man but that same year the TV drama Feelingscemented Lee as a household name. Lee was a heartthrob and went on to appear in several more dramas before a starring role in E J-yong’s 1998 romantic drama An Affair turned him into a full-fledged movie star. Recently he has had a string of hits with films like the international crime caper The Thieves, the political gangster film New World, and the Joseon-era courtroom drama The Face Reader—the latest two films in particular have demonstrated Lee’s maturation as a character actor, where he has delivered some of his best dramatic performances to date. This focus will include The Face Reader, New World, and Il Mare. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   SIR RUN RUN SHAW TRIBUTE The legendary media mogul Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014) will forever be remembered for his instrumental role in revolutionizing the Chinese film industry by co-founding the famous Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd in 1958, building Asia’s largest film studio in Clearwater Bay (completed in 1964), and along with Raymond Chow, creating a mass production system with in-house talent—including directors Li Han-hsiang, King Hu, Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-leung, Chor Yuen, Kuei Chih-hung, and stars like Jimmy Wang Yu (Jimmy Wong), Gordon Liu, and Ti Lung. While the studio delivered more than 1,000 films over the years, in a wide range of genres, it was best known internationally for its martial-arts cinema. Our tribute will include the following films: The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), The Chinese Boxer (1970), The Delinquent (1974), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), Killers on Wheels(1976), Killer Constable (1980), and Seeding of a Ghost (1983). Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   Opening Night After-Party NYAFF 2014, in collaboration with Flaskingtree Marketing Group (flaskingtree.com), will host the official Opening Night After-Party on June 27, 2014, 8:00pm-1:00am, at the Empire Rooftop Bar & Lounge.  Located across the street from the Lincoln Center, at the Empire Hotel, the After-Party will be co-hosted by celebrity DJ Whoo Kid.     We’re deeply grateful for the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York, the Korean Cultural Service New York, the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, The Korea Society, and The Celebrity magazine.   We would also like to thank our sponsors: The Kitano Hotel, Anthology Film Archives, Møsefund Farm, Manhattan Portage, American Australian Association, Well Go USA, Drafthouse Films, RAM Releasing, Celestial Pictures, American Genre Film Archive, Huayi Brothers Media, Fortune Star, Epic Proportions, Flaskingtree Marketing Group, Kirin, and Urban Action Showcase; and our media partners: Screen International, Film Business Asia, and Noonchi.   Keep up with the latest festival news at: www.facebook.com/NYAFF, www.subwaycinema.com, twitter: @subwaycinema (#NYAFF14) Tickets are on sale both at the box office and online. Discounts are available for Film Society members. Read more about The Film Society of Lincoln Center. Screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater (located at 165 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway), Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues), and Asia Society (725 Park Avenue, at 70th Street). The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival Guests include:   Jimmy Wong Yu (SOUL, THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, THE CHINESE BOXER) Sandra Ng (GOLDEN CHICKEN, GOLDEN CHICKENSSS, PORTLAND STREET BLUES) Sol Kyung-gu (COLD EYES, HOPE, PUBLIC ENEMY) Lee Jung-jae (NEW WORLD, THE FACE READER, IL MARE) Moon So-ri (MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS) Fumi Nikaido (MY MAN, AU REVOIR L’ÉTÉ, WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL?) Zishuo Ding (SILENT WITNESS) Chihiro Yamamoto (UZUMASA LIMELIGHT) Director Alan Mak (OVERHEARD 3) Director Felix Chong (OVERHEARD 3) Director Anna Broinowski (AIM HIGH IN CREATION!) Director Fei Xing (SILENT WITNESS) Director Umin Boya (KANO) Director Lee Su-jin (HAN GONG-JU) Director Shin Yeon-shick (ROUGH PLAY) Director Ken Ochiai (UZUMASA LIMELIGHT)     The 2014 New York Asian Film Festival lineup: OPENING FILM International Premiere OVERHEARD 3 (2014) Country: Hong Kong Directors: Alan Mak & Felix Chong After tackling insider trading and stock market manipulation, writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong—the minds behind Infernal Affairs—turn to the real estate conspiracies in the Hong Kong New Territories in the third and reportedly final installment of the hugely popular Overheard series. Recently released from prison, Jau (Louis Koo) leads an intricate plan to take down the Luk Brothers, a group of bullies who rule the villages with an iron grip, and Uncle To (Kenneth Tsang), the self-proclaimed godfather of the New Territories. Featuring an all-star cast—including Mainland China’s Zhou Xun—and a story ripped from the headlines, Overheard 3 is an epic saga of loyalty and morality that Sergio Leone might have made had he been working in Hong Kong. Directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION North American Premiere KANO (2014) Country: Taiwan Language: Japanese, Taiwanese, Hakka, and Taiwan Aboriginal with English subtitles Director: Umin Boya The star of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale and already an award-winning television director, Umin Boya, makes his feature-film directorial debut with the true story of Kagi Agriculture and Forestry Public School’s baseball team. Known as the pioneers of Taiwanese baseball in the 1930s, this ragtag group of young players—made up of both Japanese and Taiwanese students—went from holding a losing record to playing in the finals of Japan’s high-school baseball tournament in one year under the leadership of their new Japanese coach (Nagase Masatoshi). A love letter to the sport of baseball and imbued with the never-give-up spirit, this three-hour crowd-pleasing sports epic is a triumph of Taiwan cinema and one of the highest-grossing local films of all time. Director Umin Boya will attend the screening. Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   CLOSING FILM North American Premiere MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Park Chan-kyong Directed by visual artist Park Chan-kyong (Day Trip and Night Fishing, both co-directed with his brother Park Chan-wook), Manshin is a cinematic feast for the mind and the senses, a thought-provoking mystical journey into the psyche of Korea and its modern history through a life story of Korea’s most famous living shaman, Kim Keum-hwa. Both the life of Kim—who was born in 1931 and became a shaman at 17—and significant moments of modern Korea are chronicled through rare archival footage, performances of shamanistic “gut” rituals, dramatic reenactment of real stories (Moon So-ri portrays Kim in the 1970s), and even animation and fantasy sequences. Featuring original music by Korean indie band UhUhBoo Project (Night Fishing), Manshin transports viewers beyond the borders of past and present, South and North Korea, life and afterlife, reality and fantasy. It is unlike any other film you’ll see at NYAFF this year. Moon So-ri will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere 3D NAKED AMBITION (2014) Director: Lee Kung-lok Country: Hong Kong This hilarious sex comedy follows Chapman To (Vulgaria) as he leaves Hong Kong for Japan in hopes of becoming a porn producer. The film feels like a throwback to some of the best Hong Kong Cat III comedies, with tons of innuendo, a bit of social comedy and rapid-fire wit, and fun (if a bit sticky) uses of 3-D.   Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   ABERDEEN (2014) Country: Hong Kong Director: Pang Ho-cheung A beautifully composed, imaginative, and finely observed dramedy that examines relationships across three generations of a Hong Kong family. Pang Ho-cheung’s magic-realist touch gives the story grace notes like whale sightings, kaiju rampages, and unexploded WWII bombs found in the center of downtown Hong Kong. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   U.S. Premiere AIM HIGH IN CREATION! (2013) Country: Australia Director: Anna Broinowski In this revolutionary comedy documentary about the cinematic genius of North Korea’s late Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, Anna Broinowski visits North Korea with a goal to learn first hand how to make a propaganda film, according to the rules of his 1987 Manifesto “The Cinema and Directing.” Director Anna Broinowski will attend the screening. Presented with the support of American Australian Association’s Dame Joan Sutherland Fund.   North American Premiere ALL-AROUND APPRAISER Q: THE EYES OF MONA LISA (2014) Country: Japan Director: Shinsuke Sato In this adaptation of the popular eponymous mystery novel by Keisuke Matsuoka, Paris provides the gorgeous backdrop for a grand intrigue involving the world’s most iconic artistic treasure: the Mona Lisa. Minds will be blown, puzzles will be solved, but will a 500-year-old curse be removed? From the director who gave you the blockbustersGantz and Library Wars. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere APOLITICAL ROMANCE (2012) Country: Taiwan Director: Hsieh Chun-yi A China-Taiwan cross-cultural rom-com with an excellent, unforced chemistry between its leads, Apolitical Romance follows Mainland girl (Huang Lu) as she visits Taiwan and gets involved with a local guy (Bryan Chang) who helps her track down her grandmother’s first love from 60-odd years ago. Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   North American Premiere AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT (2014) Country: Hong Kong/China Director: Derek Kwok Hong Kong stars Simon Yam, Shawn Yue, Nic Tse, and Hu Jun (Firestorm, Drug War) play a squad of firefighters trapped in a testosterone-fueled soap opera. If you aren’t wiping away Man Tears by the end of this movie, then it’s only because you’re running out of the theater to file your application to join the fire department. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   U.S. Premiere AU REVOIR L’ÉTÉ (2013) Country: Japan Director: Koji Fukada A light comedy of manners played out during 10 days in a seaside town, Au revoir l’été is a nicely played Eric Rohmer-esque rondo of human behavior, with its teenage central character Sakuko (a strikingly assured Fumi Nikaido) philosophically observing the small hypocrisies and lies by the adults around her, as well as going through a small learning experience of her own. Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening.   North American Premiere BLIND MASSAGE (2014) Country: China/France Director: Lou Ye Easily the most powerful and innovative Asian film of this year, Blind Massage consolidates the rebirth of Mainland director Lou Ye (NYAFF 2013 selection Mystery) as a world-class talent. By following the lives of the blind and partially sighted masseurs and masseuses of Sha Zonqi Massage Centre in Nanjing, Lou creates a true ensemble movie and a powerful ride through a parallel world of metaphysical cinema.   THE CHINESE BOXER (1970) Country: Hong Kong Director: Jimmy Wong Yu When you talk about movies that changed the world, The Chinese Boxer unquestionably has to take its place among them. Jimmy Wang Yu was already an established superstar in Hong Kong and Asia, but The Chinese Boxer, his first film as director, wasn’t just the first open-handed martial-arts film from Hong Kong to become a worldwide blockbuster, but its influence on all martial-arts films since, especially Bruce Lee’s, cannot be understated. Jimmy Wong Yu will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   New York Premiere COLD EYES (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Choi Eui-seok A splashy and gripping remake of Johnnie To’s Hong Kong hit thriller Eye in the Sky (2007), which became a surprise box-office smash last summer in Korea, Cold Eyes is anchored by Sol Kyung-gu’s performance as a rumpled middle-aged surveillance guru. Watch for a cameo by Eye in the Sky star, Simon Yam, right before the credits roll. Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening on July 7, and will be presented with Star Asia Award. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere CONTROL (2013) Country: Hong Kong/China/Taiwan Director: Kenneth Bi Writer-director Kenneth Bi (Rice Rhapsody, The Drummer) delivers his most ambitious movie to date, the futuristic thriller Control, a big-budget, noirish mystery with multiple twists, set in an unnamed Asian metropolis. The film follows an insurance salesman, played by Daniel Wu, as he is coerced to commit criminal acts by an unseen villain, who sends instructions over the phone and has control of the city’s surveillance cameras. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   THE DELINQUENT (1973) Country: Hong Kong Directors: Chan Cheh & Kuei Chih-Hung In one of the most aggressively experimental action movies ever to come out of Shaw Brothers, Wang Chung plays an angry young man sweating to death in the grotty ghetto of modern-day Hong Kong, who gets recruited by a local gang. Raw and feral. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   New York Premiere THE DEVIL’S PATH (2013) Country: Japan Director: Shiraishi Kazuya An ambitious, brooding character study that intelligently tackles heavy issues like press ethics, the nature and causes of crime, the throes of guilt, the (im)possibility of redemption, and, at the deepest level, the banality of evil,The Devil’s Path is a slow burn that shows the hellish torment of a guilty conscience as it chronicles the case of a condemned yakuza played by actor-singer Pierre Taki. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   U.S. Premiere THE ETERNAL ZERO (2013) Country: Japan Director: Takashi Yamazaki Japan’s biggest hit last year, and one of the 10 top-grossing Japanese films of all time, The Eternal Zero will no doubt provide the most extreme film experience of the NYAFF/Japan Cuts 2014 lineup. Infuriating in its ideological and political black holes as it is exhilarating in its superb visual artistry and emotional intensity, it’s a film that will leave no one indifferent. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   THE FACE READER (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Han Jae-rim The Face Reader, which beat Iron Man 3 at the Korean box office last year, is a lavish period drama with high-level cast at the top of its game, witty dialogue, and a smooth mixture of low comedy and high drama. The film spins on the contradictions between outward appearances and inner feelings as it follows a professional physiognomist, hired to weed out corrupt officials at Joseon dynasty court, who becomes entangled in a power struggle for the throne. Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening.   Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   New York Premiere FIRESTORM 3D (2013) Country: Hong Kong/China/Malaysia Director: Alan Yuen Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau plays Lui, a prissy police detective who’s getting his butt handed to him by flashy thief Nam (Hu Jun, Drug War and As the Light Goes Out), an insanely competent career criminal who knocks over armored cars like dominos. What follows is an action movie turned up to 11, in which everything goes to hell hard and fast and by the time the end credits roll, pretty much everyone in Hong Kong has been murdered in an epic shootout. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   New York Premiere FROM VEGAS TO MACAU (2014) Country: Hong Kong/China Director: Wong Jing A semi-sequel to God of Gamblers (1989), one of the most iconic Hong Kong movies of all time, this flick is a showcase for Chow Yun-fat, the Godzilla of Hong Kong movies: a massive megastar who towers over the landscape. A charmer who oozes so much debonair sexiness that he makes Don Draper look drab, Chow is firing on all cylinders in this no-holds-barred gambling movie, directed by Wong Jing, who will do absolutely anything to entertain an audience. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   North American Premiere FUKU-CHAN OF FUKUFUKU FLATS (2014) Country: Japan Director: Yosuke Fujita An irresistibly quirky comedy about love, losers, loners, and life in a run-down apartment complex called FukuFuku Flats, Fuku-chan offers laughs aplenty, sweet and bitter, in the expert hands of helmer Yosuke Fujita (Fine, Totally Fine, winner of the 2008 Audience Award at NYAFF) and his lead actress, comedienne Miyuki Oshima (Gu Gu the Cat, The Handsome Suit, Miss Kurosawa), who’s cast here in the improbable role of a Japanese everyman (sort of) rich in friends and poor in romance.   GOLDEN CHICKEN (2002) Country: Hong Kong Director: Samson Chiu Sandra Ng plays Kum, a hooker with a heart of gold and a brain of bubblegum who takes us on a tour of Hong Kong history, as seen from the bedroom. Kum started turning tricks in high school, then moved on to an upscale nightclub where she overcame her lack of good looks by developing a never-say-die personality. She goes independent, weathers Tiananmen Square, a couple of financial crises, the 1997 handover, and everything else that life throws at her, never losing hope that there will always be a better tomorrow. Sandra Ng will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   North American Premiere GOLDEN CHICKENSSS (2014) Country: Hong Kong Director: Matt Chow This bawdy comedy, featuring veteran comedienne Sandra Ng as a mama-san with a calculator for a soul, is a celebration of Hong Kong, and a real treat for the fans of HK cinema. Shambolic, reckless, and defiantly un-PC,Golden Chickensss celebrates hard work, hard weiners, big hearts, and big boobs. One of the most loving, high-spirited movies about sex workers you’ll ever see, the whole thing even ends with the cast bursting into song for no good reason other than they’re having a blast. Sandra Ng will attend the screening on June 27, and will be presented with Star Asia Award. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   New York Premiere THE GREAT PASSAGE (2013) Country: Japan Director: Yuya Ishii Cult arthouse director Yuya Ishii (Sawako Decides) has racked up all the top honors at the Japan Academy Awards earlier this year with this deceptively simple yet immensely captivating, existential comedy/drama about a charmingly nerdy editor, Majime Mitsuya (Ryuhei Matsuda), who spends decades dutifully writing and compiling definitions for a “living language” dictionary entitled The Great Passage. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere HAN GONG-JU (2014) Country: South Korea Director: Lee Su-jin This supremely beautiful social and psychological drama follows a high-school girl, as she seeks anonymity and escape from the horror of an unnamed past experience. Praised by Martin Scorsese, who presented it with the Golden Star for Best Film at the Marrakech International Film Festival last year, the feature debut from writer-director Lee Su-jin is a devastating portrait of South Korea’s blame culture, embedded cronyism, and destructive family pressures. Director Lee Su-jin will attend the screening. Presented with the support of The Korea Society.   North American Premiere HOPE (2014) Country: South Korea Director: Lee Joon-ik Inspired by a horrifying case of child rape some five years ago in South Korea, Hope brings a fresh approach to a difficult subject matter, and by focusing on the victim’s recovery, ultimately delivers technically flawless feel-good human drama, guided by the steady hand of producer-director Lee Joon-ik (King and the Clown), and anchored by veteran actors Sol Kyung-gu and Uhm Ji-won as the child’s parents. Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   IL MARE (2000) Country: South Korea Director: Lee Hyun-seung Two enormous Korean stars (Lee Jung-jae and Jun Ji-hyun), a magical time-portal mailbox, and a house by the lake were all mixed into the Korean melodrama pot in 2000 and out came Il Mare. The performances of the leads along with the brilliant production design by Kim Ki-cheol and beautiful cinematography by Alex Hong have since cemented this in the canon of Korean romantic dramas. Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   KILLER CONSTABLE (aka KARATE EXTERMINATORS) (1980) Country: Hong Kong Director: Kuei Chih-hung Shaw Brothers legend Chen Kuan-tai out-grims the Grim Reaper playing a Qing Dynasty constable assigned by the Empress to track down a stolen shipment of gold. Probably Kuei Chih-hung’s masterpiece, Killer Constable is a classic martial-arts film, served bleaker and angrier than ever before. Coming at the end of the new wuxia cycle that kicked off in 1967 with The One-Armed Swordsman, it is a movie in which everyone is exhausted to the depths of their souls, every swordsman is a sadist, and every blade has to be bathed in blood before it’s put away. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   KILLERS ON WHEELS (aka MADBOYS IN HONG KONG) (1976) Country: Hong Kong Director: Kuei Chih-hung Kuei Chih-hung loves his exploitation tropes, and with this movie he gives the world his very own, very bloody take on the biker picture (known more evocatively as Madboys in Hong Kong). Motorcycles jump through houses! Stuntmen on fire get thrown off rooftops! Boiling oil scorches faces! Biker gals strip naked! Spearguns will be used! By the end of this movie, everyone under the age of 21 has been run over, pierced, chopped, slashed, burned to death, or just bludgeoned into submission with a big old hog. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) Country: Hong Kong Director: Roy Ward Baker Shaw Brothers wanted to rule the world in 1974, and stage one in their plan for global domination was to team up with Hammer Studios, England’s House of Horror, and make a kung-fu vampire movie. Starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing the vampire hunter, and Shaw Brothers icon David Chiang as his Chinese counterpart, this Saturday matinee horror hybrid was co-directed by Chang Cheh (uncredited; The One-Armed Swordsman) and Roy Ward Baker (Quatermass and the Pit). Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   THE MAGIC BLADE (1976) Country: Hong Kong Director: Chor Yuen One of the finest wuxia films ever made (#85 on Time Out Hong Kong’s list of the Greatest Hong Kong Films of All Time), The Magic Blade (adapted from Gu Long’s celebrated novel) is a perfect mixture of swordplay, fantasy, martial arts, heroic bloodshed (and we do mean bloodshed), and more Ti Lung greatness that any moviegoer could ever ask for. It remains one of the true classics of the entire Shaw Brothers library. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   New York Premiere MARUYAMA, THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER (2013) Country: Japan Director: Kankuro Kudo The sole spine-cracking ambition in life of sex-crazed 14-year-old Maruyama (Takuma Hiraoka) is to lick his own weenie. Described by acclaimed actor/screenwriter/director Kankuro Kudo (writer of Ping Pong and Zebraman) as a “self-fellatio” comedy, Maruyama is actually a deeply moving coming-of-age story, an exploration of the liberating possibilities of the human imagination, and a study of what it means to live with other people. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere MAY WE CHAT (2013) Country: Hong Kong Director: Philip Yung A teen slice-of-life drama that suddenly transforms into a gangland noir, it’s a modern-day version of the kind of hard-hitting juvenile-delinquent drama that Hong Kong used to be the master of, only updated to the 2.0 version. The film is anchored and elevated by three electric performances from three first-time actresses: there’s Rainky Wai as deaf-mute Chiu (who earns cash with “compensated dating”), Kabby Hui as shallow rich girl Li, and Heidi Lee as Wai-wai (who’s dealing with a junkie mom). Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   New York Premiere MISS ZOMBIE (2013) Country: Japan Director: Sabu Carefully blending horror tropes and thriller elements into a formally restrained, razor-sharp social satire that lovingly melds the humdrum and the deranged, Sabu’s Miss Zombie is a movie so dense it could bend light. Set in a futuristic Japan where zombies are domesticated as house pets and servants, it’s a work of compact beauty, predominantly monochrome and largely free of dialogue. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere MOEBIUS (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Kim Ki-duk A playfully twisted black comedy with no dialogue, Moebius is an everyday tale of penectomy, rape, sadomasochistic sex, and incestuous love. It continues maverick writer-director Kim Ki-duk’s journey into the madness of the Korean soul—though in a much more in-your-face way than last year’s Pietà. It is a quintessentially Kim Ki-duk movie in its risk-taking and outsider feel, and could have been made by no other filmmaker currently working in the country. Presented with the support of The Korea Society.   U.S. Premiere THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI (2014) Country: Japan Director: Takashi Miike Japan’s most prolific and most popular gonzo director Takashi Miike offers two irresistibly frantic hours of undiluted insanity. An out-and-out balls-to-the-wall cops vs. yazuka farce, based on a popular manga series about a cop infiltrating a powerful yakuza clan, the film leaves respectability, restraint, and decency at the door. The Mole Songis a monument erected to pop madness and perhaps, in more ways than one, an apotheosis of post-cinema cinema. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere MONSTERZ (2014) Country: Japan Director: Hideo Nakata Japanese horror master Hideo Nakata (Ring and Dark Water) returns with the remake of the 2010 South Korean film Haunters (NYAFF 2011 selection, directed by Kim Min-seok), a somber paranormal thriller that offers an original, exciting variation of the tale of two men with supernatural abilities, locked in a duel to the death. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   MR. VAMPIRE (1985) Country: Hong Kong Director: Ricky Lau Bouncing through the moonlight like demented, bloodthirsty pogo sticks, hopping vampires are one of Hong Kong cinema’s most absurd and unique sights, and this is the movie that launched the craze that spawned hundreds of films. An avalanche of Canto comedy, genuine horror, and slam-bang stunts, this is probably the movie people are talking about when they say how awesome and insane Hong Kong cinema is. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Fortune Star.   North American Premiere MY MAN (2014) Country: Japan Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri A poignant, powerful, erotic drama about an adolescent girl (Fumi Nikaido) who is raised by her distant relative (Tadanobu Asano) after she loses her family in a tsunami. Based on Kazuki Sakuraba's controversial best seller, and directed by the award-winning Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (Sketches of Kaitan City), My Man is the quietly disturbingtale of two lost souls, fatefully brought together by a natural disaster, in Hokkaido, the northernmost part of the Japanese archipelago. Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening and will be presented with the Screen International Rising Star Award.   NEW WORLD (2013) Country: Korea Director: Park Hoon-jung Park Hoon-jung took what could have been another run-of-the-mill Korean gangster film and turned it into an absolutely fascinating, harrowing, and dizzying look at the power structures and politics of a criminal organization,anchored by phenomenal performances by Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Jeong-min, and Choi Min-sik. Lee Jung-jae will attend the screening.   Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere NO MAN’S LAND (2009) Country: China Director: Ning Hao One part The Road Warrior and one part The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, this spaghetti Western via the Coen Brothers is a black comedy of errors from the director who brought us festival favorite Crazy Racer a couple of years ago. A savage, cynical satire, the film is a savvy indictment of the dog-eat-dog capitalism that’s currently eating China (and America) alive.   THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1967) Country: Hong Kong Director: Chang Cheh The movie that changed everything. Chang Cheh’s breakthrough film, with action by the legendary Lau Kar-leung (Drunken Master II) and Tong Kai and starring Jimmy Wang Yu, a man who can convey an entire encyclopedia’s worth of badassery with one glower, The One-Armed Swordsman still has the power to kick over the establishment and drop a blade right through its skull. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   THE PINKIE (2014) Country: Japan Director: Lisa Takeba Ryosuke is drifting through life, but when he seduces a yakuza’s mistress, the gangsters rough him up and chop off his pinkie. It comes into the possession of Momoko, a girl who has been stalking him. She gets herself a cloning kit and grows her own Ryosuke-clone. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 24th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, Lisa Takeba’s debut feature is a hyper-imaginative crazytown sci-fi drama that’s flashy, funky, and filled to the brim with genre influences of all kinds. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   PORTLAND STREET BLUES (1998) Country: Hong Kong Director: Yip Wai Man Hong Kong’s mighty Young & Dangerous film series about young gangsters were huge hits that spawned numerous sequels and spin-off films, the best of which is this one, a stand-alone flick about Sister 13 (Sandra Ng), a lesbian pimp who sports a spiky ’do and boss suits. Shot in the streets at a breakneck pace, it’s a gutsy entertainer about the fluidity of sexuality, gangster feminism, and hardcore street fighting. Sandra Ng will attend the screening. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   PUBLIC ENEMY (2002) Country: South Korea Director: Kang Woo-suk In one of his career-defining roles, Sol Kyung-gu is fantastic as a corrupt detective relentlessly pursuing a murderer (Lee Sung-jae). In addition to all of the graphic violence are equally graphic jokes, and the audience comes away with one of the grittiest social satires to come out of Korea. Both characters are the titular “public enemy,” and the dedicated performances by the two lead actors carry this fiercely intelligent, darkly funny, and well-crafted film into classic territory. Sol Kyung-gu will attend the screening.   Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   Manhattan Premiere R100 (2013) Country: Japan Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto Hitoshi Matsumoto is Japan’s most famous comedian, but even if you’ve seen his absurdist movies like Big Man Japan and Symbol you’ll barely be prepared for the bizarro S&M antics of this straight-faced send-up of every single genre in Japanese cinema. This is one of the funniest movies of the year, with something profound to say about the pursuit of pleasure, girl gangs, dominatrix armies, and total bondage warfare.   RIGOR MORTIS (2013) Country: Hong Kong Director: Juno Mak A spiritual sequel to Mr. Vampire, this moody flick is a gothic reinvention of Hong Kong’s classic hopping-vampire movies that turbo-charges the tired old formula with modern filmmaking chops. Crammed with a gallery of old-school greats, from Shaw Brothers vet Kara Hui, to famed Eighties comedian Richard Ng, this cast is a blast from Hong Kong’s creepy old past. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.   North American Premiere ROUGH PLAY (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Shin Yeon-shick Rough. Raw. Real. From the Kim Ki-duk school of filmmaking comes this hard-edged drama about the pains of being an actor, featuring Korean heartthrob Lee Joon in a breakthrough role. Lee is absolutely captivating in a performance all about the destruction that narcissism and rampant ego can bring. A darker than dark take on the Korean film industry, Rough Play rails against the apathy of a business wholly concerned with appearance and that gives no long-term thought to the future. Director Shin Yeon-shick will attend the screening. Presented with the support of the Korea Society.   SEEDING OF A GHOST (1983) Country: Hong Kong Director: Chuan Yang In this outrageous exploitation horror film from Shaw Brothers, a taxi driver enlists the help of a sorcerer to avenge the brutal murder of his wife. If you’ve got any personal rules about not watching movies featuring necrophilia, worm eating, or mutant births, then you should probably stay home. If you want to see tentacled hell beasts issuing from poisoned wombs and chowing down on yuppies, then you should definitely come on down. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.   North American Premiere SEVENTH CODE (2013) Country: Japan Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa Putting aside his J-horror roots after the Cannes award-winning Tokyo Sonata (2008) and the widely praised TV serial/movie Penance (2012), Kurosawa offers a surprising, radical break from an already broad oeuvre with this freewheeling fast-track thriller full of twists and turns. The film follows a kooky, pretty girl (Atsuko Maeda, a hugely popular idol/singer in Japan) as she wanders the mean streets of bleak, post-Soviet Vladivostok. Preceded by Kurosawa’s 29-minute Beautiful New Bay Area Project.   North American Premiere SILENT WITNESS (2013) Country: China Director: Fei Xing This superbly crafted crime/courtroom procedural follows the trial of a millionaire’s daughter for the murder of her future stepmother. With a script that doesn’t ever loosen its grip, a big-name cast at the top of its game, and an atmospheric production package that’s all in service of the drama, Silent Witness is mesmerizing entertainment, and a game-changer in Mainland genre cinema. Director Fei Xing will attend the screening.    U.S. Premiere THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE (2014) Country: Japan Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura Powered by a complicated Chinese puzzle box of a murder plot, The Snow White Murder Case was helmed by the director of Fish Story and Golden Slumbers (both NYAFF/Japan Cuts favorites), and it’s one of the best brainteasers of the year. Based on a novel by best-selling author Kanae Minato (who wrote Confessions), the film dissects the odd goings-on behind the grim discovery of a burned-to-the-crisp corpse found in a national park near Tokyo. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   New York Premiere SOUL (2013) Country: Taiwan Director: Chung Mong-hong Taiwan’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Oscars is a dark, art-house slasher-psychodrama set in the backwoods of Taiwan, starring legendary actor Jimmy Wong Yu. Jimmy Wong Yu will attend the screening on July 5, and will be presented with the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.  Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   THE TERROR LIVE (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Kim Byeong-woo Unfolding in real time, and set mostly in the claustrophobic radio studio, this film is a showcase for Ha Jung-woo (The Chaser, Nameless Gangster), who plays a call-in-show host who manipulates, bullies, cajoles, cowers, lies, and unleashes righteous anger as he goes up against an unseen terrorist who threatens to blow up a bridge on the Han River. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere TOP STAR (2013) Country: South Korea Director: Park Joong-hoon The directorial debut of veteran actor Park Joong-hoon (Nowhere to Hide, Two Cops) is a perfect study of the ephemeral nature of fame and success, set in the cutthroat world that is the Korean film industry. Park relies on his 28 years of acting experience working on films with major Korean directors to confidently deliver a stylish and compelling tale of the rise, fall, and redemption of an actor. Director Park Joong-hoon will attend the screening on June 28, and will be presented with The Celebrity Award. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.   North American Premiere UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (2014) Country: Japan Director: Ken Ochiai A moving, nostalgic portrait of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films) that goes behind the scenes of the distinctive film genre for which Japan is most famous, with dominant performance by real-life kirare-yaku Seizo Fukumoto. Director Ken Ochiai, Chihiro Yamamoto, and Seizo Fukumoto will attend the screening. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere THE WHITE STORM (2013) Country: Hong Kong/China One part Reefer Madness, one part John Woo–level action bromance (with Louis Koo, Nick Cheung, and Sean Lau in the leads), The White Storm is an all-you-can eat buffet that piles its plate high with gunfights, male bonding, car crashes, snappy action, super melodrama, handsome cops, and intense style. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York. Manhattan Premiere WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? (2013) Country: Japan Director: Sion Sono A delirious back-to-bloody-basics film that pays tribute to old-school yakuza cinema and low-budget amateur filmmaking, Why Don’t You Play in Hell is based on a screenplay bad-boy director Sion Sono (a NYAFF/Japan Cuts guest in 2009) wrote 17 years ago. The director himself describes it as “an action film about the love of 35mm.” Fumi Nikaido will attend the screening. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema.   North American Premiere WOOD JOB! (2014) Country: Japan Director: Shinobu Yaguchi The new film from the director of Water Boys is based on Miura Shion’s bestseller, a bittersweet coming-of-age novel dealing with forestry (the “wood job” of the title… nothing dirty here!), and has earned praised from Studio Ghibli's very own Hayao Miyazaki. Presented with Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. New York Premiere ZONE PRO SITE: THE MOVEABLE FEAST (2013) Country: Taiwan Director: Chen Yu-hsun Failed actress Chan runs away to her hometown trying to stay a step ahead of debt collectors. While there, she discovers that the only way to raise the cash she needs is to start catering out of her stepmother’s hole-in-the-wall restaurant. As colorful as a bowl full of hard candies, Zone Pro Site is a delightful foodie comedy feast that will have you gnawing on the stuffing from your seat cushion in hunger. Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.   NYAFF 2014 Full Schedule Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater Fri, June 27   5:00 OVERHEARD 3 (111) + guest appearance 8:30 GOLDEN CHICKENSSS (102) + guest appearance (Star Asia Award presentation) 11:30 SEEDING OF A GHOST (90) Sat, June 28 12:30 GOLDEN CHICKEN (106) + guest appearance 3:15 PORTLAND STREET BLUES (120) + guest appearance 6:15 TOP STAR (107) + guest appearance (The Celebrity Award presentation) 9:15 3D NAKED AMBITION (120) Sun, June 29 12:30 AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT (116)   2:50 THE WHITE STORM (137)    5:35 KANO (185) + guest appearance 9:30 BEAUTIFUL NEW BAY AREA PROJECT (29) + SEVENTH CODE (60) Mon, June 30 3:30 TOP STAR (107) 6:00 HAN GONG-JU (112) + guest appearance 8:45 BLIND MASSAGE (117)     Tue, July 1 4:00 GOLDEN CHICKENSSS (102) 6:30 ROUGH PLAY (98) + guest appearance 9:15 NO MAN’S LAND (115) Wed, July 2 2:30 BLIND MASSAGE (117)    5:00 MAY WE CHAT (100) 7:15 R100 (98) 9:30 MOEBIUS (88) Thu, July 3 3:30 ROUGH PLAY (98) + guest appearance 6:00 FUKU-CHAN OF FUKUFUKU FLATS (110)  8:30 THE ETERNAL ZERO (144) Fri, July 4 2:00 MR. VAMPIRE (96) + RIGOR MORTIS (101) double feature 6:00 FROM VEGAS TO MACAU (93) 8:00 KILLERS ON WHEELS (MADBOYS IN HONG KONG) (95) 10:00 THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (83) Sat, July 5 1:00 ZONE PRO SITE: THE MOVEABLE FEAST (145) 4:00 THE TERROR LIVE (97) 6:15 THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (111) + guest appearance 9:15 SOUL (112) + guest appearance (Lifetime Achievement Award presentation) Sun, July 6 1:00 MONSTERZ (111) 3:30 THE CHINESE BOXER (86) + guest appearance 6:00 NEW WORLD (134) + guest appearance 9:15 SILENT WITNESS (118) + guest appearance Mon, July 7 2:00 PUBLIC ENEMY (135) 5:15 THE FACE READER (139) + guest appearance 8:45 COLD EYES (118) + guest appearance (Star Asia Award presentation)  Tue, July 8 1:00 THE TERROR LIVE (97) 3:30 IL MARE (95) + guest appearance 6:00 HOPE (123) + guest appearance 9:00 AU REVOIR L’ÉTÉ (125) + guest appearance Wed, July 9 1:00 SOUL (112) 3:30 MISS ZOMBIE (85) 6:00 MY MAN (128) + guest appearance (Screen International Rising Star Award presentation) 9:15 FIRESTORM 3D (109) Thu, July 10 1:00 COLD EYES (118) 3:30 ABERDEEN (98) 5:40 CONTROL (92) 8:15 AIM HIGH IN CREATION! (97) + guest appearance Japan Society Thu, July 10 6:00 THE MOLE SONG: UNDERCOVER AGENT REIJI (130)            8:30 WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? (119) + guest appearance Fri, July 11 6:00 THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE (126) 8:30 MARUYAMA, THE MIDDLE SCHOOLER (120)  Sat, July 12 12:30 THE GREAT PASSAGE (134) 3:00 THE ETERNAL ZERO (144) 6:00 THE DEVIL’S PATH (128)  8:30 MISS ZOMBIE (85) 10:30 THE PINKIE (65)  Sun, July 13 12:30 WOOD JOB! (116) 3:00 MONSTERZ (111) 5:30 ALL-AROUND APPRAISER Q: THE EYES OF MONA LISA (119) 8:00 UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (103) + guest appearance Asia Society Fri, July 11 6:30 KOREAN SHORT FILM MADNESS (120) Sun, July 13  3:00 THE DELINQUENT (96) 5:10 KILLER CONSTABLE (KARATE EXTERMINATORS) (98) 7:20 APOLITICAL ROMANCE (88) Mon, July 14 6:00 THE MAGIC BLADE (97) 8:05 MANSHIN: TEN THOUSAND SPIRITS (105) + guest appearance   NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYAFF) Now in its 13th year, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) is North America’s leading Festival of popular Asian cinema, which The New York Times has called “one of the city’s most valuable events.” Launched in 2002 by Subway Cinema, the festival selects only the best, strangest, and most entertaining movies to screen for New York audiences, ranging from mainstream blockbusters and art-house eccentricities to genre and cult classics. It was the first North American film festival to champion the works of Johnnie To, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike, and other auteurs of contemporary Asian cinema. Since 2007, the festival’s Japanese film selections have been co-presented in association with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema. And since 2010, the festival has been produced in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
NYAFF 2014 photo
My favorite fest of the year returns
It's that time again. Summer is here, which means that New York City residents have retreated to their air conditioned apartments, offices, and movie theaters. For the next few weeks, that theater of choice should be the Film...

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival is here

Apr 17 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Tribeca Film Fest 2014 photo
And our coverage is about to be
The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival was one of the first festivals Flixist ever covered. That was back before my time, but I was part of our coverage of the 2012 and 2013 fests, and I'm excited to be a part of it again. This year,...

SAIFF 2013 photo
SAIFF 2013

Here is the 2013 South Asian International Film Festival


Dec 02
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
Film festivals, man. There are so many of them. Especially in the wonderful world of New York City. Case in point: the 2013 South Asian International Film Festival, which begins tomorrow, December 3rd, and runs through Sunday...

Watch out for the 2013 New York Chinese Film Festival

Nov 06 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
4TH New York Chinese Film Festival November 5,6,7, 2013   Acclaimed Actress Zhao Wei’s Directorial Debut SO YOUNG Set As Opening Night At Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall Film Screenings At Empire 25 Closing Night And Awards at Capitale   Vicky Zhao Wei, Miriam Yeung, Donnie Yen, Larry Yang, Wesley Wong Among Talent & Filmmakers To Attend   Join in the celebration as the New York Chinese Film Festival returns for its 4th annual outing of presenting the best in Chinese cinema.   The 2013 NYCFF, presented by the Chinese American Arts Council (CAAC) and the Chinese Movie Channel, CCTV-6, will screen 7 new films from Hong Kong & Mainland China over the 3-day event, and will introduce such celebrated filmmakers and performers as Vicky Zhao Wei, Miriam Yeung, Xiubo Wu and Donnie Yen to New York audiences. The NYCFF Opening Night film, Vicky Zhao Wei’s box-office smash So Young will be presented on Tuesday, November 5th at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.  The remaining films will be presented on Wednesday, November 6th and on Thursday, November 7th at the AMC Empire 25 on 42nd Street and will be followed by Q&As with talent in attendance.  The Closing Night Awards Gala will be held on November 7th, at one of New York’s most fashionable venues, Capitale. The NYCFF is a non-profit organization whose aim is to promote Chinese art and culture through film, while gaining exposure and insight from an American audience.  Selected films are chosen to participate because they provoke conversation, compassion, peace and friendship amongst our two great nations, as well as to help Americans gain a better understanding of Chinese Cinema.   In essence the NYCFF is the foundation for having constructed a great working relationship between the United States and China.              The NYCFF is produced by Qi Jia, Alan Chow, Kaijie Wang and Kate Lin, and is presented by the highly successful Chinese American Arts Council (CAAC) and the Chinese Movie Channel, CCTV-6.  The culture of Chinese Cinema has transformed itself in the past one hundred years becoming a major influential player in International Cinema.   Established in 1975, The Chinese American Arts Council has gone above and beyond, expanding the existence and the culture of the Chinese Community within the city of New York.   The CAAC’s main objective is to maintain Chinese Heritage both domestically and internationally in the greater New York area.  Being the entertainment capital of the world, there is no better place than New York to present and display the latest in Chinese filming to America. Some of the CAAC’s year-round activities include outdoor and indoor performances of modern and traditional Chinese theater, dance, vocal and instrumental concerts.  In addition, the CAAC also presents annual exhibitions of Asian American Art.  The Council takes their cause a step further by providing assistance to Artists and Organizations in support of their programs.  Chinese American Arts Council is supported in part by funds from the National Endowment of the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affair.             The China Movie Channel Programming Center was established in 1995, with its first flagship channel, CCTV-6 having launched on January 1st, 1996. To date it is the only national movie channel in China that reaches over 930 million people.  CCTV-6 has consistently ranked at the top in annual ratings and market share of all Chinese TV channels.  Over the past ten years, new television programs have been introduced, such as the China Home Cinema and the China Movie Channel, which stretches across Asia, Europe and North America.               The NYCFF has built a platform for internationally promoting Chinese films and with such an impressive film lineup and star-studded group attending, this year is sure to be NYCFF’s best festival to date.                “A great director opens our eyes; a great film opens our minds.” - The New York Chinese Film Festival Foundation 4TH New York Chinese Film Festival Films: So Young (Opening Night Presentation at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, 8:00pm) – Directed by Vicky Zhao Wei. So Young is the debut directorial effort of the renowned Chinese actress Vicky Zhao Wei.  It is based on the best-selling novel "To Our Youth that is Fading Away" by Xin YiwuIt, adapted by Li Qiang ("The Postmodern Life of My Aunt") and produced by Stanley Kwan. It is a film about the love, joy, and pain of a group of young students in their school days and their harsh confrontation with the realities and a lament on the loss of youth to adulthood. Attending the Festival will be Director Zhao Wei.    Sorry, I Love You (Presented at the AMC Empire 25. Wednesday, November 6 at 11:00am) – Directed by Larry Yang.  With only six months to live, Walker decides to leave Vancouver to go back to China, where he was born and adopted and go look for his biological parents and twin sister.  With the aid of Encai, a girl he once helped, he tries to find his family but they start falling in love with each other very quickly. With only six months to live, Walker will have to make important decisions to make his loved one’s life complete.  Attending the Festival will be Director Larry Yang, Actor Wesley Wong and Producer Hang Hon.  Finding Mr. Right (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Wednesday, November 6 at 2:00pm) – Directed by Xue Xiaolu (“Ocean Heaven”). City girl Jiajia is traveling to Seattle to give birth to the son who's going to help her win over her rich, married boyfriend. Armed with his unlimited credit card and the singular goal of bringing a little U.S. citizen back to Beijing, Jiajia knows how to play this game of modern love. But when Jiajia arrives in Seattle, nothing goes right: she's stuck sharing a small house with two other pregnant ladies, she has trouble reaching her boyfriend on the phone, and eventually, even the credit card stops working. To top that off, the only person willing to spend time with her is her driver Frank. Frank is the opposite of everything she ever wanted in a man... or could he be exactly the kind of guy she really needs.  Attending the Festival will be Actor Wu Xiubo. Love Undercover (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Wednesday, November 6 at 4:30pm) – Directed by Joe Ma. Fong (Miriam Yeung), fresh out of the Police Training School is only allowed to work on some trivial missions in the police station after graduation. Fortunately, she is soon assigned to work undercover as a waitress. She needs to get close enough to a gangster's son so that she can plant a microphone at a table where the gangsters make their deals. Complications arise when she finds herself falling for him.  Attending the Festival will be Actress Miriam Yeung. Love in the Buff (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Wednesday, November 6 at 7:30pm) – Directed by Pang Ho-Cheung. In this sequel to the hit movie Love in a Puff, former lovers Jimmy and Cherie start a new life in Beijing after they ended their relationship. Despite meeting someone else, they can’t seem to forget each other and are torn between fidelity towards their new partners and following their hearts.  Attending the Festival will be Actress Miriam Yeung  IP Man (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Thursday, November 7 at 11:00am) – Directed by Wilson Yip.  This is the story of IP Man, a legendary Wing Chun Kung Fu master set in Foshan, China in the 1930s. IP Man becomes a hero and creates a craze for Wing Chun. During the Japanese invasion, General Miura, a fanatical practitioner in martial arts, demands that IP Man teach Wing Chun martial arts to the Japanese Army, but IP Man refuses and takes up Miura’s challenge. A fierce fight is going to start….  Attending the Festival will be Actor Donnie Yen. Special ID (Presented at the AMC Empire 25, Thursday, November 7 at 2:00pm) – Directed by Clarence Fok Yiu-leung.  A cop and his team of comrades go undercover in one of China's most ruthless underworld organizations to stop a gang leader, only to put themselves in great danger after being exposed one by one.  Attending the Festival will be Actor Donnie Yen.   NYCFF Film Schedule November 5, Opening Night, Alice Tully Hall 8:00pm – So Young November 6, AMC Empire 25 11:00am – Sorry, I Love You 2:00pm – Finding Mr. Right 4:30pm – Love Undercover 7:30pm – Love in the Buff November 7, AMC Empire 25 11:00am – IP Man 2:00pm – Special ID November 7, Capitale 4:00-9:00pm, Closing Night and Awards   For additional information, schedule, and to purchase tickets to all the above films (including Opening Night) please visit the Chinese American Arts Council site at www.caacarts.org or the New York Chinese Film Festival site at www.nycff.org
NYCFF photo
And (probably) our coverage of it!
[Just a reminder that this is going on! I was hoping to have my review of So Young up by now to act as a reminder, but I have been at the AMC Empire all day and it's made writing kind of hard. Am still there, actually, a...

New York Film Festival 2013: Flixist Awards and Recap

Oct 20 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
With 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen has made one of the most gut-wrenching, emotionally exhausting, and yet ultimately human films about slavery. There's a clinical, unflinching eye on the events that unfold, and McQueen's long takes combined with Sean Bobbitt's unassailable cinematography add to the dread, unease, and oppressive melancholy of the film. For some critics this sense of aesthetic distance has made them feel as if the material is antiseptic, but I think something else is going on. By approaching Solomon Northup's story with such a calm lens, the horror of what happens within the frame and the quality of the performances becomes more prominent. 12 Years a Slave is not just the best film of NYFF51, it's also one of the best films of 2013.  — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] I almost skipped Her because of my silly refusal to watch trailers or read synopses. But the night before, I heard the premise (a man falls in love with his operating system) and knew I couldn't miss it. I was right.. While I was in the theater, I was struck by all kinds of emotions that I hadn't felt since... well, the previous day, when I was at Blue is the Warmest Color (which is oddly-worded-but-very-high praise, because that movie made me feel a whole lot). It's not bombastic, putting it at odds with a lot of the big films at NYFF, and as a comedy it's even rarer, so there's something about it that just seems like it could get skipped over. But it couldn't, of course, because it's too good for that. When the end of the year comes, people will be thinking about all of the amazing films that have come out in 2013, and Her will be right up near the top of that list. — Alec Kubas-Meyer [Read the review here!] Everyone talks about a certain moment in Tom Hanks' performance in Captain Phillips as being Oscar-worthy, and it is, but let's get away from the awards prognostication and really look at why Hanks is so good in this film. It's everything else leading up to that capper that makes that scene work so well. There's the quiet agitation at the beginning, the attempt at maintaining a calm façade as things get out of hand, the panic that's barely contained when the situation continues to decline. We're waiting and waiting for the rubber band to snap. Without all that prelude, the scene everyone talks about is just a great, emotional scene. With all this masterful prelude, the scene reveals the greatness of Hanks' whole performance. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] Chiwetel Ejiofor had both the easiest and hardest job in the world: he had to make an audience sympathize with a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery. There’s something about that that seems almost too simple, right? I mean, seriously, anyone with a conscience is going to feel bad for the guy just because of the circumstances. But that’s not all he had to do. Sure, he had to do that, but he couldn’t just play the part of a victim, even if that’s what he was, because a victim isn’t interesting, just sad. Solomon Northrup is not a sad character. He has a will to live and fight, even if he has to hide it. That excruciating internal struggle is where the part’s real difficulty lies, and he pulled it off. I felt bad for Northrup, but I wanted to see him succeed because he was a man who could succeed when everything in his life had gone horribly, horribly wrong. All of the credit for that can be rested squarely on Ejiofor’s shoulders. — Alec Kubas-Meyer When coming up with this list, I knew Joaquin Phoenix had to be on here. Seriously, he’s one of the greatest living actors. But whereas Tom Hanks and Chiwetel Ejiofor had intense experiences to drive them and their characters, to bring them to their most raw places, the places that Oscars are made of, Phoenix had nothing. He gets emotional in Her, sure, but it’s a romantic kind of emotion. He’s never in the kind of physical peril and doesn’t have his life threatened. He’s just a guy who falls in love with an operating system. But to stand out with so comparatively little to work with is impressive in and of itself. In Her, Joaquin Phoenix is Theodore Twumbley. Plus, after seeing his depressing/amazing performances in both The Master and The Immigrant, it’s nice to see that he can do the light-hearted stuff too. — Alec Kubas-Meyer I want to meet Adèle Exarchopoulos, and it's not just because I feel like she'd be interesting to talk to: I want to know just how closely she actually resembles the character she portrays in Blue is the Warmest Color. I've heard arguments both for and against actors playing themselves, and it's an interesting discussion to have, but while it won't change my objective view of a performance, it would change the way I perceive it. The emotions that Exarchopoulos displays in Blue is the Warmest Color are brutal in their honestly, and it hit me really, really hard at times. What she was able to do. It it was her, and I mean Adèle the person and not Adèle the character, then I applaud her for being willing to put herself out there both physically... and if it wasn't? Well, goddamn. — Alec Kubas-Meyer [Read the review here!] While Blue Is the Warmest Color can be viewed as a vehicle for Adèle Exarchopoulos' extraordinary performance, I think Léa Seydoux is just as responsible for making the film work as well as it does. As Emma, Seydoux isn't just meant as an object of a teenager's desire. She's a charismatic woman, driven and so self-assured, fire made flesh, and Emma is every bit as compelling as her young lover even though she's her opposite in so many ways. In little looks and small gestures, Seydoux can convey a great depth of emotion, and even the slow reveal of that gap between the teeth is a monologue's worth of delight. Her performance says so much even when she isn't saying anything. — Hubert Vigilla Without Paulina García, Gloria would be a warm and inviting film about an interesting woman whose life seems uninteresting on its surface. García brings the whole film to life, though, to a point where I can't think of the  movie succeeding without her. It's a combination of body language, delivery, and little gazes through the big glasses. These choices say so much about the interior life of Gloria, and by the end of the film she feels like someone with a rich past behind every movement. To watch García on screen is to watch someone living in the moment, experiencing all the events before her spontaneously and with such remarkable authenticity. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] From the moment Michael Fassbender opened his mouth in 12 Years a Slave, I knew it was a brilliant performance. I mean, the dude pulled off a Southern accent better than a lot of the actual Americans. But as great a first impression as that is, it's really in the silence that Fassbender's abilities shine through. The image above is from one of the most tense moments of the entire film. The camera holds the shot, and Fassbender is silent. But his body language, his face, and his eyes are terrifying. Earlier today, I was reading something that referred to 12 Years a Slave as a horror movie in disguise, and while that's kind of a shocking thought, it's true. And looking at it that way, Fassbender's Edwin Epps is a villain even more horrifying than Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers. That Edwin Epps was a real person and somehow even crueler than what McQueen had him portray only makes it worse. But the Fassbender-McQueen relationship continues to impress; they are definitely one of (if not the) best actor-director pairings working today. — Alec Kubas-Meyer Meaty roles for older woman are rare, and while Bruce Dern is excellent in Nebraska, June Squibb steals every scene she's in. That may be because the character of Kate Grant deepens in our eyes each time she's around. Kate seems like a foul-mouthed crank at first, but there's a reason why. The best thing about Squibb is how she finds just the right key and tone in her performance to communicate the many facets of the character. I'd have to watch Nebraska again, but Kate never changes in a dramatic way, she simply acts consistent with her character. Squibb also never changes but knows exactly the melody to play the entire time. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] In The Immigrant, Jeremy Renner plays against acting powerhouses like Marion Cotillard and Joaquin "Remember When Alec Said I'm One of the Best Actors Working Today Like Three Minutes Ago?" Phoenix, and his performance the best of the bunch. I was already a little biased, because he plays a magician and I love magicians, but he really does knock it out of the park. He's been mostly pigeon-holed into action star roles lately, and while he's pretty great at those and I'm not really complaining, he's a much better actor than that type-casting might suggest. He's shown that before, but The Immigrant is some of his finest work yet, even The Immigrant itself isn't all that great. — Alec Kubas-Meyer Jeff Goldblum at his Jeff Goldblum-iest. Le Week-End could not exist without his brilliance. Wonderful. — Alec Kubas-Meyer [Read the review here!] I admire Stray Dogs on one level, but while Tsai Ming Liang's long takes do so much intellectually and aesthetically, many of them fall short emotionally. As with his other films, each shot in Stray Dogs stands on its own as a work of painterly beauty. Yet I was alienated by about one-third to one-half of the film, which is less about the actual metamorphosis of a shot but the static nature of a shot. As a single take holds for more than 10 minutes and nothing (even of minor aesthetic variation) occurs, I'm led to wonder about the driving force behind the image. It may be the character's ennui, but it's become my own. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] Bastards has promise: it’s nice to look at and listen to, well-acted, and pretty interesting, but it lacks a cohesiveness that keeps everything together. The weird narrative structure caused confusion in a whole lot of people (myself included), and trying to follow it requires constant attention. I zoned out for about two minutes because I was thinking about Gravity, and I spent the rest of the film trying to figure out what I had missed (nothing, as it turns out). Even if it were just a bit more clear, Bastards would still be an excellent example of minimalistic filmmaking, but it’s just too vague for its own good. I want to like it, and I do... a little bit, but I wanted and expected more. — Alec Kubas-Meyer Child of God is like a so-so high school book report project done over the weekend. More than that, though, Child of God makes me wonder if James Franco really has his heart set on filmmaking or if this is just some kind of hobby between acting gigs. (His prose and his visual art evokes the same response from me.) Scott Haze is at least quite good as the lead character, but he's basically running around a-mumblin' and a-shittin' and a-humpin' corpses and a-mumblin' s'more. There's a lot going on lyrically in the Cormac McCarthy novel, but not in this film. — Hubert Vigilla [Read the review here!] Abuse of Weakness shouldn’t have been made. It is based on actual events from filmmaker Catherine Breillat’s life, but it’s not really a story so much as a premise: A filmmaker has a stroke, sees an ex-con on TV and decides she wants him in her movie. Then he makes her give him lots of money in “loans.” That’s a pretty interesting idea and first act, possibly getting a little bit into a second, but the narrative needs to go somewhere from there, and it doesn’t. When it seems like something may possibly consider happening, it’s over. There’s no conclusion of any kind, just some weird, meaningless statements about being. And is that how it went in reality? Probably, but so what? Since when is “This happened to me one time” sufficient reason to get a movie made? — Alec Kubas-Meyer Reviews listed in reverse chronological order All Is Lost - 68 (Decent) Her - 92 (Spectacular)  Gloria - 81 (Great)  Only Lovers Left Alive - 78 (Good) Blue Is the Warmest Color - 87 - Hubert / 88 - Alec (Excellent)  Nebraska - 85 (Excellent)  12 Years a Slave - 90 (Spectacular)  The Missing Picture - 68 (Decent) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - 85 (Excellent)  Tim's Vermeer - 80 (Great)  Alan Partridge - 80 (Great)  Captain Phillips - 86 (Excellent)  A Touch of Sin - 80 (Great)  Stray Dogs - 51 - Hubert (Average) / 40 - Alec (Sub-par)  Le Week-End - 78 (Good) Inside Llewyn Davis - 88 (Excellent)  The Wind Rises Discussion - 70 - Alec / 77 - Hubert (Good) Like Father, Like Son - 77 (Good) Child of God - 33 (Bad) Interview Jia Zhangke & Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin) Video Roundups NYFF in 30 Seconds or Less Roundup #1 NYFF In 30 Seconds or Less Roundup #2
NYFF 2013 Awards/Recap photo
We came, we saw, we conquered
Can you believe that it's all over? I can't. For much of the past month, the New York Film Festival has consumed my life. And now it's over. But we're finishing it off with a bang. The video above is Hubert and my final thou...

30 Seconds of NYFF photo
(Almost) daily videos delivered straight to your existence
Between Hubert and I, we're going to be seeing a whole lot of movies at the New York Film Festival this year. Some of them will be worthwhile, others won't, but we want to cover them all. That being said, we don't necessaril...

Gearing up for NYFF photo
Gearing up for NYFF

After the Credits: Gearing up for NYFF 51


It's gonna be a crazy month!
Sep 15
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
This week, Hubert and I will begin our coverage of the 51st New York Film Festival. We have covered the festival for the past two years, and each year we try to expand our coverage in new and interesting ways. This year, we'...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazĂłn ...