Day ten! The 14th New York Asian Film Festival is still charging ahead here in New York City, and we’re still posting up the schedules every day — if not for you to attend the screenings as they happen, then at least to discover some cool new stuff to add on to your to-watch lists!
Here are today’s screenings, with pictures & summaries courtesy of the festival:
FIRE LEE, 2015
CHINA | CANTONESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES | FORMAT: DCP | 90 MINUTES
An anarcho-absurdist blood-soaked grand guignol indie flick with attitude to burn, this is the pitch perfect youth movie from Hong Kong. A twenty-something punk fancies himself a total player, but the best job he can find is overnight clerk at a convenience store. The other clerk is a cute chick and you’re thinking “rom com,” but then there’s a robbery, a gangster, a shoot-out, and by the time a neighbor is pulling out a homemade bomb, you realize that this violent farce is all about the current situation in Hong Kong where nothing makes sense, the heartless wipe their feet on the hopeless, and you might as well burn it all down because there are no more better tomorrows.
Part of HONG KONG PANORAMA. Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.
NARUSHIMA IZURU, 2015
JAPAN | JAPANESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES | FORMAT: HDCAM | 121 MINUTES
North American Premiere
Published as a three-volume novel in 2013, SOLOMON’S PERJURY is Miyabe Miyuki’s most ambitious work to date. The author, who writes books in the detective, fantasy and science-fiction genres, is known for her portrayals of powerless women, including housewives, prostitutes and bankruptcy victims. For SOLOMON’S PERJURY, she turned to another underclass: children.
A 14-year-old boy is found dead, buried under the snow of his high school. The police and teachers are quick to dismiss the case as suicide, despite an anonymous letter claiming that the boy was pushed. A group of the boy’s classmates, led by the fearless Ryoko Fujino, push against their teachers, parents and the police to stage their own mock trial to discover the truth.
The Japanese film industry can sometimes dumb down its most ambitious projects. The choice of Izuru Narushima as director is not surprising; what is surprising is that he was allowed to tell his tale of guilt, shame and redemption with intelligence and a lack of sensationalism. The movies’ exhilarating first part leads up to the eve of the trial, in which the students will play the roles of judge, jury and both the prosecution and defence councils. The second film focuses on the trial where both shocking and subtle revelations send irrevocable tremors through the high school and the adults surrounding the case.
Part of New Cinema From Japan. Presented with the support of Japan Foundation New York.
LAU HO-LEUNG, 2015
HONG KONG | CANTONESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES | FORMAT: DCP | 102 MINUTES
North American Premiere
Q&A with Lau Ho-leung
Following a 16 year stretch in a Malaysian prison Big F (Francis Ng) gathers his old crew together for one last big heist. Their brilliant (if a bit deranged) plan? Steal parts off of junker police vans, turn their minibus into a heist vehicle above the law, and rob mainland corpses stuffed with cash that are being transported over the border. Only two problems: they weren’t the first to have this idea, and they are beginning to like being cops. Shoot outs, bicycle chases, kidnappings, bowling and cockroach infestations ensue. The cast is a who’s who of Hong Kong genre actors, and prolific screenwriter Lau’s directorial debut is stylish and fun. This is the type of film that made audiences fall in love with Hong Kong films in the first place.
Part of the recent trend of films (GOLDEN SLUMBERS, THE MISSING PICTURE, DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN) using Cambodia’s pop cultural/filmmaking past to comment on both the devastation wrought by the Khmer Rouge, and the power of storytelling, THE LAST REEL is a powerful meditation on the preservation of memory and the catharsis of the archive. Anchored by Ma Rynet’s superb performance as Sophoun – a young girl rebelling against her conservative army father Bora’s (Hun Sophy) marriage plans, hanging out with a local gang leader, and dealing with her mother Srey Mom’s (the powerful Dy Saveth) failing health. Ma holds the multiple emotional threads of each character together through the film. Ducking into an old theater to avoid a rival motorcycle gang, she is enthralled by an old film from before the civil war that stars her mother. The theater owner, Sokha (Sok Sothun) an actor from the film, pines for Srey and has lovingly preserved the film, even with the missing final reel. Sophoun becomes determined to finish the film but the ghosts of the past are hard to bury, and the secrets of Srey, Sokha, and Bora are pulled into the present.
Due to forces beyond the festival’s control director Kulikar Sotho will no longer be attending the screening.
— JON ABRAMS (@jonnyabomb).
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Tags: Anna Ishii, Asian Cinema, Cambodia, China, Crime, Derek Tsang, Fire Lee, Francis Ng, Hong Kong, Izuru Narushima, J. Aire, japan, Kulikar Sotho, Lam Suet, Lau Ho-leung, Ma Rynet, Mark Cheng, New York, NYAFF, Patrick Tam, Ryoko Fujino, Screenings, Shimizu Hiroya, simon yam, Stanley Fung, Tomita Miu