2015 Star Asia Award recipient Aaron Kwok
The New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), North America’s leading festival of popular Asian Cinema, returns June 26 – July 11 and initial details about the festival's 14th edition have been revealed.
Legendary filmmaker Ringo Lam (City on Fire) will receive the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. One of Hong Kong’s most influential directors, Lam was directing comedies when City on Fire was released in 1987, fusing the social-protest movie with kinetic action filmmaking. It was followed by the massive hit Prison on Fire later that year, and then School on Fire, a movie so unblinking that nervous Hong Kong censors sliced it to ribbons. Lam became one of the city’s best action filmmakers, and one of the few local directors to be so deeply concerned with the price of progress, the corrosive influence of money on human relationships, and the lives of the little people crushed beneath the wheels of change. In 2003, he directed what was to be his final feature and went into semi-retirement, only to be lured out again in 2015 with Wild City, in which Lam’s tooth-and-claw vision of modern urban living remains untamed.
[Related: Read an interview with Ringo Lam in Film Comment's Kaiju Shakedown column.]
Hong Kong’s superstar actor-singer Aaron Kwok (Divergence, After This Our Exile, Cold War) will receive the festival’s 2015 Star Asia Award on June 26. One of Hong Kong’s Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop, Kwok has won dozens of awards for his chart-topping albums. For over 30 years, he has performed steadily both on television and in movies and is respected for his box-office star power as well as his outstanding acting chops. Kwok has worked with some of Hong Kong’s finest directors, like Johnnie To, Jacob Cheung, Andrew Lau, and Patrick Tam. His self-described Method acting was rewarded in 2005 and 2006 when he won back-to-back Golden Horse awards for Best Actor, a feat previously achieved only by Jackie Chan.
Boo Ji-young's Cart
Japanese actor Shota Sometani will attend the festival on July 4, on the occasion of the New York premiere of Kabukicho Love Hotel, to receive the Screen International Rising Star Award. Director Ryuichi Hiroki will also be in attendance. This marks the second year of a partnership with Screen International, with whom the NYAFF will honor an emerging talent in the East Asian film world each year. At age 22, Sometani is already a leading man in both blockbusters and indie gems and has earned critical acclaim on the international film festival circuit. In 2011, he received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his performance in Himizu, along with his co-star Fumi Nikaido (last year’s recipient of the Screen International Rising Star Award).
Notable NYAFF titles this year will include the North American premieres of Nobuhiro Yamashita's La La La at Rock Bottom and Yim Soon-rye's The Whistleblower and the international premiere of Namewee’s Banglasia, which was banned in Malaysia, its home country.
The festival will also feature a section on Korea’s production company Myung Films, highlighting a few of their major works—Cart, The President’s Last Bang, The Isle, and Waikiki Brothers—as part of a greater focus on women who work behind the camera. Producer Shim Jae-myung and directors Yim Soon-rye (The Whistleblower) and Boo Ji-young (Cart) will be in attendance.
Japanese film legends Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara, both of whom passed away last November, will be the subject of the first joint tribute outside of Japan, which will feature the brand-new digital remaster of the 1973 classic Battles Without Honor and Humanity—screened for the time in North America—among others.
The New York Asian Film Festival is co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema. The festival takes place June 26 – July 8 at the Film Society and July 9-11 at SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd Street). Tickets will go on sale June 11. Members get a preferred access period starting June 9.