The 19th edition of New York Asian Film Festival will be a special virtual edition from August 28 to September 12, 2020, presented by The New York Asian Film Foundation, Film at Lincoln Center, and Smart Cinema USA.
Whether online or offline, the festival continues to highlight women both behind and in front of the camera, and features a specific FOCUS on women filmmakers: WOMEN TRANSFORMING FILM, starting with:
The OPENING FILM – the North American Premiere of The Girl and the Gun (Babae at Baril), directed by Rae Red, led by a superb performance by actress Janine Gutierrez, and produced by Iana Celest Bernardez (in a first-time producing role) and Bianca Balbuena.
The Festival’s programming team went the extra mile to spotlight female talent. There is much more to Asian cinema than the male-dominated films shown at Cannes and the Oscars. NYAFF is proud to spotlight an exciting lineup of titles directed and led by women:
Heavy Craving from Taiwan, Lucky Chan-sil and Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 from South Korea, My Prince Edward from Hong Kong, and Victim(s) from Malaysia, among others.
The CENTERPIECE film marks both a departure from genre as well as the festival’s embrace of an ever-expanding range of films: They Say Nothing Stays the Same by Odagiri Joe, one of Japan’s best-known actors, who makes a remarkable feature debut behind the camera. Odagiri is joined by a no less remarkable cast and crew: cinematographer Christopher Doyle; veteran actor Emoto Akira, who leads a star cast including Nagase Masatoshi, Asano Tadanobu and Aoi Yu, plus a rare appearance by musician Hosono Haruomi; Oscar-winning costume designer Wada Emi; and a fabulous score courtesy of Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan.
A generous share of the program is devoted to new filmmakers, including striking directorial debuts and sophomore efforts. Integral to NYAFF’s mission is showcasing the Asian cinema vanguard that emerges largely from new talent and fresh voices. This edition reflects today’s particularly kinetic innovations, much informed by social media and the hyper information highway. An impressive cross-section of work highlights new ideas in storytelling and tackles social mores and personal demons, including Philippines’ John Denver Trending, Korea’s Beauty Water and Taiwan’s Detention and IWeirDo, just to name a few.
In regional terms, South Korea is front and center in this year’s selection. Faithful to tradition, the Festival presents a balance of arthouse and genre titles with an emphasis on outstanding storytelling and accessibility: Secret Zoo, Hitman Agent Jun, Moving On.
As the boundaries between what is strictly film and TV blur, NYAFF has found, in its tireless search for exciting, new content, an extraordinary example of the convergence of both formats in SF8, a series of eight stand-alone 52-minute science fiction films that will make their International Premiere at this first virtual edition. Each film is directed by prominent Korean filmmakers, and the knowledgeable viewer will recognize the names of Min Kyu-dong, Jang cheol-su, Noh Deok.
The series, first shown on Korea’s version of Netflix, Wavve, has been praised locally and has drawn comparisons with Black Mirror.
The Festival continues to champion the work of new directors and filmmakers that have not yet received international recognition with its “Uncaged” Competition section, which includes five films by first and second-time directors: (IWeirDo, Moving On, Legally Declared Dead, Victim(s) and They Say Nothing Stays the Same.)
The Hong Kong Panorama, the point of origin of the Festival, has a specific emphasis on Cantonese-language stories and the new generation of filmmakers at a turning point in the history of the Special Administrative Region.The selection features the following: the World Premiere of Hell Bank Presents: Running Ghost, the North American premieres of Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down; The Grand Grandmaster, Legally Declared Dead, Unleashed, the East Coast premiere of the previously mentioned My Prince Edward, and Witness Out of the Blue, one of the few and best representatives of a genre that put Hong Kong cinema on the map: the crime thriller.
Keeping continuity with the festival’s roots, this year’s edition also features Chasing Dream, the latest by Johnnie To, Hong Kong cinema’s l’enfant terrible turned patron saint. NYAFF is notable as the first festival and institution to bring the wild cinematic stylings of To and his team to the US with the groundbreaking series, “Expect the Unexpected: Contemporary Urban Cinema from Milkyway Image Productions” back in 2000.
This year’s selection of films from Japan proves as eclectic as ever with a fascinating diversity of styles and themes, by emerging and established creators. There is salient cinematic sophistication in the resonant work of returning filmmakers: Naito Eisuke’s cause-for-alarm cautionary tale Forgiven Children; Otomo Keishi’s hypnotically enigmatic Beneath the Shadow. On the other end of the spectrum is the hilariously uncomfortable cringe-com Beloved Wife; and rounding things out are Sabu’s supernatural dramedy Dancing Mary, Mariko Tetsuya’s shocking manga adaptation Miyamoto, and more.
At a time when Hollywood and the new East Asian superpower go both head to head and hand in hand, the China selection continues to show a wide-ranging selection of titles that reflects the versatility of the mainland’s filmmaking, and puts the spotlight on new directors: Fresh off the massive success of last year’s White Snake, the programming slate includes a brand new title that shows the sudden rise of the Chinese animation sector with recent hit Mr. Miao, Li Lingxiao’s epic directorial debut. Produced by the team behind box office champion Ne Zha, the film, released in China on July 31, has drawn praise and comparisons with Studio Ghibli’s productions. Also on the menu is an original take on the scifi genre: Gone with the Light, a strikingly original feature debut by Dong Runnian, who has made a name for himself as the scriptwriter of Mr Six and Crazy Alien. The film, powered by the performances of star actor Huang Bo and an all-star female cast (Bai Baihe, Song Chunli, Wen Qi , Huang Lu), artfully marries an empowering drama with genre tropes . In addition to highlighting new talent, the Chinese selection includes Sixth-Generation director Wang Rui’s most recent work by (and one of its best to date): Mongolian-language drama Chaogtu with Sarula.
“Since the very first day of our launch, our goal is to always promote and screen the latest quality Asian films to international audiences. So it is our great pleasure to work with NYAFF, one of the most prominent Asian film festivals in the world, for their 19th edition, following our successful partnerships with Shanghai International Film Festival and Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. As a technology and data driven platform, we have created a unique, cutting-edge, virtual “Almighty Cinema” ecosystem to accommodate all the various demands from international festivals, distributors as well as traditional exhibitors.” said Jack Gao, founding partner and CEO of Smart Cinema.
“We are honored that NYAFF selected Smart Cinema USA to be their partner as they continue to showcase the best films from all over Asia during this global pandemic. Smart Cinema has become the premiere virtual cinema destination for movies in Asia and we are committed to replicating that success in North America.” said Doris Pfardrescher, President & CEO of Well Go USA and Board Member, Smart Cinema USA.
“At a time when the work of festivals might seem like a rearguard battle, I’m glad to take a leap into the unknown, and search east, not only for the films, but for new ways of exhibiting those films“, said Samuel Jamier, executive director and president of the New York Asian Film Festival & Foundation.
FULL LINEUP (51 films) as of 8/10 (program still subject to change)
Titles in bold are included in the Main Competition.
– Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Pawo Choyning Dorji, 2019) New York Premiere
– Gone With the Light (Dong Runnian, 2019) North American Premiere
– Chaogtu with Sarula (Wang Rui, 2019) North American Premiere
– Mr. Miao (Li Lingxiao, 2020) International Premiere
HONG KONG PANORAMA
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York
– Chasing Dream (Johnnie To, 2019) New York Premiere
– My Prince Edward (Norris Wong, 2019) East Coast Premiere
– Hell Bank Presents: Running Ghost (Mark Lee, 2020) World Premiere
– The Grand Grandmaster (Dayo Wong, 2020) North American Premiere
– Legally Declared Dead (Yuen Kim Wai, 2019) U.S. Premiere
– Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down (Leung Ming-kai, Kate Reilly, 2019) North American Premiere
– Unleashed (Ka Hei Kwok and Ambrose Kwok, 2019) North American Premiere
– A Witness out of the Blue 犯罪現場 (Fung Chih Chiang, 2019)
– Abracadabra (Faozan Rizal, 2019 ) North American Premiere
– Family Bond (Gonno Hajime, 2019) North American Premiere
– A Beloved Wife (Adachi Shin, 2019) North American Premiere
– Miyamoto (Mariko Tetsuya, 2019) New York Premiere
– Dancing Mary (Sabu, 2019) North American Premiere
– Forgiven Children (Naito Eisuke, 2019) International Premiere
– One Night (Shiraishi Kazuya, 2020) North American Premiere
– Beneath the Shadow (Otomo Keishi, 2019) North American Premiere
– They Say Nothing Stays the Same (Odagiri Joe, 2019) U.S. Premiere
– Tomiris (Akan Satayev, 2019) North American Premiere
– Geran (Areel Abu Bakar, 2019) North American Premiere
– Soul (Roh) (Emir Ezwan, 2020) North American Premiere
– Victim(s) (Layla Zhuqing Ji, 2020) North American Premiere
– The Girl and the Gun (Rae Red, 2019) North American Premiere
– John Denver Trending (Arden Rod Condez, 2019) East Coast Premiere
Presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center New York
– Secret Zoo (Son Jae-gon, 2019) New York Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
– Hitman: Agent Jun (Choi Won-sub, 2020) North American Premiere
– Forbidden Dream (Hur Jin-ho, 2019) International Premiere
– Lucky Chan-sil (Kim Cho-hee, 2019) North American Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
– Baseball Girl (Choi Yuntae, 2019) International Premiere
– Beasts Clawing at Straws (Kim Yong-hoon, 2019) n/a. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
– Beauty Water (Cho Kyung-hun, 2020) U.S. Premiere
– Moving on (Yoon Danbi, 2019) North American Premiere
– Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 (Kim Do-young, 2019) US Continental Premiere
– SF8 Series: An anthology of eight science fiction films:
The Prayer (Min Kyu-dong, 2020) International Premiere
Empty Body (Kim Ui-seok, 2020) International Premiere
Love Virtually (Oh Ki-hwan, 2020) International Premiere
White Crow (Jang Cheol-s, 2020) International Premiere
Blink (Han Ga-ram, 2020) International Premiere
Baby It’s Over Outside (Ahn Gooc-jin, 2020) International Premiere
Joan’s Galaxy (Lee Yoon-jung, 2020) International Premiere.
Manxin (Noh Deok, 2020) International Premiere
– Wild Sparrow (Shih Li, 2019) New York Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
– Detention (John Hsu, 2019) New York Premiere
– IWeirDO (Liao Ming-yi, 2020) US Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
– Heavy Craving (Hsieh Pei-ju, 2019) East Coast Premiere
– The Gangs, the Oscars and the Walking Dead (Kao Pin-chuan, 2019) US Premiere. Co-Presented with the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
– Dear Loneliness (Lien Chien-hung, Sunny Yu, Liao Jhe-yi, 2019) North American Premiere
– Miss Andy (Teddy Chin, 2020) North American Premiere
ABOUT OPENING FILM, THE GIRL AND THE GUN:
Director: Rae Red
Cast: Janine Gutierrez, Felix Roco, JC Santos.
Produced by Iana Celest Bernardez and Bianca Balbuena at Epicmedia, Cignal Entertainment and QCinema. The film won Best Director and Best Actress (Janine Gutierrez) at QCinema International Film Festival’s Asian Next Wave Competition.
Rae Red’s sophomore feature and first solo directorial effort features a local department store saleslady who finds a gun right on her doorstep one night and decides that she has had enough of being the underdog. Her life drastically changes as she discovers how much power owning a gun can give you.
The Screen International Rising Award and the Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action Cinema will be announced separately.
ABOUT NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYAFF)
Now in its 19th year, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) is North America’s leading festival of popular Asian cinema, which The Village Voice has called “the best film festival in New York,” and The New York Times has called “one of the city’s most valuable events.” Launched in 2002, 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 2010, it has been produced in collaboration with Film at Lincoln Center.
For more information, visit: New York Asian Film Festival
NYAFF VENUE/ PLATFORM:
Smart Cinema USA is the official platform of NYAFF 2020
NYAFF TICKET PRICING AND INFO:
Ticketing system under construction; NYAFF organisers will be revealing pricing and tickets details on the website.
Ticket presale will be announced publicly within the next few days and will be available until the festival starts on August 28, 2020.
SMART CINEMA USA
Smart Cinema USA is one of the most innovative virtual cinemas which dramatically increases the day-n-date “theatrical” releases of Asian films in North America. It is accessible from cross-platform devices including iOS/Android mobile phones, smart TVs, and PCs. With one ticket buys a one-time viewing, Smart Cinema USA is advocating and boosting the box office driven business model. This cinema is supported by the latest 5G，AI，VR technologies, offering audiences a unique movie watching experience. Smart Cinema USA is also the first-choice online panorama and event partner of many international and local film festivals.
THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FOUNDATION
The New York Asian Film Foundation Inc. is America’s premier 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and appreciation of Asian film culture in all its forms, with year-round festivals and programs, and a view to building bridges between Asia and America.
The New York Asian Film Foundation’s flagship event is the annual New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which has been presented in collaboration with the Film at Lincoln Center since 2010. Now entering its 19th year, NYAFF is North America’s leading festival of Asian cinema.
The Foundation’s other events and initiatives include special screening events and an annual Winter Showcase at the SVA Theatre.
FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER
Film at Lincoln Center is dedicated to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema and enriching film culture.
Film at Lincoln Center fulfills its mission through the programming of festivals, series, retrospectives, and new releases; the presentation of podcasts, talks, and special events; and via its artist initiatives. Since its founding in 1969, this nonprofit organization has brought the celebration of American and international film to the world-renowned Lincoln Center arts complex, making the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broad audience and ensuring that it remains an essential art form for years to come.
Film at Lincoln Center receives generous, year-round support from The New York Times, Shutterstock, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. American Airlines is the Official Airline of Film at Lincoln Center. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.org and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.