Get wooed by die-hard romantics, unnerved by devil children, and bear witness to the fury of angry young men on paths of destruction in the sweet sixteenth edition of the New York Asian Film Festival. Wild cinematic outings that always have something to say about the human condition, this summer’s crop of titles range from the heartwarming to the desperately dark. Dive headfirst into the raging sea of talent from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and across South East Asia—filmmakers unafraid to take on controversial subjects and explore complex emotions.
Co-presented with Confucius Institute Headquarters and China Institute
North American Premiere • Director Yang Shupeng in attendanceAfter three vibrant period films, one of China's least-known maverick directors—self-trained fireman-turned-filmmaker Yang Shupeng—makes his first contemporary film, a crime drama about a computer hacker who plays a cat-and-mouse game with police and criminals, pitting one against the other in the midst of a bank heist.
Actor Duan Yihong will be in attendance and will receive the NYAFF 2017 Star Asia AwardUber-cop Lin Kai (Huang Xuan) goes deep cover to take down a vicious drug cartel. The stakes are raised to the next level when he is entwined with psychopathic head honcho Eagle, leading to a harrowing journey of forced drug addiction and time bomb pyrotechnics in China’s bionic update of classic hyperbolic HK genre films.
Hong Kong Panorama
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York
Q&A with director Lawrence LauLau Ching-Wan headlines this dramatization of the incredible real-life story of Peter Chan, a former Triad member and drug addict who went on to be awarded for his tireless efforts as a substance abuse counselor. This tale of corruption and redemption masterfully recreates an all but forgotten underbelly of Hong Kong.
New York Premiere • Q&A with director Wong Chun, screenwriter Florence Chan, and actor Eric Tsang, who will receive the NYAFF 2017 Star Hong Kong Lifetime Achievement AwardReleased from rehabilitation, a former investment banker struggles with mental illness as he rekindles a relationship with his estranged father in the relentlessly upwardly mobile city. This dramatic, heartfelt directorial debut reinvents the tenement drama genre; Wong Chun stands at the vanguard of a wave of directors transforming Hong Kong cinema.
Q&A with director Derek HuiA brilliant accident-prone chef and a foodie megalomaniac millionaire have an unfortunate yet hilarious run-in that makes them mortal adversaries. An obsessive love-hate relationship blossoms—with food standing in for sex—amidst a nonstop series of laugh-riot hi-jinks. A dish to be savored.
North American Premiere • Q&A with director Alan Lo and actress Carrie Ng.Produced by Clement Cheng (Gallants, NYAFF 2010), this riotous crowd-pleaser is developed from director Alan Lo’s debut short Zombie Guillotines (2012), a do-it-yourself guide to weaponing up for Z-Day with everyday objects in a hair salon. Fans of The Walking Dead may think they’ve witnessed every trick in the zombie playbook. They’re wrong.
North American PremiereAroused by Gymnopedies follows the dwindling fortunes of Shinji (played by Itsuji Itao), a once-celebrated filmmaker whose star has waned so far he is reduced to shooting porno quickies to make ends meet. But when his lead actress (Izumi Okamura) quits mid-shoot, Shinji wanders from one misjudged sexual encounter to the next.
Q&A with director Naoko OgigamiWhen 11-year-old Tomo’s irresponsible single mother leaves her on her own for the umpteenth time, she turns to her Uncle Makio. Makio’s pretty girlfriend Rinko proves an excellent surrogate mother, and the three form an indelible bond, but not without complications: Rinko is transgender.
North American PremiereA sin-deep chronicle tracing the daily lives of three Tokyo call girls from the director of The Devil's Path and Twisted Justice. Paying tribute to the rich vein of Japanese genre classics set in the sex trade, Kazuya Shiraishi also has a statement to make about contemporary Japanese morality.
New York PremiereIn this visceral cinematic diatribe, an everyman starts picking fights, leaving in his wake an apocalyptic streak of violent mayhem. It's arresting and well crafted, imbued with a refreshingly raw aesthetic.
North American PremiereTama (Mugi Kadowaki), a shy doctoral candidate in philosophy, feels stalled in her studies and somewhat detached from life and begins to follow around her neighbor, a successful book editor who seems like the perfect family man. Soon her growing voyeuristic obsession gets her inextricably tangled in other people’s secret lives.
North American PremiereA wild black comedy about gangs, cult religion, and love in backwater Japan. Marginalized teen Ryota falls in love with fellow dropout Ai and follows her down ever deeper and seedier paths. Real delinquents acted alongside Sion Sono's regular such that the film had to be shot under police supervision.
New York PremiereOne year after a gruesome murder in Tokyo, while a nationwide manhunt is still underway, three young men without a past enter the lives of three very different people. Creeping suspicion that each is the murderer destroys the lives around them. Rage is tragic, epic, and heartfelt.
New York PremiereThis deliciously yet darkly funny postapocalyptic road movie follows an average Tokyo family in the wake of an inexplicable and endless blackout. Determined to maintain normality at first, they slowly realize the direness of their situation and attempt to ride across Japan to their grandfather’s farm on their commuter bikes.
Q&A with director Kei IshikawaIrrepressible journalist Tanaka (Satoshi Tsumabuki) probes the shocking murder of a wealthy family while struggling with his own demons. Kei Ishikawa’s impressive directorial debut is an indictment of class warfare wrapped in a seductive yet ultimately perverse mystery of devastating proportions.
North American Premiere • Q&A with director Akihiko Shiota and actress Yuki MamiyaA tornado of unbridled sexual desire is unleashed when a free-spirited seductress sets her sights on a reclusive playwright in this stream-of-consciousness tale in this striking entry in Nikkatsu's “Roman Porno” redux series.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Center New York
Q&A with director Cho Hyun-hoon, actors Lee Min-ji & Gu Gyo-hwan.Using an abstract, circular, and cryptic form of storytelling, Jane sways between fantasy and reality, sincerity and lies. When troubled teenager So-hyun realizes her friend Jong-ho left her, she returns to the motel where they used to stay. There, So-hyun meets a transgender woman named Jane, who soon becomes her guardian angel.
U.S. Premiere • Q&A with director Zhang Lu and actress Han Ye-riA breath of fresh air in indie Korean cinema, Zhang Lu's quiet suburban comedy is a heartfelt charmer. Understated actress Han Ye-ri shines as the owner of a local bar, playing muse to three misfit regulars, played by actor-directors Yang Ik-june, Park Jung-bum, and Yoon Jong-bin.
Gang Dong-won in attendance, who will receive the Star Asia AwardUm Tae-hwa’s magical second film is both a melancholy fantasy about time and, at a deeper level, an exploration of the world of childhood. Children find a glittering egg in a cave that, according to a local folktale, contains a time-eating monster. When it's broken, their lives are changed forever.
U.S. Premiere • Director Jung Byung-gil will be in attendance and will receive the NYAFF 2017 Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action CinemaTrained as an assassin from a very young age, Sook-hee has only ever known a life of killing. After single-handedly dispatching an entire gang, she's given the chance to use her deadly skills for good. This is not just another twisted Korean revenge thriller—it’s a reinvention of action cinema.
International Premiere • Q&A with Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya and Chanon Santinatornkul & Chutimon “Aokbab” Chuengcharoensukying, who will receive the NYAFF 2017 Screen International Rising Star AwardNattawut Poonpiriya (Countdown, NYAFF 2013) places the heist thriller in a high school milieu for a nerve-racking joyride that plays on Thailand’s Confucian-like obsession with academic achievement. After losing a scholarship, high-school students stage a heist that will undermine the U.S. university entrance examination system and make them baht millionaires.
Q&A with director Mikhail Red and actor Arnold ReyesThis intense, slow-burning, and semi-mystical thriller tells the intertwined stories of two innocent souls and how society tries to corrupt them. One is a cop, investigating his seniors' political cover-up, the other a farm girl who has committed an irreversible act that she isn't even aware is a crime.
New York PremiereWATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK! This omnibus of strange and harrowing stories connected by vagabond characters at various levels of moral bankruptcy is truly sick in most parts, but what makes it unforgettable is the sheer talent of its director, and the ineradicable sense of profundity throughout.
New York PremiereWith its stop-and-start production taking more than a decade, the very existence of Saving Sally is a miraculous fairy tale of its own. This wildly creative mix of live action and animation centers on geeky wannabe comic book artist Marty and his hopeless crush on beautiful and spunky inventor Sally.
Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York
North American Premiere • Director Chen Mei-juin in attendanceAfter getting into trouble with a local bully, teenage Shaowu is sent to Taipei to live with her estranged gangster father, Keiko. He quickly takes to being a father and sets out go straight, but soon he is dragged back into the criminal world by corruption and a quest for vengeance that will decide both of their fates.
North American PremiereA group of alpha-bullies kidnap their very own ghoul-like monster, keeping her alive with a steady stream of vein-fresh blood, only to get buyer's remorse. Things get gorier from there. The real monsters are the humans in Giddens's cruel and subversive follow-up to You Are the Apple of My Eye.
North American Premiere • Q&A with director Jung Yoon-suk & the Bamseom Pirates (producer Park Junggeun, bassist Jang Sunggun, and drummer Kwon Yongman)The band Bamseom Pirates earns fame with their savagely satirical lyrics, bizarre performances in abandoned buildings, and a growing reputation for being the most controversial band in Korea. But soon friend and producer Park Jung-geun is arrested for violating the National Security Law. Hilarity does not ensue.
North American PremiereMrs. B. reveals and conceals in equal measure. This documentary shows the reality of a woman who left everything behind, including her husband and two sons, to seek a better life, and who, in some ways, has known the worst: from her farmhouse, she operates a business trafficking North Koreans to China.
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