From vicious, life-destroying phone scams to balletic battles between equally corrupt cops and yakuza, NYAFF offers films that reflect on contemporary society while offering extreme genre pleasures. There are self-referential takes on cinematic zombies, existential date nights, and teens finding their own corners of the world despite familial and societal expectations. After last year’s Sweet Sixteen, this year’s program is dubbed the Savage Seventeenth edition with four world premieres, three international premieres, 21 North American premieres, three U.S. premieres, and twelve New York premieres, showcasing the most exciting comedies, dramas, thrillers, romances, horrors and arthouse films from East Asia.
Co-presented with Confucius Institute Headquarters and China Institute
Q&A with director Kevin KoTaiwan’s Kevin Ko makes his first feature in China with this unexpectedly moving romcom dressed up as a ribald sex comedy, part of a new trend in Chinese films exploring the battle of the sexes.
U.S. PremiereIt’s 1998 and fifth grader Xiaoyang is caught up in China’s World Cup obsession, but his strict father, who is also the school headmaster, forbids him from playing sports. But his outspoken neighbor Grandpa Zheng secretly trains him for the soccer team tryout.
International Premiere · Director Jiang Jiachen will be in attendanceA graduate student loses his professor’s dog. Worried this will jeopardize his prospective tutorship to help him secure a good job, he enlists his layabout father in the search. Jiang Jiachen’s debut feature is a biting satire of China’s emerging social ills.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director Dong YueIn 1997, a small industrial town is plagued by a serial killer. Factory worker and amateur sleuth Yu tries to solve the murders, much to the chagrin of the local police captain.
New York PremiereSet in Inner Mongolia, this punchy debut feature follows unrepentant Lao Yang as he whiles away his final years by gambling in mahjong parlors, neglecting his bedridden wife for a young mistress, and swindling his children out of cash at every turn.
New York Premiere · Q&A with director Xin Yukun and actor Jiang Wu, who will receive the Star Asia AwardSearching for his missing son in the rough mountains of Northern China, a mute, fiercely stubborn miner (martial arts star Song Yang) confronts a world of corruption led by a villainous coal tycoon (Jiang Wu) in this gripping contemporary mystery.
Hong Kong Panorama
Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York
10th Anniversary Screening · Director Dante Lam in attendanceThis gritty, tightly knit thriller boasts intense action scenes and was a career turning point for action maestro Dante Lam and is a modern classic of Hong Kong cinema.
North American PremiereDastardly phone scammers are stealing millions from all walks of life. Altruistic young policeman Ding stealthily combines forces with a highly skilled female undercover agent to stop them.
North American PremiereChina's most exciting new action star Zhang Jin (The Grandmaster, SPL 2: A Time for Consequences, Ip Man 3, Pacific Rim: Uprising) gets his first leading role—and goes blond—in this crime drama set on the high seas, combining scuba stunts, car chases, and human drama
Q&A with actress Stephy Tang, who will receive the Screen International Rising Star AwardJapanese-Chinese Mari has long been forced to practice karate by her strict father (Kurata Yasuaki). When he suddenly dies, she rejoices to sell the dojo and finally embrace a slacker lifestyle.
World Premiere · Preceded by Live Performance · Q&A with director Antony ChanDirected by the band’s drummer Antony Chan and featuring contemporary musicians, this turbo-charged ’70s Hong Kong flashback chronicles the meteoric rise of real-life pop sensation The Wynners.
Centerpiece Screening · World Premiere · Q&A with director Sunny Chan and actress Jennifer YuFour telecom employees begrudgingly join the company’s dragon boat team to help keep them immune from encroaching layoffs, only to discover themselves, in this life-affirming comedy-drama.
Q&A with director Dante Lam and producer Candy Leung; Lam will receive the Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action CinemaA major breakthrough in action cinema, Dante Lam’s epic is a nonstop barrage of shootouts, deadly hand-to-hand combat, high-powered chases, and nail-biting suspense.
New York PremiereWhen his daughter goes missing in Thailand, a Hong Kong cop (Louis Koo) teams with local police (Tony Jaa) to find her, but instead finds himself embroiled in a web of corruption and violence in this explosive thriller from renowned action director Wilson Yip.
Director Dante Lam will be in attendanceThree down-on-their-luck ordinary people turn their lives around in Hong Kong’s biggest local hit of 2013, an involving action-drama set in the world of competitive mixed martial arts.
U.S. Premiere · Q&A with director Mike WiluanIn 1860, two gun-slinging brothers return from California's wild west to their native Java to seek justice for their father's murder in this rollicking ride, a new take on old-school adventure.
North American PremiereIn 1988, the streets of Hiroshima are rife with yakuza, and loose cannon cop Ogami (Koji Yakusho) is rumored to be as corrupt as them. Rookie detective Hioka learns this the hard way when Ogami gives him a crash course in subterfuge and street smarts.
Opening Night · North American Premiere · Q&A with director Masanori Tominaga and actor Tasuku Emoto · Opening Night PartyDirector Masanori Tominaga brings the memoir of Japan porn-mag mogul Akira Suei to the screen with this monumental biopic that chronicles his rise from sign painter to publisher and beyond.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director Takaomi OgataWhen a high-school teacher is arrested for statutory rape, his sex video is leaked and rumors spread that the girl in it looks just like his student Hitomi. This tragic and powerful cautionary tale is an indictment of society, human nature, and the media.
North American premiereDecrepit milquetoast salaryman Inuyashiki finds out he is terminally ill—only to be reborn as an indestructible combat cyborg after an apparent alien encounter in this adaptation of Hiroya Oku’s best-selling manga.
New York Premiere · Director Masato Harada will be in attendanceSet in the Edo period, Harada’s first jidai-geki follows the wayward ways of three kakekomi (“runaway women”) who seek freedom from disastrous marriages in the mountain temple of Tokeiji, in Kakamura.
Q&A with director Masato HaradaEmploying a melange of cinematic devices and genre tropes, Harada unleashed a surprisingly humanistic diatribe against the sexism, racism, and corruption in society in this rebellious road movie that proved Harada an auteur to watch.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director Eisuke NaitoHaruka, a high school student who has just moved to a small town, endures relentless bullying. Only the handsome and honorable Mitsuru takes her side, further enraging her tormentors.
North American Premiere · Director Masao Takeshita will be in attendanceBased on an award-winning novel, this deceptively quiet tale eloquently details a broken family coming to terms with the quotidian yet often suffocating travails of blood relations, love, and life itself.
North American PremiereA low-budget film crew about to shoot a zombie movie at a desolate warehouse is suddenly attacked by real zombies in one of the most original genre-bending exploits in years.
North American PremiereVeteran director Isao Yukisada brings to the screen early nineties cult manga River’s Edge, which vividly portrays the tribulations of high schoolers in a Tokyo suburb as they struggle through a brutal, often invisible side of teenage life.
New York PremiereA sleepy seaside town is stirred by the arrival of six mysterious strangers in this black comic manga adaptation, which features an all-star ensemble cast.
New York Premiere · Q&A with director Masato Harada, who will receive the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement AwardThis sweeping epic—about Japanese history’s bloodiest battle, fought on a single day in 1600, with losses of 30,000 people—teems with historical characters and enough Machiavellian maneuvering and exciting action for an entire miniseries.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director Kanata WolfTwo slackers work at a midnight bar while also selling marijuana; when they get dangerously close to some unhinged yakuza, they follow wildly divergent fates.
New York PremiereThis powerfully moving drama from internationally acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda follows the story of a man struggling to find the truth while questioning his own faith in the law.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director Nam Ron and actor Ario BayuNam Ron's third feature is structured around a rookie cop whose moral compass is tested by the systemic corruption that surrounds him.
International PremiereBlending horror tropes into a bizarre courtroom drama, Dain Said’s lost first film is a fascinating meditation on female sexuality, avarice, and corrupted morality that was shelved for over a decade due to its controversial nature.
Closing Night · World Premiere · Q&A with director Erik Matti and actors Anne Curtis & Brandon Vera · Closing Night PartyAfter two decades making erotica, fantasy, horror, thrillers and a superhero comedy, Erik Matti directs his first all-out action film. And it’s relentless, featuring 309 stuntmen, 1,278 extras, and a wildly ambitious three-minute, one-cut action scene.
New York PremiereAn orphan becomes entangled with police, drug dealers, mercenaries, and street gangs in this dark neo-noir thriller set amidst Manila’s ongoing war on drugs.
Director Erik Matti will be in attendanceWhen a prominent drug dealer is murdered, federal agent Francis (Piolo Pascual) leads the investigation, but the trail goes immediately cold. What he discovers is a massive conspiracy.
New York Premiere · Director Treb Monteras, actor Abra, and producer Monster Jimenez will be in attendanceRespeto is a searing indictment of social injustice, set in the world of underground rap battles and starring the Philippines’ biggest hip-hop stars.
New York Premiere · Q&A with actress Anne CurtisIn this clever anti-romance, Dingdong Dantes plays a cutthroat stockbroker who can’t sleep at night. He befriends Anne Curtis’s sassy cafe waitress and offers to pay her $20 an hour to talk him through his insomnia.
World PremiereShot in just eight days, this pure genre piece stars Erich Gonzales as an underappreciated and underpaid stuntwoman who takes on one last job with her former gang, only to be trapped in a hellish underworld.
Q&A with director Jang Joon-hwan and actor Kim Yoon-seok, who receive the NYAFF 2018 Star Asia AwardSet in 1987 and based on a true story, the film follows events that led up to the June Democratic Uprising in Korea, triggered by the death of a student protester during a police interrogation, which the authorities conspired to cover up.
North American PremiereA missing high-school girl is suspected of committing suicide. When it is discovered that somber Young-hee was the last to see her, troubling questions arise. Young-hee is quickly thrown into a maelstrom of accusations, leading to a witch hunt.
North American PremiereThis sadly topical documentary revolves around the conflict between ultranationalist demonstrators and opposing groups. Ironically, one of the most radically anti-nationalist crusaders, determined to fight racism and discrimination, is a former mid-level Yakuza boss.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director/actress Jeong Ga-youngA young female filmmaker interviews a male friend over a long night of drinking, asking him alarmingly frank questions about love and sex in this refreshing female counterpoint to the work of Hong Sang-soo.
North American PremiereA feisty pensioner, infamous for hounding the local district office with innumerable complaints, clashes with a scrupulous young public servant in this deeply moving and transformative journey, based on true events.
New York PremiereKim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden) stars as Hye-won, a would-be teacher so frustrated by city life that she returns to her rural home, where she reunites with childhood friends and acquaints herself with life’s simple pleasures.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director Jeon Go-woon and actor Ahn Jae-hongWhen the price of cigarettes goes up, part-time housekeeper Miso decides to leave her small apartment and couch surf with college friends. This strikingly original first feature effortlessly balances humor and pathos.
New York PremiereTwo Danish-Korean adoptees return for the first time to the country where they were born in this seamless hybrid of documentary and fiction, partially based on Malene Choi’s personal experiences.
International PremiereA simple sex farce evolves into a bitingly hilarious social satire that takes predisposed concepts of love and marriage to task in this sharp, character-driven comedy that lays bare the foibles and vulnerabilities of the human condition.
North American PremiereImagine if Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage and Johnnie To’s Election had a bastard child. This film puts Taiwan firmly back on the gangster-cinema map.
New York PremiereA young couple starts their romance as new hope sweeps Taiwan, only to face physical separation due to military service and economic hardships in this realistic depiction of a relationship, set against the turmoil of three presidential administrations.
New York PremiereThree lost souls are brought together by odd happenstance in this elegant reflection on modern life, the award-winning debut from Hou Hsiao-hsien disciple and NYU graduate Huang Xi.
North American PremiereForty years of Taiwanese history come to the surface in this tender yet powerful autobiographical animated film about one woman’s search for happiness.
New York PremiereThere are no men in the Tang family, run by the devious Madame Tang (Kara Wai), hard-hearted matriarch and shady syndicate leader. This stylized melodrama, a spectacle of family dysfunction and moral depravity, is intensified by its actresses’ chilling performances.
North American Premiere · Actress Gena Desouza will be in attendanceIn this gloriously absurd Thai horror-comedy, a ragtag group of wannabes and has-beens converge at a countryside resort where they encounter a karaoke-crazed ghost out for vengeance, and suddenly find themselves forced to sing for their lives.
North American Premiere · Q&A with director Bongkod Bencharongkul and producer Kongkiat KhomsiriPart road movie, part thriller, and part drug-fueled psychodrama, Sad Beauty is a brave and unexpectedly personal film about two women’s friendship directed by actress Bongkod Bencharongkul.
Free and open to the public! · Sponsored by HBO®In this master class, the master storyteller will discuss his career, the state of contemporary Japanese cinema, and the role of cinema in public discourse.
Free and open to the public! · Sponsored by HBO®This Free Talk is in conjunction with Safe Imagination Is Boring, a group exhibition of eleven New York–based visual artists with different connections to Asia and Asian culture on view in the Furman Gallery at the Walter Reade Theater.
Free and open to the public! · Sponsored by HBO®In this panel, three directors with new films screening at NYAFF—including two making their directorial debuts, Dong Yue (The Looming Storm) and Jiang Jiachen (Looking for Lucky); and Xin Yukun (Wrath of Silence)—are joined by veteran producer Guan Yadi to discuss the state of Mainland Chinese cinema and the rise of a new genre cinema.
Free and open to the public! · Sponsored by HBO®Thailand’s Kongkiat Komesiri (Sad Beauty), the Philippines’ Erik Matti (BuyBust), and Indonesia’s Mike Wiluan (Buffalo Boys) are leading figures in Southeast Asian genre cinema. Here, they will discuss the challenges of making films for both domestic and international consumption in the age of online platforms.
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