The 19th New York Asian Film Festival will be a special virtual edition from August 28 to September 12, 2020. 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.
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.
NYAFF will spotlight an exciting lineup of titles directed and led by women including 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.
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.
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.
FULL LINEUP of 19th New York Asian Film Festival
(51 films) 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
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 PremiereUnleashed (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
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