The 20th-anniversary edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) returns fully in person from July 15–31, 2022 presenting 60+ new and classic titles.
“We’re thrilled to be back fully in person after two years, the best and only way to really have a festival, in my view,” said Samuel Jamier, Executive Director of NYAFF and President of the New York Asian Film Foundation. “We’ve been really impressed with the quality and diversity of films made during the trying times of the pandemic, and we’re especially excited that we can once again welcome guests from all over Asia to the stage at FLC, giving them the spotlight they deserve. We look forward to celebrating NYAFF’s 20th anniversary and 20 years of discovering films from half a world away, a region now universally celebrated for its great filmmaking and storytelling, with some of today’s most talented and acclaimed stars and renowned filmmakers.”
NYAFF Opening Film is the international premiere of the propulsively paced Thai romcom Fast & Feel Love, directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit (Heart Attack, NYAFF 2016). The director will be joined at Film at Lincoln Center on opening night by his leading actress, Urassaya “Yaya” Sperbund, who will be honored on stage with the Screen International Rising Star Award. The Thai-Norwegian actress, already an established star in the region, is known for roles in popular TV series and films, such as Witthaya Thongyooyong’s Brother of the Year.
In Fast & Feel Love, Sperbund brilliantly plays the supportive girlfriend of a world champion sport stacker who only has time for his game. When she finally comes to her senses and dumps him, he must learn basic adulting skills to find a way to win her back. Stacking is a genderless, ageless, border-free sport, and the exuberant film is nearly as fast-moving as its sport-stacking protagonist.
NYAFF’s South Korean lineup, presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center New York (KCCNY) and as bold and vibrant as ever, will showcase, among many others, Confession from Yoon Jong-seok, a labyrinthine tale of betrayal and intrigue anchored by tension-charged performances from So Ji-sub (NYAFF 2009 Rising Star Asia honoree) and Kim Yun-jin; Yeom Ji-ho’s taut comedic thriller Next Door, in which a would-be police cadet unexpectedly finds himself embroiled in a real-life crime-fighting test; and the illuminating LGBTQ documentary I Am More by Lee Il-ha (Counters, NYAFF 2018) following the captivating journey of glamorous drag queen and transgender trailblazer More, who will join us for the film’s North American debut. This year marks 140 years of friendship between Korea and the United States, and KCCNY will be hosting exciting events to celebrate this meaningful history of cultural exchange. Additional lineup announcements from South Korea will follow: NYAFF is bringing its largest number of guest filmmakers ever.
NYAFF’s Japanese lineup, supported by the Japan World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund, is led off by the U.S. premiere of megahit Shin Ultraman, a shiny new reimagining of the most successful tokusatsu-versus-kaiju series of all time from creative titans Hideaki Anno (writer-producer) and Shinji Higuchi (director), the power duo behind Shin Godzilla, with the director present at FLC. Other highlights include NYAFF regular Kazuya Shiraishi’s Lesson in Murder, a seductive serial-killer thriller that is rife with shocking twists and nauseating turns; the delightful debut theatrical feature of actress Non (star of Hold Me Back, NYAFF 2021), Ribbon, an intensely personal vision of an artist trying to reclaim her identity and her future promise amid the pandemic; Broken Commandment, the immensely moving new adaptation of Toson Shimazaki’s classic novel about a Burakumin school teacher who must find the courage to fight for human rights, or give up everything; Takuya Kato’s Grown-ups, a sharply observed dissection of a volatile relationship between two college students that may leave some viewers gasping for air; and the new narrative feature from New York-schooled documentarian Mayu Nakamura, Intimate Stranger, a disturbing psychological chiller about a single mother’s search for her missing son.
NYAFF’s recently announced partnership with the CineCina Film Festival (CCFF) is expected to allow both partners to reach a wider audience, promote enriched cultural exchange, and provide unprecedented access to the latest releases from mainland China. The inaugural CineCina Selections will include Zhang Ji’s riveting romantic dark thriller Fire on the Plain, in which a cop working a serial-killer cold case finds clues that pull him back into his fraught past; Geng Jun’s deadpan dramedy Manchurian Tiger, which narrates the revenge of parents-to-be during a freezing winter in Northeast China; Niu Xiaoyu’s often surreal Virgin Blue; and Wei Shujun’s po-faced mockumentary about filmmaking, Ripples of Life, in which a crew constantly has to rewrite their script after arriving on location.
NYAFF’s Taiwan lineup features includes the international premiere of Dan-Quei Shen’s The Funeral, a superlative horror film that follows a struggling single mother who returns to her rural family manse when her grandfather dies. Other highlights are Mama Boy from Arvin Chen (an NYAFF Uncaged competition juror in 2020), which stars heartthrob Kai Ko as the titular young man who falls for singer-actress Vivian Hsu and finally comes of age at 29; and Terrorizers from Ho Wi Ding (100, NYAFF 2012), with Austin Lin (iWeirDO, NYAFF 2020) as a delusional young man who attacks a couple with a ninja sword before the film is deconstructed through flash-backs and forwards exploring the relationships between its four central characters.
This year’s Hong Kong Panorama shines a spotlight on a selection of local stories through themes like family, food, and career, and the Hong Kong way of life in general, including five exhilarating new dramedies (among others): playwright-theater director Kearen Pang’s second feature, Mama’s Affair, is a brilliant, female-driven, cross-generational story that stars veteran Teresa Mo and Keung To and Jer Lau, both of pop sensation Mirror; Amos Why’s Far Far Away follows a newly minted Don Juan as he drives his dates around town, in a loving tribute to the cultural and natural riches of Hong Kong itself; Sunny Chan’s Table for Six, starring Stephy Tang (NYAFF 2018 Rising Star Asia honoree), a bedroom farce that takes place mostly at the dinner table as the characters share meals and rekindle their romance; the world premiere of Benny Lau’s We Are Family, with Eric Tsang (NYAFF 2017 Lifetime Achievement awardee) and Carlos Chan as rental surrogate family members for a range of functions. And the film debut of actor Justin Cheung and Li Ho, the rambunctious Legendary in Action!, a metatextual ode to the region’s most iconic film genre, featuring legendary real-life wuxia/kungfu star Chen Kuan Tai in a sublimely moving drama about the triumph of the creative spirit.
Marking NYAFF’s 20th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, five absolute, modern classics directed by five grandmasters of the city’s film industry will be screened. The Festival will be co-hosting, with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York and Film at Lincoln Center, a free outdoor screening in Hearst Plaza, Damrosch Park of Wong Kar Wai’s queer relationship classic Happy Together on July 16. One of the most searing romances of the 1990s, the lushly stylized portrait of a relationship in breakdown features superstars Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing as a couple traveling through Argentina. It’s an intoxicating exploration of displacement and desire, shot by Christopher Doyle.
Superstar singer-actor Josie Ho, Hong Kong’s ultimate creative powerhouse, will be at FLC to present her latest project, the inspiring documentary Finding Bliss: Fire and Ice—The Director’s Cut, which she also co-produced. As a tribute to the Hong Kong star, the Festival is showing two of her key films: Pang Ho-cheung’s real-estate horror masterpiece Dream Home and Derek Kwok and Henri Wong’s sports comedy Full Strike.
The New York Asian Film Festival is co-presented by the New York Asian Film Foundation and Film at Lincoln Center, and takes place from July 15–28, 2022 at FLC’s Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street), and on July 23 and July 29–31 at Asia Society (725 Park Avenue). It is curated by Executive Director Samuel Jamier, Associate Director Claire Marty, and programmers David Wilentz, Karen Severns, Koichi Mori, and Jenny Lin.
FIRST WAVE OF LINEUP
All the Crows in the World | dir. Tang Yi, Hong Kong 2021 | New York Premiere
Before Next Spring | dir. Li Gen, China, 2021 | North American Premiere
Fire on the Plain | dir. Zhang Ji, China, 2021 | New York Premiere
Manchurian Tiger | dir. Geng Jun, China, 2021 | US Premiere
Ripples of Life | dir. Wei Shujun, China, 2021 | New York Premiere
Virgin Blue | Niu Xiaoyu, China, 2021 | New York Premiere
Dream Home | dir. Pang Ho-cheung, Hong Kong, 2010
Far Far Away | dir. Amos Why, Hong Kong, 2021 | North American Premiere
Finding Bliss: Fire and Ice—The Director’s Cut | dir. Kim Chan, Dee Lam, Hong Kong, 2022 | North American Premiere
Full Strike | dir. Derek Kwok, Henri Wong, Hong Kong, 2015
Happy Together | dir. Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong, 1997 | Outdoor at Hearst Plaza
Kung Fu Hustle | dir. Stephen Chow, Hong Kong, 2004
Legendary in Action! | dir. Justin Cheung, Li Ho, Hong Kong, 2022 | North American Premiere
Mama’s Affair | dir. Kearen Pang, Hong Kong, 2022 | New York Premiere
Overheard | dir. Alan Mak, Felix Chong, Hong Kong, 2009
Running on Karma | dir. Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai, Hong Kong, 2003
Table for Six | dir. Sunny Chan, Hong Kong, 2022 | North American Premiere
The Eye | dir. Pang Brothers, Hong Kong, Singapore, 2002
We Are Family | dir. Benny Lau, Hong Kong, 2022 | World Premiere
Angry Son | dir. Kasho Iizuka, Japan, 2022 | North American Premiere
Broken Commandment | dir. Kazuo Maeda, Japan, 2022 | International Premiere
Grown-ups | dir. Takuya Kato, Japan, 2022 | International Premiere
Intimate Stranger | dir. Mayu Nakamura, Japan, 2021 | North American Premiere
Lesson in Murder | dir. Kazuya Shiraishi, Japan, 2022 | North American Premiere
Offbeat Cops | dir. Eiji Uchida, Japan, 2022 | World Premiere
Ox-Head Village | dir. Takashi Shimizu, Japan, 2022 | North American Premiere
Ribbon | dir. Non, Japan, 2022 | East Coast Premiere
Shin Ultraman | dir. Shinji Higuchi, Japan, 2022 | US Premiere
The Sales Girl | dir. Janchivdorj Sengedorj, Mongolia, 2021 | North American Premiere
Big Night! | dir. Jun Robles Lana, Philippines, 2021 | New York Premiere
Fast & Feel Love | dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Thailand, 2022 | International Premiere
Confession | dir. Yoon Jong-seok, South Korea, 2022 | North American Premiere
I Am More | dir. Lee Il-ha, South Korea, 2021 | North American Premiere
Next Door | dir. Yeom Ji-ho, South Korea, 2022 | US Premiere
Perhaps Love | dir. Cho Eun-ji, South Korea, 2022 | North American Premiere
Stellar: A Magical Ride | dir. Kwon Soo-kyung, South Korea, 2022 | International Premiere
The Girl on a Bulldozer | dir. Park Ri-woong, South Korea, 2022 | New York Premiere
The Killer | dir. Choi Jae-hun, South Korea, 2022 | Special Screening
Mama Boy | dir. Arvin Chen, Taiwan, 2022 | North American Premiere
Terrorizers | dir. Ho Wi Ding, Taiwan, 2021 | New York Premiere
The Funeral | dir. Dan-Quei Shen, Taiwan, 2022 | International Premiere
Dealing with Dad | dir. Tom Huang, USA, 2022 | East Coast Premiere
NARRATIVE SHORTS SHOWCASE
Ateh | dir. Kristie Ko, Hong Kong, 2021 | North American Premiere
Black Goat | dir. Tang Yi, USA/Nepal, 2019 | New York Premiere
Double Happiness | dir. Scarlett Li, China/USA, 2021 | New York Premiere
Honekami (A Bite of Bone) | dir. Honami Yano, Japan, 2021
Natsuko | dir. Shuna Iijima, Japan, 2020
S.Q.A.G. (Short Quiet Asian Girl) | dir. Benedict Chiu, USA, 2022 | World Premiere
Tank Fairy | dir. Erich Rettstadt, Taiwan/USA, 2021 | New York Premiere
The Sea Between Us | dir. Yuga J Vardhan, Singapore, 2021
Visitors | dir. Kenichi Ugana, Japan, 2021
Wax and Wane | dir. Beidi Wang, USA, 2022 | New York Premiere