The Movie Emperor directed by Ning Hao
The Movie Emperor directed by Ning Hao

Ning Hao’s Chinese comedy The Movie Emperor will kick off the film lineup for this year’s 23rd edition of Asian Film Festival of Dallas (AFFD) taking place July 25-28, 2024. AFFD’s Centerpiece film will be Marc Marriott’s fish-out-of-water tale Tokyo Cowboy, and the Closing Night film is Soi Cheang’s Hong Kong action-adventure film Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In.

Opening night on Thursday, July 25, features Ning Hao’s The Movie Emperor. The satire centers on a former Hong Kong film star who takes on a role in a modest indie drama to revive his career. To prepare for his role, he immerses himself in rural life in mainland China, struggling to adapt to the daily way of life most everyone deals with due to his arrogance and detachment from reality. Marc Marriott’s Tokyo Cowboy screens as the Centerpiece selection on Friday, July 26. In the film, a brash efficiency expert arrives in Montana, having convinced his Tokyo bosses he can turn a profitless US cattle ranch into a premiere-performing asset. However, having taken off his suit and dressed like a cowboy in an attempt to fit in, he winds up having a life-changing experience.

Following Red Carpet entrances featuring this year’s attending filmmakers and DFW guest luminaries, the Saturday Showcase selection (July 27) features Yeon Je-gwang’s thriller, The Guest, about two lackeys at a seedy motel doing the dirty work of clean up after the clients and managing the place – as well as taping their sexual activities and selling the videos. That is until they witness – and tape – a murder. Now, they’ve got a life-and-death choice to make. Director Yen je-gwang and star Lee Juseung will be in attendance and will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

Soi Cheang’s Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In closes AFFD on Sunday, July 28, with a thriller about a young man who stumbles into the treacherous walled city and soon aligns himself with a legendary and feared underworld figure, joining his effort to protect the walled city from Mr. Big, a crime lord hired by the colonial government to destroy their sanctuary.

AFFD Executive Director Thomas Schubert, said, “The programming for this year’s edition of the film festival goes back to the basics of what AFFD has been delivering to Dallas audiences for more than two decades now: striking dramas, high comedies, action, thrillers, horror, and insightful documentaries for and about Asians and Asian Americans. The Angelika will once again play host to appearances and conversations with our filmmakers and talent, and we will celebrate their work both as we screen their films and through our other special events and parties that truly make the Asian Film Festival of Dallas a can’t miss event for DFW film lovers.”

Additional highlights include Daniel Driensky and Sarah Reyes’ documentary Art is Love: Nepal. The screening will be the rare occurrence of AFFD spotlighting a film made by local filmmakers and features Texas artist Sean Starr on a journey to Nepal, where he explores and documents traditional and handcrafted arts that are at risk of disappearing. Both the directing duo, Driensky and Reyes, as well as the documentary’s subject will be in attendance and participate in a post-screening Q&A. Karan Tejpal’s Indian drama Stolen delivers a South Asian offering about two brothers who are unexpectedly enlisted to help a panicked woman find her lost child. ​Yamaguchi Yudai’s One-Percent Warrior delivers the samurai-style combat goods in a story about a legendary, aging action film star drawn into the real world of violence when feuding yakuza gangs infiltrate the set of his latest feature.

2024 Asian Film Festival of Dallas Film Festival Official Selections


The Movie Emperor
Director: Ning Hao
Country: China; Running Time: 126 minutes
The Movie Emperor is a satirical comedy directed by Ning Hao. The film centers on Lau Wai-Chi, a former Hong Kong film star, who takes on a role in a modest indie drama to revive his career. To prepare for his role as a peasant farmer in the 1960s, Lau immerses himself in rural life in mainland China. His journey is marked by a series of comedic mishaps, highlighting his struggle to adapt to the common people and their way of life due to his arrogance and detachment from reality.


Tokyo Cowboy
Director: Marc Marriott
Country: Japan; Running Time: 118 minutes
Brash businessman Hideki arrives in Montana having convinced his Tokyo bosses he can turn a profitless US cattle ranch into a premiere-performing asset. Yet when his Hardee’s-burger-loving Japanese Wagyu-beef expert fails him, Hideki is poised to misfire magnificently unless he identifies a missing element that’s key to the transformation… himself.


Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In
Director: Soi Cheang
Country: Hong Kong; Running Time: 125 minutes
Chan Lok-kwun is a troubled youth who accidentally enters the Walled City and discovers a unique sense of order amidst the chaos. As he navigates this treacherous environment, he forms close bonds with other key figures, including Shin and Twelfth Master. Under the leadership of Tornado, a legendary and feared underworld figure, Chan and his allies strive to protect the Walled City from the villain Mr. Big, a crime lord hired by the colonial government to destroy their sanctuary.


The Guest
Director: Yeon Je-gwang
Country: South Korea; Running Time: 76 minutes
Someone is watching you behind the screen. Min-cheol, who works at a motel, makes dirty money by filming illegal sex videos of the guests. Although feeling guilty, he has no choice but to continue the job to pay loan shark debts. On one rainy night, he witnesses a guy strangling a drunk woman to death through the hidden camera. Still debating between selling this provocative footage and reporting a crime, Min-cheol now must make a decision.


A Childless Village
Director: Reza Jamali
Country: Iran; Running Time: 81 minutes
A Childless Village is set in a remote village where, twenty years ago, an old filmmaker named Kazem made a film about the sterility of the women villagers. To protect their dignity, the women stole and burned the footage. Now, it is revealed that the men are infertile, not the women. Kazem, with his assistant, attempts to record interviews with the infertile men to uncover the truth.

A Long Shot
Director: Gao Peng
Country: China; Running Time: 117 minutes
In the early 1980s, factories declined in Northeast China, and thefts occurred one after another. After the sharpshooter Gu Xuebing retired, he became an ordinary officer in the factory security department. He admires Xiao Jin, a single mother, and accidentally finds that Xiao Jin’s son, Geng Xiaojun, is wandering on the edge of crime. Gu Xuebing is determined to bring him back to the right path.

Moscow Mission
Director: Herman Yau
Country: China; Running Time: 128 minutes
Tough Chinese detectives go on a mission to Moscow to hunt down ruthless robbers who have been plaguing the trans-Siberian railway with violence and chaos.

Ms. Apocalypse
Director: Lim Seon-ae
Country: South Korea; Running Time: 116 minutes
Yeong-mi is an accounting manager at a factory and is often ridiculed for her dowdy appearance and nicknamed ‘Ms. Apocalypse’ by her colleagues. The only person who shows her kindness is Do-yeong, a delivery driver, whom she secretly admires. As her feelings for Do-yeong grow, Yeong-mi discovers that he has been embezzling company money. Despite this, she strives to protect him, which leads to her being arrested for aiding his crime. This dramatic turn of events coincides with the societal panic over the impending turn of the millennium. After serving her time in prison, Yeong-mi encounters Do-yeong’s wife, Yoo-jin, who presents her with an unexpected and compelling offer, leading to an unlikely friendship between the two women.

Director: Yung-Chi Chen
Country: Taiwan; Running Time: 79 minutes
Namesake follows the lives of multiple characters sharing the same name, exploring the unique stories and emotional struggles that come with their shared identity. Each character navigates personal challenges, social expectations, and their search for self-identity, all while being linked by their common name. The film delves into themes of identity, connection, and the impact of names on one’s life journey.

Old Fox
Director: Hsiao Ya-Chuan
Country: Taiwan; Running Time: 111 minutes
Old Fox follows a young boy who befriends his landlord, nicknamed Old Fox, and tells the story of Taiwan’s rapidly changing society of the late 1980s.

One-Percent Warrior
Director: Yamaguchi Yudai
Country: Japan; Running Time: 96 minutes
After his devastatingly fast, samurai-style combat approach sets filmmakers against him, a legendary action star (Tak Sakaguchi) films his own movie—on turf claimed by feuding yakuza gangs, including Japan’s deadliest martial arts assassin.

Post Truth
Director: Chengpeng Dong
Country: China; Running Time: 112 minutes
After being imprisoned for standing up for a friend, middle-aged Wei Ping’an struggles to rebuild his life. Upon his release, he takes a job as a cemetery salesman. In his difficult new role, he is determined to clear the name of his deceased client, Han Lu who was the victim of online slander. Driven by a promise, Wei Ping’an embarks on a challenging journey to uncover the truth behind the rumors. His path is fraught with obstacles, including confrontations with his own sister, Wei Ruyi, and relentless pursuit by the wealthy and powerful Mr. Feng. Through these trials, Wei Ping’an gradually realizes that doing what one believes is right brings the greatest peace of mind.

Rose & Samurai 2: Return of the Pirate Queen
Director: Hidenori Inoue
Country: Japan; Running Time: 174 minutes
Set in the 17th century on the Iberian Peninsula, Anne de Alwida, a pirate queen, and Goemon Ishikawa, a master thief, navigate various challenges and comedic mishaps while protecting the seas. Their journey highlight’s themes of bravery, loyalty, and the clash between arrogance and humility.

Director: Karan Tejpal
Country: India; Running Time: 94 minutes
In the wee morning hours at a remote railway station in rural India, a chance encounter changes the lives of a few young people forever. Gautam Bansal is there to pick up his brother Raman for an extravagant destination wedding. Their already tenuous relationship and the thin veneer of familial love are challenged when they chance upon Jhumpa Mahato. A broken woman with little to her name, Jhumpa is beside herself with panic when she wakes from her slumber to discover her infant daughter missing. A series of unfortunate incidents embroil the two brothers into Jhumpa’s pitiful endeavor to be reunited with her young child. ​Raman, ever on a crusade for justice and righting the world’s wrongs, believes it’s their moral duty to come to the helpless women’s aid. Gautam, believes more in the pleasures of a privileged life, and hardly cares to know more about what does not concern him. ​This perilous journey through the unforgiving hinterlands thrusts the young men out of their sheltered existence, compelling them to confront the harshness of reality.

The Tenants
Director: Yoon Eun-Kyoung
Country: South Korea; Running Time: 88 minutes
The Tenants is set in a dystopian future Seoul, plagued by severe environmental pollution and exorbitant living costs. The protagonist, Shin-dong, is an office worker who faces eviction by his landlord. Unable to afford a new place, he follows a friend’s advice to rent out part of his current home to complicate the eviction process. He ends up renting his bathroom to a peculiar newlywed couple, leading to a series of bizarre and unsettling events.


Art is Love: Nepal
Directors: Daniel Driensky, Sarah Reyes
Countries: United States/Nepal; Running Time: 71 minutes
The film features Texas artist Sean Starr on a journey to Nepal, where he explores and documents traditional and handcrafted arts that are at risk of disappearing. The documentary showcases a variety of Nepali artisans, including Thangka painters, woodcarvers, singing bowl manufacturers, paper makers, basket weavers, and traditional musicians and dancers. These artists share their craft and the cultural significance behind their work, which has been passed down through generations. The project aims to highlight the importance of preserving these art forms in a rapidly changing global landscape dominated by technology.

Director: Kenji Tsukamoto
Country: Unites States; Running Time: 86 minutes
Ashima follows elite rock climber Ashima Shiraishi as she travels to South Africa to attempt to become the youngest climber to master one of the world’s most challenging climbs. Accompanying Ashima is her father and coach Poppo, a former avante-garde dancer who brings an eccentric, tough-love approach to Ashima’s training. Examining the sacrifices required to achieve at the highest level and the complex relationship between immigrant parents and their children, this is an intimate coming-of-age story about climbing, family, and pursuing the American Dream.


Benkyodo: The Last Manju Shop in J-Town
Directors: Akira Boch, Tadashi Nakamura
Country: United States; Running Time: 15 minutes
Ricky and Bobby Okamura wrestle with closing their beloved family-owned manju shop after serving the San Francisco Japantown community for 115 years.

Director: Tomoaki Kaneko
Country: Japan; Running Time: 12 minutes
Yuki, a devoted mother, finds joy in sharing her only daughter Sara’s photos on social media. Caught in the pursuit of fame and validation, she increasingly risks reality for the perfect “photogenic” shot, becoming deaf to her husband’s warnings. Her obsession for likes and approval leads her down a dangerous path, ending in a tragic transformation: Yuki becomes a lonely old woman, mourning the loss of Sara, a daughter sacrificed to the altar of social media perfection.

Director: Kim J.Y. Han
Country: United States; Running Time: 13 minutes
It’s 1997, and 9-year-old Jimin just moved to California. Jimin refuses to speak to her father who stayed behind in Korea, but when a major financial crisis devastates their home country, all hopes that he can join them in America dissipates. Now, Jimin must gather the courage to take the next steps alone.

Cuppa Chai
Director: Amit Kaur
Country: United Kingdom; Running Time: 10 minutes
After the death of her Nani Ji, eighteen-year-old Mira arrives back in her hometown and is confronted by the fact that she knows very little about the woman who passed away. She must learn more about her grandmother’s life the only way she knows how, through the perfect cup of tea and halwa.

Director: Caitlin Boston
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
Molly is a young Asian woman trying to figure out where her father’s body is after his sudden death by suicide. Due to a challenging relationship with her mother, the location is being withheld from her.

For Roy
Director: Vivian Cheung
Country: Canada; Running Time: 12 minutes
Inspired by true events, an imaginative Asian-Canadian girl attempts to fold a thousand cranes as she learns to lose her father during his final days in the hospice.

Happy Doomsday
Director: Sol O
Country: Republic of Korea; Running Time: 13 minutes
A survival dark suspense comedy, in which the story follows two women who, after being rejected in the same final job interview, chance upon each other in an online community. They make a pact to end their lives together on the rooftop of the company building. However, as the night progresses, they find themselves challenged by unexpected obstacles, leading to an unexpected turn of events.

Director: Dohyun KIM
Country: Republic of Korea; Running Time: 13 minutes
A young lady with crippled legs gets white shoes as a keepsake left by her deceased mother. Maid Midori wants these beautiful shoes for her own.

Director: Vu Hoang
Country: United States; Running Time: 14 minutes
A young Vietnamese American man revisits treasured memories of helping his mother, and fulfills a childhood promise he made to her, paying the ultimate price.

Director: Al Chang
Country: United States; Running Time: 11 minutes
In their pursuit of viral fame, a group of young women’s social media recording session turns perilous when they’re stalked by an internet serial killer.

Director: Taeyoung Kim
Country: Republic of Korea; Running Time: 25 minutes
A social media “Voice Club” where they communicate only with their voices leads to outrageous lies.

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