This summer’s New York Asian Film Festival (June 22 – July 9) has its most cutting-edge lineup yet, with a cast of Asia’s hottest stars, some receiving our significantly expanded Star Asia and Screen International Rising Star Awards.Today, we give our first glimpse at this year’s offerings, revealing the 15 key titles that shape the themes of our 15th anniversary edition.
From the Philippines we present three genre-defying films that explore fatherhood, and what it means to be an adult: Erik Matti’s religious crime drama Honor Thy Father, Ralston Jover’s noir youth dramaHamog (Haze), and Mario Cordejo’s sensual surfing film Apocalypse Child, which posits that Francis Ford Coppola left behind an illegitimate son as well as a surfboard after shooting Apocalypse Now in the Philippines.
We cling to the company of lost souls to explore the little-known territory of Tamil-language Malaysian cinema and the plight of the local Indian community in the 1990s. First-time director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s Jagat (Brutal) follows the hardships of a 12-year-old boy as he gets drawn into the criminal lifestyle of his uncle, a henchman for a local Malaysian gang. Channeling the spirit of Satyajit Ray, this raw coming-of-age story receives its North American premiere at NYAFF.
From South Korea come films about people selling their souls, both figuratively and literally. In E J-yong’s The Bacchus Lady, an elderly prostitute plies her trade in city parks. The bittersweet tale reflects the national scandal of a generation facing abject poverty and abandonment. Kim Jin-hwang’sThe Boys Who Cried Wolf follows an unemployed actor paid to be a false witness to a child’s murder, while Jang Jae-hyun’s modern exorcist thriller The Priests will have heads spinning with its hair-raising car chases, piglets as demonic vessels, and the antichrist.
In explorations of innocence corrupted, we put the spotlight on first-time female directors with China’sWhat’s in the Darkness(dir. Wang Yichun), about a curious teenage girl who is seduced into her cop father’s investigation of a serial killer; Hong Kong’s Lazy Hazy Crazy(dir. Jody Luk), in which schoolgirls explore the city’s heart of greed by charging for sex; and Thailand’s Grace(dir. Ornusa Donsawai & Pun Homchuen), a merciless attack on social-media idolatry.
We next descend into Japanese madness with Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s unnerving Creepy,about a maniac who infiltrates and corrupts the nuclear-family unit; Sakaki Hideo’s shocking KiyamachiDaruma,featuring a manipulative yakuza boss who lacks not only digits but also his arms and legs; and the loony Hentai Kamen 2, the hotly anticipated sequel to our 2013 Audience Award winner about a fetishistic superhero who wears his crime-busting underwear on his head.
We round out our 15 key films with two thrillers that explore institutionalized corruption—in the police, in the courts, in the media, and on the political stage—with Woo Min-ho’s Inside Men from South Korea and Cheng Wen-tang’s Maverick from Taiwan. Both films are razor-sharp dissections of the corruption at the heart of the two fragile democracies at a moment when both are swinging pendulums of political turmoil.
The festival’s executive director, Samuel Jamier, says, “To celebrate our 15th edition, we made the difficult and deliberate decision to have a lean selection of approximately 50 features. Bigger isn’t better; better is better. While maintaining a focus on quality, we’re putting our energies into promoting each film, so that they have a life after the festival. We have a larger lineup of exciting guests booked, including Asian stars who are joining us for our anniversary celebration.”
The festival will announce its opening film and the Screen International Rising Star Award recipients in mid-May from Cannes, followed by the full-lineup reveal at the end of May.
15 for 15
1. Apocalypse Child; dir. Mario Cordejo [Philippines], North American Premiere
2. The Bacchus Lady 죽여주는 여자; dir. E J-yong [South Korea], New York Premiere
3. The Boys Who Cried Wolf 양치기들; dir. Kim Jin-hwang [South Korea], North American Premiere
4. Creepy クリーピー 偽りの隣人; dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa [Japan], New York Premiere
5. Grace อวสานโลกสวย; dirs. Ornusa Donsawai & Pun Homchuen [Thailand], International Premiere
6. Hamog (Haze); dir. Ralston Jover [Philippines], North American Premiere
7. Hentai Kamen 2 HK 変態仮面 アブノーマル・クライシス; dir. Yuichi Fukuda [Japan],
North American Premiere
8. Honor Thy Father; dir. Erik Matti [Philippines], New York Premiere
9. Inside Men 내부자들; dir. Woo Min-ho [South Korea], New York Premiere
10. Jagat (Brutal); dir. Shanjhey Kumar Perumal [Malaysia], North American Premiere
11. Kiyamachi Daruma 木屋町DARUMA; dir. Hideo Sakaki [Japan], International Premiere
12. Lazy Hazy Crazy 同班同學; dir. Jody Luk [Hong Kong], North American Premiere
13. Maverick 菜鳥; dir. Cheng Wen-tang [Taiwan], North American Premiere
14. The Priests 검은 사제들; dir. Jang Jae-hyun [South Korea]
15. What’s in the Darkness 黑处有什么; dir. Wang Yichun [China] North American Premiere
The New York Asian Film Festival is co-presented by Subway Cinema and the Film Society of Lincoln Center and takes place from June 22 to July 5 at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, and July 6 to 9 at SVA Theatre. Keep up to date with information at www.subwaycinema.com and www.filmlinc.org.
Online Screeners for some of the films, pre-festival interviews with NYAFF’s programmers, and interviews with key guests are available by request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now in its 15th year, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) is North America’s leading festival of popular Asian cinema, which TheNew York Times has called “one of the city's most valuable events.” Launched in 2002 by Subway Cinema, the festival selects only the best, strangest, and most entertaining movies to screen for New York audiences, ranging from mainstream blockbusters and art-house eccentricities to genre and cult classics. It was the first North American film festival to champion the works of Johnnie To, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike, and other auteurs of contemporary Asian cinema. Since 2010, the Festival has been produced in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER Founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, the Film Society of Lincoln Center works to recognize established and emerging filmmakers, support important new work, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility, and understanding of the moving image. The Film Society produces the renowned New York Film Festival, a curated selection of the year’s most significant new film work, and presents or collaborates on other annual New York City festivals including Art of the Real, Dance on Camera, Film Comment Selects, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, New York African Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival, New York Jewish Film Festival, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, and Scary Movies. In addition to publishing the award-winning Film Comment magazine, the Film Society recognizes an artist’s unique achievement in film with the prestigious Chaplin Award, whose 2016 recipient is Morgan Freeman. The Film Society’s state-of-the-art Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, located at Lincoln Center, provide a home for year-round programs and the New York City film community.
The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from American Airlines, The New York Times, HBO, Stella Artois, The Kobal Collection, Variety, Loews Regency Hotel, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.org and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.
ABOUT SUBWAY CINEMA
Subway Cinema is America’s leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and appreciation of Asian popular film culture in all forms, building bridges between Asia and the West. With year-round festivals and programs, the organization aims to bring wide audience and critical attention to contemporary and classic Asian cinema in the U.S. In 2002, Subway Cinema launched its flagship event, the annual New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which is North America’s leading festival of popular Asian cinema. Subway cinema’s other events and initiatives include Old School Kung Fu Fest (OSKFF), New York Korean Film Festival (NYKFF), and year-round special screenings and filmmaker tributes.