The New York Asian Film Festival which will be held from 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. With the theme “15 FOR 15: THE COOL, THE CRAZY, THE CORRUPT” we get a glimpse at this year’s offerings, revealing the 15 key titles that shape the themes of the festival’s 15th anniversary edition.
New York Asian Film Festival. 15 for 15: THE COOL, THE CRAZY, THE CORRUPT
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. Shanjey 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
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 drama Hamog (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 Sanjhey 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’s The 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’s What’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 Kiyamachi Daruma, 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 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.