2.5 weeks! 51 movies! 30 celebrity guests! This year’s New York Asian Film Festival is going to be big.
Their 15 for 15 certainly got us excited – as well as, y’know, the 15 year history it represents – but it’s like they say: get your hopes up and the universe will deliver.
That’s true, at least, when it comes to those folks at Subway Cinema, who have finally unveiled the full lineup for this year’s New York Asian Film Festival. Though they said that this year was going to be somehow leaner, it turned out they were just being modest. With 51 movies and more than 30 guest directors, writers, and actors in attendance, NYAFF’s 15th year running shows no signs of slowing down.
Feeling intimated by the expansive programming? Fear not! We are here to steer you through the highlights and events we’re most excited for.
TWISTED JUSTICE World Premiere (dir. Kazuya Shiraishi)
A madcap crime saga revolving around Japan’s most crooked cop; it’s the sort of guilty pleasure you can enjoy because, hey, it’s just a movie. Except it isn’t. Based on Yoshiaki Inaba’s autobiography, this non-fiction tale of mindblowing corruption follows 26 years in the life of the author’s regrettable career in law enforcement. Starring Go Ayano – one of the recipients of this year’s Screen International Rising Star Asia Award – this unbelievable tale will surely inspire the inextricable blend of delight and terror you should expect from a movie that’s essentially WOLF OF WALL STREET but with cops.
Founding Fathers Tribute Special Screenings
Focusing on the festival programmers’ favorite movies, these screenings are a chance to catch some bygone gems on the big screen. The series includes Michael Arias’ gorgeously animated TEKKONKINKREET, which tells the fantastic tale of two brothers who take on the Yakuza trying to wrest control of their neighborhood, as well as Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1989 cult classic body-horror/techno-nightmare whatsit TETSUO, THE IRON MAN. The series will also feature LOVE IN THE BUFF – a favorite of ours – and as yet unknown Surprise Screening, which could be anything. That’s what makes it a surprise!
WEEDS ON FIRE (dir. Chan Chi-fat)
Inspired by the true story of Hong Kong’s first youth league baseball team, this heartwarming underdog tale may not hold many surprises for those familiar with the genre, but boy does it hit its beats well. What sounds like a wholly American tale – ragtag baseball team versus proven regional team – is given a distinctly regional touch by director Chan Chi-fat, who imbues the movie with a light optimism that proves a welcome counter to all the bleak social commentary and dark cynicism in much of the rest of the festival.
THE MERMAID (dir. Stephen Chow)
China’s highest grossing film already had a limited release stateside, but its quick exit from theaters gave few a chance to catch this delightful comedy, hailed by many as a decisive return to form by the beloved if inconsistent Stephen Chow. Already seen it? Go again and see it with ‘Jelly’ Lin Yun, the radiant star and titular mermaid of the film, in attendance. A unique and fantastic tale of man meets mermaid, this genre mashup blends hilarious slapstick and wild action into an urgent environmental call to arms without ever feeling preachy or unearned.
We’re barely scratching the surface here. The festival has set out to widen its scope in highlighting Asian cinema from industries that don’t always get international attention, and has partnered with many cultural centers to present films from all corners of the continent, from Taiwan to Malaysia to the Philippines. Meanwhile, we’re just practicing our reactions so we don’t embarrass ourselves when we go see Lee Byung-hun.
To get your tickets and check out the full schedule, head over to Subway Cinema right here!