New York Asian Film Festival (June 19 – July 5) Announces Opening Night, Closing Night and Centerpiece Presentation FilmsMay 20th 2009
Taking place at the IFC Center and Japan Society in New York City, the New York Asian Film Festival is the largest festival of popular Asian film in North America and we're proud to announce its Opening and Closing Night films as well as its Centerpiece Presentation. These three titles join a line-up of 45 feature films competing in this year's New York Asian Film Festival for both the Audience Award and the Jury Award. Last year's Audience Award went to Yosuke Fujita's FINE, TOTALLY FINE and last year's juried New York Asian Film Festival Grand Prize went to Shinji Aoyama's SAD VACATION.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
The World Premiere of WRITTEN BY (Hong Kong, 2009)
Directed by Wai Ka-fai
Starring: Lau Ching-wan, Kelly Lin, Mia Yan
The man behind Johnnie To is, of course, Wai Ka-fai, the writer of almost every single film from Johnnie To and Milkyway Image, Wai Ka-fai also co-directed several of the best movies from Milkyway including RUNNING ON KARMA, FULLTIME KILLER and MAD DETECTIVE. As Johnnie To says about him, “In our company, he is the creative driving force. Wherever he goes, we follow.” Lau Ching-wan and Wai Ka-fai first worked together as writer/director and actor on the fractured gangster flick TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 back in 1997 and now, 12 years later, they're back for the equally experimental WRITTEN BY a movie that can best be described as a Hong Kong melodrama whose back has been broken by Charlie Kaufman.
Lau Ching-wan plays a lawyer who dies in a car wreck, leaving behind his wife and daughter. To console herself, his daughter writes a novel wherein she and her mother have died in a car wreck but her father has survived. To her surprise, the character of her father in her book decides that HE needs to write a novel to console himself and in his novel he has died but his wife and daughter have lived...and on and on in an endlessly recursive loop as wounded characters desperately apply fiction to try and dull the sharp edges of their grief.
We're incredibly proud to host Wai Ka-fai and Lau Ching-wan at the New York Asian Film Festival this year, and special thanks to Chinastar, the film's distributor, for making this happen.
The World Premiere of VAMPIRE GIRL VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL (Japan, 2009)
Directed by: Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Starring: Yukie Kawamura, Takumi Saitoh, Elly Otoguro, and Kanji Tsuda, with a special appearance by TOKYO GORE POLICE's Eihi Shiina
Last year, special effects genius Yoshihiro Nishimura directed TOKYO GORE POLICE and people sat up and noticed. Now he returns with VAMPIRE GIRL VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL a movie that makes TGP look sedate by comparison.
Nishimura makes his home in the world of low budget movies but his imagination and style aren't limited by the cash on hand and any movie he touches bears his distinctive stamp: high pressure blood spray, human bodies mutated beyond recognition and a gore-drunk celebration of the new flesh. Part of a loose cabal of collaborators that includes Sion Sono and Takeshi Shimizu (JU-ON), Nishimura directs like a David Cronenberg who grew up on exploitation cinema and comic books rather than European arthouse cinema. Embracing the Japanese special effects aesthetic that never seems to mind if a zipper is showing on the back of a monster suit as long as the overall impact of the effect is big enough, Nishimura's movies are one part high school theater, one part avalanche of mutated flesh and one part grand guignol.
As for the film itself, the title says it all. It's a duel to the death between schoolgirl vampires, reanimated corpses and a Dr. Frankenstein who teaches science and has a lab underneath the gym. The freaky touch of co-director Tomomatsu (ZOMBIE SELF DEFENSE FORCE, STACY, EAT THE SCHOOLGIRL) is also not to be underestimated and the movie is filled with bizarro send-ups of Japanese culture, Chinese culture and the shallow Japanese obsession with African American culture (culminating in a truly jaw-dropping scene of prosthetic-wearing black students chanting “Yes We Can!” before a track meet, that's guaranteed to spark walk-outs).
We're incredibly proud to host director Yoshihiro Nishimura, the film's action choreographer Tak Sakaguchi and its visual effects supervisor Tsuyoshi Kazuno.
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
The World Premiere of BE SURE TO SHARE (2009, Japan)
Directed by: Sion Sono
Starring: Akira, Eiji Okuda
Sion Sono is best known as a cinematic provocateur who first came to Western attention when he had 54 schoolgirls leap to their deaths in front of a train to kick off his 2002 film, SUICIDE CLUB, with a big, red splat. Since then he's kept up his reputation with movies like EXTE, about killer hair extensions and, now, with his four hour exploitation extravaganza, LOVE EXPOSURE, about God, religion, the Virgin Mary, upskirt photography, martial arts, sex and porn (also screening in this year's festival). But what you don't know is that he's equally well known in Japan as a poet and that softer side of his personality gets exposed in BE SURE TO SHARE.
Featuring pop star Akira from the band EXILE in one of his first motion picture performances, you'd think this would be nothing more than a disposable flick for EXILE fans, but Sono transforms this film into a quiet meditation on death and the relationship between fathers and sons. Director and actor Eiji Okuda plays a tough-as-nails father who makes the Great Santini look like a wimp. Now, diagnosed with cancer he's trapped in the hospital and his wife and son (Akira) spend their days visiting and trying to keep his spirits up. Just when it looks like he's about to recover, Akira finds out that he has cancer too, and that his father may out-live him. Determined not to worry anyone, he keeps it to himself and vows that he'll beat his disease.
Jumping backwards and forwards in time, BE SURE TO SHARE isn't an easy-to-swallow melodrama about fathers and sons. Sono opens the film up and makes it an essay, colored with regret, about how we're constantly running after each other, and never catching up. About the small things we do every day without thinking about them and how these tiny, insignificant moments ultimately make up our lives. We'd say it will break your heart, but Sono might object to such an easy sentiment. So how about this: by the time this movie is over, you'll feel like your chest has been cracked in two.
We're very proud to welcome Sion Sono and star Eiji Okuda as our guests at this year's festival.
Co-presented with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film
Please go to www.subwaycinema.com for more details as we get them.