New York Asian Film Festival Line-Up




June 20 – July 6, 2008
at the IFC Center (June 20 – July 3)
and Japan Society (July 3 – July 6)

The New York Asian Film Festival is back like a bad dream, ready to cleanse
the dirt from your soul with a barrage of sparkling, super-powered movies
straight out of Asia. It's a seventeen day orgy of new films from Takashi
Miike, Johnnie To, Hur Jin-Ho, Koji Wakamatsu and Shinji Aoyama. Plus, our
first-ever documentary (YASUKUNI) and our first movies from Indonesia (KALA)
and Vietnam (THE REBEL).

We'll spend the first fourteen days at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Avenue,
between 3rd and 4th Streets) and the final four days up at the posh Japan
Society (333 East 47th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues) where we'll be
co-presenting several films as part of their JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New
Japanese Films (which runs from July 2 – July 13).

There are a few more movies to be confirmed, as well as some special guests,
but for now here's what's coming. Stills and screeners are available on

ACCURACY OF DEATH (Japan, 2008) – sometimes a movie sounds like a bad idea:
the Grim Reaper comes to Earth with a talking dog to evaluate the lives of
potential dead people. But with Takeshi Kaneshiro playing the Grim Reaper,
and set in 1988, 2008 and the near future, this flick turns out to be a
light-footed romantic comedy that winds up turbo-charging your sense of
optimism. Kaneshiro, a veteran of Wong Kar-wai, Zhang Yimou and John Woo
films dominates this flick, and shows exactly what it is that a movie star
does to earn those bags of cash. In his hands, every second of this film
feels like pure gold.

ADRIFT IN TOKYO (Japan, 2007) - This is a movie about two men walking down
the street. Seriously. That's it. But bear with, because isn't CITIZEN KANE
just about a guy who owns a sled? A scruffy law school student (Joe Odagiri,
the Johnny Depp of Japan) is deep in hock to a thuggish, middle-aged debt
collector who offers to forgive what he owes if the kid accompanies him on
long walks through Tokyo. What sounds contrived takes about 10 minutes to
settle into a loopy, at times hilarious, rhythm as the two stroll through
the city trying to figure out how watch repair shops stay in business these
days and pondering the plight of the pygmy hippopotamus. After seeing this
flick you'll learn the soul-soothing pleasures of walking, and you'll never
take the bus again.
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

ALWAYS 2: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET (Japan, 2007) – one of Japan's biggest
hits, ALWAYS: SUNSET ON THIRD STREET rocked the New York Asian Film Festival
back in 2006 and now the sequel is back to deliver even more mid-century
melodrama about a neighborhood in Tokyo where everyone is struggling to make
ends meet and get ahead in post-war Japan. It was a mega-hit in Japan and
this time...Godzilla attacks. Seriously. And in case you missed it, we're
bringing back the first ALWAYS (winner of 12 Japanese Academy Awards).
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

ASSEMBLY (China, 2007) – China's second-biggest box office hit of 2007 sets
new standards for the dirt-in-your-teeth war film. Taking place during
China's Civil War of 1948, it's an epic that boils down to one question: how
do veterans deal with the choices they made on the battlefield once the war
is over and they've come home? Director Feng Xiaogang is China's biggest
hit-maker, and his swordplay epic, THE BANQUET, opened last year's New York
Asian Film Festival.

THE BUTCHER (Korea, 2007) – the Korean film industry spent last year falling
apart with big, glossy productions bombing at the box office, one after the
other. This grotty mash-up of HOSTEL and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was
made completely off the map, shot on video far outside the studio system, by
first-time director Kim Jin-Won, and in it he depicts the Korean film
industry as a bunch of pigs and rapists shooting snuff films for foreign
audiences. The comparison to Korea's OLDBOY-inspired cinema of violence is
hard to miss.

DAINIPPONJIN (Japan, 2007) – never has a comedy been this patient in setting
up its audience. A mockumentary that starts out as the most boring movie
ever made about the most boring man on earth suddenly switches gears when we
discover that the government job he's complaining about is one that requires
him to grow to enormous size and defend Japan from horrible giant monsters.
While wearing purple underwear. Written, directed and starring Hitoshi
Matsumoto, Japan's number one comedian, this is the movie CLOVERFIELD should
have been, combining the lunacy of WWE smackdown with the insanity of THIS
IS SPINAL TAP. Ever wanted to know what happens when giant monsters are in
heat? See it here!
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

DOG IN A SIDECAR (Japan, 2007) – it's easy to slam a coming of age movie
because there're just too many of them and they usually follow the exact
same set of dramatic beats. But DOG IN A SIDECAR sidesteps that problem and
breathes new life into what has become a tired genre. It also marks the
comeback film for actress Yuko Takeuchi (THE RING) who won six “Best
Actress” awards for this film, playing the lazy, uncouth girlfriend of a
single parent. Gentle and unambitious, this is a golden example of the
small, well-made film that proves good things come in small packages.

FINE, TOTALLY FINE (Japan, 2007) – a spiritual successor to previous NYAFF
hit, THE TASTE OF TEA, this flick is almost impossible to describe. On the
surface it charts a lazy love triangle between three losers who are hitting
30 and haven't gone anywhere in life. But that leaves out the ghost, the
quest to create the world's best haunted house, how not to open a box of
Kleenex, the worst way to sell a porno magazine, the joys of used bookstores
and the world's biggest, child-killing chewing gum bubble.
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

HAPPINESS (Korea, 2007) – Hur Jin-Ho has made his career out of looking at
worn-out melodramas from new angles, resulting in some of cinema's most
sob-worthy and exquisitely crafted romances like CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST and
APRIL SNOW. Here he manages to make a love story between two sick people
(he's got cirrhosis of the liver, she's got lung disease) feel like
something fresh and tender by playing up the moments that get lost and
playing down the big dramatic beats. It's an honest tear-jerker, where you
feel like you don't have to sell yourself short in order to have a good cry.

KALA (Indonesia, 2007) – Joko Anwar blew away festival audiences with his
hilarious JONJI'S PROMISE, but his follow-up film is not what anyone
expected. A dark, alternate history film noir set in a version of Indonesia
where everyone dresses like it's still the 1950's and where sudden, hideous
violence waits around every corner in a black sedan, this conspiracy
thriller slowly tightens its hand around your throat until darkness creeps
in on the edge of your vision. A narcoleptic reporter and a gay cop are
drawn into a murderous plot to find what's known as The First President's
Treasure, while the city around them descends into lawlessness. A massive
blockbuster in Indonesia, it's an unsettling, stylish walk into the dark at
the end of the street.

KING NARESUAN 1 & 2 (Thailand, 2007) – the number one and number two box
office hits of all time from Thailand, these massive epics tell the life
story of Thailand's warrior king, Naresuan. Full of sets dripping with gold,
political intrigue that makes American politics look straight-forward and
some of the biggest, most rousing action scenes you'll ever have the
pleasure of sucking through your eyes. Imagine THE KING & I with the musical
numbers replaced by herds of stampeding war elephants, six-foot-long rifles
and bloodthirsty Amazons.

L: CHANGE THE WORLD (Japan, 2008) – the DEATH NOTE movies were massive hits
in Japan (and at last year's NYAFF) and now the latest installment in the
series hits screens, courtesy of Hideo Nakata, director of the landmark
horror film THE RING. This time out it's L, the teen, goth version of
Sherlock Holmes who takes center stage. Slotted into the last 23 days of his
life, this flick is a big budget summer blockbuster that sees this
hunchbacked, candy-munching genius take on a terrorist cult armed with a
flesh-melting virus.

M (Korea, 2007) – Lee Myung-Se has the best set of eyes in all of Korea,
resulting in the visual extravagances of his action movie, NOWHERE TO HIDE,
and his swordplay flick, DUELIST. Now he's turned those magic orbs on the
ghost movie and created the divisive, infuriating, totally unique M, that's
the closest you'll ever come to dreaming with your eyes open. A popular junk
novelist has just blown his latest deadline but hasn't written a word of his
new book because his high school sweetheart has suddenly shown up in town
from out of the past. She may be real, or she may be a ghost, or she may be
a memory, or there may be no difference between the three. Audiences
practically tore the screen down when this deeply personal movie premiered,
but when cinema owners tried to yank it out of theaters early, fans took to
the streets in protest.

MAD DETECTIVE (Hong Kong, 2007) – Johnnie To reunites with actor Lau
Ching-wan after seven years to make this crime flick that's like a high
performance engine firing on all cylinders. Lau plays a cop who can see
people's souls, fired from the force after sawing off his own ear and giving
it to his commanding officer as a gift. Now he's pulled back in to solve a
crime committed by another police officer and what unfolds is one of the
blackest, darkest, most despairing films you'll ever see. Director Johnnie
To is available for email interviews.

MISE EN SCENE SHORT FILM FESTIVAL – Korea's number one festival of short
films comes back for a return engagement and this time we picked the shorts
ourselves. There's the gruesome tale of a fluffy puppy out for revenge
against the owners who abandoned it, a plot by zombies to control the Korean
film industry, a gang of chickens who eat the moon, a company where
contracts are settled by martial arts and a very strange story about the
secret love child of famous British author John Fowles.

THE REBEL (Vietnam, 2007) – an old time Republic serial, pumped up on
politics and super-charged with ONG BAK caliber action scenes, THE REBEL is
the biggest box office hit ever to come out of Vietnam. Set in the 1920's,
it's all about a secret agent for the colonial French government who is
tasked with rounding up anti-French rebels and kicking them in the head
until they die. Then, one day, he finds that he can't put down his own
people anymore and he goes on the run. Wall-to-wall beat-downs, insane
Vietnamese martial arts, and thrill-a-minute chases make this an
adrenaline-charged, bloodied knuckled ode to Vietnamese freedom. Director
Charlie Nguyen is available for phone interviews.

is one of Japan's best kept secrets. This is part three of his unofficial
“Kita Kyushu” trilogy which started with his first film, HELPLESS, continued
with EUREKA and concludes with SAD VACATION (named after the Johnny Thunders
song). No familiarity with the previous films is necessary. Instead, all you
need to know is that Tadanobu Asano plays a guy who was abandoned early on
by his mother and, after taking in a Chinese orphan left over from a human
trafficking job gone wrong, he suddenly comes across her again as an adult.
He's determined that vengeance will be his, but he finds out that blood is
so much thicker than water it'll drown us all.
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

SPARROW (Hong Kong, 2008) – on the other end of the spectrum, Johnnie To
must have fallen in love before he made SPARROW. This charming flick took
three years to make and it's a sparkling, life-affirming film about a gang
of pickpockets who cross paths with a mysterious femme fatale. An ode to
rapidly-vanishing old Hong Kong, it feels like it's going to burst into song
at any minute and contains some of To's most gorgeous, intricate and
technically breathtaking set pieces. Watching this movie feels like soaking
your soul in a big glass of cool, bubbly champagne for 87 minutes. Johnnie
To and the Milkyway Image crew are available for email interviews.

SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (Japan, 2007) – set to be released theatrically
later this summer by First Look, Takashi Miike's English-language spaghetti
western combines Shakespeare, YOJIMBO, Sergio Corbucci films and plants that
grow tiny fetuses into an unholy car bomb of a movie that explodes in your
face, showering the audience with a nutso reimagining of American Westerns.
Everything you've ever wanted in a Takashi Miike movie, including Quentin
Tarantino hamming his way through a cameo that rivals his appearance on “The
Golden Girls” and more, more, more! It's bigger! Louder! Faster! Better!
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

THIS WORLD OF OURS (Japan, 2007) – one of the most astonishing debuts in
recent years, 25-year-old director Ryo Nakajima was a hikikomori (a shut-in)
who emerged from his room to make this digital howl of rage. Screening at
the Vancouver Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival and winning three
prizes at Japan's Pia Film Festival it charts a continuum of anger that has
the 9/11 bombings at one end and high school bullying at the other with gang
rape, self-mutilation and school massacres in between. Think A CLOCKWORK
ORANGE mixed with Shunji Iwai's ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU CHOU and scored to

UNITED RED ARMY (Japan, 2007) – Koji Wakamatsu, Japan's most controversial
filmmaker, wraps up 45 years of moviemaking with this 3-hour, insanely
researched epic about Japan's United Red Army faction, one of the world's
most notorious terrorist groups. Director Wakamatsu is barred from entering
the United States due to his political affiliations, but we will be
conducting a live, satellite Q&A with him after the screening on July 5, and
the screenwriter, Masayuki Kakegawa, will be attending the festival and is
available for interviews. Koji Wakamatsu is available for email and phone
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

YASUKUNI (China/Japan, 2008) – this documentary about Japan's Yasukuni
shrine to its war dead has become a cultural flashpoint in Japan, with
several cinema chains refusing to screen it and elected officials calling
for a boycott of the film, while right wingers are threatening to fire bomb
screenings. A sprawling documentary about the protestors, right wing
nationalists, thugs, patriots and misguided Americans who use the Yasukuni
shrine as their stage, this documentary pits war against peace and national
pride against xenophobic jingoism. The result will make all audiences deeply
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

Please direct all press inquiries to Grady Hendrix at this email address or
call him at 917-405-7477.

For press inquiries about Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film, please
contact Natascha Bodeman at (212) 673-4627 or [email protected]

And keep your eyes on
for updates.

JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film (July 2 – 13)
For the second consecutive summer, Japan Society brings a sizable slice of
Japan's dynamic contemporary film culture to New York City with the annual
JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film, the first and only large-scale
annual film festival in North America celebrating the latest films from
Japan. Running for 12 days Wednesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 13, 2008
at Japan Society, JAPAN CUTS presents nearly 20 feature films--all U.S. and
New York premieres--ranging from blockbusters and animation to documentaries
and cutting-edge independents. In addition, special events include
collections of short films, family screenings and appearances by leading
filmmakers and actors.

To learn more about Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese
Film, July 2-July 13, visit

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