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The programme for the Fifth Pan-Asia Film Festival has been finalised and, as I predicted, there are several more goodies for us to enjoy now. In addition to films already announced – 穷人榴莲吗要偷渡客 (Qióngrén liúlián ma yào tōudù kè/Poor Folk, Taiwan/Myanmar/Thailand, 2012), पतंग (Patang/The Kite, India/USA, 2011),「ラビット・ホラー3D」(Rabitto horā 3D/Tormented 3D, Japan, 2011), 111 Dokhtar (111 Girls, Iran/Iraq, 2012)* and ฝนตกขึ้นฟ้า (HeadshotThailand, 2012), see also my previous post on the festival – there are seven more feature-length productions, plus a slot for shorts.

 

The film I’m most excited about is (for once) the one chosen for the opening gala:

  • 女朋友。男朋友 (Nyeobung-u. Nambung-u/GF*BF, Taiwan, 2012) – UK Premiere (Opening Night Gala)
Opening Film:

Opening Film: 女朋友。男朋友 (Nyeobung-u. Nambung-u/GF*BF, Taiwan, 2012)

I had it in a Trailer Weekly quite a while back after stumbling across it on several film festival programmes. It has since then won a number of prizes, including the Audience and Best Lead Actress trophies at the Golden Horse Awards, which apparently are as important as the Oscars. I haven’t read any reviews so I don’t know how it has been received otherwise and while I don’t expect it to be a top-notch, exceptional, life-changing sort of film, it’s one I’m simply looking forward to seeing. The story is about a shifting love triangle between three friends – two boys, one girl – as they grow up in the Taiwan of the 1980s and 1990s. (The only other Taiwanese film I would be more thrilled to see is 消失打看 /Xiāoshī dǎ kàn/Honey Pupu, 2012, which, sadly, has yet to appear on any British festival programme.)

The opening night gala is scheduled for March 6th (7 p.m.), which is a Wednesday, unfortunately (‘unfortunately’ because that means it overlaps with my Japanese class. Hmmm. Cut class?).

The other additions are as follows (Note: click on film title for trailers):

  • Fresh Wave Film Festival – Hong Kong Young Filmmakers Shorts Programme For PAFF 2013 (Hong Kong, Various, 90mins, BluRay, UK Premiere)

A slot for shorts which will showcase winning films from the Fresh Wave Film Festival (Asia’s most prestigious short film fest). No details what exactly will be screened as yet, but you can find out more about Fresh Wave here.

  • 돼지의 왕 (Daegieui wang/The King of Pigs, South Korea, 2011) 

king of pigs

This one has been popping up here and there in the UK since last year, first screening at  the 2012 Terracotta Film Festival, then in either Leeds or Edinburgh (or maybe both, can’t remember) and elsewhere (including in London) for the Terracotta Touring Film programme. It has also seen a British cinema release recently, with the DVD due to follow in March as well. Daegieui wang is an animated feature, but not one for kids. It’s about bullying and it’s not only dark, it’s bleak. I’m still finishing off that review, but just go see it!

  • Material (South African/England, 2012)

material

Here is a comedy from South Africa (but with Asian themes): there is Cassim, a young Muslim, who dreams of being a stand-up comedian. His family won’t hear of it, especially his father, who runs a fabric store and is in the midst of a bitter battle with his own brother (I can just imagine the comic fodder this will provide!). Cassim works at the store himself, but now his father wants him to take over the business, something that just doesn’t work with the young man’s own aspirations.

Gangsters that clean up nicely.

Gangsters that clean up nicely.

Kitano Takeshi, a cult Japanese director, comes with what Wikipedia calls a yakuza film – in other words, it’s about gangsters and crime but specifically focused on Sanno yakuza family. It’s a thriller but also a social commentary with the “Kitano trademark combination of tough violence, droll humour and strange, idiosyncratic touches” (source).

Towers burning, identity shattered.

Twin towers burning, identity shattered.

Mira Nair is a fairly well-known Indian-born, US-based film director, who adapts Mohsid Hamid’s novel of the same title about a young Pakistani man in New York that tries to come to grips with his identity after September 11th. I quite enjoyed Nair’s filmic interpretation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake (the only film of Nair’s I have seen), even if it is was perhaps a little too long. The Reluctant Fundamentalist clocks in at 128 minutes, so pacing may be an issue here as well, but it should nonetheless be a film worth watching.

Directed by a trio of filmmakers – Irv Drasnin, Don Sellers and Lucy Ostrander – a documentary that digs into the past of Sidney Rittenberg, a US-American language expert that found himself in China during World War II. On one national-political side at the beginning, Rittenberg soon crosses over to the other and (sort of) back again: He joins the Chinese communist party and becomes a revolutionary, but, too individually minded, eventually ends up as a political prisoner and spends more than a decade in solitary confinement. The Revolutionary is the remarkable life story of an individual that simultaneously provides a unique glimpse into a nation and the “biggest revolution” (source) of the twentieth century.

  • Stoker (USA, 2012) UPDATE March 2013: Seems this one has been taken off the programme. Go watch it in the cinema instead. 🙂
If looks could kill...

If looks could kill, there would be more than one dead person at this funeral…

I have a hunch that my fellow bloggers from the London Asian Film Society will be most excited about this one. Although I am definite they are all attending the BFI preview on 28 February, I bet several of them are going to jump at the chance to see this film a second time. Park Chan-wook, a big name in the Korean film world, makes his first film all in English and with Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska in the lead roles. Wasikowska (an Australian actress I rather like) plays India, who lives with her unstable mother (Kidman). When her father dies an accident, a relative she never knew about comes to live with them. Uncle Charlie (Goode) is charming but also darkly mysterious. India, suspecting that he is somehow involved in the death of her father and that her mother has to do with this all, soon finds herself dangerously attracted to the man. The Pan-Asia Festival programme describes Park’s Stoker as “a markedly assured move to Hollywood for one of Asia’s most distinctive filmmakers, one that easily adapts to its American surroundings whilst retaining its authors [sic], distinctive, strange and uniquely East Asian roots” (source).

Bonus Bits: