The BFI Anime Weekend – a biennial event – is returning this year, bringing some of the best of recent Japanese animations to London for a long weekend. It comes a bit early this year (in 2012 the weekend was in June), with the following programme:
Although we already knew a Ghibli season was coming – thanks to a mini-announcement in the BFI’s February booklet –, now it’s official: the British Film Institute published a full announcement on their website yesterday, revealing that it would be screening the complete set of Studio Ghibli films over the course of two months. Continue reading
February may be a short month, but it’s not lacking in South East Asian film events. The Glasgow Youth Film Festival hits the jackpot with the UK premiere of Studio Ghibli’s「風立ちぬ」(Kaze Tachinu/The Wind Rises, Japan, 2013). London and the rest of the UK wait on as the wider cinematic release of the film has apparently been postponed for later in the year.
Last updated: 4/2/2014
Note: As always, I will be updating this post if I hear of any more events. Let me know if you see anything missing!
Director: Vicki Zhao
Studio: Multiple involved, including China Film Group
Adaptation from: 2007 novel of the same title by Xin Yiwu
Screenplay: Li Qiang
Cinematography: Li Ran
Soundscore: Dou Peng
Cast: Mark Chao, Han Geng, Yang Zishan, Jiang Shuying
Runtime: 132 minutes
Distribution: China Film Group
Film’s official website: N/a
In the opening scene of《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young) the heroine, Zheng Wei (Yang Zishan), finds herself in a lush fantasy world, populated by fairy tale creatures both good and bad, only to awaken and find it was all a terrible dream. No more than a few minutes long, this opening reveals much of what is wrong with Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchū, for as luxuriantly beautiful that dream world is – the scene must have cost a good chunk of the film’s 30 million yuan (US$5 million) budget – it is also completely irrelevant, for nothing that happens is of any importance for the story that follows. Continue reading
Belatedly here are the South East Asian entries at the London Film Film Festival, aka the-biggest-film-event-in-the-UK-that-doesn’t-know-how-to-get-its-act-together-to-implement-a-functional-booking-system. Yeah, I’m presently mad at the BFI and their apology (excuses!) does nothing to lessen that. It’s not the first time this has happened, in fact it was worse than last year.
Anyhow, we get films from Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Most have already screened elsewhere as the LFF isn’t really a pioneering, world-premiering event, at least not when it comes to Asian films. The absence of Miyazaki’s「風立ちぬ」(Kaze Tachinu/The Wind Rises, Japan, 2013), which has been/is screening in Toronto, Venice, San Sebastián and now Hawaii, from the programme only confirms this.
Here are the (available) trailers and one-sentence synopses, by country: Continue reading
Country: South Korea
Director: Byeon Yeong-joo (변영주)
Adaptation from: Miyube Miyaki’s novel「火車」 (Kasha, 1992, translated into English as All She Was Worth in 1999)
Screenplay: Byeon Yeong-joo (변영주)
Cinematography: Kim Dong-Young
Soundscore: Kim Hong-jip
Cast: Lee Sun-gyun, Kim Min-hee, Kim Min-jae
Runtime: 117 min
Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th BFI London International Film Festival.
Hwacha is, in essence, a longer, prettier version of CSI Seoul: it is a feature-length film with striking cinematography from the opening shots on but with a story we have been told in some form before, most likely while watching a crime television series. Continue reading
#Women on Screen, BFI, Derby, Edinburgh, Film Festival, ICA, Korean Film Night, London, Miyazaki Goro, Miyazaki Hayao, Prince Charles Cinema, Sheffield, Studio Ghibli, Takahata Isao, Terracotta, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Year of 4 Actors
I’m not quite ready to be back yet (still busy marking exams)… but I thought some of you might appreciate not having to wait too long for the monthly Events post.
So, what’s on offer this June for South East Asian film fans in the UK? We have got「009 Re: Cyborg」screenings in Edinburgh, Liverpool and elsewhere, a Jackie Chan film in Derby as well as a fabulous Imamura Shohei Retrospective at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, but for the rest
it’s all happening in London Update 7/6/2013: Not quite. I totally blanked on the Edinburgh International Film Festival – so there is loads outside of London as well! Anyhow, it’s a month of festivals and celebrations to commemorate a number of anniversaries.
We start with Seasons in the Sun: The Heyday of Nikkatsu Studios, one of the calendar highlights at the British Film Institute in June. The Terracotta Film Festival is about to kick off and promises to be bigger and better than ever with 27 films (and plenty more) from all over East Asia in store for cinephiles. June is also a good month for Studio Ghibli fans as multiple screenings are scheduled for two animations that were first released 25 years ago, plus another Double Bill at the Prince Charles. I’m also looking forward to「長州ファイブ」 (Chosyu Faibu/Choshu Five), an anniversary screening organised by the Japanese Embassy that commemorates an event from 150 years ago and I’m super-thrilled that a rare indie gem,「はなればなれに」(Hanarebanareni/Kuro), has popped up on the East End Film Festival programme. So we are really not short on choice this month, heck, it almost feels like October, which is normally the height of the film festival season in London town. Anyhow, peruse what’s on and, if you are not in the capital, it might be a good time for a visit!
Last updated: 24/6/2013
May brings Cannes with many exciting film premieres. With the English Channel in our way, we’ll however have to make do with events on this island instead. Luckily, a whole lot is on offer this month, in all corners of the UK – Derby, London, Leicester and even Inverness. You can get a taste of Hong Kong cinema as well as watch quite a number of Japanese olden goldies (directed by Ozu Yasushiro and Kurosawa Akira, among others) at various cinemas and festivals across the country. There is also the Chinese Visual Festival, but nothing Taiwanese this month. Korean films fare a bit better – though only because our beloved Korean Cultural Centre (KCCUK) is, as always, screening two films as part of its Year of 4 Actors Korean Film Nights for year. The good news, however, is that the KCCUK has just launched another film season, Women on Screen, which commences in May and will run until August, doubling the monthly offering of screenings.
For trailers, click on film titles (where available).
Note: As always, I’ll update this post if I hear about any other events.
Last updated: 6/5/2013
Every year Sci-Fi-London comes to town and brings, as its title suggests, “all things science fiction” (quote) with it, meaning apocalypse and robot galore among other things.
The festival will be running from April 30 to May 6, 2013 this year, with a costume parade for “[c]osplayers, zombies, stormtroopers, steampunks, daywalkers, superheroes” or whichever other fantasy character tickles your fancy starting off the fun on April 28.
April, April… this year is flying by… I would rather not think about it though. Instead, let’s just see what April has in store for us, film-wise mostly but also otherwise as there are some exciting events at the London Book Fair and elsewhere too.
Note: As always, I’ll update this post if I hear about any other events.
Last updated: 17/4/2013
Country: South Korea
Director: Leesong Hee-il
Screenplay: Leesong Hee-il
Cinematography: Yoon Ji-Yoon (Baekya)
Cast: Won Tae-hee, Li Yi-kyung (Baekya); Kim Young-jae, Han Joo-wan (Jinanyeoreum, Gapjagi); Kim Jae-heung, Chun Shin-hwan (Namjjokeuro Ganda)
Runtime: 75 min, 37 min, 45 min
Trailers: see below
Seen at the 27th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival at two separate screenings.
Although there was not all that much on offer from South East Asia at this year’s London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, the BFI did do a mini-feature on Leesong Hee-il, whom they called “one of the most exciting contemporary gay Asian directors” in their festival programme. Leesong has, by now, quite a number of films to his name, all featuring a gay storyline in one way or another. His cinematic debut came in 2004 with a short featured in 동백꽃 (Dongbaegkkoch/ Camellia Project, 2004), but he is probably better known for his 2006 film 후회하지 않아 (Huhoehaji Anha/No Regret). In 2009 the director contributed to the 황금시대 (Hwang-geumsidae/Short! Short! Short!) omnibus project and also made the feature-length 탈주 (Talju/Break Away, 2009), finally following up in 2012 with the ‘One Night and Two Days’ trilogy of 백야 (Baekya/White Night), 지난여름, 갑자기 (Jinanyeoreum, Gapjagi/Suddenly, Last Summer) and 남쪽으로 간다 (Namjjokeuro Ganda/Going South), three unconnected stories which all began as shorts but the first of which was later extended into a 75-minute movie.
Director: Nishikawa Miwa
Screenplay: Nishikawa Miwa
Cinematography: Yanagishima Katsumi
Soundscore: more rhythm
Cast: Matsu Takako, Abe Sadao, Tanaka Rena, Kimura Tae, Suzuki Sawa, Ando Tamae, Ebara Yuka
Runtime: 137 min
Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th BFI London International Film Festival.
Yume Uru Futari appeared on quite a number of Top 10 Films of 2012 lists. Tom Mes, Catherine Munroe Hotes and Eija Niskanen all counted it among their favourites in a Midnight Eye feature and Jason Grey (Loaded Films) included it as part of the “10% goodness” of cinema of the past year over at Wildgrounds, to name some examples. Continue reading
The BFI has released its line-up for this year’s London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, with Leesong Hee-il films appearing threefold:
We have a feature and two mini-features from one of the most exciting contemporary gay Asian directors Leesong Hee-il with White Night, and Going South and Suddenly, Last Summer – moody, melancholic tales of suppressed desires.
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Screenplay: Abbas Kiarostami
Cinematography: Yanagijima Katsumi
Soundscore: Mohamadrez Delpak, Kikuchi Nobuyuki
Cast: Takanashi Rin, Okuno Tadashi, Kase Ryō, Denden
Runtime: 109 min
Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th BFI London International Film Festival. Like Someone in Love will be released in select British cinemas via New Wave Films on June 21, 2013.
Like Someone in Love premiered in Cannes last year, where it sharply divided the critics, leaving some rather disenchanted, if not highly irritated, in particular with its rather abrupt ending. “[T]he curtain comes down with an arbitrary crash” noted Peter Bradshaw, resident film critic for The Guardian, while Mike D’Angelo (A.V. Club) gave it a “WTF” rating, declaring the final scene “a startling, truncated conclusion that seems completely out of proportion with the lazy, anti-urgent meandering that precedes it”, ending with the words “I know there’s something happening here, but I don’t know what it is”. Continue reading
The Korean Cultural Centre in London (aka the KCCUK) gave Korean cinephiles a special treat in 2012 with the Year of 12 Directors: one Korean director for every month of the year, four screenings (most of them free) for each filmmaker, with a bonus for the final session: a Q&A event with the director of that month flown in straight from South Korea.
Now that the Year of 12 Directors is over, it’s time to reflect. Continue reading
The London Film Festival is over and I have to say I’m sort of suffering from film fatigue. I did enjoy pretty much everything I watched, but I kind of like my time to reflect on each film I see before I delve into the next one and at festivals that’s kind of hard to do – the next screening is always only a few hours away. Continue reading
With every minute of my time occupied with work and going to the cinema (overload of the London Film Festival) this weekend, I haven’t had time to write today’s Trailer Weekly (or any other post) – will follow tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have some reviews of the cinematic awesomenesses* I’ve had the chance to enjoy for you soon as well. Meanwhile, you can ponder which Mei-weekday you are. (The image is from Studio Ghibi’s photo gallery on Facebook.)
Off to see Abbas Kiarostami’s 「ライク・サムワン・イン・ラブ」 (Raiku samuwan in rabu/Like Someone in Love, France/Japan, 2012)!
*I know that’s not quite grammatical. :-p
I dropped by the BFI today because my festival tickets never did arrive in the post (so not impressed!). While there, I browsed the website a bit and noticed another Japanese film on the programme for the festival (which started today!): 「ジャパン イン ア デイ」 (Japan in a Dei/Japan in a Day, UK/Japan, 2012). Continue reading
Well, here’s another benefit of having recently become a BFI member: their monthly guide came tumbling through the mail box this dreary-wet morning with details on an upcoming Im Kwon-Taek season.
We had some vague knowledge about this already as it has been listed on the programme for the KCCUK’s Year of 12 Directors since the beginning of the year, but now follow the details: eight film screenings plus a special “Im Kwon-Taek in Conversation” event at the BFI plus seven films at the ICA. Continue reading
Yes, double Trailer Weekly attack today!
If you follow me on Twitter, you will have probably noticed that this week I was (re)tweeting a lot about UWC, which stands for United World Colleges, a movement (?) that celebrated 50 years this week. It’s kind of hard to sum up what UWC is and the mission statement “to deliver a challenging and transformational educational experience to a diverse cross section of students, inspiring them to create a more peaceful and sustainable future” sounds as posh and empty-worded as any, except that in reality it isn’t. Basically, the United World Colleges are a connected group of schools (currently twelve institutions spread over five continents) that believes that sticking some 200 kids aged 16-19 from as many different countries as possible (usually around 75) into a boarding school for two years can somehow make the world a better place. (Full scholarships provided by the way.) Continue reading
I’m finally getting in that third and final Trailer Weekly I had to make up for from my blogging hiatus in May. South Korea and Japan are back on the menu, which is chock-full with films on sensitive, controversial and intriguing issues: transgender identity, homosexuality, disproportionate age gaps in relationships, being female in a highly patriarchal society, surreal fables and meditations on silence and exile. It’s an eclectic and eccentric mix, but that’s how I like it.
I’ve had a long day, a long weekend really, and I don’t mean that in terms of extra time off but rather in terms of early starts and work. I worked yesterday, which meant leaving the house at 6 a.m., and went to the airport today, which meant leaving at 5:45 a.m, plus cycling plenty on both days (~65km). To work I do in any case, but going to Paddington on a Sunday morning via public transport turned out to be such a hassle that I opted for an hour on the bike instead. As for the airpot bit, that was the saddest part of the day, as I had to say goodbye to a dear friend returning to Japan for good. Missing her already. 😦 Fortunately, I had the visit of another friend plus the Zipangu Fest to distract (read: delight) me.
On to trailers: zero Japan and Korea this week, but don’t run off just yet, expand your horizon! (Or as one of the films on the list this week would say: realise that the world is bigger than the canvas you inhabit). All of this week’s suggestions come from the BFI festival catalogue. Although I’m all booked out for the festival already, I’m hoping to catch these some other time as they all look rather good!
Where to start? The British Film Institute’s London International Film Festival – running from 10-21 October this year – is such a big event that its programme release is always a little overwhelming. You don’t quite know where to look first, even if you have cinematic preferences. The BFI, in an attempt to revamp the festival (or maybe just for the new festival director Clare Stewart to make her mark), introduced thematic strands this year for the first time, but fortunately you can still browse offerings by country or director. That’s a good thing, especially since the BFI’s website (including its search function) is generally a nightmare (still no hits if you search for Tiger & Bunny, which they are screening on September 23rd). Continue reading
Director: Sato Shinsuke
Animation Studio: Production I.G
Screenplay: Adachi Hirotaka, Sato Shinsuke
Art Direction: Nomura Masanobu
Character Design: Ishimori Ren, Hirata Ryō
CGI Direction: Nagasaki Takashi
Soundscore: Ueda Tadashi
Runtime: 100 min
Trailer: on YouTube
Film’s official website: Oblivion Island (US)
Seen at the BFI’s biennial weekend showcase for Anime.
Apologies for not posting much lately (so it feels to me in any case), but I’m quite busy with my studies and work at the moment. I won’t be in the UK for the entire month of August (gotta escape the chaos of the Olympics), and am trying to get as many hours in as possible before going away. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that I will be particularly less busy next month, just that I won’t have immediate deadlines and meetings with my supervisors. Continue reading
“Verregneter Sommer” is a good way of describing today. It’s mid-July, but it has been a semi-chilly, on again, off again rainy day, which really makes it seem not like summer at all. “Verregneter Sommer” actually is a bit hard to translate, “rainy summer” doesn’t really do it justice because “verregnet” means more something like “overly rainy” or “rainy again and again”. The Duden in fact makes it “durch zu lange andauernden Regen verdorben werden” (“to be ruined by rain that continuous for too long”, my translation), which veers a little too much towards the negative in my opinion. But, before this ends up being a pure vocabulary lesson, let’s also make it a literary one.
Director: Otomo Katsuhiro
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Adaptation from: Otomo Katsuhiro’s manga of the same title
Screenplay: Otomo Katsuhiro, Hashimoto Izō
Cinematography: Misawa Katsuji
Animation Direction: Sato Hiroaki, Nakamura Takashi, Takeuchi Yoshio
Soundscore: Yamashiro Shoji
Runtime: 125 min
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled)
Seen at the BFI’s biennial weekend showcase for Anime. The film was shown on the BFI Southbank’s largest screen (3.8m x 9.2m in a theatre with superb sound acoustics). Watching Akira doesn’t get better than this!
Note: Although I have tried avoid spoilers in this (sort of) review, there are specific references to a number of scenes, so you might prefer to read this post only after having watched Akira.
There are certain films that I rarely watch – films that are heavy on violence, action scenes or horror. Every now and then, however, something comes along that falls into one of these categories but yet transcends its genre and comes crashing through any personal preferences I might have. Akira is one of those works. Continue reading
This month starts off with a bang as several festivals continue and others are about to commence. It gets a bit quieter towards the middle and end of July, but perhaps that’s not to compete too much with Olympics? Well, that’s the rationale we can make for London at least. Continue reading
Sanshō Dayū at the ICA
You may have noticed that I added an events calendar to Otherwhere a few days ago. It’s not particularly fancy and doesn’t quite have the sleek look I would like – I’m unfortunately limited to Google calendar by WordPress – but at least it’s something. You will primarily find screenings and special events for Japanese and Korean films plus world cinema film festivals on the calendar, most from London but also from elsewhere in the UK if I happen to come across them. Select screenings in other parts of the world (like the Studio Ghibli film events in North America) will be added too. Continue reading