Sunday, June 21, 2015

The New York Asian Film Festival starts Friday

It’s that time of year- the time when all good boys and girls around the world flock to New York in order to overdose on the best in Asian cinema. Yes This week marks the start of the New York Asian Film Festival.

If you’ve been reading Unseen Films since we started you know we love Asian film and we are over the moon about the New York Asian Film Festival. This is one of the big festivals of the year for us and every year come hell or high water you know where everyone connected with Unseen is going to be while its running.

I don’t know what to say that I haven’t said before but this is an absolute must attend festival. Forget the films, this is the most social of all of the festivals where everyone is a friend and family. The people going to are great and every year I make a friend or two. If you want to know how cool this festival is consider that I met the following Unseen family members Mondo, Chocko, Mr C, Peter, Hubert and Alec at the festival. Additionally I met great people like Jarod King at the festival and found greater common ground with people like Joe Bendel in the darkened theaters. For me this is an annual family reunion with the best family anyone could wish for. Come join the family.

A couple of notes about this year’s coverage

First if you didn’t know this is the first year in a long time that the festival isn’t co-presenting with The Japan Society’s Japan Cuts. The festivals do overlap, thus making it very difficult for the last three days of NYAFF, but at the same time it’s no different than the last few years where there were multiple films is multiple locations. Just don't go to the Japan Society looking for NYAFF films (We'll have lots of Japan Cuts coverage once that starts.)

Second. our coverage is going to be back-end heavy at the start. When things were set up and films were first being screened for writers most of the films were  at the middle and end of the festival. So when that happened was we all picked up tickets for the early films. It was only then that the ealry films were made available for us to review -but since we were going to the films there really was no point in seeing them twice. This means that most of our coverage for the first week of films will be coming from being in the trenches. (and we will be in the trenches all the way through)

Next I'm not sure how all inclusive as in years past. Usually we get to all but 3 or 4.You would think that the reduction of titles by 15 or twenty would have made it easier for us to get to everything but that’s not the case. I believe they are running 54 films this year and I think we’ll be getting to about 44 films- this despite importing our heavy hitter from the nation's capital Eden to help out. Then again- this being NYAFF miracles happen and we may get to more. Mondo and I are still wrestling with what we can and cannot get to.

Lastly, as we do every year here’s a quick list of the must see films at this year’s festival. The film is based on the handful of films we've seen so far so there I'm guessing there will be lots of must see films that we'll be reporting on after they screen. (The first two are films we already reviewed so click on the links to see what we thought in the long form)

COLD WAR- Some truly great performances overcome an okay script in a tale about high ranking police officials trying to find and rescue five kidnapped cops

THE MAN WHO STOLE THE SUN- classic film about a man who builds an atomic bomb in his kitchen and threatens the Japanese government with demands that include allowing baseball game TV coverage to last until a game ends and letting the Rolling Stones to play Japan. It sounds crazy but it’s punch in the face film that will scare you.

MY LOVE, DON’T CROSS THAT RIVER is one of the most moving and best films of the year. A documentary about a couple married for 70 years. Be ready to be heartbroken (in a good way). This is the sort of love we all need to find.

CAFÉ. WAITING. LOVE one of the best romcoms of recent vintage. Its wild and crazy and it just works. One of my favorite films of 2015.

BROTHERHOOD OF BLADES is great characters and great action in a film that demands to be seen big- and I mean BIG. The Subway Cinema guys are right in calling it an under seen gem

THE ISLE- haunting Kim Ki-Duk thriller was the film that turned me into a huge fan of his.

BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AN HUMANITY- first of a long running series is one of the greatest gangster films ever made. A masterpiece and the chance to see it big and restored is treat.

SOLOMON’S PERJURY One and Two- Excellent two part murder mystery should of have been this July 4th marathon film, Instead NYAFF breaks with tradition and is running the films parts almost a week apart. Don’t let the week long break stop you, this is a great little mystery with more than its share of twists and turns. As Mondo said to me a couple of days ago, what you think it is constantly changes and Part 2 alters your view of Part 1

RUINED HEART is a cinematic poem about a crook and a hooker shot by Christopher Doyle. As glorious a cinematic treat as you are likely to ever find this film is a must see for those who love the movies. There is no dialog, poems and songs take the place of the dialog and create something wondrous. If you love what the movies can do go see it.(It;s screening twice so there is no excuse not to go). Another 2015 favorite film

WHISTLEBLOWER-a based on true story film about a TV news program that dug into a potential Nobel Prize winner's research and found he had cooked the books and worse. Riveting doesn't begin to describe it.

SECOND CHANCE is a movie lovers movie of the highest order as a professional pool player on the skids reconnects with his niece who is running a pool hall and is in trouble with child protective services (they want to put her in foster care). Its feel good comedy drama sports film that is the very definition of entertainment. One of the most enjoyable films of the festival.

If we haven't  mentioned it it doesn't mean we didn't like it-odds are we haven't seen it yet.

Reviews start toward the end of the week with looks at some of the older films we had in our collection. Newer films start soon after. (I'm still working out the order the reviews are going to hit.)

For tickets and more information go to the following places

General information The Subway Cinema Site
For tickets and info on films at Lincoln Center go here
For tickets and info at SVA go here.

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