Sunday, June 19, 2016

The New York Asian Film Festival Starts Wednesay

My annual homecoming starts Wednesday when the two plus week party known as The New York Asian Film Festival begins.

NYAFF is a grand family reunion with great movies. I say this because every year I get to see the friends, now family, who I would otherwise never see. If you go to the festival for more than one or two movies you find that you start talking to people and that the conversation lasts days as you meet and remeet at all of the showings. The conversations turn to post film dinners or pre-film lunches and the meals into lifelong friendships. Most of the people who are my really good friends now all came from NYAFF. Purely on the basis of people you've seen here Unseen Mondo, Mr C, Chocko, Hubert, Alec and Peter all were picked up at the festival.(And no Joe I'm not forgetting you but our collision was elsewhere, NYAFF was just another reason to hang out)

For me the festival is all about the people- and what a grand bunch of people they are. I wouldn’t trade anyone of the crazies for a million bucks. If it wasn't for the people I would cover it remotely and never go- but the vibe and the conversations that keep me going back even when I am too tired or not in the mood to make the trip into Manhattan.

On top of the people you get great films. I’m not going to go into how many great films I’ve discovered at the festival- too many too count-instead I’m just going to say pick a film and go see something because these guys and gals know how to pick great films.

You have to remember that NYAFF is one of the reasons that Asian films have slipped into the mainstream. Yea they were always on the fringe, but thanks to this festival films from across Asian can get a regular release because the success of the festival proved there is an audience. Because Goran, Rufus, Sam and the others, past and present, pushed to get prints of the film studios were forced to sit up and take notice. On top of that the articles by festival founders Grady Hendrix and Marc Walkow in periodicals like Film Comment opened the eyes of more people about the cinematic wonders most people weren’t considering. Taking it further their love of these films has resulted in even more films as festival founder Marc Walkow ended up a producer on the Sushi Typhoon line, and the ABC’s of Death films. Now the Subway Cinema guys are also producing DVD packages making sure not only are we getting great films but kick ass extras as well.

I love the festival because for me so much good as come from it.

You have to go- it’s a blast and you’re a most certain to make a new friend or two- seriously everyone is friendly from staff, to volunteers to audiences is wonderful.

As for the festival this year- it’s excellent, it really is. Based upon what I’ve seen it’s light years ahead of last year. As this posts I’ve seen over half the films  and  I’ve tickets for most of the remaining films. While there are couple of films I didn’t care for, there have been no films that made me wonder why it was being presented. No film I saw was bad, some simply weren’t my cup of tea. I didn’t like them but I know other people who did.

We will be reviewing all of the films except perhaps three or four. All of the films we won't get to are screening in slots I can’t make and were not made available for review. I’m hoping to get coverage of the films, but as it stands now we should be reviewing 47 or  48 of the festivals 51 films.

While the reviews are coming starting tomorrow, all timed to run a couple of days before they screen, there are some films which you’ll want to get tickets for ASAP. Within the 26 films I've seen there are some are truly great films and some that are just really special experiences - these are my must sees. It's important that you act now to get tickets because almost everything is screening only once, so if you miss something there is no chance to circle back.


THE PRIESTS- a creepy horror film about Catholic priests taking on an ancient evil. It makes an over done genre new again thank to a blending of cultures.

TEKKONKINKRETE - one of the most visually stunning animated films you'll ever see. If you've never seen it you must make an effort

BODYGUARD- Yue Song's send up/homage to old school martial arts film  is set in present day Hong Kong. Its the old story of competing schools done entertainingly. This is a blast and a half and a must see with an audience. This is as close as this year's festival is getting to Shaw Brothers insanity so go see this.

WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY may not be the best film of the festival, but it an absolute delightful domestic comedy that I'm guessing most people won't go to because it's screening so early in the day. They will regret it once everyone begins talking about it. Its a charming small film  that should get an audience which appreciates it.

THE LAUNDRYMAN-comedy, action supernatural thriller about a hit man seeing the ghosts of those he killed bends genres to be a fantastic fun house thrill ride.

MAVERICK-new cop gets on the outs when he won't let a case of corruption go. A week later I'm still thinking about it.

HAZE- life on the fringe in the Philippines. If it wasn't for an off performance or two in the supporting cast you'd swear it was a documentary.

INSIDE MEN- kick ass political revenge thriller. Once it sets the table with characters and situations it just goes to the end. I want, and need, to see it again because it's that damn good.

MR SIX- one of the absolute best of the fest and of 2016. If you missed this when it played at Christmas in NYC here's you chance to see one of the best performances ever (no really) as Feng Xiaogang gives soul to the titled character, a gangster with principles in an unprincipled world.

SEOUL STATION is the first genuinely scary zombie film in years. A balls to the wall story of the start of the outbreak. Yea its animated, who cares, its brilliant. One of the best films at NYAFF, one of the best horror films of 2016 and possibly of the year regardless of genre.(Be prepared for darkness and left turns because this is from the mad man who did KING OF PIGS)

These 10 are the one's I recommend trying based on the 26 films I've seen. (There are 25 more to see and I'm going to try to do just that)


With the curtain raiser done time to rest since I have lots of late nights ahead.

For tickets and more information go here.

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