Saturday, June 7, 2008

2008 New York Asian Film Festival lineup announced


June 20 - July 6, 2008
at the IFC Center (June 20 - July 3)
323 Sixth Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Streets

and Japan Society (July 3 - July 6)
333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues

What the heck, right? We figured if we built it, you might come, so this
year we’re presenting the biggest New York Asian Film Festival in human history, showing 43 films and two programs of short films. It’s either the start of something big or we’re going out with a bang!

We’re also deeply honored that our opening night film will be the world
premiere of THEN SUMMER CAME starring Joe Odagiri and Yoshio Harada. Written and directed by award-winning playwright, producer, screenwriter and actor, Ryo Iwamatsu, it will be released in Japan in mid-July. Director Iwamatsu will be the guest of the New York Asian Film Festival and not only has he acted in dozens of films like ZEBRAMAN and this year’s NYAFF presentation, ADRIFT IN TOKYO, but he is also available for interviews. He will introduce the screening of THEN SUMMER CAME on June 20 and conduct a Q&A afterwards.

And this will be the first year the New York Asian Film Festival has jury
duty. Our crack team of jury members include New York Post critic Vincent Musetto, acclaimed author Maitland McDonagh, Time Out New York critic Dave Fear, the exhibitions coordinator and head honcho of the legendary Anthology Film Archives, John Mhiripiri and last but not least, the director of award-winning breakdance documentary, PLANET B-BOY, Benson Lee.

Because there aren’t enough great movies in New York this summer, here’s the


(2008, Japan, Masaya Kakei)
Starring Takeshi Kaneshiro,
Manami Konishi, Sumiko Fuji, Ken Mitsuishi, Takuya Ishida
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. 114 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
New York Premiere


(2008, Korea, Jung Byoung-Gul)
Starring Kweun Gui-Duck, Kwag Jin-Suk, Shin Seung-il, Jeun Sei-Jin

Korean filmmakers prove they’re the cruelest people on earth in this documentary charting the insane physical and mental suffering piled on four wannabe stuntmen. From their stunt school auditions, to risking their lives and their dignity on the sets of movies like THE HOST and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, this sarcastic, uppity documentary sticks its nose into all their business. The overwhelming winner of the Audience Award at the Jeonju International Film Festival.
110 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles
International Premiere


(2007, Japan, Satoshi Miki)

Starring Joe Odagiri, Tomokazu Miura, Ittoku Kishibe

This is a movie about two men walking down the street. Seriously. That’s it. But bear with us, because isn’t CITIZEN KANE really just about a guy who owns a sled? A scruffy law school student (Joe Odagiri, the Johnny Depp of Japan) is deep in hock until a thuggish, middle-aged debt collector 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 pondering the plight of the pygmy hippopotamus, encountering superhero cos-players and getting attacked by small business owners. After seeing this flick you’ll never take the bus again.
101 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

North American Premiere

(2005, Japan, Takashi Yamazaki)

One of Japan’s biggest hits of all time, ALWAYS rocked the New York Asian Film Festival back in 2006. This tale of the scrappy residents of Third Street trying to put their lives back together in the aftermath of World War II not only meticulously and spectacularly recreates 1950’s Tokyo, but manages to be a crowd-pleasing critical favorite that earned 12 Japanese Academy Awards. 133 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.

(2007, Takashi Yamazaki)
Starring Shinichi Tsutsumi, Maki Horikata, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Kazuki Koshimizu, Tomokazu Miura
Another lavish blockbuster from Japan, but this time around the residents of Third Street return and the good times are killing them. Tokyo’s hosting the 1964 Olympics, the economy is booming, houses are filling up with modern appliances but something’s gotten lost in the shuffle. Will Third Street be destroyed by Japan’s bubble economy? Or maybe it’ll be destroyed by Godzilla? Seriously.
147 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)
New York Premiere


(2006, Japan, Issei Oda)

Starring Juri Ueno, Yusuke Iseya, Megumi Seki

Based on a manga called Warau Mikaeru, and directed by Japan’s most popular music video director, this girl power mash-up of CHARLIE’S ANGELS and HARRY POTTER is a surreal, candy-colored action flick that comes at you as fast and furious as a game of Dance Dance Revolution. The nuns at super-elite Catholic boarding school, St. Michael’s Academy, are upset because rich schoolgirls keep getting kidnapped. But three schoolgirls suddenly gain superpowers that allow them to track down the kidnappers and beat their butts. Chick-a-licious cotton candy wrapped around a juicy action center.
92 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
New York Premiere


(2007, China, Feng Xiaogang)

Starring Zhang Hanyu, Hu Jun, Yuan Wenkang

China’s mega-sized box office hit of 2007 is the ultimate dirt-in-your-teeth war film. Set during China’s Civil War of 1948, the first half sees an officer commit a war crime and be given a suicide mission of redemption: take a doomed last stand to protect the Communist army as it retreats. Then, when the shooting stops, the film becomes deeper and richer as it charts what happens to good soldiers when the war is over. Director Feng Xiaogang is China’s biggest hit-maker, and his swordplay epic, THE BANQUET, opened last year’s New York Asian Film Festival.
124 minutes, in Mandarin with English subtitles.
North American Premiere


(2004, Thailand, Panna Rittikrai & Petchtai Wongkamlao)

Starring Patchai Wongkamlao (aka Mum Jokmok), Tony Jaa
Yes, yes, it’s 4 years old but this Thai action comedy smells like Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow at his finest. The action choreographer of ONG BAK directs comedy weirdo, Mum Jokmok, playing a ridiculously stone-faced bodyguard protecting his client from an army of evil assassins. Bristling with jaw-dropping weirdness and kinetic action it also features a cameo performance by Tony Jaa (ONG BAK). 105 minutes, in Thai with English subtitles
New York Premiere


(2007, Thailand, Panna Rittikrai & Petchtai Wongkamlao)

Starring Patchai Wongkamlao (aka Mum Jokmok), Tony Jaa

The sequel to hit summer blockbuster, BODYGUARD, this time around the budget has been upped by millions of baht but the IQ has been lowered proportionately. Wild action comedy full of furious kung fu, bullet ballet and awe-inspiring stupidity. The lowest common denominator just got lower. In a good way.
97 minutes, in Thai with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere


(2007, Korea, Kim Jin-Won)
Starring Kim Sung-Il, You Dong-Hun
The Korean film industry spent last year falling apart with one big, glossy production after another bombing at the box office. But 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. Barf bags will be provided.
75 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles.
International Premiere


(2008, Japan, Yohei Fukuda)

Starring Eri Otoguro, Chise Nakamura, Manami Hashimoto

When the dead come out of their graves to eat the flesh of the living, it’s going to be up to bikini girls with machine guns to send them back to hell. Based on a videogame, this itchy, twitchy, popping and locking movie is everything you ever wanted in a film about girls in bikinis, school uniforms and leather jackets fighting zombies with samurai swords.
86 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles.
International Premiere


(2007, Japan, Hitoshi Matsumoto)

Starring Hitoshi Matsumoto, Riki Takeuchi, Ua

Why is Dai-Saito the focus of this documentary? He’s a long-haired, middle aged loser and for 20 minutes he complains about his government job, buys groceries and rambles on about his cats. Then the call comes and he transforms into a 500-foot-tall superhero who beats up the giant monsters who attack Japan. Combining the mayhem of a pro wrestling smackdown with the lunacy of THIS IS SPINAL TAP, this official Cannes selection is the movie CLOVERFIELD should have been.
103 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles.
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

New York Premiere


(2007, Japan, Kichitaro Negishi)

Starring Yuko Takeuchi, Arata Furata, Kana Matsumoto

It’s easy to slam a coming of age movie because there’s just too many of them but DOG IN A SIDECAR is truly special, marking the comeback film for actress Yuko Takeuchi (THE RING). She took home six “Best Actress” awards for her portrayal of the lazy, chain-smoking girlfriend of a single parent who teaches her boyfriend’s daughter that growing up doesn’t have to mean giving up. Absolute proof that good things come in small packages. 94 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere


(2007, Japan, Akihiko Shiota)

Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Ko Shibasaki, Kumiko Aso, Yoshio Harada, Anna Tsuchiya

Based on a famous manga by Osamu (ASTROBOY) Tezuka, this summer blockbuster from 2007 is a movie for kids and adults alike that includes giant baby monsters, human-sized killer slugs, spider demons and a whole cursed zoo of funky demons unleashed onscreen. The story, about a female thief teamed up with a master swordsman with swords for arms who’s hunting for 48 of his stolen body parts, is a fast-paced excuse for Hong Kong action director Ching Siu-tung (HERO) to unleash his wild imagination onscreen. 139 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere

(2007, Japan, Yosuke Fujita)
Starring Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Yoshino Kimura, Yoshinori Okada
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. 110 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)
North American Premiere


(2007, Korea, Hur Jin-Ho)

Starring Hwang Jung-Min, Lim Soo-Jung

Hur Jin-Ho has made a career out of putting jumper cables to worn-out romantic tropes, resulting in smart, exquisitely-made tearjerkers like the classic 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 usually get ignored and playing down the major melodrama. It’s a perfect date movie and an honest tear-jerker, where you can have a good cry and maintain your dignity. 124 minutes. In Korean with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere

(2007, Indonesia, Joko Anwar)

Starring Fachry Albar, Shanty, Fahrani

The history of modern-day Indonesia is turned into a film noir hellhouse in this alternate history sci-fi flick that set box office records in its home country. Everyone dresses like it’s 1950 and sudden, hideous violence lurks around every corner, waiting in a black sedan. A narcoleptic reporter and a closeted gay cop are drawn into a murderous plot while the totalitarian city-state around them descends into anarchy and madness.
102 minutes, in Bahasia Indonesia with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere


(2007, Thailand, Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol)

Starring: Wanchana Sawatdee, Pratcha Sanavatananont
The number two movie of all time at the Thai box office (KING NARESUAN 2 is number one), this massive saga tells the story of Naresuan, Thailand’s warrior king who was sold into bondage as a kid and raised as a political hostage in the neighboring Burmese court. Zooming from the human drama, to massive political intrigue, it’s a lush, epic chronicle of his early life studded with major warfare and it ends on a stirring note with the young prince taking his exiled people into the wilderness on their Exodus back to Thailand.
165 minutes. In Thai with English subtitles.
International Premiere


(2007, Thailand, Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol)

Starring: Wanchana Sawatdee, Pratcha Sanavatananont

The number one film of all time at the Thai box office, this massive saga continues to write the life of Naresuan, Thailand’s warrior king, in gunpowder, fire and massive battles. It kicks off with Naresuan assembling a ragtag coalition of states to oppose Burma’s military might and it ends with a raging 90 minute battle that surges and ebbs across the screen as war elephants, nine-foot-long rifles and sword-slinging princesses take the field to battle over the future of the Thai nation. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. 164 minutes, in Thai with English subtitles.
New York Premiere

(2008, Japan, Hideo Nakata)

Starring Kenichi Matsuyama, Mayuko Fukuda, Shingo Tsurumi

The DEATH NOTE movies were massive hits in Japan (and at last year’s NYAFF) and now the latest installment in the series hits the screen, 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. Sit back and enjoy this big-budget summer blockbuster that sees everyone’s favorite hunchbacked, candy-munching genius take on a terrorist cult armed with a flesh-eating virus. 129 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere


(2007, Japan, Takashi Miike)

Starring Kazuki Kitamura, Sho Aikawa, Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Tomoro Taguchi
The wildman of Japan, Takashi Miike, proves that there’s no kind of movie he can’t turn inside out. Based on a videogame, in Miike’s hands LIKE A DRAGON turns into a long hot Shinjuku summer night with an indestructible yakuza hero, a pair of incompetent bank robbers, two young lovers on a crime spree, a Korean hitman, a masochistic gun dealer and an ultraviolence-loving baseball fan all crossing paths, slamming into each other and shooting off in crazy directions like a game of human pinball jacked up on speed.
110 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere


(2006, Japan, Ryuichi Hiroki)

Starring: Takami Mizuhashi, Ryuya Wakaba, Yuria Haga

Ryuichi Hiroki (VIBRATOR, IT’S ONLY TALK) turns in a high school romance that’s one part WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? and one part SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL. It’s a breathless roundelay of romance, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, missed opportunities and teenage angst all compressed into one day. 90 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere

(2007, Japan, Ryuichi Hiroki)

Starring: Maki Horikita, Shunsuke Kubozuka, Saki Takaoka

One of director Ryuichi Hiroki’s most sensitive and delicate films about the final days of a young woman (Maki Horikita from ALWAYS 1 and 2) coming to terms with her impending death and the realization that she will never get to do as much as she wanted to with her life. Hiroki completely avoids every melodramatic pitfall and cliché that this type of material usually attracts and in doing so makes it all the more heartbreaking. 91 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere

(2007, Korea, Lee Myung-Se)
Starring Jang Dong-Won, Gong Hyo-Jin, Lee Yeon-Hee
This is the closest you’re ever going to get to dreaming with your eyes open. Director Lee Myung-Se (NOWHERE TO HIDE, DUELIST) unleashes all his visual mastery to tell the story of a hack novelist whose high school sweetheart has suddenly shown up in town from out of the past. She may be real, she may be a ghost, she may be a memory, or there may not be a difference between the three. Audiences practically tore the screen down when this deeply personal movie premiered, but cinema owners who tried to yank it out of theaters early found themselves facing the wrath of fans who protested in the streets.
110 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere


(2007, Hong Kong, Johnnie To)
Starring Lau Ching-wan, Andy On, Lam Ka-tung, Kelly Lin, Lam Suet
After seven years, director Johnnie To and actor Lau Ching-wan reunite to make this crime flick that’s like a high performance engine firing on all cylinders. The New York Times says it, “...reaffirms To’s status as an action master.” Lau plays a cop who can see people’s souls and who is deeply, dangerously mentally ill, pulled back into the game to solve the case of a bad cop who seems to be crazier than he is.
89 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles
New York Premiere

(2007, Korea, various)
Korea’s biggest festival of short horror, comedy and action films returns! Curated by Korea’s biggest directors like Bong Joon-Ho (THE HOST) and Park Chan-Wook (OLDBOY) it’s one-stop shopping for Korea’s future film talent. This program includes the weird story of author John Fowles’ Korean love child, a gang of chickens who destroy the earth and “Our Puppy, Our Family” about a tiny, fluffy puppy’s gruesome revenge on the owners who abandoned it. Subway Cinema considers “Our Puppy, Our Family” the best Korean film of 2007. 74 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles
Director Park Jae-Young of “Our Puppy, Our Family” will be in attendance


(2007, Korea, various)
Korea’s biggest festival of short horror, comedy and action films returns! Curated by Korea’s biggest directors like Bong Joon-Ho (THE HOST) and Park Chan-Wook (OLDBOY) it’s one-stop shopping for Korea’s future film talent. This program is all about the movies, featuring a kinky love story at a Sam Peckinpah retrospective and a plot by the living dead to control the Korean film industry. And don’t miss the 7 minute “Art of War” about corporate lawyers who unleash head-spinning legal kung fu to settle contract disputes.
71 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles


(2008, Japan, Daisuke Tengan)
Starring Tomorrow Taguchi, Sarara Tsukifune, Haruki Ichikawa
Director Daisuke Tengan is the son of legendary director Shohei Imamura and the writer of THE EEL, AUDITION and WARM WATER UNDER A RED BRIDGE. Set in the early 90’s, this sprawling rural epic takes its time setting up its characters, a gallery of small town eccentrics, before exploding into a wild comedy about Japan’s low birth rate, sex gurus, terrorism and a climaxing with a 50-person orgy.
161 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.
International Premiere


(2008, Korea, Kang Woo-Suk)
The Korean film industry has not been having a very good year, and all hopes are pinned on this summer blockbuster, that will open at the NYAFF just a few days after it premieres in Korea. A black action comedy about a corrupt cop tracking down a powerful crook, it’s directed by Kang Woo-Suk, considered Korea’s most powerful director (think Spielberg). With an all-star cast and a script by Korea’s hottest writer, this promises to be a massive, crowd-pleasing spectacle.
127 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles
International Premiere


(2007, Vietnam, Charlie Nguyen)
Starring Johnny Tri Nguyen, Dustin Nguyen, Ngo Thanh
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 tasked with rounding up anti-French rebels and kicking their heads off. Then, one day, he finds that he can’t oppress 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, bloody knuckled ode to Vietnamese freedom.
103 minutes, in Vietnamese with English subtitles
New York Premiere

(2007, Japan, Shinji Aoyama)
Starring Tadanobu Asano, Joe Odagiri, Aoi Miyazami, Yuka Itaya

Shinji Aoyama (EUREKA, ELI ELI LEMA SABACHTANI) is one of Japan’s most astounding directors and SAD VACATION is the conclusion of his unofficial “Kita Kyushu” trilogy. No familiarity with the previous films is necessary to relish this heart-breaker about Tadanobu Asano (MONGUL) trying to take revenge on the mother who abandoned him years ago when he was a kid. But, as he finds out, her apron strings are still wrapped around his neck like a noose. Part crime film, part family drama, all masterpiece.
136 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

U.S. Premiere


(2008, Hong Kong/Japan, Joe Ma)
Starring Miki Mizuno, Sam Lee, Simon Yam, Lam Suet

A remake of the Japanese woman-in-prison classic, FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION, this Hong Kong production starts like a dreamy art film but by minute 20 our heroine is in prison, knee-deep in mud wrestling pits and fighting predatory lesbian killers to the death, when she’s not ripping out the metal plate in another inmate’s skull to use as a weapon. Sleaze-a-licious.
103 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles
North American Premiere


(2007, Japan, Masato Harada)

Starring Shinichi Tsutsumi, Hiroshi Abe, Kippei Shiina, Hiroyuki Miyasako

One of the world’s great journeyman directors, Masato Harada is like the Howard Hawks of Japan, able to create beautifully crafted dramas in almost any genre. Set in 1952, THE SHADOW SPIRIT sees a brutal string of murders break out like a rash across post-war Tokyo. A truly all-star cast comes together to investigate the demonic cult murders in this lush, period horror piece that winds up morphing into an out-of-the-blue science fiction film.
133 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.
North American Premiere


(2007, Korea, Kim Mee-Jeung)
Starring Park Jin-Hee, Yun Se-Ah, Lim Jeong-Eun

The women’s quarters of the royal palace are a pool of sweetly smiling piranhas, and now they’ve been whipped into a churning blood frenzy because the body of a maid has been found hanging from the rafters, an apparent suicide. “Not so fast,” says Chun-Ryung, a nurse who then embarks on her very own CSI investigation of the crime, uncovering a dark conspiracy to hatch an illegal royal heir. Set in the 15th Century, and with a virtually all-female cast, this is the first film by female director Kim Mee-Jeung, who hired an all-female crew to shoot it. The result is a dark, gothic thriller that was one of Korea’s box office hits of 2007.
112 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles.
New York Premiere


(2008, Hong Kong, Soi Cheang)
Starring Shawn Yue, Francis Ng, Annie Liu

Director Soi Cheang of last year’s DOG BITE DOG makes a thrashing prison flick based on a Japanese manga about a teenager who kills his parents and becomes a pit fighter in prison before hitting the streets to find his sister who became a hooker after the family stab-down. Hyper-stylized and as subtle as death metal, this movie is a greedy gobble to hit all the limits and punch all the buttons at once. Think of it as a manifesto against good taste dripping with feedback and blood.
106 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles
North American Premiere

(2008, Hong Kong, Johnnie To)
Starring Simon Yam, Kelly Lin, Lam Ka-tung, Lam Suet

Johnnie To must have woken up in love one morning to make this snazzy, light-footed flick that threatens to burst into song at any minute. An homage to French musicals of the 1950’s, Simon Yam tap-dances through the film as the head of a pickpocket gang working old Hong Kong. Watching this movie feels like soaking your soul in a big glass of cool, bubbly champagne for 87 minutes.
87 minutes, in Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles
New York Premiere

(2007, Japan, Takashi Miike)
Hideaki Ito, Koichi Sato, Yusuke Iseya, Masanobu Ando, Kaori Momoi, Quentin Tarantino
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! 98 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)
U.S. Premiere


(2006, Japan, Hitoshi Yazaki)
Starring Chizuru Ikewaki, Noriko Nakagoshi, Nakamura Yuko, Toko Iwase
Redefining chick flicks the way Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H redefined the war movie, this film is based on a manga that follows four professional women living in Tokyo. Satoko and Akiyo are both employed at a genteel escort agency; Chihiro is a typical office lady and her roommate, Toko, is a freelance illustrator. Rarely crossing paths, director Hitoshi Yazaki chronicles their lives of quiet desperation as they all approach 30, without once copping out or going for easy, arthouse cynicism and always remembering that where there’s life, there’s hope. Considered by many to be the best Japanese film of 2006, this movie proudly proclaims that SEX AND THE CITY isn’t the last word on women, sex or the city.
127 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
New York Premiere

(2008, Japan, Yudai Yamaguchi)

Starring Nako Mizusawa, Goro Noguchi, Itsuji Itao
Kazuo Umezu is the most insane manga artist in Japan, a cross between Charles Addams and David Lynch, and this movie is an adaptation of one of his most bonkers stories about an orphan girl who is reunited with her family only to discover that her sister is an angry mutant killer baby living in the attic. Director Yudai Yamaguchi (CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL) constantly interrupts his soft-focus homage to early 80’s kitsch cinema with outrageous eruptions of Lucio Fulci-inspired gut-crunching gore.
100 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
International Premiere


(2008, Japan, Ryo Iwamatsu)
Starring Joe Odagiri, Yoshio Harada
One of Japan’s most acclaimed playwrights and theater directors, Ryo Iwamatsu, turns in this film about two complacent single men who are stuck in a rut: a father (veteran actor, Yoshio Harada) and his son (Joe Odagiri, Japan’s answer to Johnny Depp). But with the son’s wedding coming up, their rocky relationship is only getting rockier until it finally erupts into a seismic examination of the father/son dynamic. 118 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.
It’s the opening night film of the New York Asian Film Festival and director and writer, Ryo Iwamatsu, will introduce the June 20 screening of this movie that’s a subtle dissection of the male psyche.
World Premiere


(2008, Japan, Ryo Nakajima)
Starring Yoshiko Taniguchi, Arisa Hata, Satoshi Okutso

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. Tracing 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, it’s a remixed, video age CLOCKWORK ORANGE that screams, and sobs and bleeds. 94 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere


(2008, Japan, Yoshihiro Nishimura)
Starring Eihi Shiina, Tak Sakaguchi

Bring a raincoat! This is the most mind-melting, jaw-dropping thing you’re going to see in your life. Eihi Shiina (the evil woman in AUDITION) plays a sword-slinging cop in a future Tokyo where the police force are fascists-for-hire and a funky virus is mutating the citizens into brain-busting shapes. Like STARSHIP TROOPERS mixed with Peter Jackson’s DEAD ALIVE and with the freakish mutant love child of David Cronenberg and Shinya Tsukamoto dancing the crazy dance on its back. It also features the return of the penis gun! 100 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.
North American Premiere


(2007, Japan, Koji Wakamatsu)
Go Jibiki, Akie Namiki, Maki Sakai, Arata
Japan’s most controversial filmmaker, Koji Wakamatsu, 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
interviews. 190 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
(Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)

North American Premiere


(2007, Japan, Kenta Fukasaku)
Starring Nao Matsushita, Ami Suzuki, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi

From the director of YO-YO GIRL COP comes this expertly made black comedy horror thriller about two young city girls who wind up going to a vacation hell! Well, actually it’s in a village where everyone lives to ritually amputate the legs of tourists. Same difference. There’s also a killer with a giant pair of scissors. Jumping back and forth in time this flick finally jumps completely over the top and into cult movie hyperspace.
103 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
New York Premiere

YASUKUNI (2008, China/Japan, Li Ying) 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 uncomfortable. 123 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles (Co-presented with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film)
East Coast Premiere

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fantasia opening night footage online (Tekkon Kinkreet CDN Premiere w. Michael Arias)!

Fantasia is trying something new this year. We're video blogging! Well, sort of. Actually, we've assembled a video crew to shoot various nights at the fest in order to preserve some of the more exciting moments that go down with visiting filmmakers and fans. If you've never journeyed to Montreal for the fest (you lazy sod!), these clips will give you a taste of what's been happening. If you're a fan of the filmmaker, feel free to save the files for your enjoyment. The first video "thing" we're giving you is from our opening night, Thurs July 7 2007. We launched with the Canadian premiere of Michael Arias' extraordinary animated feature TEKKON KINKREET. Arias was in town for the screening and held an extensive - even by Fantasia standards - Q&A with the audience.

Dig some highlights at !

Friday, June 29, 2007

2nd Wave of Fantastic Fest Titles Announced

Check out the official Fantastic Fest website for a list of the next round of confirmed shorts and features. We are bouncing with excitement about how the 2007 line-up is shaping up and simply cannot wait to ignite your eyeballs with this volatile Molotov cocktail of films. Plus, off the record, we have confirmations of several truly amazing titles and events that we will not be able to announce until right before the festival. Expect more strange, wonderful and occasionally horrific cinematic treats in the months to come.

Please take a few minutes to scan through the new roster of features and shorts and tell your friends that may not already know: Fantastic Fest is the ONLY place a true movie geek is going to want to be from September 20-27. If you are considering it, you should commit now. First, because there are only a limited number of badges available and we will almost certainly sell out before the festival. Also, as our current badge holders can attest, we have been offering up a vast array of special events that are available exclusively to Fantastic Fest attendees...the Transformers opening night with Robosaurus live, the Eli Roth premiere of Hostel and the Patton Oswalt sneak of Ratatouille to name just a few. We'll have more of these as the summer marches on and to be eligible for tickets, you must be a confirmed Fantastic Fest badge holder.

Below is a brief summary of some of the newly confirmed titles:

Blood, Boobs and Beast: John Paul Kinhart's fascinating documentary on the criminally unsung hero of the video generation, Baltimore gore auteur Don Dohler.

Crazy Thunder Road:
An incredibly rare screening of this legendary sought-after violent punk biker masterpiece from revered filmmaker/brainmelter Sogo Ishii!

Five Across the Eyes: On their way home from a high school football game, five girls accidentally hit a parked car and decide to flee from the scene. As the driver of the damaged SUV begins one terrifying assault after another, the five girls will lose their innocence and possibly their lives in this brutal and shocking thrill ride.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Winner: 2007 Japanese Academy Award: Best Animated Film. Jaw-droppingly beautiful animation accentuates this funny, charming story of a vivacious high-school tomboy who inadvertently masters the art of time travel.

La Hora Fria:This fascinating new twist on the sci-fi genre is also loaded with plenty of horror thrills. La Hora Fria has been getting rave reviews on the European Melies Fantasy Film Festival circuit.

La Belle Bete (The Beautiful Beast):
A love triangle between a mother, son and daughter, LA BELLE BETE (THE BEAUTIFUL BEAST) is a dark drama on the themes of jealousy, vanity, emotional incest and, finally, murder.

Offscreen: Winner: Young Cinema Award: 2006 Venice Film Festival. Nicolas Bro reigns supreme in the role of Nicolas Bro – a man intent on making a film about himself. His friend Christoffer Boe lends him a camera and tells him to record everything, a remark which Bro takes a little too literally. If all you know about Danish cinema is Lars Von Trier, prepare yourself for a whole new breed of Danes.

Postal: Uwe Boll live in person! A completely unhinged assault of a movie, touching on terrorism, anger management issues, religious cults, Nazi-conspiracies and full-frontal Dave Foley nudity. Guaranteed to offend.

Spiral: 2006 Fantastic Fest fave Adam Green returns with his new film, a taut, Hitchcockian thriller about a dysfuctional office worker living out a possibly homicidal fantasy alter ego.

Summer Scars: From Last Horror Movie director Julian Richards. When six fourteen year old kids truant school to play in the woods they are befriended by a drifter (Howarth) whose behaviour becomes increasingly abusive. Held hostage in their den they are forced to embrace the dark side of human nature if they are going to survive the ordeal.

Uncle's Paradise:
Terrified of falling asleep, Takashi desperately gulps caffeine drinks and seduces every woman in sight. To heal him, his nephew Haruo must go on a trip to the underworld, guided by giant squid... Imaoka balances the subtle portrayal of human relationships with a crackling firework of feverish Japanese absurdity.

Wolfhound: The scale of the project for Wolfhound is unprecedented in post-Soviet cinema. No previous movie in the fantasy genre has been made in Russia, and certainly nothing based on national culture and history. Wolfhound marks not only the first 'Slavic fantasy' in Russian film production, but also the introduction of a new kind of positive hero.

Zibahkhana (Hell's Ground): A collaboration between Pakistani director Omar Ali Khan and British producer Pete Tombs (author of the "Mondo Macabro" book on international horror cinema), Zibahkhana is the first modern horror film to be shot in Pakistan. In the spirit of the EC horror comics of old, the film tells the story of five teens who get lost on their way to a rock concert, are menaced by flesh eating mutations and then fall into the clutches of a family of backwoods killers.

The next wave of titles will be announce on July 15. Check back again soon!

Dead Channels Goes Postal

On Thursday August 9, 2007, Uwe Boll will attend Dead Channels: the San Francisco Festival of Fantastic Film to present the US premiere of the unrated director's cut of Postal.

The latest film from the notorious director (and internet-critic boxing sensation) defies his critic's expectations - it's a terrific movie. We are delighted to be able to present this special presentation at the Festival. The Q&A following the premiere promises to be lively.

Postal delivers exactly what it promises: it's a laugh-out-loud, blacker-than-pitch anarchic satire that lines up our sacred cows and slaughters them. A long-lived cult following is virtually guaranteed for this hypnotically entertaining cinematic Molotov cocktail.

Boll's soon-to-be controversial 13th feature is an outrageously politically incorrect roller-coaster ride, with scenarios ripped screaming from the headlines - and something to offend everyone.

Uncle Dave (Foley from The Kids in the Hall and Newsradio) leads a Doomsday Cult whose fund-raising efforts run afoul of Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban - currently headquartered behind a convenience store. Both factions target a shipment of International Superstar Verne Troyer's Krotchy dolls. Elsewhere, Postal Dude is having a really bad day. He catches his morbidly obese wife rocking the trailer with their hillbilly landlord and all Hell breaks loose.

The veteran ensemble cast (including a brilliant cameo by the director as himself) sinks their collective teeth into the tastelessly hilarious script and go for broke. Boll expertly maintains the frantic pacing necessary to handle the vast array of jaw-dropping material onscreen. The non-stop action and creative set-pieces also serve to showcase his directorial skills, technical control and stylistic flair. And Postal is much smarter than it first appears - which never hurts.

- Bruce Fletcher - Dead Channels: the San Francisco Festival of Fantastic Film

2007 Fantasia Fest Lineup announced

Montreal, June 26th, 2007 – Abandon all hope for cinematic conventionality, ye who enter here. Fantasia is back to throttle Montreal with three weeks of celluloid deliria. As programmers, the most rewarding aspect of what we do is watching the films we hunt down and fall in love with come to life in front of an audience. That shared supersonic spark of communal discovery, shock, enlightenment, horror, joy, outrage, arousal, whatever it may be, that collective rush of experiencing something so special and intense with a roomful of strangers, is what makes festivals like ours (or any!) so exciting.

We are ridiculously proud of this year’s lineup, and we can’t wait to get high off the energy when the lights go down. The flickering floodgates are about to explode with multitudes of extraordinary new talents - keep your eyes on Won Shin-yeon, Jim Mickle, Chookiat Sakweerakul, Chris Gorak and Ken Takahashi, to name a few - alongside fresh works from the likes of Wisit Sasanatieng, Larry Fessenden, Shinya Tsukamoto, Ken Russell, Johnnie To, Ryoo Seung-wan, Lloyd Kaufman, Francois Miron, Kim Ki-Duk, Anders Thomas Jensen, Bill Plympton, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Glenn Standring, Herman Yau, Maurice Deveraux and Oxide Pang, among many others. Not to mention, two from Sion Sono, two from Shusuke Kaneko, two from Minoru Kawasaki… and three from Takashi Miike!

And then there are the spotlights. Distressingly relevant to our times is one we call HELL IS A CITY: THE CINEMA OF URBAN APOCALYPSE – a series of 5 very different films whose narratives depict the moment that society falls apart… and the horrors that ensue.

On the retro side, RUSSIAN FANTASTIKA: FROM THE TSARS TO THE STARS is a series of newly restored 35mm prints of extremely rare and often visionary Soviet works made between 1936 – 1988. Had they not been produced behind “the iron curtain”, these films would appear in every cinema history book published in the Western world (currently, only one in the lineup – Tarkovsky’s masterful STALKER - is).

We’re also opening a 3rd screen, allowing us to bring in over 40 more features (!) than we have in previous years. We’ve used some of that space to expand previously minor elements of our programming, say for instance, unusual documentaries: We’ve usually screened one or two docs per year, but never went beyond that, turning down a number of films that positively floored us simply because we lacked the space to take them on. No more. In fact, we have created a new section in the fest, DOCUMENTARIES FROM THE EDGE, and this year’s lineup ranges the gamut of subjects from punk rock in authoritarian China to Montreal’s own international fetish icon, Bianca Beauchamp.

Most personal to many of us, we’ll be giving a much-deserved lifetime achievement award to the master of 1970’s experimental erotic Eurohorror Jean Rollin.

Did I mention there will also be over 20 short film blocks?!

Finally, I am very happy to announce a new addition to our programming team: journalist Simon Laperierre, whose unique tastes in cinema have already proven rewarding to our lineup.

On behalf of the entire Fantasia team, I thank you for your faith in what we choose to screen, and your courage for diving headfirst into the cinematic unknown.

The next three weeks are going to obliterate your senses.

Yours in darkened halls,

Mitch Davis
Director Of International Programming