The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema announce the 17th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), June 29 – July 15, 2018.
From vicious, life-destroying phone scams to balletic battles between equally corrupt cops and yakuza, NYAFF offers films that reflect on contemporary society while offering extreme genre pleasures. There are self-referential takes on cinematic zombies, existential date nights, and teens finding their own corners of the world despite familial and societal expectations. After last year’s Sweet Sixteen, this year’s program is dubbed the Savage Seventeenth edition with four world premieres, three international premieres, 21 North American premieres, three U.S. premieres, and twelve New York premieres, showcasing the most exciting comedies, dramas, thrillers, romances, horrors and arthouse films from East Asia.
Savage Seventeen: The festival has a rich history of presenting films that deal with the social issue of teenage bullying. Many of these have proven to be launching pads for some of Asia’s biggest stars, and the subject is at the root of such modern classics as All About Lily Chou-Chou, Whispering Corridors, and Confessions. In a year when youths in the U.S. are standing their ground and demanding political change, NYAFF presents the North American premieres of three films about teenagers who just won’t take it anymore: Kim Ui-seok’s After My Death, Ogata Takaomi’s The Hungry Lion, and Naito Eisuke’s competition title Liverleaf.
More than ever, the festival aims to show that Asia is a beacon of cinematic excitement, its films as rich in provocative artistry and as emotionally compelling as those of its Western counterpart. In the age of algorithm-dictated curation and Eurocentrism, NYAFF holds two convictions: that taste in films cannot be deduced or reduced to one’s browser history; and that the best in new cinema is rising from the East.
This year’s China section continues to take a more central role. One year ago, NYAFF committed to supporting the new generation of first-time directors emerging in Asia with the Young Blood series, focusing on Hong Kong; this year the festival shifts to Mainland China. Once again, the films are heady and diverse in subject matter, including Hunan-set, rain-drenched serial-killer thriller The Looming Storm, Inner Mongolia-set sexagenarian drama Old Beast (produced by Chinese auteur Wang Xiaoshuai), and the razor-sharp Northeastern comedy Looking for Lucky, which revolves around a man, his father, and a missing dog. The Chinese film industry is changing fast, and trends are best reflected in where new directors are taking it. We also present films about the shifting rules of romance: Dude’s Manual and The Ex-Files 3: The Return of the Exes.
The Hong Kong Panorama, backbone of the festival’s programming, returns with nine features, including two world premieres: Sunny Chan’s debut Men of the Dragon and Antony Chan’s comeback House of the Rising Sons. Antony Chan is an original member of The Wynners, the popular teen-idol band of the 1970s that launched the careers of mega-stars Alan Tam and Kenny Bee. Chan, the band’s drummer, returns to the director’s chair after 26 years to present a vibrant biopic that avoids hagiography. Highlighting the miracles of motion and irresistible kinetic force that are the signature of Hong Kong cinema, is a three-film Dante Lam tribute, and an action-packed thriller run on July 4: Jonathan Li’s debut The Brink, Oxide Pang’s The Big Call, and Wilson Yip’s Paradox. Also screening is Chapman To’s family drama set in the world of karate, The Empty Hands starring Stephy Tang.
In addition, the festival selected five films showcasing the uniqueness of Taiwan cinema and the strength of both its arthouse productions and its genre output. Of note is the North American premiere of gangster film Gatao 2: Rise of the King, poised comfortably between classic yakuza and triad movies from Japan and Hong Kong. In complete contrast is The Last Verse, which charts a romantic relationship through the turbulence of three presidential eras; it was directed by Tseng Ying-ting, one of Taiwan cinema’s freshest voices since Edward Yang.
– Dude’s Manual (Kevin Ko, 2018)
– End of Summer (Zhou Quan, 2017) – New York Premiere
– The Ex-Files 3: The Return of the Exes (Tian Yusheng, 2017)
– Looking for Lucky (Jiang Jiachen, 2018) – International Premiere
– The Looming Storm (Dong Yue, 2017) – North American Premiere
– Old Beast (Zhou Ziyang, 2017) – New York Premiere
– Wrath of Silence (Xin Yukun, 2017) – New York Premiere
HONG KONG PANORAMA (9):
– Beast Stalker (Dante Lam, 2008) – Tribute to Dante Lam
– The Big Call (Oxide Pang, 2017) – North American Premiere
– The Brink (Jonathan Li, 2017) – New York Premiere
– The Empty Hands (Chapman To, 2018) – New York Premiere
– House of the Rising Sons (Antony Chan, 2018) – World Premiere
– Men on the Dragon (Sunny Chan, 2018) – World Premiere
– Operation Red Sea (Dante Lam, 2018) – Tribute to Dante Lam
– Paradox (Wilson Yip, 2017) – New York Premiere
– Unbeatable (Dante Lam, 2003) – Tribute to Dante Lam
– Gatao 2: Rise of the King (Yen Cheng-kuo, 2018) – North American Premiere
– The Last Verse (Tseng Ying-ting, 2017) – New York Premiere
– Missing Johnny (Huang Xi, 2017) – New York Premiere
– On Happiness Road (Sung Hsin-yin, 2017) – North American Premiere
– The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful (Yang Ya-che, 2017) – New York Premiere