Taking place across ten London venues from March 6-17, the Pan-Asia Film Festival is one of the best opportunities for UK audiences to catch recent cinematic highlights from a wide range of Asian territories. The festival is largely comprised of politically-relevant works that aim to further understanding of Asian culture and society, not to mention the multitude of ways in which many regions have become interconnected in the era of globalisation. Most of these screenings are UK premiers, and the line-up will be supplemented by master classes, exhibitions, and related events.
The festival starts with Ya-Che Yang’s heartfelt drama Gf* Bf* (Taiwan, 2012), which focuses on a love triangle that occurs against a shifting social backdrop that takes in the democracy movement of the 1980s and 1990s. Takeshi Kitano’s yakuza sequel Outrage Beyond (Japan, 2012) continues to chronicle the convoluted politics and brutal violence of organised crime, with codes of honour largely irrelevant in a competitive underworld economy. Yeon Sang-ho’s controversial animation The King of Pigs (South Korea, 2011) is an unflinching satire on school bullying that has already received much praise on the festival circuit, and is being released in the UK release by Terracotta Distribution. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (India/Pakistan/USA, 2012) is Mira Nair’s adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s acclaimed novel, in which a young Pakistani man working in New York’s financial sector undergoes an identity crisis following the 9/11 terror attacks. Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s stylish thriller Headshot (Thailand, 2011) follows a cop-turned-assassin who sees the world upside down after being shot in the head, then finds himself on the run from a team of professional killers. 111 Girls (Iran, 2012), co-directed by Nahid Ghobadi and Bijan Zamanpira, is a road movie in which an Iranian diplomat takes a politically-sensitive trip to Kurdistan. A successful Delhi businessman returns to his childhood home in Ahmedabad to attend a kite festival in Prashant Bhargava’s family drama Patang (India/USA, 2012), prompting reflection on the past. Craig Freimond’s comedy Material (South Africa/UK, 2012) deals with a young Muslim man who works in his father’s fabric shop in Johannesburg, yet wants to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian rather than take over the family business. Tormented 3D (Japan, 2011) is a demented collaboration between J-horror specialist Takashi Shimizu and leading cinematographer Christopher Doyle, in which a mute young woman is plunged into a dangerous dream world populated by giant killer rabbits. The festival closes with Midi Z’s tough crime drama Poor Folk (Burma/Taiwan/Thailand, 2012), which follows the black market exploits of two Burmese émigré hustlers in Bangkok and shows how their morally questionable career choices result in familial rupture.
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