London East Asia Film Festival Brings 34 Films to the Big Screen From October 21-31
The London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) celebrates its sixth edition in 2021 with a commitment to diverse, culturally impactful cinema entertainment. After a year of shut cinema doors, LEAFF is returning home to London’s big screens with an expanded catalogue to help stimulate the renaissance of cinema and promote culturally empathy.
With cinematic offerings from eight regions – China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam – this year’s programme is an ode to the quiet and independent voices from East Asia. Two international premieres, five European premieres and 18 UK premieres will take place at our state-art-of-the-art venues, ODEON Luxe Leicester Square, The Cinema at Selfridges, as well as the newly opened ODEON Luxe West End and The Chiswick Cinema. The festival is divided into five strands: Official Selection, Competition, Hong Kong Focus, Documentary, and Retrospective.
The festival opens with a memorial to the late Benny Chan and old-school Hong Kong action films with the director’s final feature Raging Fire at ODEON Luxe Leicester Square on 21st October.
Regional Crime Unit officer Cheung Sung-Bong (Donnie Yen) comes head to head with his former protégé, Yau Kong-Ng (Nicholas Tse) in an explosive plot with razor-sharp action sequences. No stranger to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, it is only a matter of time before one makes the wrong move. Upon its release, the film sustained its place at No. 1 at the China box-office for over a month.
Box office hits as well as new works by prolific East Asian filmmakers make up the Official LEAFF Selection. We are excited to welcome titles from Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo’s cross-cultural drama Introduction, as well as Taiwanese auteur Chung Mong-Hong’stouching Covid-19 inspired familial drama The Falls.
LEAFF will bring to the UK some of the most hotly anticipated East Asian films including Chen Yu-Hsun’s Crystal Mulberry Award-winning fantasy rom-com My Missing Valentine, which won five Golden Horse awards, the collaborative directorial debut of Japanese actors, Takumi Saito, Naoto Takenaka, and Takayuki Yamada, Zokkiand Cho Jung-rae’s historical musical about a wandering pansori singer, The Singer.
LEAFF’s Competition strand is devoted to spotlighting up-and-coming talent from the East Asia region, all of whom have made three features or less. This year, twelve films will compete for of the coveted LEAFF Awards in the categories of Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor. They will be judged by a panel of jury members comprised of the former Art Director of the Edinburgh Festival Hannah McGill, the established film critic Damon Wise, and former editor of the Sight and Sound magazine Nick James.
This year’s competitors include Kōbe-born Yujiro Harumoto’s dramatic sophomore feature A Balance, which has already bagged several awards in Busan, Pingyao, and Singapore, Winner of the Junior Jury Award at Locarno International Film Festival Whether the Weather is Fine by Filipino filmmaker and editor Carlo Francisco Manatad, and Wan Chi-Man’s timely and touching story on Hong Kong par-athlete So Wa Wai, Zero to Hero.
Hong Kong Focus
From Udine to Chicago and now to London, LEAFF is joined by Hong Kong International Film Festival on their overseas touring program, Hong Kong New Talents (HKNT) to shine an international spotlight to a new wave of Hong Kong filmmakers.
Three Hong Kong films from the Competition section are joined by the 4th winner of CreateHK’s First Feature Film Initiative Alan Fung’s Elisa’s Day, Soi Cheang’s neo-noir crime-thriller Limbo which won the Purple Mulberry Awardat Udine, Kin Long Chan’s heart-warming triad film Hand Rolled Cigarette which won White Mulberry Award Winner, and photographer-turned-director Sunny Lau’s zany comedy-horror Sugar Street Studio.
From Lim Chung-Man’s Keeping Rolling, a documentary on one of Hong Kong’s most influential directors, Ann Hui (who was awarded the Venezia’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement last year), to Ian Thomas Ash’s Ushiku, an exposé on Japanese immigration, our documentary strand features everything from staunch journalism to intimate portraits of its subjects.
Three classics from renowned auteurs are restored in our retrospective programme to form a cinematic triptych of East Asian, paying tribute to some of the world’s finest filmmaking. To commemorate the late Benny Chan, LEAFF is proud to present his bold first feature A Moment of Romance. Youn Yuh-jung’s ground-breaking Oscar and BAFTA win this year is celebrated through her breakthrough role in Kim Ki-young’s psychodrama Woman of Fire.
To mark the 21st year of Edward Yang’s Best Director win at the Cannes Film Festival, LEAFF will show his New Wave classic Taipei Story, which completes the Retrospective strand.
The festival closes with the body-swapping horror-thriller Spiritwalker from Korean newcomer Yoon Jae-keun, on October 31st, Halloween night. When skilled combat-fighter Ian (Yoon Kye-sang) loses his memory, he finds himself caught in an eternal cycle of body swapping. With a premise that harkens back to Momento and coupled with action-packed visuals, the film will surely be a smashing close to the festival.
An Online Industry Talk with LEAFF Programme Advisor Roger Garcia will compliment the festival’s commitment to supporting exhibitors. This year also marks the inaugural year for LEAFF Young Critic’s Programme. The programme provides aspiring film critics between the ages of 18-24 the chance to have one of their reviews of our Competition published on LEAFF’s official website and promoted on social media.
Head Chef: Joo Won
The festival is delighted to offer a taste of East Asia this year with a special menu supported by Nongshim from talented Head Chef, Joo Won, who served as the head chef at Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows. He will guide the audience on a special ‘Taste of Asia’ journey presenting a twist on classic Nongshim plates including stir fried beef Bulgogi Shin Ramyun and seasonal vegetables. Soju cocktails will be available to accompany Joo’s special dishes.
A Message from the Director
Festival Director, Hyejung Jeon, adds:
LEAFF’s mission has been to champion the vibrant creativity of East Asian cinema with our loyal audience. Navigating the pandemic, we are coming back stronger than ever with a vital and exciting lineup from directors new and established. After the past difficult year, our festival is a needed coming together for our diverse community and we are so excited to show such a moving, varied line programme for them to enjoy.
The festival is supported by the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office, Taipei Representative Office, Korea Tourism Organisation, Hong Kong International Film Festival, Taiwan Tourism Bureau and our sponsors Hyundai, Nongshim, HiteJinro.
Full details are available at the festival website.