Opening this year on October 20th at ODEON Leicester Square with the UK premiere of South Korea’s Academy Award submission Age of Shadows, the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) will run until October 30th. It will close with Johnnie To’s latest thriller Three at Ham Yard Hotel Cinema.
Building on the ‘0th edition’ of last year, this year’s ‘1st edition’ of LEAFF will bring London a much wider, eclectic and diverse programme of 40 films from South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. The screenings will take place at key venues around central London including the iconic Odeon Leicester Square, Curzon Soho, Picturehouse Central, ICA, BFI, Regent Street Cinema as well as local cinemas – Hackney Picturehouse and the Ritzy in Brixton.
In total, there will be five strands that run throughout the festival; Official Selection, Competition, Retrospective, Stories of Women, and Film Festival Focus. These sections have been carefully curated and programmed by Festival Director Hyejung Jeon, Festival Advisor Roger Garcia (Hong Kong International Film Festival), Ji-seok Kim (Busan In- ternational Film Festival) and Programme Consultant Chanel Kong (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival).
In addition to stellar opening and closing galas, the LEAFF Official Selection will include a strong line up of the very best films from East Asia. Kiyoshi Kurosawa will be back this year presenting his unnerving Creepy and attending the screening at Curzon Soho; Harmonium, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival will be screened as a UK premiere as part of this section. The screening of omnibus film Beautiful 2016 by Jia Zhangke, Stanley Kwan, Alec Su and Nakata Hideo exemplifies the cultural diversity behind LEAFF’s philosophy.
The Competition Section aims to nurture the new and emerging filmmaking talent of East Asia and provide a platform for their exposure within the UK film industry. One of the key criteria for participating directors is that they will have directed only three feature films or less, and their submission to LEAFF will be judged by our panel of industry experts. Within this section, competition highlights include Malaysian film Pekak and Korean film Karaoke Crazies, which received the best film award at Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and Filipino film Pamilya Ordinaryo.
The Retrospective strand aims to give reverence to Asian filmmaking auteurs who have greatly contributed to their field. A retrospective of Director Park Chan-wook’s work will be hosted in partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas. The retrospective opens on the October 21st at Picturehouse Central with Park’s erotic psychological thriller The Handmaiden. A Q&A with the director will follow this daring adaptation of Sarah Water’s book Fingersmith.
On the following night, Park will be introducing his Vengeance Trilogy also at Picturehouse Central. He will talk briefly about the films that brought him to fame. Park’s features and shorts will be shown at Hackney Picturehouse and the Ritzy throughout the week. He will also attend the Screenwriter’s Lecture Series at the BFI organised by the BAFTA.
In partnership with Regent Street Cinema, LEAFF brings you ‘Stories of Women’. LEAFF is led by a female festival director and recognises the importance of showing narratives driven by a central female role. A selection of films from East Asia that tell the stories of women from different generations will be featured in the festival, opening with Yoon Ga-eun’s The World of Us, which was nominated for the Best First Feature Award at the Berlinale, followed by Hee from Japanese actress and director Kaori Momoi.
This selection is curated in association with the Pan Asian Women’s Association (PAWA), and features some of the best emerging and established filmmakers in East Asia today, including Cho Jung-rae, who directed Spirit’s Homecoming, a crowd-sourced South Korean film about ‘Comfort Women’ during the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1943. There will be a seminar regarding the film as well as the issue of ‘comfort women’ at SOAS. Also, the film will be screened again at Showroom Workstation in Sheffield to meet with more audience outside London.
Running as an annual strand, LEAFF will collaborate with Asian film festivals with a view to bridging the cultural gap between East and West. This year, LEAFF is partnered with Jeonju International Film Festival, and its Programmer Lee Sang-yong will be at- tending LEAFF to introduce this section. Films include Breathing Underwater by Koh Heeyoung and Ryu Hoon’s thespian comedy Curtain Call, which raises surprising ques- tions about the meaning of art.
Hye-jung Jeon, Director of The London East Asia Film Festival commented, “The London East Asia Film Festival aims to introduce Asian films that direct the audience to really understand the culture. It will focus on the filmmakers’ perspectives through conversations instead of showing Asian cinema merely as a variation from European and American films. Also, this festival can achieve greater communication with the audience than festivals dedicated to a single country. I hope the people of London discover the distinction and individuality between different countries within East Asia.”
See the festival website for full programme and ticket booking facility.