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This article was written By John Berra on 01 Jan 2013, and is filed under Uncategorized.



About John Berra

John Berra is lecturer in Film and Language Studies at Renmin University of China. He is the editor of the Directory of World Cinema: Japan (Intellect, 2010/12/15), and co-editor of World Film Locations: Beijing (Intellect, 2012) and World Film Locations: Shanghai (Intellect, 2014). He has also contributed to Electric Shadows: A Century of Chinese Cinema (BFI, 2014) and Ozu International: Essays on the Global Influences of a Japanese Auteur (Bloomsbury, 2014).

My 2012 in Review: John

2012 was an excellent year for Asian cinema, with a number of stand-outs amid a packed selection of auteur projects, festival discoveries, and genre pictures. My favourite film of the past twelve months would have to be Shuichi Okita’s delightful comedy-drama The Woodsman and the Rain (Japan), in which a 60-year-old lumberjack (Koji Yakusho) assists the crew of a zombie movie that arrives in his remote mountain village to shoot a low-budget gore-fest. It’s a delicately paced and deeply rewarding film that celebrates the magic of moviemaking as a rookie director (Shun Oguri) endures various production difficulties, but pulls through with assistance from the local community. End of the Night (Japan) and Headshot (Thailand), a pair of neo-noirs concerning conflicted killers, also captured my attention. The former is the directorial debut of Kiyoshi Kurosawa protégé Daisuke Miyazaki, who delivers a deadpan thriller about a young assassin (Kuniaki Nakamura) who tries to leave the business. The latter blends stylised shoot-outs with Buddhist philosophy as director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang follows the misfortunes of an ex-cop (Nopachai Chaiyanam) whose impression of the world is literally turned upside down when he narrowly survives a bullet to the brain. Wang Xiaoshuai’s poignant 11 Flowers (China) is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama set during the Cultural Revolution in which a schoolboy tries to help the fugitive who is hiding in the area around his village, while Kongdej Jaturanrasmee’s more abstract P-047 (Thailand) creates a metaphysical puzzle from the activities of two house-breakers.

In terms of events, it was a pleasure to introduce five screenings at the ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ retrospective at Japan Society in New York, and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to present my work on Guo Xiaolu’s meta-film How is Your Fish Today (China/UK, 2006) at the Imagining Chinese Cinemas conference at Exeter University, UK.