The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema in association with Japan Society has announced the full lineup for the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which will take place June 27 – July 14. The festival of popular Asian cinema will showcase 60 feature films, including 1 major international premiere, 20 North American premieres, 6 U.S. premieres, and 11 more films making their New York City debuts. The festival will be attended by over 20 star filmmakers and celebrity guests traveling from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
The complete announcement with film descriptions and details is available here.
NYAFF’s Opening Night presentation will be the International Premiere of Overheard 3, the highly anticipated finale to the immensely popular Hong Kong franchise. A stand-alone story of loyalty and morality that Sergio Leone might have made had he been working in Hong Kong, graced with a star-studded cast, and geared with heart-busting action, the ultimate episode in the epic saga, after tackling insider trading and stock market manipulation, sees writers-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong—the creators of the Infernal Affairs trilogy—turning to real estate conspiracies in the Hong Kong New Territories.
The Closing Film will be Park Chan-kyung’s Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits, a cinematic feast for the mind and the senses, a thought-provoking mystical journey into the psyche of Korea and its modern history through the life story of Korea’s most famous living shaman, Kim Keum-hwa. Both the story of Kim—who was born in 1931 and became a shaman at 17—and significant moments of modern Korea are chronicled through rare archival footage, performances of shamanistic gut rituals, dramatic reenactment of real stories (actress Moon So-ri portrays Kim in the 1970s), and even animation and fantasy sequences.
Umin Boya’s baseball epic Kano was previously announced as NYAFF’s Centerpiece Presentation. Produced and co-written by Taiwan’s hit maker director Wei Te-Sheng (Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale), it’s a triumph of Taiwanese cinema and one of the highest-grossing local films of all time.
Other highlights include Lou Ye’s Berlinale Golden Bear contender Blind Massage, considered by many critics as his masterpiece, and Japanese director Kazuaki Kumakiri’s My Man, the quietly disturbing tale of two lost souls fatefully brought together by a natural disaster, and the only Japanese film competing at the 36th Moscow International Film Festival in June).
NYAFF will honor Jimmy Wong Yu with the 2014 Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently enjoying a bright Indian Summer in his long career, with juicy roles in Peter Chan’s Wu Xia (aka Dragon, 2011) and Chung Mong-hong’s art-house slasher Soul (2013), he has set the template for modern kung-fu movies with The Chinese Boxer (1970), and was instrumental in kicking off the swordfighting (wuxia) movie craze with his star-making performance in Chang Cheh’s The One Armed-Swordsman (1967).
Star Asia Award recipients will include Hong Kong’s award-winning Queen of Comedy and most bankable actress Sandra Ng, who has starred in over 100 movies (including the Golden Chicken trilogy), and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu, an absolute powerhouse of an actor who has a career that spans both high art (Oasis) and mass-appeal blockbusters (Cold Eyes). The inaugural The Celebrity Award will be presented to Park Joong-hoon, who’s been Korea’s top leading man since the 1980s (Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere to Hide), and who has made an impressive transition to directing with Top Star (2013).
Fumi Nikaido will be the first Screen International Rising Star Award honoree. At 20 years old, she is already a full-fledged actress whose career has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, and who has shown incredible talent and range in various films ranging from Sion Sono’s Himizu and Why Don’t You Play in Hell? to Koji Fukada’s summer-at-the-beach drama Au revoir l’été, and the superbly disturbing My Man by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri.
NYAFF will also feature three focus programs for this 13th edition of the festival of popular Asian cinema: Hong Kong Forever!, Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae, and Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute. These three programs, along with the main selection, highlight the film legacy of East Asia, and its current, crucial role in today’s ever-changing world of film, one that can’t (and shouldn’t) be shelved in the dusty corner conveniently and dismissively known as “world cinema.” At a time when many major film festivals are more Eurocentric and West-dominated than ever, NYAFF aims every year to show that the life of cinema is out there.
Hong Kong Forever!
For Hong Kong cinema in 2013 and 2014, it’s all been about the renewed confidence and energy of the local film productions, and a return to the uniquely Hong Kong–focused stories. The tide started to turn with Pang Ho-cheung’s 2012 comedy about filmmaking, Vulgaria (Opening Film of NYAFF 2013). It became one of the highest grossing Hong Kong films of 2012, as Pang made Hong Kong audiences feel important again by producing a film filled with local humor for a homegrown audience. Critical and commercial successes continued for Hong Kong films throughout 2013 and local films even returned to the top of the Lunar New Year box office in 2014, led by outrageous comedy Golden Chickensss. So this year, we’re celebrating this restored strength of Hong Kong films with: 3D Naked Ambition, Aberdeen, As the Light Goes Out, Control, Firestorm, From Vegas to Macau, Golden Chicken, Golden Chickensss, May We Chat, Mr. Vampire, Overheard 3, Portland Street Blues, Rigor Mortis, and The White Storm. Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.
Korean Actor in Focus: Lee Jung-jae
Discovered while working at a café in the trendy Seoul neighborhood of Apgujeong, Lee Jung-jae began his career as a model. He made the transition to television in 1993 with Dinosaur Teacher and became a star almost overnight. He gained his first film role in 1994 in The Young Man but that same year the TV drama Feelings cemented Lee as a household name. Lee was a heartthrob and went on to appear in several more dramas before a starring role in E J-yong’s 1998 romantic drama An Affair turned him into a full-fledged movie star. Recently he has had a string of hits with films like the international crime caper The Thieves, the political gangster film New World, and the Joseon-era courtroom drama The Face Reader—the latest two films in particular have demonstrated Lee’s maturation as a character actor, where he has delivered some of his best dramatic performances to date. This focus will include The Face Reader, New World, and Il Mare. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service in New York.
Sir Run Run Shaw Tribute
The legendary media mogul Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014) will forever be remembered for his instrumental role in revolutionizing the Chinese film industry by co-founding the famous Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd in 1958, building Asia’s largest film studio in Clearwater Bay (completed in 1964), and along with Raymond Chow, creating a mass production system with in-house talent—including directors Li Han-hsiang, King Hu, Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-leung, Chor Yuen, Kuei Chih-hung, and stars like Jimmy Wang Yu (Jimmy Wong), Gordon Liu, and Ti Lung. While the studio delivered more than 1,000 films over the years, in a wide range of genres, it was best known internationally for its martial-arts cinema. This tribute will include the following films: The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), The Chinese Boxer (1970), The Delinquent (1974), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), Killers on Wheels (1976), Killer Constable (1980), and Seeding of a Ghost (1983). Presented with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York and Celestial Pictures.
Opening Night After-Party
NYAFF 2014, in collaboration with Flaskingtree Marketing Group (flaskingtree.com), will host the official Opening Night After-Party on June 27, 2014, 8:00pm-1:00am, at the Empire Rooftop Bar & Lounge. Located across the street from the Lincoln Center, at the Empire Hotel, the After-Party will be co-hosted by celebrity DJ Whoo Kid.