HomeNewsPreview – London East Asia Film Festival 2019, October 24 – November 3
Preview – London East Asia Film Festival 2019, October 24 – November 3
22 September, 2019
The London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF), the capital’s most celebrated champion of East Asian cinema and culture, opens its fourth year on October 24 at Odeon Leicester Square with the European premiere of Exit, a blockbuster disaster action-comedy from Korean director Lee Sang-geun, and runs until November 3.
This year’s programme
includes the cinematic offerings of 11 countries – China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore,
Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia and focuses on crisis, chaos and survival.
Through the lens and unique
perspectives of East Asian filmmakers, LEAFF offers compelling insight into not
only the future of those in East Asia but in London, with vital and
thought-provoking dialogues being opened up around subjects such as youth,
human interaction, development, cultural and social issues.
LEAFF will screen at 4
international premieres, 17 European premieres and 22 UK premieres, which will
take place at selected venues, including Odeon Leicester Square, Odeon Covent
Garden, Bertha Dochouse, London’s Cinema Museum and Deptford Cinema.
The festival runs ten
strands, carefully curated and programmed by Festival Director Hyejung Jeon
with Festival Advisor Roger Garcia (Hainan International Film Festival) and a
team of programmers, including young film curators in partnership with the
National Film and Television School (MA programme headed by Sandra Hebron).
Opening Gala selection Exit concerns a deadly gas attack that leaves thousands stranded in skyscrapers across Seoul. The disaster inspires the unemployed Yong-nam (Cho Jeong-seok) to save the day when his entire family, assembled for his mother’s 70th birthday, is trapped in a downtown banquet hall. As the corrosive cloud seeps into the building, he uses his mountain climbing skills with the restaurant’s duty manager, Eui-ju (Yoona) to help the survivors onto the roof. Since the domestic release, this exhilarating film has struck a chord with local audiences and become a box office in Korea.
The LEAFF official
selection presents some of the best East Asian films of the year. From box
office hits to critically acclaimed features, LEAFF celebrates the return of
highly influential filmmakers. These include Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest feature,
To the Ends of the Earth,
Fruit Chan’s powerful depiction of sexuality and desires in Three Husbands, as well as Wong
Kar-wai’s latest production, Europe
Raiders directed by Jingle Ma.
Straight from wowing audiences at International Film Festivals in Cannes, Venice, and Locarno, LEAFF will screen the year’s most anticipated films, including Midi Z’s Nina Wu; Dian Yinan’s The Wild Goose Lake; Pema Tseden’s latest feature, Balloon; Yosep Anggi Noen’s The Science of Fictions, as well as Thailand’s most intense thriller of the year, The Pool by Ping Lumphapleng.
Actor Focus: Aaron Kwok
This year, LEAFF celebrates
the works of Aaron Kwok, the acclaimed Hong Kong actor, who has starred in more
than 60 films since his debut in 1984. He has been awarded in previous years at
Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards as well as Hong Kong Film Awards.
Kwok has had box office hits across Asia, most recently with Project Gutenberg by Felix Chong, which was screened at last year’s LEAFF. Actor Focus is a strand dedicated to Aaron Kwok screening films between 2006 and 2019. From crime thriller Port of Call to family drama After this Our Exile, a family drama, four films will be screened showing the range of the actor’s performance.
LEAFF’s competition seeks
out East Asia’s most talented emerging directors, with a stellar jury: Mike
Goodridge, Director of Macau International Film Festival, Programmer Anke
Leweke of Berlin International Film Festival, Programmer Shelly Kraicer of
Vancouver International Film Festival. The best filmmaker will be awarded for
the best film in Competition and a cash prize of £2,000 in contribution to
their next project.
This year sees a diverse range of films from China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong by directors all of whom have made three features or less. It includes Zu Feng’s suspense-filled Summer of Changsha and Lee Cheuk Pan’s mysterious G Affairs. Kim Yoon-seok’s Another Child and Justin Chon’s Ms. Purple are films by actors-turned-directors that have gained great praise from critics.
Huang Zi’s All about ING, which won the jury prize at Xining First Film Festival, will be screened as a UK premiere with Oliver Chan’s drama Still Human, which has gained great attention in the festival circuit. The directors of Deep Evil (Mark Lu), Money (Park Noori) and Wet Season (Anthony Chen) will attend the screenings of their films to meet with a UK audience.
Stories of Women
Following the unprecedented
success of this strand, the ‘Stories of Women’ section returns to underline the
importance of showing films both made by women, as well as the representation
of female voices in cinema. This year we present four films from China, Hong
Kong and Taiwan. Unlike previous years, we not only look at the latest titles
that discuss contemporary issues, but also depict the desires and drama that
This year’s selection is
co-curated with Valerie Li from the National Film and Television School. The
programme headed by Sandra Hebron (MA Film Programming) at NFTS partners with
LEAFF to support young film programmers and curators. The strand opens with Hou
Hsiao-hsie’s classic, Millennium
Bai Xue’s TheCrossing, Yan Yan Mak’s Butterfly and Tsui Hark’s Green Snake will be screened within the theme, desires and dilemma. Director Pei-ju Hsieh doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of self-discovery in Heavy Craving. The female director’s feature debut will receive its UK premiere in this strand.
2019 marks the 100th
anniversary of Korean cinema. To celebrate, LEAFF has organised a series of
monthly screenings, looking back at films from the past 100 years at special
venues that fit with the narrative. This October, LEAFF will present a
specially curated programme looking at the next 100 years and filmmakers that
will shape the future of Korean cinema.
This strand showcases strong and unique works by young filmmakers. The six films in the strand show the range of genres that new, emerging filmmakers are showcasing in Korea. Yoon Ga-eun’s Our House is the second title by the female director who won best film in Competition at LEAFF 2016. Kim Bora’s The House of Hummingbird and Hong Seung-wan’s Juror 8 are intense dramas, Lee Won-tae’s The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil shows the best of Korean noir action, Yuk Sang-hyo’s Inseparable Bros is a hilarious family comedy that was a box office hit in Korea and Won Shin-yeon’s The Battle: Roar to Victory is a period drama set in Korea in 1920. Actress Park Ji-hu from TheHouse of Hummingbird, who caused a sensation in Korea with her performance, will attend the screening and Q&A.
The first Korean film to be
screened was in Seoul on 27th October 1919. As we dedicate a strand to a range
of South Korean films, we wished to highlight the vibrant filmmaking from North
Korea. LEAFF brings the rare opportunity to catch two films produced and
directed in North Korea: Ri Yun-ho’s The
Story of Our Home and Kyun Soon Jo’s A Broad Bellflower. The films are from 2006 and 1987 but both
have strong female leads that are considered as national stars in North Korea.
Film & Art
Film takes form in many
ways. LEAFF champions all types of film and filmmaking and introduces a new
strand dedicated to artistic films and media art pieces to be screened at the
Tate Modern’s Starr Cinema.
Lee Lee Nam is an artist
and filmmaker that is considered to be the second Nam June Paik. A series of
his works, Rise of Roots,
inspired by the Korean landscapes will be screened. Tatsumi Orimoto, Kim
Young-mi and Tsuneko Taniuchi are artists that produce photographs, paintings
and films about aging, working closely with their family. Documentaries about
their work and performance videos will be screened, followed by a discussion.
Director Jang Min-seung has
produced a series of videos with great interest in nature and Jeju Island in
particular. He collaborates with the film music composer, Jung Jae-il who is
known for scoring such Bong Joon-ho films as Okja and Parasite.
Following the success of last year, LEAFF continues the Documentaries strand in partnership with Bertha Dochouse. The strand will open with Song Won-geun’s My Name is Kim Bok-Dong, a documentary based on the issue of “comfort women” taken as sex slaves to Japan from Korea during the war. Kim Bok-dong was the first woman to announce that she was a victim of this terrible time. The film focuses on her life and struggles in fighting to get the Japanese government to take legal responsibility.
Kim Byeongki’s Rivercide: The Secret Six will also be screened which focuses on the former Korean president and the issue around ‘Pan Korea Grand Waterway’ project.
With Asian horror on par
with Hollywood’s scariest, LEAFF screens Goh Jung-wook’s The Culprit and David Chuang’s The Tag-Along: The Devil in time
for Halloween on 31st October 2019. This year sees a return of directors Hideo
Nakata and Mari Asato. Their films Woman
who Keeps a Murderer and Under
Your Bed will be screened as UK premieres.
In partnership with
Deptford Cinema, LEAFF introduces a new strand, Samurai Season. The films
demonstrate the variety found in the samurai genre from the 1960s today. This
strand also supports a young film curator, Peter Blunden.
For further details and ticket booking facility, visit the LEAFF website.