This article was written By Adam Hartzell on 06 Apr 2012, and is filed under Uncategorized.

About Adam Hartzell

Adam Hartzell began focusing his writing on South Korean cinema after seeing retrospectives on the works of Im Kwon-taek and Jang Sun-woo at San Francisco film festivals in the late 1990’s. In 2000, he became a contributing writer to the premier English-language website on South Korean cinema, He has written for Kyoto Journal quarterly, online for GreenCine and fANDOR, and was a contributing writer for the San Francisco Film Society’s webzine He has written often about Hong Sang-soo, including the main essay for the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival’s retrospective on Hong’s work in 2007 and a chapter on The Power of Kangwon Province for The Cinema of Japan and Korea (Wallflower Press).

San Francisco International Film Festival 2012 Asian Film Selections

The 55th San Francisco International Film Festival will be running from April 19th-May 3rd this year.  Along with the recent work of Asian auteur staples at SFIFF (Hong Sang-soo and Hirokazu Kore-eda), there’re some nice surprises.  Below is a listing of films from Asia, focusing on Asia, and one by an Asian-American.

For more information and tickets to the films mentioned in this article and other films being shown during the festival, visit the San Francisco Film Society’s dedicated festival page.  Also, look out for more coverage here on VCinema in the coming weeks.

Read more after the bump. 
Films from Asian directors:

Choked – South Korean KAFA grad Kim Joong-hyun clears his throat.Screens in SF on Sat, Apr 21 @ 1:30 @ Sundance Kabuki; Sat, Apr 28 @ 6:00 @ Kabuki; & Tue, May 1 @ 9:00 @ Kabuki

The Day He Arrives– South Korean director Hong Sang-soo’s latest arrives in SF.  (Interesting note, the film is on the Hold-Review list, which gives me hope that it might secure a release in the States.)  Screens in SF on Fri, Apr 20 @ 7:15 @ Kabuki & Mon, Apr 23 @ 9:30 @ Kabuki.  Screens in Berkeley Wed, Apr 25 @ 9:00 @ Pacific Film Archive

I Wish – Our wish for Japanese director Kirokazu Kore-eda’s latest to land in SF is granted.  (And is also on the hold review list.).  Screens in SF on Mon, Apr 23 @ 3:30 @ New People Film Society Center (FSC) & Sun, Apr 29 @  4:00 @ Kabuki

Life Without Principle

Life Without Principle – Hong Kong’s Johnnie To takes the world’s economy to task.  Screens in SF Wed, Apr 25 @ 8:30 @ Kabuki & Sun, Apr 29 @  9:15 @ Kabuki

The Orator – Straight outta Upolu, Samoa comes the debut of director Tusi Tamaese and of Samoan language cinema.Screens in SF on Fri, Apr 20 @ 9:15 @ Kabuki; Sun, Apr 22 @ 1:15 @ Kabuki; Tue, Apr 24 @ 9:00 @ Kabuki; & Fri, Apr 27 @ 7:00 @ Kabuki

Old Dog – The first filmmaker in China to make films in the Tibetan language, Pema Tseden continues these efforts in a film about an old man and his dog, a Tibetan mastiff hound, popular amongst the hip urban Chinese.  Screens in SF on Sun, Apr 22 @ 3:45 @ Kabuki & Mon, Apr 23 @ 6:15 @ Kabuki.  Screens in Berkely @ Fri, Apr 27 @ 8:50 @ PFA  

People Mountain People Sea – Chinese director of Shower returns with a film about ‘China’s wild Southwest’ and the metropolis Chongqing.  Screens in Berkeley on Sat, Apr 21 @  8:30 @ PFA  Screens in SF on Mon, Apr 23 @ 9:00 @ Kabuki & Wed, Apr 25 @ 6:45 @ Kabuki

Wu Xia – Hong Kong’s Peter Ho-Sun Chan kicks some ass.
Screens in SF on Fri, Apr 20 10:00 @ Kabuki &Mon, Apr 23 @  3:45 @ Kabuki

Documentaries with Asian foci:

Ai Weiwei Never Sorry

Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry –China’s most famous conceptual artist and dissident gets his due in a doc.  Screens in SF on Mon, Apr 23 @ 6:00 @ Kabuki & Wed, Apr 25 @ 9:15 @ Kabuki

The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 years without Images – Long title with an obscure word (meaning an ‘advance’ or ‘expedition’, usually related to the military) for a fairly short (66 minutes) documentary that seeks to parallel the lives of Japanese New Waver Masao Adachi with that of Fusako Shigenobu, a member of the Japanese Red Army domestic terrorist group from the 1970s, and her daughter May.  Screens in SF on Tue, Apr 24 @ 8:45 @ Kabuki; Wed, Apr 25 @ 6:45 @ Kabuki; & Fri, Apr 27 @ 9:30 @ Kabuki

Bitter Seeds– The final installment in Micha X. Peled’s globalization trilogy, this installment focuses on Monsanto’s impact on Indian cotton farmers.  Screens in SF on Sat, Apr 21 @ 3:45 @ FSC; Tue, Apr 24 @ 8:50 @ PFA; & Thu, Apr 26 @ 6:15 @ Kabuki

Golden Slumbers – One of two films I’m most excited about, (the other being The Orator), this doc surveys Cambodian Cinema.  Screens in SF on Sat, Apr 28 @ 9:00 @ FSC & Thu, May 3 @ 5:00 @ Kabuki.  Screens in Berkeley on Tue, May 1 @ 6:30 @ PFA

Tokyo Waka – A murder of a doc about crows in Japan, I presume it will expand beyond that ingenious nut-cracking internet video meme.  Screens in SF on Fri, Apr 20   6:15 @ FSC & Wed, May 2 @ 3:15 @ Kabuki.  Screens in Berkeley on Sun, Apr 22 @ 1:30 @ PFA

Valley of Saints –This is a documentary about the ‘Venice of Asia’, Dal Lake in the Kashmir Valley.  Screens in Berkeley on Sun, Apr 22 @ 6:15 @ PFA.  Screens in SF on Fri, Apr 27 @ 6:30 @ Kabuki & Sat, Apr 28 @ 9:15 @ Kabuki

And two other films of possible interest to our readers:

Last Chance at the Oasis – Asian-American (and Bay Area native) Jessica Yu’s documentary about peak-water to go along with the great reset that peak-oil will cause in the near future.  Screens in SF on Sun, Apr 29 @ 12:45 @ Kabuki & Tue, May 1 @ 9:30 @ FSC.  Screens in Berkeley on Thu, May 3 @ 8:40 @ PFA

Trishna – Michael Winterbottom’s reimagining of Thomas Hardy’s THE TESS OF THE d’UBERVILLES is taken to India.  Screens in SF on Wed, May 2 @ 6:30 @ Kabuki & Thu, May 3 @ 1:45 @ Kabuki

Since 2000, Adam Hartzell has been a contributing writer for the premier English-language website on South Korean cinema, He has written extensively on Hong Sang-soo for websites, festival programs, and The Cinema of Japan and Korea (Wallflower Press, 2004). He contributed several essays on various South Korean films for the upcoming World Directory of Cinema: Korea (Intellect, Ltd., 2012). He has even written on films not from South Korea for websites such as and Hell on Frisco Bay.