14th New York Asian Film Festival! June 26-July 11, 2015
Welcome to the 14th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF). We’re back with 54 feature films, including 2 World Premieres, 3 International Premieres, 14 North American Premieres, 5 U.S. Premieres, and 12 New York City debuts. The festival will be attended by 18 international filmmakers and celebrity guests traveling from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S., headlined by this year’s NYAFF award recipients: Hong Kong’s legendary director Ringo Lam (Lifetime Achievement Award), Hong Kong superstar Aaron Kwok (Star Asia Award), and Japanese actor Shota Sometani (Screen International Rising Star Award).
NYAFF 2015 will feature five focus programs: Hong Kong Panorama; Myung Films: Pioneers and Women Behind the Camera in Korean Film; New Cinema from Japan; Taiwan Cinema Now!; and The Last Men in Japanese Film, a joint tribute to actors Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara, both of whom passed away last November.
Though the festival is traditionally rooted in genre film and devoted to popular cinema, NYAFF 2015 continues to feature excursions in realistic storytelling that delineate themes that unite rather than divide East Asia’s nations and their cinemas by suggesting what they have in common. This year’s program is designed to look both to the present day and back into the controversial past, with the inclusion of a number of movies that cast an unblinking eye on the wounds of history (Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge in The Last Reel or China’s Cultural Revolution in Red Amnesia). In an age in which nationalism has taken firm root in many East Asian countries and authoritarianism has spread far and wide, threatening filmmakers’ freedom and jeopardizing the existence of some of the most established festivals, this year’s lineup also offers powerful morality tales (Little Big Master, Cart, Socialphobia) and films that speak truth to power (The Whistleblower, Solomon’s Perjury Part 1 & 2, A Fool).
Women come to the fore with programs highlighting directors and producers currently working behind the scenes in the Korean peninsula, and films from Japan that offer remarkable portraits of femininity: defiant, fierce… free. The festival also celebrates the cinematic charisma of Asian masculinity, with a tribute to the two iconic Japanese actors, Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara, who set the blueprint for Japanese manhood and cool, and were recognized far beyond the archipelago’s borders—Takakura’s death was widely lamented on Weibo (China’s most popular social-media site) and even on state-run China Central Television (CCTV).
After eight successful years of partnership with Japan Society’s Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Films, this year’s diverse selection of Japanese films have been fully integrated with the rest of the Festival’s program, and SVA Theatre’s Silas and Beatrice Theatres have been added to the list of venues. With three days of screenings at the SVA Theatre (June 9-11), we are able to bring downtown audiences the biggest and boldest of Asian cinema’s grand spectacles—sensory feasts that deserve to be experienced on the big screen (such as Brotherhood of Blades, The Royal Tailor, The Taking of Tiger Mountain 3D, and Vengeance of an Assassin).
More than ever, the festival strives to highlight East Asia’s crucial role in today’s ever-changing film world. And at a time when many major film festivals are more Eurocentric and West-dominated than ever, NYAFF continues to show that there’s vital cinema to be found far beyond those boundaries.