NYAFF: More titles! More madness!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.


This year’s New York Asian Film Festival runs from June 19 – July 5 at the IFC Center (June 19 – July 2) and Japan Society (July 1 – 5). Keep your eyes peeled for us to announce our Opening Night Film, our Closing Night Film and our Centerpiece Presentation, as well as our Hong Kong New Action Line-Up.

But this year we say “fiddle dee dee” to the economic apocalypse and we’re singing in the rain of fire and brimstone that heralds the end of the world. It’s our biggest, most ridiculous festival ever!

Also, we want to thank our official airline sponsor, American Airlines, and our official hotel sponsor, the Kitano Hotel, who are going to help us bring over the jaw-dropping number of guests we’ve got coming up.


Japanese pink films are the last bastion of analog filmmaking in a digital world: softcore, sixty-minute sex films shot on film, edited on flatbeds and released theatrically. They’ve been around since the 60’s and not only have many mainstream directors gotten their start shooting pink films (including Kiyoshi Kurosawa), but 2009’s Academy Award winning director, Yojiro Takita (DEPARTURES), has a long string of pink films on his resume, and we’re showing two of them. We’ll be screening two double features in association with US-based pink film distributor Pink Eiga, who have begun releasing these treasures on DVD in the US this year.
Program One will be Yojiro Takita’s ridiculous MOLESTER TRAIN: SEARCH FOR THE BLACK PEARL and the comedy/drama BLIND LOVE. Program Two will consist of Yojiro Takita’s MOLESTER TRAIN: WEDDING CAPRICCIO and hilariously bawdy send-up of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s TEOREMA, JAPANESE WIFE NEXT DOOR, PART 1. Daisuke Goto, the director of BLIND LOVE and Masahide Iioka, the cinematographer of BLIND LOVE, are expected to attend the festival and introduce the screenings.


One of the most insane new voices in cinema is the screaming howl of Yoshihiro Nishimura, director of TOKYO GORE POLICE, and special effects genius (who also did the effects for LOVE EXPOSURE and SAMURAI PRINCESS, screening in this year’s festival). He couldn’t join us for the premiere of TOKYO GORE POLICE last year so for one weekend only we’ll be hosting him at the New York Asian Film Festival and holding a special TOKYO GORE NIGHT event. First up will be screenings of several completely nuts short films from Nishimura and his cabal of lunatics all set in the TOKYO GORE POLICE and MACHINE GIRL universe. Then there will be a special onstage presentation by these madmen followed by a screening of TOKYO GORE POLICE during which we’ll record a live audio commentary for the movie’s upcoming special edition DVD. Accompanying Nishimura will be Noboru Iguchi, the director of MACHINE GIRL and the maniac responsible for the short film SHYNESS MACHINE GIRL which we’ll also be screening that night. Also coming will be Tsuyoshi Kazuno, a visual effects supervisor on SAMURAI PRINCESS, MACHINE GIRL and many others. More surprises are in store, so make sure you wear something that you don’t mind getting soaked with blood.

TOKYO GORE NIGHT will blow your minds.

Also at this year’s festival is a small focus on Japanese stuntman, director and action choreographer, Tak Sakaguchi (VERSUS, AZUMI, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS). He’ll be presenting his films YOROI SAMURAI ZOMBIE and BE A MAN! SAMURAI SCHOOL. He also did the action for LOVE EXPOSURE. He’ll be accompanied by stuntman and action choreographer Isao Karasawa (who worked on the Hong Kong film, FLASHPOINT, and who holds two world records for being hit by cars, and is hard at work on a third) and the two of them are apparently going to be doing some onstage stunts before the screenings.


For the third year in a row, selections from Korea’s most popular genre short film festival are hitting the New York Asian Film Festival in two programs. But this time there’s more animation than ever before, and some of the funniest movies we’ve ever screened. Line-ups include the animated gems LOVE IS A PROTEIN (about a world of fried chicken restaurants haunted by half-human, half-chicken mutants) and A COFFEE VENDING MACHINE AND ITS SWORD (about a martial arts master reincarnated as a coffee vending machine). Also, the nastiest send-up of local TV news, SHAGGY-DOG STORY, as well as the usual line-up of elderly gay lovers, vindictive butchers, angry cats, dead moms and riot cops on the rampage. Presentation of MSFF Korean Short Films at the NYAFF 2009 is made possible through the generous support of the Korean Cultural Service in New York.

(Japan, 2008, Sion Sono, New York Premiere)
The director of EXTE and NORIKO’S DINNER TABLE returns with one of the most amazing cinematic achievements of the year. A four-hour epic about pornography, Catholicism, families, fathers, true love, cross-dressing, kung fu, cults and mental illness, this movie will cleanse you of your sins and leave you horny as hell. This is your only chance to see it, and if you ever loved movies you cannot afford to miss it.
Director Sion Sono will be present to bless the audience at the screening.
(Presented in association with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)


The Line-Up (so far)

(China, 2008, Cao Baoping, New York Premiere)
A twisty Chinese thriller anchored by an award-winning performance from Zhou Xun as a chain-smoking, obsessive-compulsive cab driver desperate to find her missing boyfriend.

(China, 2008, Feng Xiaogang, North American Premiere)
Feng Xiaogang (THE BANQUET, ASSEMBLY) turns in this gorgeous, sharply-written romantic comedy starring a radiant Shu Qi and a razor-tongued Ge You. No surprise: it’s the second-highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time.

(China, 2007, Gao Qunshu, North American Premiere)
Written by and starring actual Chinese cops and bomb squad officers, this movie belongs to real life ex-cop and non-actor Ma Guowei, who plays the titular Old Fish in this gripping, ultra-realistic look at China’s bomb disposal procedures, which apparently include putting a ticking explosive device in your bicycle basket and pedaling like hell for the river.

(Hong Kong, 2008, Ching Siu-tung, North American Premiere)
Directed by Ching Siu-tung, this bubblegum pop martial arts movie stars Cantopop star Leon Lai, Hong Kong pop idol Kelly Chen and the kung fu-tastic Donnie Yen. Imagine if Disney made a musical version of Zhang Yimou’s HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS starring a clever princess and full of cute, talking animals. Then replace the songs with martial arts and the cute, talking animals with Donnie Yen and Leon Lai and you’ve got this flick.

(Hong Kong, 1978, Chang Cheh)
A retrospective screening of the iconic old school Shaw Brothers martial arts flick that introduced the world to the onscreen dream team of martial artists supreme, the Five Venoms. If you decide to see one old school kung fu movie before you die, make it this one. The Five Venoms are like angels in the form of shirtless, charismatic young men who punch you in the face.


(Hong Kong, 2008, WIlson Yip, US premiere)
But just to prove that Hong Kong action isn’t dead, Sammo Hung choreographs this astounding kung fu flick starring Donnie Yen and directed by Wilson Yip (SPL, FLASHPOINT). Based on the life of Ip Man, who was Bruce Lee’s martial arts master in real life, it’s a throwback to the glory days when Hong Kong action movies made the screen catch on fire.

IP MAN will hurt your face.

(Indonesia, 2009, Joko Anwar, North American Premiere)
The director of last year’s festival favorite, KALA, is back and boy is this one twisted. Like a 19th century gothic novel adapted by Alfred Hitchcock and directed by David Lynch, this movie about a sculptor and the horrible things he does to become successful is one of the sickest, kinkiest movies we’ve ever screened.

(Indonesia, 2008, Riri Riza, New York Premiere)
This Indonesian blockbuster gives feel good films a good name. Set in the 70’s, it’s about a small, rural Muslim school that needs ten students to stay open. Ten enroll and the movie follows them over the next five years of their lives as they struggle to cope with what the world throws at them.

(Japan, 2008, Yukihiko Tsutsumi, New York Premiere)

(Japan, 2009, Yukihiko Tsutsumi, New York Premiere)
As revered as the DEATH NOTE series, 20TH CENTURY BOYS (named after the T. Rex song) is an epic, acclaimed manga series finally realized as three much-anticipated movies, with the third, concluding installment coming out in August 2009. In 1969, a group of kids start a club where they imagine the earth being destroyed by evil and they have to save the day. Decades later, they’re disillusioned adults and when their childhood fantasies of global destruction begin to come true they realize that it’s up to them to…gulp…actually save the world.
(The 20th Century Boys manga is currently being released in America by Viz)
(Presented in association with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)

(Japan, 2008, Ryosuke Hashiguchi, New York Premiere)
After a seven-year break, director Ryosuke Hashiguchi is back and the results are shattering. This movie observes eight years of a marriage, marking the passage of time with famous Japanese murder trials covered by the husband who is a courtroom sketch artist. Actress Tae Kimura won “Best Actress” for her performance as the wife at the Japanese Academy Awards and she deserves it.  An amazing, sensitive film that speaks quietly but makes everyone sit up and listen.
(Presented in association with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)

(Japan, 2008, Tak Sakaguchi, New York Premiere)
An action comedy about a school where real men are formed in a crucible of bare knuckled brawling.
Tak Sakaguchi will introduce the movie with his fellow stuntman and action choreographer, Isao Karasawa.

(Japan,2008, Junji Sakamoto, North American)
A Japanese movie shot in Thailand about the child trafficking business (both for sex and for their internal organs) sounds awful, but this movie blew us away with its unblinking, hard-nosed howls of outrage. Full of more horrible sights per second than any other movie made this year. Of course, it’s been banned in Thailand.

(Japan, 2008, Masato Harada, North American Premiere)
Masato Harada, director of last year’s SHADOW SPIRIT, gets his Howard Hawks on again with this gripping ensemble drama about a group of newspapermen covering the real-life tragedy of a 1985 plane crash in the mountains of central Japan.

(Japan, 2008, Kanji Nakajima, New York Premiere)
It’s been compared to Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS, and they ain’t wrong. Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival this quietly shimmering science fiction movie starts as hard sci fi and then morphs into a surreal space opera set on earth. An astronaut dies in an accident while in orbit, but surprise! The Japanese Space Agency cloned him before he went up into space and now his wife gets the traumatized clone as a consolation prize.

(Japan, 2009, Yoshihiro Nakamura, North American Premiere)
If you miss this dense, intricately plotted hymn to the powers of rock and roll, you’ll kick yourself. In 1975, one year before the Sex Pistols debuted, Gekirin was a Japanese punk band that recorded a single song called “Fish Story” and then broke up. Years later, their song saves the world. Literally.
(Presented in association with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)

(Japan, 1977, Nobuhiko Obayashi)
A special screening of a restored master of Obayashi’s head-spinning, unbelievably surreal and completely amazing 1977 horror movie. The only horror film you’ve ever seen that was written by a seven-year-old girl (literally), this is the kind of mind blower that is whispered about but rarely screened.
Introduced by its devoted fans, directors Yoshihiro Nishimura and Noboru Iguchi.


(Japan, 2008, Shimako Sato, New York Premiere)
Takeshi Kaneshiro (ACCURACY OF DEATH, FALLEN ANGELS) plays a masked thief in an alternate history where World War II never happened. One of the biggest Japanese productions of recent years, and featuring special effects by the team behind the ALWAYS movies, K-20 is an old-school, running-and jumping, two-fisted, pulpy, steampunk action adventure in the grand tradition of swashbuckling Errol Flynn movies. And, oddly enough for a Japanese film, it’s got a female director at the helm.

(Japan, 2008, Sion Sono, New York Premiere)
The director of EXTE and NORIKO’S DINNER TABLE returns with one of the most amazing cinematic achievements of the year. A four-hour epic about pornography, Catholicism, families, fathers, true love, cross-dressing, kung fu, cults and mental illness, this movie will cleanse you of your sins and leave you horny as hell. This is your only chance to see it, and if you ever loved movies you cannot afford to miss it.
Director Sion Sono will be present to bless the audience at the screening.
(Presented in association with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)

(Japan, 2008, Koki Mitani, New York Premiere)
Koki Mitani (UNIVERSITY OF LAUGHS) has turned in a film that could be a lost screwball comedy classic from Hollywood’s golden age. A low level gangster is caught having an affair with his boss’s mistress. To make amends he agrees to help his boss hire the world’s greatest hitman for an upcoming gang war. Unable to procure said hitman he finds an out-of-work actor to play the part, convincing him that he’s actually making a movie about the world’s greatest hitman. Lavish, unbelievably ridiculous filmmaking at its best.
(Presented in association with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)

(Japan, 2008, Minoru Kawasaki, North American Premiere)
(Japan, 2009, Kiyotaka Taguchi, short film)
Guilala and Gehara are the two goofiest giant monsters in Japanese cinema and these two films lovingly recreate and satirize Japanese kaiju movies of the 60’s and 70’s. Plus: Takeshi Kitano as “Takemajin” the savior of Japan. Between these two films you’ll get more monster love than you’ve had all year.

(Japan, 2009, Kengo Kaji, North American Premiere)
Yoshihiro Nishimura produced and is responsible for the outrageously gore-soaked special effects in this movie about a samurai girl who’s actually a cyborg. Her breasts are bombs, her feet contain rockets and she’s up against bad guys with chainsaw arms. As stupid and jaw-dropping as it sounds.
Presented by its producer and special effects director, Yoshihiro Nishimura and visual effects director, Tsuyoshi Kazuno.


(Japan, 2008, Yukio Ninagawa, North American Premiere)
Based on the best-selling novel about a woman who decides that her one goal in life is to have her tongue split, this is the sexy body modification opus you’ve been waiting for. Yuriko Yoshitaka gives an incredibly raw, totally exposed performance that’s cleaning up the awards and she’s the anchor for this emotional, erotic, disturbing and seductive movie for anyone who ever looked at a pierced tongue and thought, “Well, maybe…”

(Japan, 2008, Hajime Kadoi, New York Premiere)
A warts-and-all look at the way Japan executes those it sentences to death. It quietly builds to a powerful punch in the guts as a guard volunteers to be the guy who holds down the legs of a condemned prisoner when he’s hung in order to get extra vacation time.
(Presented in association with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film)

(2008, Japan, Tak Sakaguchi, New York Premiere)
What could be more fun that watching a bunch of rotting, samurai zombies rise from the grave and go after a happy little family on their vacation? Throw in some heavily armed crooks on the run and a gaggle of mentally unbalanced cops and garnish with hard-rocking horror action.
Tak Sakaguchi will introduce the movie with his fellow stuntman and action choreographer Isao Karasawa.

(Malaysia, 2008, Mamat Khalid, North American Premiere)
The best way to describe this movie is Guy Maddin taking on the history of Malaysian cinema. Most of Malaysia’s older movies have been destroyed by the ravages of time, so director Mamat Khalid makes a “lost” black-and-white thriller from the 50’s, that’s part loving homage and part sharp-eyed send-up. Full of secret communist cults, werewolves, were-tigers, ghosts, private eyes, midgets and eerie secrets, it’s so deadpan you don’t know if  you should be laughing or crying. An epic homemade achievement of brain-boiling strangeness and charm.

(South Korea, 2008, Min Gyu-Dong, North American Premiere)
One of the surprise hits of 2008, this flick stars four of Korea’s hottest actors and is based on a wildly popular shojo manga series, “Antique Bakery” by Fumi Yoshinaga. Oh, and it’s a musical about gays of demonic charm, pastry chefs, and child abduction.

The beautiful, singing and dancing pastry chefs of ANTIQUE.

(South Korea, 2009, Lee Hwan & Yang Ik-june, North American Premiere)
Winner of the top award at this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival this movie is a labor of love by Yang Ik-Joon who wrote, directed and stars. Playing one of the most unrepentant thugs ever to grace the silver screen, he’s a debt collector who’s in it purely for the violence. But when he meets a high school girl who’s as unrelenting and tough as he is his world begins to come apart. From its first shouted obscenity to its last bloody beat-down, this is an uncompromising dissection of male violence that’ll leave you completely ravaged and violated.

(South Korea, 2008, Lee Kyeong-Mi, New York Premiere)
This hysteria-fueled comedy from Korea has already acquired a cult following and it’s easy to see why. Produced by Park Chan-Wook (OLDBOY, and he also has a cameo – as does HOST director Bong Joon-Ho) it’s from first time female director Lee Kyeong-Mi and it stars actress Kong Hyo-Jin as a high school Russian teacher demoted to teaching English, a language she barely understands. Her solution? All-out war with the teacher she views as the source of her misery. The kind of movie that’s very, very funny until it goes too far and starts making the audience very, very uncomfortable.


(South Korea, 2008, Ryu Seung-wan, US Premiere)
Ryu Seung-Wan (CITY OF VIOLENCE) makes this pitch perfect send-up of Korean spy and action cinema of the 70’s and 80’s that stands alone as a gut-busting comedy, a breathtaking action flick and a satire of Korea’s motion picture past. An unholy blend of Stephen Chow, the Zucker Brothers and Jackie Chan it’s full of elaborate set pieces and ridiculous contrivances, sending up Korea’s anti-communist hysteria while serving up some ace martial arts

(South Korea, 2008, Kim Ki-duk, North American Premiere)
From Korea’s number one cinematic transgressor comes this surreal, dark fantasy about two people who find that their dreams are connected. Kim Ki-Duk directs this dark fantasy starring Japan’s Joe Odagiri and Korea’s Lee Na-Young. It’s a return to form by a master director.

GO GO 70’s
(South Korea, 2008, Ho Choi, New York Premiere)
Do you wanna funk with Korea? After watching this infectious, period-perfect, butt-bumping, hip-grinding flick about the rise of real life 70’s funk band, The Devils, your answer will be: hell yes. These rock n’roll rebels were a flashpoint for social protest and GO GO 70’s offers up plenty of tacky fashions, groove-a-licious musical numbers and enough politics to set the night on fire.

GO GO 70’s!!!

(South Korea, 2008, Jang Hun, North American Premiere)
Under-promising with its story of a pampered actor hiring a real-life street thug to co-star in his new gangster picture, this high concept action film ultimately over-delivers and becomes an intimate, intense dissection of its two main characters who are both very bad men in very different ways.

(Taiwan, 2008, Wei Te-sheng, New York Premiere)

The highest grossing movie ever released in Taiwan, CAPE NO. 7 is less of a movie than a phenomenon. Things kick off when a pop star decides to hold a concert in a tiny seaside town and the civic booster mayor vows to form a local band to be the opening act. Think of it as THE FULL MONTY only with Mando-pop instead of stripping and you’ve got the idea. The director mortgaged his house and borrowed money from friends to make this film and it’s so carefully observed, full of weird characters and completely crowd-pleasing that it’s amazing it’s his first film to get a theatrical release.

Titles listed as such above are presented in association with JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film (June 30 – July 12). More info is over here.


  1. Lance Blisters Says:

    Congratulations, amazing lineup.

  2. Evelyn Atkinson Says:

    I thought readers might be interested in this review:

    Cape No. 7: Taiwan Comes of Age

    For those viewers who are rusty on their Taiwanese history, Cape No. 7 is a good time, a sweet if somewhat angsty love story, and an intriguing glimpse into the day-to-day life of a Taiwanese town. For those who do know something of Taiwan’s history and present international deadlock, the film becomes a vocal assertion of selfhood.

    The amorous tension in the film is between a local Taiwanese boy, Aga, and a Japanese model, Tomoko. Aga has returned home to his small seaside village moody and gruff after failing to make it as a musician in Taipei, while Tomoko, trying to organize a Japanese pop star’s concert at a nearby resort, has been tasked with finding locals good enough to form the opening band. A sweet if somewhat skimmed-over subplot involves a failed romance set during the aftermath of Japan’s occupation of Taiwan in World War II, in which a young Japanese teacher writes letters to his Taiwanese beloved as he sails home to Japan. Sixty years later, these letters now find their way into the hands of Aga and Tomoko, who determine to discover their owner.

    Both love stories reflect aspects of Taiwan’s relationship with Japan at different times in its history. The Japanese teacher deserted his Taiwanese beloved, much as the Japanese deserted Taiwan after the war, turning over the reigns of their repressive but adept rule to the even more iron-fisted Chiang Kai-shek. During colonization, Japanese cultural systems were forcibly enforced on the island; under Chiang’s rule, Chinese culture was dominant. In both cases, local Taiwanese culture was considered second-best. The movie addresses these issues of abandonment and desire for equality. Aga yearns for recognition of his talent, which he finally gets when Tomoko confesses her love and when his music – specifically a traditional Taiwanese ballad – is embraced both by the local villagers and, more importantly, by the Japanese pop star, who says he “knows the song.” By winning the love of Tomoko and the acknowledgement of the Japanese pop star, Aga – and Taiwan – claim equal footing at last.

    The film can also be seen in light of Taiwan’s current condition as a pariah in international relations. As a country formally recognized by only 23 states, most of them small islands in the Pacific, Taiwan has fought tooth and nail for just minimal acknowledgement from the world community. (This year’s small victory as an observer in the World Health Assembly, which as part of the United Nations has traditionally refused to recognize Taiwan, is one such example.) Taiwan’s lack of global recognition is due in a large part to the influence of China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory. Tellingly, Cape No. 7 makes no mention of China or the Chinese influence on the island; most of the dialogue is in Taiwanese, Japanese, or Taiwan guoyu (Taiwanese Mandarin). Mandarin Chinese, the official language of China, becomes the compromise language between Tomoko and the Taiwanese villagers – she snaps at them, “I can’t understand your Taiwanese accent!” and they make fun of her, saying, “Who can understand her Chinese?” Mandarin, although a necessary tool for communicating, is a foreign tongue for all of them, which illustrates the ambivalent position of China in the world of the film. In real life, ties between Taiwan and its Mainland neighbor have thawed rapidly; the two now permit direct flights, the first in sixty years, and economic relations grow closer with each dip of the stock market. China’s marginalization in the film, however, consciously disregards that part of Taiwan’s complicated present to explore other aspects of Taiwanese identity – perhaps a way of fighting back against the influence the PRC has increasingly tried to cast over the island.

    Aside from being a love story that will appeal to the emotion-laden teenager in all of us, Cape No. 7 is a glimpse into an unvarnished, unapologetic Taiwan. From pompous local politics, to millet wine and karaoke, to betel nuts and motorcycle mail delivery, the film throws back the shutters on all aspects of a Taiwanese village. Many of the actors in this production are not professionals, and it is the honest, tattered-at-the-edges quality of the scenes that most transports the audience into the world of the film.

    Cape No. 7 is the coming-of-age story of a nation. Shot on a shoestring and popularized by word of mouth, the film became one of the highest grossing ever to be shown in Taiwan, second only to Titanic. It is rare for Taiwanese films to receive much attention in the U.S., but as a confident self-introduction, Cape No. 7 has the potential to be the film that crosses the impasse. And now that Taiwan is coming into its own, hopefully this will be the first of many vibrant films to come out of this small but spirited country.

    - Evelyn Atkinson

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