And the Audience Award winner is…..

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

This year’s New York Asian Film Festival (Tenth Anniversary edition!) just wrapped up and we’re all ready to announce the winner of this year’s Audience Award. After every screening we give the audience little tiny ballots and they mark how they felt about the film on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 representing a feeling along the lines of “Why did you screen this horrible movie? Now I am going to kill you.” and 5 representing, “Best movie I’ve seen in my life. I am reborn!” This is

very scientific. We then use “math” and “counting” to come up with a list of average scores in a top secret lab deep underneath the Anthology Film Archives. The highest average is the winner.

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And so without further ado, the winner of this year’s NYAFF Audience Award is….drum roll, please….

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A BOY AND HIS SAMURAI!!!

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This is exactly the kind of crowd-pleasing, family-friendly, heartfelt, non-ironic movie that we all love and we’re glad that you guys love it, too. In an age when every crummy horror and action movie somehow finds a distributor, it’s nice to see that a movie that just makes you laugh and feel good can take home the Audience Award.

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Coming close on its heels, literally just a few decimal points away, is GANTZ in second place. And when we say “GANTZ” we mean both GANTZ movies (GANTZ and GANTZ: PERFECT ANSWER), since we screened them back-to-back and only took up Audience Award ballots for both movies.

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In third place is another touching family-friendly film…OCEAN HEAVEN, starring Jet Li in his first non-action role.

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In fourth place is Su Chao-pin’s funny, moving, intense wu xia film with Michelle Yeoh in the lead role, REIGN OF ASSASSINS.

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Those movies were all clustered very tightly together. A bit further down the scale came the fifth place winner, which was a huge surprise for us…..HEAVENS STORY?!? Who’d've thunk that a 4 and a half hour epic about death, pain, grief and suffering would be so popular with our audience?

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Interestingly, the two GANTZ movies, REIGN OF ASSASSINS and OCEAN HEAVEN all have US distributors. We’ve also got a special category here for three other movies that scored very, very high, but because they were older films that had already received a US theatrical or DVD release, we kept them out of the voting. They are:

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13 ASSASSINS: DIRECTOR’S CUT (it would have snagged the number one spot)

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THE CHASER (it would have come in somewhere around the number 4

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spot)

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THE MAN FROM NOWHERE (it would have replaced HEAVENS STORY as number 5)

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It’s amazing to all of us that these three movies, which are on Netflix and had big advertising campaigns already, all sold as many tickets as they did (MAN and 13 ASSASSINS both sold out their screenings), and almost nobody in our audience had seen them before. Distributors – are you paying attention? There are people out there who are not hearing about your movies when you release them! There’s a bigger audience out there than the one you’re finding. Which is a good thing!

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Thanks to everyone who voted. Every year our Audience Award goes to a movie that surprises us, and that just means that you guys all have great taste! See you in 2012! Unless the world ends first!

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Comments (4) Jul 19 2011

Attack of the Koreans!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

Tsui Hark is heading home, but the New York Asian Film Festival roars on like some kind of out-of-control lion train. For these last two days, it is total Korean Madness!!!

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Four directors are in town and each of them is here to smack you upside the head with some of the sharpest, savviest most sophisticated thrillers, action movies and war flicks you’ve ever seen.

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Wednesday @ 3:30pm

CITY OF VIOLENCE – one of the most satisfying action movies ever made, this is a pure shot of exploitation heaven. Two old friends come back to their hometown where evil real estate developers have killed their old buddy. What ensues is a string of stunts, action setpieces and a final showdown that all go off like a string of firecrackers. Director (and star) Ryoo Seung-Wan is on hand to tell you how it was done.

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Wednesday @ 6:15pm

BATTLEFIELD HEROES – Lee Joon-Ik is the director of the most popular Korean movie of all time (KING AND CLOWN) but BATTLEFIELD HEROES is his smartest, funniest movie. A Terry Gilliam-esque black comedy send-up of Korea’s endless medieval wars, it offers a God’s-eye-view of one particular battle taking in everyone from the conscript too poor to even have a name, to the squabbling generals, their irritating children and the helpless livestock launched via catapult. Director Lee will be here to explain exactly why a musical number about the

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joys of rice has a place in his film.

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Wednesday @ 9pm

THE UNJUST – this is it! Director Ryoo Seung-Wan has made his first masterpiece and, after receiving wild acclaim at the Berlin Film Festival, we’re serving it up hot and rotten, corrupt and chaotic, just for you. On the surface, it’s the story of a corrupt cop and a corrupt public prosecutor locked in a brutal game of one-up-manship as they try to find a patsy to take the rap for a string of murders in Seoul. But really it’s a portrait of an entire city’s criminal justice system collapsing under the weight of institutional rot, something like a funnier, super-compressed version of THE WIRE, a dissection of an entire city collapsing into chaos. The director’s brother stars as the heinous DA, and Ryoo Seung-Wan himself will be in the house to explain that, yes, it really is this bad.

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Thursday @ 3:15pm

THE CHASER – the movie that launched the current wave of Korean thrillers, it’s the tightest, tautest thriller you’ll see since Hitchcock. Lurching off the screen like a pit bull, it’s the tale of a pimp trying to save one of his girls from a serial killer over one long night in Seoul and, incredibly, it’s based on a true story.

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Thursday @ 6:15pm

TROUBLESHOOTER – Korea shows us how you make a summer popcorn movie. Forget TRANSFORMERS, this is like a lighter-than-air BOURNE full of crisp set pieces, snappy banter, unforgettable villains and bone-cracking action. “A frenetic-brained thriller with a deeply funny underbelly aiming to have fun with the genre, without skimping on serious-minded car chases and fist fights,” says TWITCH. “Pulls you in right from the beginning and doesn’t let you go…” says CineAwesome.

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Thursday @ 9pm

THE YELLOW SEA – straight outta Cannes comes the follow-up film to THE CHASER: same director, same two stars, but a bigger budget and even more mayhem. Shot partially in the Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture in China, a sort of North Korean ghetto in China, it’s the

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simple story of a down-and-out hitman sent to Seoul to kill a guy. Needless to say, it all goes really, really wrong. 20th Century Fox will be releasing THE YELLOW SEA in the US later this year,

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but they’ll be doing so in an edited version. What we’re screening here is the complete, uncut version of THE YELLOW SEA in all its epic glory with director Na Hong-Jin attending and ready to answer all of your questions about his massive movie full of ginormous car stunts, massive hatchet attacks and an eighteen-wheeler gone wild.

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Comments (0) Jul 13 2011

Screw Green Lantern…you want HAUNTERS!!!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

Want to see a superhero movie this summer? Did you think that GREEN LANTERN was a disappointment? Can’t wait until CAPTAIN AMERICA comes out? Then this dark, action-stuffed movie about an evil psychic with the power to grab minds in his iron fist and force people to do his bidding is for you. HAUNTERS is playing Saturday, July 9 @ 9:30pm. The audience at the previous screening came out raving, from the oldest to the youngest, and we don’t want you to

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miss it. Seriously, if you thought M. Night Shyamalan’s UNBREAKABLE needed more action, or if you think that most superhero movies need more brains, HAUNTERS is for you.

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This trailer calls it “PSYCHIC” but it’s actually “HAUNTERS.”

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Read more about it.

Buy tickets.

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Comments (0) Jul 08 2011

The Double Feature from Hell!!!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

What are you doing tonight? Getting a beer? Eating a pizza? Trying to hook up? Forget it. You can do those things any night of the year. What you should be doing is greeting the greatest one-two punch of exploitation cinema that will ever meet your face: BATTLE ROYALE and RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY.

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BATTLE ROYALE is classy, big budget, political and slick.

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RIKI-OH is low grade, grotty, blood-splattered and sick.

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BATTLE ROYALE will screen at 9:15pm tonight at Japan Society. Kept off the American market for a decade by Toei, who were apparently terrified that they could be liable for any copycat crimes that took place in the US, BATTLE ROYALE is the final film from master filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku (BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY) and it’s a savage indictment of modern society and a call to revolution for kids. Let’s face it, kids can’t drink, they can’t smoke and they can’t vote and they’re always being manipulated by adults with ulterior motives. BATTLE ROYALE is the first movie that says to kids, “Get armed. Go underground. Kill anyone over 30, or they’ll kill you.” Tonight’s show is about 2/3’s sold out but there are still tickets left and it’s going to be an absolutely incredible blow-out.

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BATTLE ROYALE features an amazing cast of
Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama,
Masanobu Ando and Tatsuya Fujiwara.

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Then, at midnight tonight, over at the Walter Reade at Lincoln Center, RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY will unfold before shocked and disbelieving eyes. One of the most over-the-top, batshit insane exploitation movies ever made, it stars a young and dewey Fan Siu-wong as Ricky, a boy sent to a prison full of giant monsters, wardens who keep breath mints in their glass eyes, super-kung-fu fighters and jerks who will strangle you with their guts.

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Also, head-crushing.

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Skull slicing.

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And whatever the hell this is.

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Read more about RIKI-OH and try not to feel your brain rumbling: it is hungry for crazy! RIKI-OH is the crazy feast it wants to eat!

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BATTLE ROYALE ends around 11:20pm, which gives you enough time to hop in a cab or get on your Segway and zip across town in time to catch RIKI-OH. Trust us – you won’t regret it. A night this insane comes along once in a lifetime.

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Buy BATTLE ROYALE tickets here.

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Buy RIKI-OH: STORY OF RICKY tickets here.

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Comments (0) Jul 08 2011

Su Chao-pin is in the house!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

Su Chao-pin has landed and if you miss his films you’re robbing yourself of some of life’s real pleasures. His turbo-charged, mixmaster blasts of funky frenzy are the kryptonite to the deliberate, stately movies of Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien, and that means they’re fun!

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Here’s what we’re screening in order of importance:

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REIGN OF ASSASSINS

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Saturday, July 9 @ 4pm (buy tickets)

Sunday, July 10 @ 1pm (buy tickets)

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Michelle Yeoh stars in an action movie about a hitwoman trying to go straight until her old gang of lethal freaks arrive to bust up her domestic bliss. A lot more heart than most wu xia movies and a breakneck pace that makes CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON feel musty, Su Chao-pin wrote and co-directed this film with action master John Woo and it comes roaring off the screen, sword drawn and ready to taste blood.

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“Praise must be handed squarely to writer/director Su Chao-bin for delivering such an accomplished and engaging film…” – Twitchfilm

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“…the beautifully balanced story finds time for humor and a piercingly romantic finale.” – Hollywood Reporter

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BTS: BETTER THAN SEX

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Thursday, July 7 @ 3:30pm (buy tickets)

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Su Chao-pin’s directorial debut is a non-stop carnival of carnality as the story of a teenager with an enormous penis intersects with the tale of a trio of thugs, a repressed cop and a Japanese reality show on the streets of Taipei looking for “teenagers on the loose!” This is one of those movies that makes you question your assumptions: how can a teen sex comedy from Taiwan be this fast and furious, this outrageous, this smutty and this surreal? (NOTE: there is no English-subtitled print of this movie so this will be screened from the best source available, which is digital. It looks good, but not great. However, when else are you going to see a movie about a sword that induces spontaneous orgasms?)

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“…a frenetic comedy that plays fast and loose with local censorship while consistently delivering substantial laughs…plays like “Taiwanese Pie” with nods to Quentin Tarantino…” – Variety

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THE CABBIE

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Friday, July 8 @ 3:30pm (buy tickets)

The first movie he ever wrote, Su Chao-pin’s CABBIE is based on the time he spent supporting himself as a cab driver. It’s a black comedy, sort of like Scorsese’s TAXI DRIVER meets the Addams Family, about a cab driver who becomes romantically obsessed with a hardbitten traffic cop (played by Japan’s Rie Miyazawa) and the bizarre family who surrounds him.

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“…a delightfully out-there romantic comedy full of low-key charm and humor.” – Variety

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Comments (0) Jul 07 2011

WU XIA: Hong Kong’s Flying Swordsmen!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

This year, thanks to the support of the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office New York, we’re presenting a special focus on wu xia movies, one of our favorite genres. Wu xia (literally, “chivalrous hero”) films first exploded into the Western mainstream with CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, and while lots of movies can be called “wu xia” the term has come to mean flying swordsmen, women warriors, a touch of fantasy, a heavy dose of swordplay, byzantine plotting, a flash of steel and a rustle of silk.

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The highlight of our wu xia focus is Tsui Hark coming to NYC to get a Lifetime Achievement Award, and the screening of his new wu xia film DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME (which is already sold out, unfortunately). But we’re also screening a ton of classic wu xia movies and the first of them, DUEL TO THE DEATH, screened yesterday and….holy crap! Close to 200 people showed up to watch this 1983 movie that employed pretty much every ninja in Japan. It was around the time that a ninja got his head chopped off, the severed head flew through the air, got impaled on a tree branch, uttered a curse…and then EXPLODED, that the audience went totally and completely bonkers. Or maybe the moment of utter insanity overload occurred earlier when a lady ninja exploded her outfit and attacked a Shaolin monk while completely naked? Either way, it was full of “WTF!” and “Not to be Missed!”

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“I’m…not…dead…yet!”

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Here’s the trailer for the special focus:

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And here’s what we’re screening!

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ZU: WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN – Saturday, July 9 @ 1:30pm. Along with DUEL TO THE DEATH (also released in 1983), ZU is the movie that changed everything in Hong Kong cinema. It is ground zero for modern day wu xia. Director Tsui Hark rounded up Hollywood special effects gurus and trapped them in his secret lab where he grafted them to Chinese myths and legends in unholy experiments. The final result is this ligthning fast movie, which throws “What the hell?!?” at your eyes like a chimp flinging daggers. We all fully expect that, confronted with ZU on the big screen, the heads of audience members will pop like lightbulbs. This was the direct inspiration for John Carpenter’s BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, but going to the source gets you a true hit of heady, intense cinematic LSD. (Tsui Hark will intro the screening).

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ZU is more than just freaky monks and a full moon.

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DRAGON INN – Sunday, July 10 @ 4pm. We paid a lot of money to strike a brand new (GORGEOUS looking) print of this warrior woman action classic because it is the ultimate wu xia movie from the peak of the modern wu xia wave, representing everything that is badass about wu xia, times 1,000. The screening will be followed by a long, onstage conversation with its producer, Tsui Hark, about his career but the reason you should be here can be summed up in one sentence: Two of Hong Kong’s greatest actresses, Maggie Cheung and Brigitte Lin, star in a sword-slinging spaghetti Western that plays out like CASABLANCA with kung fu.

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Brigitte Lin offers up her death stare in DRAGON INN.

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THE BLADE

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THE BLADE – Monday, July 11 @ 6pm. If ZU is the alpha for wu xia, THE BLADE is the omega. Tsui Hark will introduce this movie which is one of his great unseen masterpieces. Taking Chang Cheh’s 1967 ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, he repurposes it into a highly-stylized, hardcore explosion of the wu xia genre. By the time he’s finished, he’s burned everything to the ground. This is a film that has claws and fangs and comes at your throat, screaming. It’s never gotten a good DVD release (except for a nice, but rare, French disc), there is no Hong Kong DVD, and Warner Brothers, who own the rights to the film, have decided not to rent out the print to anyone else after we screen it, due to new policies they’ve just instituted. So, basically, this might be your only chance to see one of the most important, wildest, most intense and smartest Chinese movies of the 1990’s. This is where wu xia went to die.

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Check out the exceptionally awesome trailer for THE BLADE:

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If you want to read more about Tsui Hark, here’s an essay by Subway Cinema member, Grady Hendrix, that goes on at great length about his importance. And you’ll find links to buy tickets at the individual pages for each movie over here on our festival website.

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Comments (1) Jul 04 2011

NYAFF Field Report!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

Two days down for this year’s New York Asian Film Festival – 12 days to go. The score so far:

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- MILOCRORZE sold out hard and we had to turn away about 30 people in the standby line. We’re so sorry! There are still tickets available to the MILOCRORZE screening on Sunday, July 10 @ 8pm at Japan Society.

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- HUGE walk-up audience for BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT. We had sold about 40 tickets in advance for the screening and we sold about 105 at the box office right before the show. The ticket guy almost had a nervous breakdown.

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- Sold-out screenings of SHAOLIN (which was a blast on the big screen) and 13 ASSASSINS: DIRECTOR’S CUT. One more screening of SHAOLIN (Thursday, July 7 @ 8:45pm) but no more of 13 ASSASSINS, which is a movie that’s played NYC so many times and is still selling out!

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Prints are arriving!

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DETECTIVE DEE is in the house!

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VERSUS – ready for its anniversary
showing with Tak Sakaguchi and Yudai Yamaguchi!

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Standby lines are forming!

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The standby line for 13 ASSASSINS! Holy cow, that’s a lot of people!

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Movies are being watched!

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Proof of movie watchage!

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If you absolutely want to see something, and it’s an evening showtime, make sure you buy your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. And keep on coming up and having fun! So far, the festival has been a blast. We’ve gone through about 7 cases of Kirin (the world’s best beer sponsor) so far and you guys are going to go through a lot more before this festival is over.

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Comments (1) Jul 03 2011

The New York Times weighs in

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

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Mike Hale at the New York Times has written what has to be the best article about this year’s festival so far. You can read it here, but this is, for us, the money shot:

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…whatever it lacks in red carpets and seafood towers, it makes up for in the quality, quantity and variety of films. As it celebrates its 10th year with a program of 40 features, showing Friday through July 14 at the Walter Reade Theater and Japan Society, it’s time to acknowledge that this outsider actually belongs in the top tier of New York’s film festivals, next to some very serious, very inside gatherings…Not every selection in the New York Asian Film Festival is great, or even good, but neither is every one in the New York Film Festival or New Directors New Films. Meanwhile the Asian fest presents virtually the same number of major new releases as those two august events, while maintaining more consistent quality and focus than the sprawling Tribeca Film Festival.

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On top of that, they did a video feature on the festival that you can find in their weekend video preview section that’s nesting on the internet right here.

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Comments (0) Jun 30 2011

Ticket Status!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

Okay, some tickets are selling super-well and so there are a few screenings that are getting close to sold out. If you want tickets, we recommend buying them sooner rather than later! They are:

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GANTZ and GANTZ: PERFECT ANSWER

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DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME

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THE YELLOW SEA

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There are public tickets available, but they’re getting low.

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Comments (0) Jun 29 2011

The Village Voice Explodes!

Posted: under New York Asian Film Festival.

Mike Atkinson, the man who has written about just about every single NYAFF ever staged, pops up in the Village Voice again to give a rundown of this year’s festival and here’s what he has to say in his own inimitable way:

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MILOCRORZE: “…like a Japanese variety show on 78 rpms and evolving into a parody of samurai romanticism, including a sword battle through a brothel that is equal parts hyper-bullet-time and Buster Keaton slapstick.”

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Yeah! Hyper-Bullet-Time!

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KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR: “…the minions of Tarantino will hardly be able to resist a movie with both a Diarrhea Robot (!) and a Bulldog Car Robot (!).”

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Yeah! Bulldog Car Robot!

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LAST DAYS OF THE WORLD: “…begins as yet another disaffected teenage quasi-comedy, but then takes flight as the dead-eyed kid in question grabs a girl, steals a car, runs over pedestrians, and then runs until he runs out of land—all because he has hallucinated an apocalyptic message from a three-inch God.”

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Yeah! Three-inch God!

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HEAVENS STORY: “…the fest’s most fiery gauntlet.”

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Yeah! Fiery gauntlet!

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BUDDHA MOUNTAIN: “…a restless, gritty generational-anthem about three lost post-teen friends in Chengdu that delivers on its hyperrealism ambitions…”

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Yeah! Lost post-teen friends!

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But he reserves his highest praise for SELL OUT!, of which he writes, “…a ceaselessly inventive excoriation of modern industry and reality-show media that begins on a TV interview with the boring director of popularly boring Asian art films, trips through a thorough rip of Dilbert-style corporate Catch-22s, and very often bursts into infectious song…a loose, rich, beguiling, sometimes sophomoric Godardian triumph, and deserves a distributor with walnuts to take it on the road in this country.”

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Yeah! Sell Out!

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Read it all for yourself, and then come on uptown to the NYAFF and settle in for two weeks of our alternate multiplex, where we’re screening the best Asian movies of the last couple of years just for you.

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Comments (0) Jun 28 2011