4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival

There are a plethora of exciting titles for anybody interested in far eastern films in the line-up for Terracotta Far East Film Festival next month. This festival is London’s premier celebration of the film and culture of the Far East because it selects the latest and most interesting titles from the region as well as bringing over the cast and crew of the films for Q&As and master-classes. Oh and there are parties.

One glance at the line-up shows that a lot of films that I followed in 2011 are getting a run at the festival including Himizu, Monsters Club, Poppy Hill and The Woodsman and the Rain. It’s a pretty awesome line-up featuring some of the most interesting talents from Japan that I rave about so enough from me! Here are the films!

Opening Film:

My Way

Dir: Kang Je-Kyu Running Time: 137 mins. Starring: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing

My Way is the latest film from Kang Je-Kyu who directed the awesome action picture ‘Shiri’, and tells the story of two marathon runners, one Korean and one Japanese during Japan’s colonisation of Korea who are drafted into the Japanese army, and develop a close friendship through battles in Russia and Germany. It stars familiar actor Jo Odagiri (Bright Future, Adrift in Tokyo) and Jang Dong-gun who seems to have survived The Warrior’s Way.

Seediq Bale

Dir: Wei Te-Shing Running Time: 250 mins. Starring: Masanobu Ando, Umin Boya

This is based on the real life “Wushe Incident” which involved the rebellion of native Taiwanese tribes named Seediq against Japanese colonial rule by launching a guerrilla war and targeting government officials as part of a coup.

Inseparable

Dir: Dayyan Eng Running Time: 97 mins. Starring: Daniel Wu, Kevin Spacey

A dark comedy involving a suicidal 30 year old named Li (Wu) who finds his suicide attempt foiled by American ex-pat Chuck (Kevin Spacey). The two form a friendship which sees Chuck help Li with his personal problems with work, a successful but emotionally volatile reporter girlfriend all while patrolling the streets dressed as superheroes.

Arirang

Dir: Kim Ki-duk Running Time: 100 mins. Starring: Kim Ki-duk

Is Kim Ki-duk a genius or overrated? I’ve seen both opinions explored in film magazines  but I have yet to decide myself because I found both “3 Iron” and “Spring Summer Autumn Winter… And Spring” artistically interesting but unmoving. This project looks fascinating. After a scene depicting a suicide nearly kills an actress in his last film Kim Ki-duk suffers a breakdown. This documentary reveals his struggles to make a comeback to the world of film making.

Monsters Club

Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda Running Time: 72 mins. Starring: Eita, Pyuupiru, Yôsuke Kubozuka, KenKen

A young man named Ryoichi abandons modern life to live in a cabin in the snowy wilderness of Japan sends bombs to corporate CEOs and TV networks. One day he is confronted by a creature in the forest and his dead brother appears at the cabin in order to take Ryoichi beyond reality.

Return to Burma

Dir: Midi Z Running Time: 84 mins. Starring: Wang Shin-Hong, Lu Jiun

With the onset of political change in Burma Wang Xing-Hong returns home but feels like a stranger. Through Wang Xing-Hong the film explores the true state of Burma.

Poppy Hill

Dir: Goro Miyazaki Running Time: 250 mins. Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Junichi Okada

Based on Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsuro Sayama’s 1980’s shoujo manga, the film is directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyzaki who directed the underrated Tales from Earthsea.

Set in 1963 this coming of age tale takes place in Yokohama and follows the life of a high school girl named Komatsuzaki. Her father, a sailor is missing, her mother is a photographer who travels frequently and she helps run a lodging house with the rest of her family. The film follows her life as well as her friendship with two boys, Shun Kazama, a school newspaper member and Mizunuma, student council president. It is set in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics and the massive changes that are happening socially in Japan.

One Mile Above

Dir: Bryan Chang Running Time: 91 mins. Starring: Bryan Chang, Li Xiaochuan, Li Tao

A story that follows Shuhao who aims to cycle from Yunnan, Chia to Lhasa, Tibet to honour his dead brother’s memory and allow him to pass into the afterlife. It is a tough journey but one that will see him team up with a friend, Li Xiaochuan, and visit some beautiful sights…

UFO In Her Eyes

Dir: Guo Xiaolu Running Time: 110 mins. Starring: Shi Ke, Udo Kier

Kwok Yun lives a peaceful life in a remote mountain village until she sees a UFO. Then she finds herself as part of a mad-cap tourism scheme cooked up by village leader Chief Chang who wants to start UFO tours and welcome American tourists.

The Woodsman and the Rain

Dir: Shuichi Okita Running Time: 100 mins. Starring:  Koji Yakusho, Shun Oguri, Kengo Kora, Asami Usuda, Masato Ibu, Tsutomu Yamazaki

 

Shun Oguri plays a movie director named Koichi. It’s his first project and it involves filming in a mountain village named Yamamura. The cast and crew find themselves helped by the villagers including a reluctant volunteer, lumber-jack Katsuhiko played by Koji Yakusho, star of numerous Kiyoshi Kurosawa classics like Cure. Shun Oguri and Koji Yakusho are great actors. Also in the film are the equally good Tsutomu Yamazaki and Asami Usuda.

CLOSING FILM:

HIMIZU

Dir: Sion Sono Running Time: 129 mins. Starring: Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaido, Tetsu Watanabe, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Denden, Asuka Kurosawa, Jun Murakami

Terracotta Festival will also be closing on Sunday 15th April with Sion Sono’s Himizu which had its World Premiere at the 2011 Venice Film Festival where it played In Competition. Third Window Films will release later this year.

Based on Minoru Furuya’s manga about a high school kid named Sumida who has been abandoned by his parents. That’s not strictly true, as his mother comes home, but with different men, and his drunken, hate-filled father pays him visits but only when he needs money. Living alone he carries on running the family rental-boat business, ignoring the love of a class-mate and undergoing a crisis as he desires to be a normal kid. Then one day his father shows up and unable to control his anger Sumida kills him. The film involves a lot of tough subject matter like child abuse, murder and other traumatic incidents in an exploration of life through a teenager’s cynical view.

 

A pretty awesome line-up of films. For more information including times, locations and information on how to purchase tickets please visit the site!

7 thoughts on “4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival

  1. Vashdaman

    That’s a pretty great lineup! I really should go and see a few of these this year, any you’d recommend?
    One that I am definitely interested in seeing is Poppy Hill. It’s the kind of thing that Ghibli should be able to do so well, and I’m interested in seeing how Goro fares as a director this time around. I was one of the many who lamented Ghibli’s Earthsea, but I’m not going to write Goro off on his first try, especially considering how it was such an ill-advised adaptation for him to have a go at for his debut.

    1. I haven’t seen any of them but I am aware of most of them. I’d definitely see Poppy Hill. I think Goro Miyazaki has grown as a director and the film has been winning countless awards. It’s a simple tale in the same vein as Only Yesterday and Whisper of the Heart so I’m willing to be it’ll be very good because Ghibli excels at that.

      As far as the others go… Monsters Club and Himizu are the types of films I’d love to see because they push the audience but they are dark, dark films. The Woodsman and the Rain stars Koji Yakusho who is one of the best actors in Japan and I’d watch anythng starring him. My Way is from the director of Shiri which I consider to be one of the best action movies created.

      It really is a great line-up and the guests haven’t even been announced yet!

  2. Vashdaman

    Yeah, I’ll really hope to see at least a couple of these films. Monster Club does sound quite interesting but I’m worried it may be a little too dark for my tastes right now.

  3. Raku

    If I had to choose only one it would have to be Monsters Club, I haven’t seen a Toyoda film at the cinema and I know I’ll get a chance to see Himizu on a screen later in the year when TWF do their theatrical run, I’ll be watching Poppy Hill at home anyway and Woodsman and the Rain is too much of a wildcard as my one and only choice.

    If I had two choices it would be Monsters Club and Woodsman and the Rain.

    Luckily I can watch as many as I want so Himizu, Monsters Club and Woodsman and the Rain it is!

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