Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Special Screenings: Looking at Asia through the Prism of Employment, New Action! Southeast Asia, Special Focus on Hong Kong 2017, Thai Films

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The full line-up of films for the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) last week and I aim to bring you some coverage of all of the titles. One of the great things about this festival (and living in Japan) for a Westerner myself is how much it shows me of the world. There are people, places, histories, and cultures shown on screen that I had little idea about and it also puts Western culture, often so dominant, into perspective.

There are films from 19 countries and regions getting a screening at a number of venues across Osaka and many delights for audiences to experience from places including China, Hong Kong, Korea, the USA, and Japan. The festival takes place from March 03rd (Fri) until March 12th (Sun). The last post was dominated by the competition films and the opening and closing film, this post features information on a strand of the festival dedicated to Hong Kong and Thai films. Since I have already written about them, I’ve linked back to earlier posts. There’s still a lot of variety here with films from Taiwan, Bhutan. mainland China, Indonesia and elsewhere. It’s a pretty exciting programme.

Here’s the line-up. I will transfer some information to the larger post I made sticky to keep at the top of the blog:

Special Screenings

52HZ, I LOVE YOU     52hz-i-love-you-film-poster

Taiwan

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Wei Te-Sheng

Writer: Wei Te-Sheng, Soda Voyu, You Wen-Hsing (Screenplay)

Starring: Chuan-Ying Chuang, Chung-Yu Lin, Mify Chen, Suming Rupi, Cyndi Chao, Nolay Piho, Sandrine Pinna, Chien-Na Lee, Chie Tanaka,

IMDB

Wei Te-Sheng will be present for the screening of his film.

Synopsis: Valentine’s Day is a lonely time of the year for many singletons such as 33-year-old florist Xin who will spend the day handing out flowers to those in love while receiving no flowers herself. She thinks it will be hard for her find love at the age of 33. She’s not alone in being lonely. There is a handsome chocolatier named Ang who is single and nursing a crush on his friend Lei, a government worker who has the blues because she is preparing for a mass wedding but is in a stagnant relationship with her sweet but useless boyfriend Da He. What she doesn’t know is that he plans to sweep her off her feet with a spectacular wedding proposal that will lead him to Xin’s flower shop. Will these four people find someone to satisfy their heart’s desires on the year’s most romantic day?

This big-budget musical aims to take on “La La Land” with its tale of lonely hearts reaching out to one another with some of Taiwan’s biggest and newest pop stars taking the lead.

AFTER SPRING, THE TAMAKI FAMILY…    after-spring-the-tamaki-family-poster-2

Taiwan, Japan

Running Time: 123 mins.

Director: Huang Yin-Yu

Writer: Huang Yin-Yu

Starring: Tamayo Tamaki, Shingo Tamaki, Shigeharu Tamaki, Mieko Tamaki, Minako Tonoshiro,

IMDB Website

Director Huang Yin-Yu and one of his subjects, Shingo Tamaki will be present at the festival. Shingo Tamaki will only be at the first screening to that’s definitely a hot ticket.

Synopsis: Tamayo is the matriarch of the Tamaki family, the largest immigrant family on the Yaeyama Islands of Okinawa. Before she changed her name to Tamayo, she was Wang Yu-hua and she was one of many Taiwanese people to move to Japan before and after World War II. Once these immigrants reached their new home, they changed their names and raised their families to be Japanese but they never forgot their roots.

On a warm spring day in 2015, Wang Yu-hua and her family return to Taiwan. At the age of 88, this may be Wang Yu-hua’s last chance to visit, but for her grandchildren, it is their first, and a chance to see their grandmother’s past. Her 32-year-old grandson Shingo is highly affected by this, being a half-Japanese and half-Taiwanese man raised by a Filipino stepmother, and he explores his own identity.

This documentary, through recording the Tamaki’s exploration of their old memories, their navigation between different languages, and the course they chart between Japanese and Taiwanese culture, becomes about the movement of peoples across the seas of East Asia in their struggle to find a home, particularly these immigrants who were once known as “stateless people” in the history of Okinawa.

HEMA HEMA: SING ME A SONG WHILE I WAIT    hema-hema-sing-me-a-song-while-i-wait-film-poster

Bhutan, Hong Kong

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Khyentse Norbu

Writer: Khyentse Norbu

Starring: Tshering Dorji, Sadon Lhamo, Thinley Dorji, Tony Leung, Xun Zhou, Xin Liang,

IMDB Website

The producer Pawo Choyning Dorji will be present at the screening.

Synopsis: Somewhere deep in a forest in Bhutan, there is a secret gathering every twelve years to celebrate anonymity. A group of men and women are chosen to wear masks and participate in ancient rituals and dances from the full moon to the new moon. This large group has been specifically chosen by old leader Agay, but his reasons remain mysterious. Having given up their identities, the chosen are playful and lascivious in the lush mountain nature. But not all here is fun and games. There is harsh punishment for those who break the rules, those who succumb to the temptation of letting others know who they are or those who are too curious about others. Cliques form and invite deception, seduction and jealousy. One man attends this festival for the first time. Like a newborn, he stumbles clumsily through his first few days, but quickly adapts. When he spots “Red Wrathful”, he becomes intoxicated with desire for her. A desire that will lead him down a dangerous path…

I AM NOT MADAME BOVARY [我不是潘金蓮]    i-am-not-madame-bovary-film-poster

China

Running Time: 139 mins.

Director: Feng Xiaogang

Writer: Zhenyun Liu (Original Novel/Screenplay)

Starring: Bingbing Fan, Chengpeng Dong, Wei Fan, Yi Zhang, Lixin Zhao, Tao Guo

IMDB Website

From the beautiful landscapes and mise-en-scene (hidden by an interesting framing technique) to the acting and absurd comedy, this is another Chinese film that will grab audiences prepared to sit through its story and two hour plus running time. The director will be known in the west for films such as “Big Shot’s Funeral” (2001) and “A World Without Thieves” (2004). Here’s my review!

Synopsis: Li Xuelian is a recently-divorced woman from provincial China who is suprisingly upset about said divorce. To her it was fake because it was part of a scam to get a new house with her ex-husband but he used it as a chance to marry another woman and even tarnishes Xuelian’s name with claims of infidelity. Despite her protests and appeals, she is shunned by the courts who regard the divorce as real and so, over the course of ten years she takes drastic action to petition various levels of government, and each year she finishes with a protest outside the National Congress in Beijing, something which embarrasses the party leadership who try and silence her.

Adapted for the screen by Liu Zhenyun from his own 2012 novel, “I Did Not Kill My Husband,” this is a darkly humorous story about one woman challenging Chinese officialdom over what some may see as a trivial matter but for her, is a matter of life and death.

Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman   mrs-b-woman-of-n-korea-poster

Madame B., histoire d’une Nord-Coréenne (Original Title)   

France, South Korea

Running Time: 72 mins.

Director/Writer: Jero Yun

IMDB

Audiences who view this documentary will find that Mrs. B. will present a conflicting picture of what a refugee is supposed to be like and undermine the idea that life in South Korea is as good as people may think. Audiences can talk to Jero Yun when he attends the screening. Here’s my review!

Synopsis: “Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman” focusses on the titular Mrs. B (full name never given), a woman who escaped North Korea and was sold into a marriage with the son of a Chinese farming family. A born survivor, when we meet her she is far from being a victim. She has found a place called home with her in-laws and she has become a people-smuggler, helping other people, including her two sons and first husband, escape across the border from North Korea to China and then South Korea. She even exploits some for money. This documentary was shot over the course of three years and during that time, audiences will see her make her way to South Korea and transform again from confident woman to homesick and disillusioned as she reunites with her family and gets a job but faces scrutiny from intelligence agents and her old family.

Audiences will find this film a fascinating and surprising portrait of a tough woman who defies expectations and isn’t afraid to present an unvarnished side of herself to the camera.

PARKS Also to be screened as Closing Film and written about in a previous post.

SORI: VOICE FROM THE HEART    sori-voice-from-the-heart-film-poster

South Korea

Running Time: 139 mins.

Director: Lee Ho-Jae

Writer: Lee So-young (Screenplay)

Starring: Lee Sung-min, Lee Honey, Chae Soo-bin, Shim Eun-kyung, Lee Hee-jon

IMDB 

There were a spate of films like “Short Circuit” (1986) featuring cute and not so cute robots aiding humans during the ’80s. They have been relegated to reruns on television and fond memories for some viewers. The South Korean movie industry does its own take on the aforementioned film with a robot less cute but with a story that manages to stuff international surveillance and security into a more intimate story of a grieving father and does it rather well. Lee Ho-Jae will be at the screening.

Synopsis: Hae-Gwan is a middle-aged man whose daughter Yoo-Joo has been missing for over ten years. People around him tell him that she died in the blaze that engulfed Daegu subway station in 2003, but Hae-Gwan refuses to give up the idea that she is still alive and is just missing. He keeps on looking for her. His search takes him to an island where he discovers the NASA satellite S19 washed up on a beach. This is more than just space junk, it is a highly sophisticated AI robot which monitors and stores every conversation made on a phone from anywhere in the world. The satellite is so advanced, it developed a personality of its own and deliberately crashed on Earth to search for someone. Hae-Gwan thinks he can find his daughter with the help of the robot which he names Sori (Korean for “Sound”). While the two search for Yoo-Joo, NASA, the NSA, and South Korean intelligence agents are searching for them.

Special Programs

In & Out of Work: Looking at Asia through the Prism of Employment

This program will reveal the true face of Asian societies and people through films that depict their labours.

APOCALYPSE CHILD    apocalypse-child-film-poster

Philippines

Running Time: 96 mins.

Director: Mario Cornejo

Writer: Mario Cornejo, Monster Jiminez (Screenplay)

Starring: Sid Lucero, Ana Abad-Santos, Gwen Zamora, Annicka Dolonius, RK Bagatsing, Archie Alemania,

IMDB Website

Director Mario Cornejo and his producer: Monster Jimenez will be at the screening. Jimenez is also a competition judge.

Synopsis: True story: In the 1970’s, the famous surfing scene from the movie “Apocalypse Now” was filmed in Baler, a sleepy town in the northern part of the Philippines. After production on the film wrapped, a single surfboard was lost in the ocean, recovered by a fisherman and sold to five local boys who became the first Philippine surfing champions.

More recently, Baler is now becoming a tourist destination, perhaps because of its ties to the film. There are many people in the town with ties, as well. Ford, a surfing instructor from the Philippines, has been told his whole life he’s the son of Francis Ford Coppola. Once handsome and popular, he finds he has wasted his youth waiting as his mother petitions the director to acknowledge Ford as his son. As the surfing season ends and a new surfing champion in Baler starts to attract attention, Ford is forced to confront his past actions, inactions, and the stories of his life.

BRUTAL (JAGAT)    brutal-jagat-film-poster

Malaysia

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director: Shanjhey Kumar Perumal

Writer: Shanjhey Kumar Perumal

Starring: Harvin Raj, Jibrail Rajhula, Kuben Mahadevan, Senthil Kumaran Muniandy, Tinesh Sarathi Krishnan,

IMDB

This is at times a beautiful film but with a familiar story that mixes one boy’s coming of age tale with a crime drama. Shanjhey Kumar Perumal will be attending the screening.

Synopsis: This coming of age story is centered on Appoy, a spirited kid who would rather watch gangster flicks and make prank calls than memorize his multiplication tables. Desperately trying to keep his son on the straight path, Appoy’s hard-working father becomes increasingly abusive, as the boy is inexorably drawn to the criminal lifestyle of his uncle, a henchman for a local Malaysian gang.

MY STUPID BOSS    my-stupid-boss-film-poster

Indonesia, Malaysia

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Upi Avianto

Writer: Upi Avianto (Screenplay)

Starring: Bunga Citra Lestari, Reza Rahadian, Alex Abbad, Bront Palarae, Kin Wah Chew, Richard Oh,

IMDB

“My Stupid Boss” has colourful and quirky sets and quirkier characters with a sense of humour and style that reminded me of the French film “Amelie” (2001).

Synopsis: “My Stupid Boss” recounts the story of an absurd boss and his employees. Bossman is an Indonesian who owns a large but disorganised company in Kuala Lumpur. The culprit for the disarray in the organisation is Bossman himself. His first principle of management is that Bossman is always right, which means whatever Bossman fancies, no matter how absurd. Battling against this chaos is Diana, Bossman’s secretary, who has to juggle chaotic situations at every turn with odds that never seem to add up. Diana is confronted with Bossman’s antics on a daily basis, sometimes even when she is not at work, and her patience and good sense are all put to the test.

PING PANG

ピンパン [ Pinpan]

Running Time: 16 mins.

Director: Yoichi Tanaka

Writer: N/A (Screenplay)

Starring: Elisa Yanagi, Seitaro Ishibashi, Peng Yu, Norisuke Matsukawa, Tateto Serizawa,

IMDB Website

Director Yoichi Tanaka and cast members Elisa Yanagi and Seitaro Ishibashi will be present at the screenings. REVIEW

Synopsis: A defenceless young woman who is sexually harassed at her workplace finds solace by playing ping pong at a club every day after work. All she does is practice hard by herself as if she’s trying to escape reality. A chance meeting with a Chinese girl thug begins to change her life.

THE REFUGEE    

亡命記 [Bomeiki]

Running Time: 135 mins.the-refugee-1956-film-poster

Director: Yoishitaro Nomura

Writer: Toshio Shiina (Screenplay)

Starring: Keiko Kishi, Keiji Sada, Wei Hong, Yunosuke Ito, Chishu Ryu, Kumeko Urabe, Shin Saburi,

IMDB

With 89 films to his name, Nomura was one of Japan’s most prolific and celebrated directors. He worked in a number of genres from film noir to period dramas but is best known for collaborating with the mystery writer Seicho Matsumoto. They made eight films, including “Castle of Sand” (1974) and “The Demon” (1978) which I saw in London back in 2014. This screening will have no English subtitles.

No trailer

Synopsis: A Chinese medical student named Shaochang finds himself cut off from his homeland as he is studying in Japan during the outbreak of the war. Despite his difficult circumstances, he finds love in the form of Sachiko and the two marry. They later travel to Nanjing to live a new life together where Sachiko and Shaochang cooperate with the Japanese-backed government. Their ultimate hope is to secure peace but their idealism is not enough to keep them together through brutal times and with the end of the war the two find themselves facing a divorce…

SUMMER NIGHT 

South Korea

Running Time: 30 mins.

Director: Lee Ji-won

Writer: N/A (Screenplay)

Starring: Han Woo-yeon, Jung Da-eun

IMDB

Director Lee Ji-won and cinematographer: Son Jin-yong will be present for a screening. REVIEW

Synopsis: So-young is a young woman who is busy juggling part-time jobs while studying hard, trying to get a full-time job, when a friend recommends tutoring Min-jeong, a high school senior. The tutor finds her student leading a difficult life balancing a part-time job and a dead-beat dad, but despite this the girl perseveres. One day, Min-jeong asks So-young if she can change the time for their tutoring session.

The focus of this simple yet beautifully shot short film are two female characters who, despite the gap in age, lead similar lives as they struggle with the pressures of education, employment, and the high expectations held by others. Through watching their efforts, some of the demands of South Korean society are shown and audiences will surely be able to relate to them.

i-am-not-madam-bovary

New Action! Southeast Asia

This special program features new movements in film bringing action to art films to heat up Southeast Asian Cinema. The Philippines makes an impressive impact here with all sorts of films that look really high-quality.

BAKA BUKAS (MAYBE TOMORROW)   baka-bukas-film-poster

Philippines

Running Time: 83 mins.

Director: Samantha Lee

Writer: Samantha Lee (Screenplay)

Starring: Jasmine Curtis, Louise de los Reyes, Kate Alejandrino, Nel Gomez, Gio Gahol, Cheska Inigo,

IMDB

I didn’t write this one. I think this one was handed to the festival by the film production company. Samantha Lee is confirmed as a guest for the screening.

Synopsis: Alex is a twenty-something creative based in Manila, a millennial woman with commitment issues who struggles to come out to the one she truly loves, her best friend Jess, an up-and-coming artist. Alex has been secretly in love with Jess since they were kids, and when Jess discovers the truth about Alex, they are forced to confront the feelings they have for each other. The film is a celebration, an ode to the vast and universal idea of love, to the multiplicity of humanity, a visually stylish narrative of inclusivity, acceptance, friendship and love.

BIRDSHOT    birdshot-film-poster

Philippines, Qatar

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Mikhail Red

Writer: Mikhail Red, Rae Red,

Starring: Mary Joy Apostol, Manuel Aquino, John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes,

IMDB

Mikhail Red and producer Pamela L Reyes will be at the screening to talk about the film. Here’s my review!

Synopsis: When Maya, the daughter of a farmer, enters a forest reserve, she shoots and kills a critically endangered and protected Philippine Eagle (known as a Haribon). This becomes the catalyst of a series of brutal events that draws in Domingo, a rookie cop ordered to track down the suspected poacher. However, Maya is not the only one being hunted. After investigating the disappearance of local farmers protesting over land that has been stolen from them by government officials, Domingo finds himself being tracked by criminals who are involved in the incident. Little do the two realise that they will meet in a series of explosive encounters and make an even more horrific discovery.

Birdshot” starts as a mystery-drama with supernatural elements but it becomes political over the course of its story as elements of corruption in public office and police brutality are brought into the mix. Underneath its mysterious, still, haunting and beautiful images lurks a compelling tale of terrifying violence in the luscious landscape of the Philippines.

A GIFT   a-gift-film-poster

Thailand

Running Time: 144 mins.

Director: Chayanop Boonprakob, Jira Maligool, Nithiwat Tharatorn, Kriangkrai Vachiratamporn

Writer: Chayanop Boonprakob, Jira Maligool, Nithiwat Tharatorn, Kriangkrai Vachiratamporn (Screenplay)

Starring: Chantavit Dhanasevi, Nuengthida Sophon, Sunny Suwanmethanont, Nittha Jirayungyurn, Naphat Siangsomboon, Violette Wautier,

IMDB

I didn’t write this one either. I think this one was handed to the festival by the film production company. Directors Chayanop Boonprakob and Kriangkrai Vachiratamporn will be at both screenings.

Synopsis: An intriguing romantic film, a four-director omnibus examining love in all its aspects. Using musical compositions by the late King of Thailand, three separate but related episodes, with titles drawn from the King’s compositions, are tied together by themes of love: romantic, familial, platonic and passionate. The film tells the story of 6 people who are trying to overcome challenges that life has thrown at them. The first episode features two people who are asked to act as a married ambassador couple at a scholarship award event despite not knowing each other. The second features a woman who quits her job to take care of her Alzheimer-ridden father who starts getting back his memories after she plays her mother`s favourite song on the piano. The final episode looks at a retired rocker who now works as a financial analyst, but is invited to join an amateur band with his co-workers.

GOODBYE MR LOSER [令伯特煩悩]

Malaysia 

Running Time: 106 mins.

Director: Adrian Kean Kok Teh

Writer: N/A (Screenplay)

Starring: Ian Fang, Phoebe Huang, Anjoe Koh, Yi Xin Lim, Mei Sim Hoon,

IMDB Website

Director Adrian Teh Kean Kok, producer Chee Ang Keoh, and lead actor Ian Fang will be at the festival to talk about the film.

Synopsis: This Malaysian comedy is a remake of the 2015 Chinese film of the same name which allegedly borrows plot points from the American film, “Peggy Sue Got Married” (1986). The story centres on Yi Bai, a middle-aged nobody with a lot of regrets. When he attends the wedding of Xiao Wei, his high school crush, he gets drunk and makes a fool of his wife. Angry, she chases him with a knife, forcing Yi Bai to hide in a wash room. When he emerges, he finds he has travelled back in time to 1999. He is a high school kid again and he can re-live his life allowing him to fix any mistakes he made and achieve all the fame and success he missed out on the first time around. He records hit songs long before the original artists and makes lots of money, but the more successful he becomes, the more he realises that other people are using him for his wealth. Will he find anyone who is truly genuine? Perhaps his wife Jin Hua?

MRS K Also to be screened as the Opening Film and written about in a previous post.

PATINTERO: THE LEGEND OF MENG THE LOSER    patintero-the-legend-of-meng-the-loser-film-poster

Philippines

Running Time: 95 mins.

Director: Mihk Vergara

Writer: Zig Marasigan (Screenplay)

Starring: Nafa Hilario-Cruz, Lenlen Frial, William Buenavente, Claude Mikael Adrales, Vince Magbaunua

IMDB Website

Mihk Vergara will be attending a screening.

Synopsis: In the streets of San Jose, the sport of Patintero is everything. All disputes are settled with it and a person’s reputation lives and dies with their skill in it. Meng Francisco is a 10 year old who loves Patintero. Unfortunately, she is the neighbourhood ‘patalo’, a loser who hasn’t won a single game. Determined to prove that she is more than that title, Meng assembles an unlikely team of fellow losers to compete on the grandest Patintero stage of them all: The Inter-barangay Sportsfest. Meng is followed into battle by Nicay, her over-studious best friend, Shifty, the weird but well-meaning new kid, and the enigmatic urban vigilante Z-boy. As the team trains, battles and claws its way to the top of the court, they must deal with issues off the court but what they end up doing will become the stuff of legend.

SAVING SALLY

Philippines, France

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Avid Liongoren

Writer: Carlo Ledesma, Avid Liongoren, Charlene Sawit-Esguerra (Screenplay)

Starring: TJ Trinidad, Rhian Ramos, Enzo Marcos, Archie adamos, Marco Borromeo, Shamaine Buencamino, Saab Magalona, Teodulfo Granada,

IMDB Website

Director Avid Liongoren will be at the festival.

Synopsis: “Saving Sally” tells, what on the surface, seems to be a simple love story. Marty, an aspiring comic book artist who lives in Manilla, has fallen in love with his best friend Sally, a gadget inventor. She saved him from bullies when they were both in high school and over time she became the centre of Marty’s universe, which is a colourful and imaginative place. Manilla is shown in the style of a comic book with lots of colours and exaggerated images while Marty imagines all of the people that he and Sally dislike and all of the people standing in the way of their romance as monsters, which is how they appear on screen. Will Marty and Sally get to be together? Audiences will be thrilled to find out, in a film similar in style to “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, but do not be fooled by the cartoon characters on screen: dark themes such as abuse and the need to escape from the harshness of reality are present and lend weight to the narrative.

SINGING IN GRAVEYARDS    singing-in-graveyards-film-poster

Malaysia, Philippines

Running Time: 141 mins.

Director: Bradley Liew

Writer: Bradley Liew, Bianca Balbuena (Screenplay)

Starring: Pepe Smith, Mercedes Cabral, Lav Diaz, Susan Africa, Bernardo Bernardo, Joel Saracho, Ely Buendia, Matt Declan,

IMDB Website

Bradley Liew and Bianca Balbuena will be attending screenings at the festival.

Synopsis: Pepe Madrigal is a 68 year old impersonator of the Filipino rock legend Joey “Pepe” Smith. The two men toured way back in the past but now Pepe is destitute and makes money impersonating his hero, playing gigs at a dive bar and selling trinkets. He lives alone in a house on the borders of reality, imagination and mysticism, desperate for one final shot at the big time. One day, he’s finally given the chance to open for Joey Smith’s comeback concert but he must do something neither of them has done before – write a love song.

This film explores the relationship between a celebrity’s public persona as a performer versus who they are as a real human being. With Joey Smith and Pepe the impersonator both played by the real-life rock icon Joey “Pepe” Smith and famous directors playing characters such as Pepe’s manager who is portrayed by Lav Diaz, there is a level of self-awareness which has earned the film comparisons to the works of Jim Jarmusch.

SUDDENLY TWENTY    suddenly-20-film-poster

Thailand

Running Time: 130 mins.

Director: Araya Suriharn

Writer: N/A (Screenplay)

Starring: Mai Davika Hoorne, Rong Kaomulkadee, Niranuch Patamasute, Kritsanapoom Pibulsonggram, Saharat Sangkapreecha,

IMDB

Director Araya Suriharn will attend a screening.

Synopsis: A tough, stubborn and overly-opinionated grandmother in her 70’s named Parn lives with her son and his family. Her personality is too much for some, especially her daughter-in-law who collapses from the stress. The family decide to send Parn off to a nursing home. This upsets Parn who takes a long walk. While waiting for a bus home, she gets drawn by a mysterious light into a photographic portrait parlour, where she ends up having her picture taken. When she steps out, she finds that she has turned into her 20-year-old self again. At first stunned, she soon sees it as second chance to live out her youth and pursue her dreams of being a singer.

If the plot sounds familiar then you won’t be surprised to read that this is the Thai remake of the Korean film, “Miss Granny” (2014). It follows the same story but remains fresh and funny thanks to its exuberant cast.

TAM CAM: THE UNTOLD STORY    tam-cam-the-untold-story-film-poster

Vietnam

Running Time: 116 mins.

Director: Veronica Ngo

Writer: Veronica Ngo (Screenplay),

Starring: Huu Chau, Isaac, Jun, Veronica Ngo, Ninha Duong Lan Ngoc, Son Thach, Loc Thanh, Ngoc Trai, Ha Vi, Will,

IMDB

Here’s my V-CINEMA REVIEW.

Synopsis: “Tam Cam: The Untold Story” is based on a Vietnamese fairy tale which has a story that is similar to Cinderella: Tam is a kind and beautiful woman who is cruelly mistreated by her stepmother and stepsister, but she has a fairy guardian watching over her. Tam also meets an intrepid prince who defies an order to marry politically. Instead, he declares that he is going to marry the woman whose feet fit the silk shoes, hoping it’s Tam, who will be that woman.

What transpires from this point is an epic tale of love and war and magic as the prince finds his kingdom under attack and an ancient demon plotting to destroy him but it is Tam who will hold the balance of power in her hand. Colourful costumes, luscious landscapes and, beautiful actors engaging in romance and wire work martial arts provide entertainment.

A YELLOW BIRD

Singapore, France

Director: K Rajagopal

Writer: Jeremy Chua, K Rajagopal (Screenplay),

Starring: Sivakumar Palakrishnan, Huang Lu, Seema Biswas, Udaya Soundari, Nithiyia Rao, Indra Chandran,

IMDB

Here’s my REVIEW

Synopsis: Siva is an ex-con who served eight years in jail. Finally free from prison, he must pick up the pieces of his shattered life. It isn’t easy. His wife has remarried and taken his daughter elsewhere. He has a place to sleep but it is on the floor of his mother’s apartment. He has a job but earns a pittance as a funeral procession mourner. People from his old life, even his mother, refuse to talk to him because of what he has done. He seethes with rage at his situation, especially when faced with the discrimination his Indian ethnicity brings him. Siva walks the streets, searching for a way to reconnect with his ex-wife and daughter and it is on the streets he befriends Chen Chen, a Chinese immigrant who works as a prostitute to provide money for her daughter. The two experience brief moments of happiness, but will it last?

Special Focus on Hong Kong 2017

This program presents some of the latest works to come from Hong Kong – one was still being edited just before information about it was released. There are a mixture of directors from a young renegade who mixes torture-porn with dumb action to old hands who started out on low-budget horror films in the ’80s, a woman who has an illustrious career on the stage and one man who is the son of a famous actor. Many of these were written about in a previous post. Only “Husband Killers” is new.

HUSBAND KILLERS [女士復仇]   husband-killers-film-poster

Hong Kong

Running Time: 96 mins.

Director: Fire Lee

Writer: Fire Lee (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephy Tang, Chrissie Chau, Gaile Lai, Lily Ho, Pauline Suen,

IMDB Website

I can’t in good conscience recommend this one. It deliberately tries to be a humorously bad film but falls short of the excesses in style and intelligence needed to prevent it from being deliberately awful. Its supposed feminist slant is quickly undermined by the constant violence visited upon the women (usually by other women and quite gratuitously as well), it features excruciating dialogue and it’s attempts at recreating the ’80s are short-lived and pointless (in truth, it’s just the opening title sequence that achieves this).

Writer and director Fire Lee will be in Osaka for the World premiere. Please don’t tell him I wrote this…

Synopsis: Chanel Chiu is a deadly assassin who lives by a simple code – a promise must never be broken. She learned this from her husband of ten years. Dior Mok is a thief and equally deadly and she hates men who are disloyal, something she thinks her boyfriend is not. Alas, what they don’t know is that they are sharing the same man but neither of them are going to give him up without a fight!

The thief and assassin are about to square off with each other for the love of their lives when they find evidence of him cheating on them with another woman. That woman is Hermes Tong, a rogue cop who has been booked into a shady hotel with the man at the centre of this tangled web of love. What transpires next is an epic clash of hot passion, raging anger and sweet revenge as all three women are attacked and have no choice but to join forces and become husband killers. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so the saying goes, and in this film, men will see why they should never break a woman’s heart.

2. 29+1 Also to be screened as a Competition film

3. 77 HEARTBREAKS [原諒他77] Also to be screened as a Competition film

4. MAD WORLD [一念無明] Also to be screened as a Competition film/HONG KONG NIGHT Screening

5. SISTERHOOD [骨妹] Also to be screened as a Competition film

6. SOUL MATE [七月與安生] Also to be screened as a Competition film

130th Anniversary of Thailand-Japan Diplomatic Relations: Thai Film Promotion

To celebrate the 130th Anniversary, this program will focus on Thai films including the masterpiece “Duay Klaw (THE SEED)” (1987). This is the only ones that I’ll cover here since I have already written about the rest of them.

DUAY KLAW (THE SEED)    duay-klaw-film-poster

Thailand

Running Time: 111 mins.

Director: Bundit Rittakol

Writer: N/A (Screenplay)

Starring: Jaran Manopet, Jintara Sukkapat, Santisuk Promsiri, Krit Sukkamongkol, Naruemon Nilwan,

IMDB Website

This is quite a relaxing film that tells a story stretching across the decades. Something about the atmosphere will reassure audiences that everything will turn out fine despite the brief action scene, family drama, and a particularly nasty money-lender.

Synopsis: Duay Klaw was made in celebration of the Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th birthday and His Majesty’s Royal Projects, including cloud-seeding and crop replacement, which forms the basis of this film. It is a docudrama that stars the folksinger Jarun Manopet who plays a farmer nurturing a rice crop grown from a single seed he obtained from the Royal Ploughing Ceremony at a time when parts of the country were hit by drought.

BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK Also to be screened as a Competition film

A GIFT Also to be screened as a [New Action! South East Asia] film

ONE DAY Also to be screened as a Competition film/THAI NIGHT Screening

SUDDENLY TWENTY Also to be screened as a [New Action! South East Asia] film

That’s it for this part of the line-up. To see what is screening in other sections, please look at the whole programme on the festival site or look at the preview for the Competition and Special Sections I published yesterday.

The next post will feature a wealth of home-grown indie films from Tokyo, Osaka and elsewhere. Stay tuned for more.

duay-klaw-film-image-1

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5 thoughts on “Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Special Screenings: Looking at Asia through the Prism of Employment, New Action! Southeast Asia, Special Focus on Hong Kong 2017, Thai Films

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