Earlier today, the organisers of the 2020 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival announced their opening and closing films, both of which are completely different in form and content. Here’s the information direct from the festival website.
Everything kicks off on March 06th with the Malaysian film, The Garden of Evening Mists, a historical drama featuring a pan-Asian cast and crew who have adapted the award-winning novel by Twan Eng Tan.
夕霧花園 「Yugiri Hanazono」
Release Date: January 16th, 2020 (Malaysia)
Duration: 120 mins.
Director: Tom Lin
Writer: Richard Smith (Script) Twan Eng Tan (Novel)
Starring: Angelica Lee, Hiroshi Abe, Sylvia Chang, Julian Sands, John Hannah, Serene Lim, David Oakes,
The opening film of the 2020 Osaka Asian Film Festival is a handsomely shot historical drama that takes place in three periods of time in Malaysia’s history. It stars Angelica Lee who will be beset remembered for her work in the horror movie, The Eye (2002). She is joined by Hiroshi Abe (After the Storm, Still Walking, Survive Style 5+) and veteran director and actress Sylvia Chang.
Synopsis: 1950s Malaysia, a young woman named Teoh Yun Ling (Angelica Lee) travels to a British tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands to meet a famous but reclusive gardener named Aritomo Nakamura (Hiroshi Abe) in the hope of commissioning him to build a garden as a memorial for her late sister who died during the war. Aritomo declines the request, but proposes Yun Ling becomes his apprentice. Initially hesitant, Yun Ling eventually devotes herself to gardening and an attraction to the taciturn Aritomo takes root. Stronger emotions blossom but the two are entangled in the bitter history of the war and the unfolding Communist insurgency. 30 years later, Yun Ling (Sylvia Chang) returns to the garden to unearth a mystery surrounding Aritomo as she digs through painful memories of her past.
The event comes to a close on March 15th by looking to the future with the omnibus movie, Kamata Prelude. This features a wealth of new talent who have been making waves at fests like the Tokyo International Film Festival and more.
蒲田前奏曲 「Kamata Sensoukyoku」
Release Date: Autumn 2020
Duration: 115 mins.
Directors: Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, Hirobumi Watanabe
Writers: Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, Hirobumi Watanabe (Script)
Starring: Urara Matsubayashi, Kotone Furukawa, Ren Sudo, Sairi Ito, Mayuko Fukada, Noa Kawazoe, Ryutaro Ninomiya, Ryutaro Kondo,
The directors involved are a new generation of talent from the Japanese movie industry including Ryutaro Nakamura whose work ranges from Plastic Love Story to Silent Rain, the latter of which was screened at both the 2019 Busan International Film Festival and Tokyo Filmex where it won the Audience Award. Mayu Akiyama’s debut work, Rent a Friend, won the MOOSIC LAB Grand Prix and was screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2018. Hirobumi Watanabe’s film Cry won Best Director at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2019 in the Japanese Cinema Splash section. Yuka Yasukawa was one of a number of emerging talents tapped to helm one of the shorts from 21st Century Girl which has been screened around the world.
Urara Matsubayasji, the film’s producer and one of its cast, is a rising star active on the stage, TV drama, and on film. She will be most familiar with her performance in The Hungry Lion which was screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and New York Asian Film Festival in 2018. She is joined by many seasoned actors, including Sairi Ito (Love & Other Cults) and Kumi Takiuchi (Side Job, Greatful Dead) and Ren Sudo (Last Judgement).
Synopsis: A four-part film done in the unique style of each director, Urara Matsubayashi gives a portrayal of a struggling actress named Machiko who lives in Kamata. Machiko is the central axis of the movie as the film comically depicts what it means to be a “woman” and an “actress” in society through showing the patterns of life as conducted by her and the people that surround her.
I’ll be heading to Osaka to cover the festival so stay tuned!