A Preview of the Japanese Titles at the New York Asian Film Festival 2021 (August 06th – 22nd)

The New York Asian Film Festival is a go for 2021 and runs from August 6th to the 22nd. It is a hybrid event with over 60 films split between cinemas and online streams.

It’s a beautiful and exciting mix of experiences from 12 separate territories/nations with a mix of big-budget blockbusters to indie movies. There are tales from towns and cities in the mountainous land of Tibet (A Song for You) to a backwater in the Kazakh countryside (Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It). A humorous take on a utopian community in Singapore (Tiong Bahru Social Club) to the dank underworld of Hong Kong (Hand-Rolled Cigarettes and Coffin Homes) and the gritty streets of Tokyo (JOINT). Stop-motion dystopian sci-fi (JUNK HEAD) rub shoulders with Korean tales from the hellscape of capitalism (I Don’t Fire Myself). Who populates these cinematic landscapes? Fiery office ladies, hitmen, dancers, mutants, wannabe singers, DJs, and more. 

Here’s the trailer introducing the fest:

Here are certain highlights:

The Opening Film is the tense action thriller Escape from Mogadishu, directed by Ryoo Seung-wan (The Berlin File, Veteran), a based-on-a-true-story title that retells the escape attempted by North and South Korean embassy workers who were stranded in a hostile environment during the 1991 Somali Civil War.

Legendary filmmaker Ann Hui will receive the Variety Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award and the biographical documentary Keep Rolling will be screened. Her film, The Story of Woo Viet will also be screened, so auds can get a taste of what made her one of the most important voices in Hong Kong cinema.

There will be a free outdoor screening of the Hong Kong wu-xia New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), which stars Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, and Donnie Yen. This marks the 10th anniversary of the film’s restoration by NYAFF.

Out of everything on offer, I’ve written about Three Sisters, JOINT (review and interview with Oudai Kojima, the director), and, Over the Town and Keep Rolling. I can highly recommend them. I also enjoyed Tiong Bahru Social Club and have kept thinking about it.

What about the rest? I will highlight the Japanese films so it can help you when you are making a choice about what to watch. AND THERE IS SO MUCH THAT IS TOO GOOD TO PASS UP!!!

I will also be covering the fest over at Heroic Purgatory. My co-host John and I talked about the festival in the last episode which covers the New York-set film The Wedding Banquet.


What are the films programmed? Scroll down to find out!

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