The New York Asian Film Festival launches tonight and will run from August 6th to August 22nd as a hybrid event with around 70 films split between cinemas and online streams and the HEROIC PURGATORY podcast is taking part.
As I described in my preview, it’s a beautiful and exciting mix of experiences from 12 separate territories/nations with a mix of big-budget blockbusters to indie movies and the quality of the selection is so good, you can see why the festival is the premiere event for Asian films in North America – maybe even the West!
Thanks to the organisers, the Heroic Purgatory podcast has taken part! I was able to watch a lot of films along with my co-host John and we recorded a special episode dedicated to the event. We both came up with our TOP FIVE of the FEST and honourable mentions as well as information about the festival and our general impressions. We are both currently in the middle of providing coverage via written reviews so stick with us.
Here are reviews of some of the films playing at the fest (I’ll update this list as time goes on):
Escape from Mogadishu, the festival’s Opening Film, is a tense action-thriller based on real events where diplomats from North and South Korea must work together to escape the Somali Civil War. It features terrifying scenes of violence an exhilarating chases as well as plenty of humanity.
JUNK HEAD is a sci-fi stop-motion masterpiece combining body-horror and dystopian urban hellscapes. It is absolutely fun and endlessly rewatchable. I interview the film’s super-talented stop-motion animator, Atsuko Miyake.
Ninja Girl is a cute political satire about a timid young woman standing up to nationalists who live in her area. I love the lead performance of Saki Fukuda and her nifty dance moves as well as her unlikely ninja persona!
Legendary filmmaker Ann Hui will receive the Variety Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award and the biographical documentary dedicated to her, Keep Rolling will be screened. It’s an absolutely engrossing and fun documentary!
Three Sisters goes from cringe-comedy to heart-breaking drama of people dealing with the effects of a childhood filled with abuse. It features stellar performances from the cast that had me in tears and it felt like it was a real attempt to deal with such a dark subject.
JOINT is an absolutely gripping experience of the criminal activities of modern yakuza. It was made on a small budget and has a mesmerising set of performances from a newbie cast. I got more details on the making of the film in an interview with Oudai Kojima, the director.
Over the Town, a hip youth comedy set in Tokyo’s bohemian Shimokitazawa ward where we see the romantic and creative misadventures of a hapless heartbroken freeter. It comes from Rikiya Imaizumi, a sharp chronicler of youth relationships, and features a cast made up of a new generation of talent.
Here’s the festival trailer to give you a taste of the programme:
Film at Lincoln Center (FLC), August 6 – 8, 2021
Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street
SVA Theatre: August 9 – 22, 2021
333 West 23rd Street
Tickets for the 20th New York Asian Film Festival are already on sale and prices clock in like this:
Virtual programs are $12 each with a discounted FLC All-Access Pass available for $150 for access to over 30 virtual titles.
Tickets for in-person programming are $15 for General Public and $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities.
Past coverage of the festival:
New York Asian Film Festival 2020
New York Asian Film Festival 2019
New York Asian Film Festival 2018
New York Asian Film Festival 2017