Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017: Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman

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

マダム・ベー(原題)  Madamu Be- (Gendai)   

Running Time: 72 mins.

Director/Writer: Jero Yun

IMDB

“Mrs. B., A North Korean Woman” focuses on the titular Mrs. B (full name never given), a woman who escaped across the border from North Korea into China with the intention of getting a job for a short period of time and sending money back to her husband and two boys. This documentary, shot over the course of three years, reveals that things didn’t quite go according to plan since she was sold into marriage to the son of a Chinese farming family and willingly spent around a decade in China. What happened?

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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

oaff2017_posterart_english

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:

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Program Part 1: Opening and Closing Films and Competition Films

oaff2017_posterart_english

The organisers behind Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) released the full programme of every film that will be screened during its run from March 03rd until March 12th last week and it’s an impressive line-up.

The beginning of the year is always a busy one when it comes to international film festivals since Rotterdam and Berlin showcase their programmes and start screening things that will filter to the rest of the world at some point. Add the Osaka Asian Film Festival to that list because it is establishing itself as a platform for Asian filmmakers. This year demonstrates why it has a growing international reputation since there are many world and international premieres and a lot of filmmakers are going to attend the festival to talk about their work. On top of writing my usual previews for the aforementioned festival, I am working for Osaka as well.

Full disclosure, I am at the festival in the capacity as a writer, helping out with the event and watching some of the films. I will attempt to review as many as possible but for now, I’ll give previews.

I’m very excited to bring these previews to you not least because I wrote the synopses for each of them and I got a chance to watch some of the films already and the amount of talent I have seen is impressive. As a person based in the West, sometimes it’s difficult to see what the rest of the world produces in terms of cinema so this is a real education for me. The titles from the Philippines and Thailand have been really impressive and show local film industries that are producing daring and interesting works.

Here’s what has been programmed for the opening, closing and competition films. There is mention of guests but to get the full information about which screening they are attending, please visit the Event Page, the Guest Page or one of my earlier announcements. To find out more about each of the films, please click on the titles/links to be taken to the festival site. I have also included links to IMDB and the film’s websites where possible.

Here’s what’s going to be screened (the entire list I made into a sticky post on the main page of this site will be updated with some of this information):

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2017 Full Line-up

oaff2017_posterart_english

The full line-up for the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) was revealed earlier today and for the 12th edition of OAFF, the number of selected films has reached an impressive 58 in total, including 16 films in Competition. The festival takes place from March 03rd (Fri) until March 12th (Sun) and there will be films from 19 countries and regions, including China, Hong Kong, Korea, the USA, and Japan. There will be 16 world premieres, 4 international premieres and 1 Asian premiere and lots of guests, so if you love Asian films, this is definitely the festival to attend. Not only are there films but there are many other events and guests. To find out more, please visit the Guest Page, the events page, and my preview.

To get more of an insight into the films, head over to the festival’s programme page or scroll down where I give more information, links in the titles of each film, plus links to previews of different sections.

Down to some nitty-gritty: every film will have English subtitles.

Venues:

Umeda Burg 7 (March 3-12),

ABC Hall (March 8-12),

Cine Libre Umeda (March 4-12),

Hankyu Umeda Hall (March 6-10)

Tickets are on sale from the end of February.

Here’s the line-up. I will make this post a sticky and update it with information as it is released:

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Veteran (2015)

Veteran   Veteran Film Poster

Release Date: August 05th, 2015

Running Time: 123 mins.

Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan

Writer: Ryoo Seung-Wan (Screenplay)

Starring: Hwang Jung-Min, Yoo Ah-In, Yu Hae-Jin, Oh Dal-Su, Jang Yoon-Ju, Kim Shi-Hoo, Jung Woong-in, Cheon Ho-Jin, Jeong Man-Sik,

Ryoo Seung-Wan follows up The Berlin File (2013) with this much more light-hearted action romp taking aim at the Chaebol, family-run mega-conglomerates that dictate much of the financial and business side of Korea. There is little sophistication in terms of its story which uses broad brushstrokes to illustrate a world where a dedicated team of cops take on an extremely violent, criminally corrupt and callous corporate playboy who abuses his powers in ludicrous ways.

Veteran Bad Guys 3

The playboy in this film is the baby-faced Cho Tae-Oh (Yoo Ah-In), an executive at Sin Jin Trading who dresses sharply and has a smile to die for. As the son of the CEO’s second wife he is battling his siblings for control of the company and must be seen to be doing a good job if he wants the glory. While most people can accept being denied something or having to work hard, Tae-Oh’s family connections see him treated like a prince and so when he doesn’t get what he wants, oh boy.  Beneath the cute exterior lies a cocaine-fuelled sadistic psycho who trashes his office, beats up his bodyguards, threatens his staff. His biggest problem is his hair-trigger temper which is unleashed whenever he doesn’t get his way in business and life. Normally, he is a spoilt brat who has no problem humiliating people in order to dominate them and likes to throw parties where underage girls and hard drugs are passed around by politicians, plastic surgeons and pretty boys looking to go wild for a night. Nobody is untouchable in his world…apart from him. This leads to him putting a man in a coma.

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The Yellow Sea (2010)

The Yellow Sea   The Yellow Sea Film Poster

Release Date: December 22nd, 2010

Running Time: 156 mins.

Director: Na Hong-Jin

Writer: Na Hong-Jin, Hong Won-Chan (Screenplay)

Starring: Ha Jung-Woo, Kim Yun-Seok, Cho Seong-Ha, Lee Cheol-Min, Jeong Man-Sik, Jung Min-Sung,

Director Na Hong-Jin followed up his astounding debut, The Chaser (2008) with this film which proves to be even more macho, nihilistic, and violent as if inspired by the absurd cruelty of the split suffered by Koreans since the Korean War’s ceasefire. It is all played out through the misfortune of a simple taxi driver who finds himself caught between ethnic Korean Chinese and South Korean gangsters after he crosses the eponymous Yellow Sea on a mission to kill.

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The Chaser (2008)

The Chaser   

The Chaser Film Poster
The Chaser Film Poster

Release Date: February 14th, 2008

Running Time: 123 mins.

Director: Na Hong-Jin

Writer: Na Hong-Jin, Hong Won-Chan, Lee Shinho, (Screenplay)

Starring: Kim Yun-Seok, Ha Jung-Woo, Seo Young-Hee, Park Hyo-Joo, Jung In-Gi, Kim You-Jung, Ko Bon-Woong, Min Kyung-Jin,

South Korea has produced a number of high quality serial-killer films like I Saw the Devil (2010) and Memories of Murder (2003) but The Chaser is one of the darkest and most thrilling. It is based on a real life case where a murderer named Young-chul Yoo struck fear in Seoul by murdering rich old men and then prostitutes before being brought to justice in 2005. He was convicted of the killing of 20 people and was caught thanks mostly to pimps and prostitutes rather than the police. Apparently he was inspired by films like Public Enemy. That case is replicated here in a story where the characters and the world are so brilliantly crafted that you are plunged into the middle of this drama which turns into a relentless tale of brutality.

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Alice in Earnestland (2015)

Alice in Earnestland    

Alice in Earnestland Film Poster
Alice in Earnestland Film Poster

Release Date: August 13th, 2015

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Ahn Gooc-Jin

Writer: Ahn Gooc-Jin (Screenplay)

Starring: Lee Jung-Hyun, Lee Hae-Young, Seo Young-Hwa, Lee Joon-Hyuk, Bae Je-Ji, Ji Dae-Han, Jung Young-Ki,

Alice in Earnestland is the debut feature-length film from Ahn Gooc-Jin, a dark and at times horrific tale of a woman who is brutalised as she is forced to survive and commit increasingly deadly acts of violence as she disappears down the rabbit hole of savagery.

The young woman at the centre of the story is Soo-Nam (Lee Jeong-hyun). When we first see her she has tied up Kyung-Sook (Seo Young-Hwa), a therapist who has been specifically chosen to listen to Soo-Nam’s tale of woe which is told through a lengthy flashback sequence. Soo-Nam starts off as something of an innocent abroad who marries for true love but eventually emerges as a bloody angel of retribution as she endures bad luck, money problems, and power-hungry greedy people who try to derail her happiness which she is determined to hold onto and it all links back to the local therapist in a neat way.

Alice in Earnestland Opening

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Broken (2014)

Broken     Broken Korean Film Poster

Release Date: April 10th, 2014

Running Time: 122 mins.

Director: Lee Jung-Ho

Writer: Lee Jung-Ho (Screenplay), Keigo Higashino (Original Novel)

Starring: Jung Jae-Young, Lee Sung-Min, Seo Jun-Young, Lee Soo-Bin, Choi Sang-Wook,

The film starts with the sort of beautiful imagery that is all sorts of intriguing. A frost-covered man in a fur-lined coat kneels in a snowy forest, a bloodied mobile phone providing the only splash of colour in the white wilderness while there is complete silence on the soundtrack. The few shaky close-ups reveal he has the look of someone with shellshock. His eyes stare unevenly into the distance as he shivers, his mental equilibrium clearly wrecked by some trauma. Fade to black, the title, Broken.

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Han Gong-Ju (2013)

Han Gong-Ju   Han Gong-Ju Film Poster

Release Date: April 17th, 2015 (KOR)

UK Release Date: April 13th, 2015

UK Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director: Lee Sujin

Writer: Lee Sujin (Screenplay),

Starring: Chun Woo-Hee, Jung In-Sun, Kim So-Young, Lee Young-Ran,

Han Gong-Ju is the name of the main character. She is the beautiful girl with the tear-filled eyes staring out at us rather challengingly from the film poster and DVD case. It is a startling and intriguing look loaded with mystery and fright. Why is she crying? It makes you wonder and want to find out about why she is so upset, naturally, and the film takes advantage of this to tell a story of a girl recovering from a horrific incident and striving to survive in a society that constantly threatens her and lets her down because of her gender and lack of money.

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