AsianFilmFestivals present a list of 80 Asian Films, Docs & Shorts you cannot miss. In this publication we continue presenting the list.
About the list
After covering lots of festivals in these first months of 2016 we decided to publish a list of 38 Asian films, 17 documentaries & 25 shorts you cannot miss. The list was made taking into account fifty-six festivals that took place from January – June (2016). After reading lots of catalogues we decided to highlight films we consider interesting to watch. We try to be fair and cover all genres.
To make it more organized we decided to publish the list in different post. Also to make it more accessible for future reads we created a new section in the Top Menu called “80 Asian Films” there you will find all the post we create related to this list. We hope you like our selection of films and as always we are open to any comments.
Note: the films were order alphabetically
FILMS & DOCS (16-30)
Guilty by Meghna Gulzar – India | 2015 – 133 min.
Guilty is a fictional dramatization of the events revolving around the murder of Aarushi Talwar, which happened in the city near Delhi in 2008. The incident still resonates in the minds of the public, as there is no sense of closure in the case in spite of a guilty verdict – the parents of the murdered girl have been sentenced to life for killing her.
Hamog (Haze) by Ralston Jover – Philippines | 2015 – 92 min.
In the Philippines, street kids are called batang hamog, literally, children of the dew. Deprived of a happy childhood in a loving family, they resort to petty theft on highways just to scrape by. The film focuses on four of such kids. One is kidnapped after a foiled theft, and another gets run over by a car. The remaining two will stop at nothing to survive.
Hooligan Sparrow by Nanfu Wang – China, USA | 2016 – 84 min.
“If you film us, we’ll break your camera.” Intimidated and under surveillance from the Chinese government, first-time filmmaker Nanfu Wang becomes a target alongside her protagonist and human rights activist Ye Haiyan, a.k.a. Hooligan Sparrow. We follow Sparrow and her fellow activists as they travel to seek justice for six elementary school girls who have been sexually abused by their principal. The government reacts intensely, marking them as enemies of the state. Sitting somewhere between Citizenfour and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Hooligan Sparrow is shot guerrilla-style in 3 months, using hidden cameras and secret-recording devices. Raw, energetic and a true act of cinematic bravery, Wang manages to smuggle her footage out of China to the big screen.
How to win at checkers (Every time) by Josh Kim
Thailand, US, Hong Kong, Indonesia | 2015 – 80 min.
After the loss of both parents, a young boy faces an uncertain future when his older brother must submit to Thailand’s annual military draft lottery. Unable to convince his brother to do whatever he can to change his fate, the boy takes matters into his own hands resulting in unexpected consequences. Based on the bestselling book “SIGHTSEEING” by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, “HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS (EVERY TIME)” is the debut feature film of Josh Kim, which is set in the economic fringes of Bangkok and examines the joys and challenges of growing up in contemporary Thailand.
Interrogation by Vetrimaaran – India | 2015 – 106 min.
Four immigrants are arrested by the police, tortured and forced to admit to a crime they have no knowledge of. When all hope seems to be lost, a policeman from their hometown speaks on their behalf at the court hearing, setting them free. The policeman asks for a return favour and the boys oblige, oblivious to the ill fate that awaits them. As they unwittingly bear witness to a political treason, the system seeks to silence them- at any cost. But one of them is determined to be heard.
Island City by Ruchika Obreroi – India | 2015 – 111 min.
The director uses contemporary Bombay as a backdrop for three stories evoking a range of moods. Anything can happen here – first, there’s an ordeal involving a dark vision of the future, then a naïve fad breaks out over a TV soap opera featuring Bollywood-style romance, and, finally, a young woman’s wistful disappointment, so reminiscent of the unhappy seamstresses of old melodramas.
Life after Life by Zhang Hanyi – China | 2015 – 80 min.
Among the eerily sparse landscapes of a soon-to-be-demolished rural village lives young Leilei (Zhang Li). He becomes possessed by the spirit of his late mother, who tells Leilei’s father Mingchun (Zhang Mingjun) that she’s returned to salvage the tree that stands outside their former home. Together they embark on an epic quest, navigating expansive forests, dilapidated houses and anonymous industrial wastelands in sequences marked by absurd humour and striking imagery. Sharing common themes of socio-economic upheaval and globalisation with producer Jia Zhangke’s (Still Life, SFF 2007) own dramas, Life After Life is a bold, formally daring film that marks the emergence of a fresh new talent in Chinese cinema.
Mad Tiger by Michael Haertlein and Jonathan Yi – Japan | 82 min.
Yellow and Red have been best friends, band mates, and business partners touring the United States in a performance-art punk band called Peelander-Z for the last fifteen years. When Red decides to quit, their relationship is tested by life beyond the band.
Ma´Rosa by Brillante Mendoza – Philippines | 2016 – 110 min.
The rain-swept streets of an impoverished area of Manila are the setting for a small-scale drama about convenience store owner “Ma Rosa” and her husband, who are arrested for selling narcotics. The corrupt police threaten them with prison and demand money for their release, an amount that far exceeds their resources. They have no alternative: They have to dispatch their children to get hold of the cash.
Miss Bulalacao by Ara Chawdhury – Philippines | 2015 – 92 min.
Miss Bulalacao is about a young drag queen, Dodong, who joins a barangay gay pageant to gain acceptance in his father’s community. He is instead met with hostility from his father, who chases him to a jungle, where he sobs to a lone bright star. What follows is the strangest night in his entire life, and an even stranger 9 months when he realizes he is pregnant. With only his stepmother, Lisa, as support, Dodong deals with ridicule from a barangay who does not believe him – until the rumors becomes a headline in a tabloid, “BAKLA, INA NG DIOS!”. (SIWFF Catalogue)
Mountains May Depart by Jia Zhangke – China, France, Japan | 2015
China, 1999. In Fenyang, childhood friends Liangzi, a coal miner, and Zhang, the owner of a gas station, are both in love with Tao, the town beauty. Tao eventually marries the wealthier Zhang and they have a son he names Dollar. 2014. Tao is divorced and her son immigrates to Australia with his business Magnate Father. Australia, 2025. 19-year-old Dollar no longer speaks Chinese and can barely communicate with his now bankrupt father. All that he remembers of his mother is her name… (Cannes Catalogue)
MRS by Adolf Alix, Jr.
70-year-old Virginia shares the old ancestral house with Delia, her ever-loyal maid. Delia is marrying her long-time boyfriend, Rene, and tearfully confides to Virginia that she wants to go home to her parents in the province to start a new family life with him. Haunted by a past that Virginia tries to conquer—her only son Sonny Boy who disappeared years ago, what follows shows a portrait of a woman and a mother trying to juggle the sad realities of life in a cycle of life and death. (IMDB)
Ned’s Project by Lemuel Lorca – Philippines | 2016 – 90 min.
An itinerant tattoo artist joins a talent reality show for lesbians in the hopes of winning the prize money that will enable her to get artificially inseminated and achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a mother. (IMDB)
Our Little Sister by Koreeda Hirokazu – Japan | 2015 – 128 min.
Adapted from the bestselling serialized manga Umimachi Diary, the new film from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda (Like Father, Like Son) is a deeply affecting drama about a fractured, all-female family. After their estranged father’s death, three twentysomething sisters discover that they have a teenaged step-sibling whom they had never known of. Taking the shy young girl into their shared home, the sisters find their long-suppressed memories of their unhappy childhood stirred — and the painful past becomes fully present once more when the mother who had abandoned them suddenly reappears after 15 years. (TIFF Catalogue)
Our Love Story by Lee Hyun-ju – South Korea | 2015 – 99 min.
Yoon-ju is a graduate student of fine arts and is working on her graduation exhibition. One day, while she is searching materials for her project, she runs into Ji-soo at a junk shop. Watching Ji-soo in an odd place, Yoon-ju finds herself drawn to her. After their initial encounter, Yoon-ju once again runs into Ji-soo at a convenience store, and the two eventually start dating. Never having enjoyed dating men, Yoon-ju finds Ji-soo fascinating and becomes completely infatuated with her. (SIWFF Catalogue)
Go to the 80 Asian Film to see the complete list.