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100 Asian Films you cannot miss (2017) – Part 1

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We present our list of 100 Asian Films & Documentaries from 2017 you cannot miss!!

After covering more than 200 festivals, reading synopsis, programmes and watching lot of trailers it’s time to present our list of 100 Asian Films (from 2017) you cannot miss. We try to be fair and cover all genres from all the countries we cover. Please note that these are the films we discover in 2017 so there could be productions from 2016. To make things a little bit easier we divided the list in four parts, you can check the whole list in the “100 Asian Films” section (top-right part in our website). As always we hope you like our selection. Please feel free to share this article with your cinephiles friends and leave a comment below. Thanks

A Little Wisdom by Kang Yuqi – Nepal, Canada, China | 2017 – 92 min.
Documentary

Known as the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini, Nepal, is a famous pilgrimage site with more than 40 Buddhist temples. In the temples, hundreds of children, mostly orphans, receive care and education as trainees. The film documents their lives through the eyes of a five-year-old young monk, Hopakuli, who was brought to the temple with his brother Chorten. The camera depicts the boys, without interfering in their lives, capturing the harmony of their modest lives in the temple. The world of Hopakuli centers on a fight and reconciliation with his brother, a simple wish to eat delicious foods, and his relationship with other trainees and teachers. The older ones, Chorten and Vija, however, feel the gap between the stoic religious environment and the outside world. They depart for a temple for older boys, leaving Hopakuli behind. The boys’ lives aren’t stable as they have to choose whether to become monks or leave the temple when they become adults. While the film portrays the temple and the boys beautifully with the camera and music, it also reveals the harsh side of reality. (CHO Hyeyoung – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

A quiet dream by Zhang LU – South Korea | 2016 – 101 min.
Narrative

Three men who are drop outs from society have a daily routine of meeting at a small bar run by Yeri. In a matter-of-fact approach, the film depicts their sad yet somewhat heartwarming routine through sensitive beautiful screen images. One attraction of the film may be in seeing three very talented young film directors (Yang Ik-june, Yoon Jong-bin, Park Jung-bum) play the roles of 3 lackluster men.

Trailer:

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A Taxi Driver by Jang Hoon – South Korea | 2017 – 137 min.
Narrative

In this powerful true story set in 1980, a down-on-his-luck taxi driver from Seoul is hired by a foreign journalist who wants to go to the town of Gwangju for the day. They arrive to find a city under siege by the military government, with the citizens, led by a determined group of college students, rising up to demand freedom. What began as an easy fare becomes a life-or-death struggle in the midst of the Gwangju Uprising, a critical event in modern South Korea.

Trailer:

After my death by Kim Uiseok – Korea | 2017 – 113 min.
Narrative

A girl goes missing. Suicide is suspected, but nothing is certain, as no body, suicide note, or evidence is found. When she arrives at school, Yeong-hui discovers that she was the last one to spend time with the missing girl. Amid wild conjecture Yeong-hui is suspected of having goaded the girl into killing herself. Yeong-hui denies the accusation, but still feels guilty somehow, and the dead girl’s mother follows Yeong-hui. After My Death shows the madness that does not stop until someone is punished as an assailant. Unable to accept her daughter’s death, the mother suspects Yeong-hui to be the bad guy, and her friends, teachers and police come to the same conclusion. Yeong-hui’s guilt does not stem from having done something wrong, but people are not interested in the truth–only in someone to condemn. Reason and tolerance have no sway in the world of After My Death. And school is the perfect place for a witch-hunt. Anyone can be a scapegoat. (NAM Dong-chul – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Ajji (Granny) by Devashish Makhija – India | 2017 – 104 min.
Narrative

An older woman goes out looking for her granddaughter Manda, who hasn’t come home yet, and finds her abandoned next to the local railroad. While taking care of her granddaughter, who has been raped, she asks the police for help. The police, however, threaten her family after realizing that the attacker was a politician’s trouble-making son. She starts following him every day, looking for a chance to get revenge. When a society’s judicial system fails to function due to an imbalance of wealth and power, punishment for a crime becomes a matter of personal revenge. Fighting everyone becomes the only way to survive. This is the kind of society in which ajji takes place. It’s rather impossible to hope to bring justice to the politician’s son, who rapes the girl and commits other bizarre crimes. With the help of a woman in a brothel and the techniques she learned from the butcher, the grandmother limps her way toward revenge. This is screenwriter Makhija’s debut film, as his first was censored and never made it to audiences. (KIM Young-woo – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Alifu, the Prince/ss by Wang Yu-lin – Taiwan | 2017 – 91 min.
Narrative

Alifu, a young hairdresser from Paiwan tribe, struggles between having a sex-change surgery and inheriting his father’s title as the chief. Pei-zhen, a lesbian, is his best friend. Sherry, a trans woman, owns a drag queen bar. Chris keeps his drug use secret from his girlfriend. Between different genders and problems, the only common ground is love.

Trailer:

An insignificant man by Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla – India | 2016 – 96 min.
Documentary

Fed up with the blatant corruption he encountered daily, former bureaucrat Kejriwal took the extraordinary step of forming a new political movement, the Common Man’s Party (AAP) in 2012. In a country where two parties held sway, this radical upstart seemed unlikely to shake the status quo – but there are no guarantees in politics these days. The directors follow the AAP leader on his grass-roots campaign trail, filming rallies, party meetings and an eventual hunger strike. It’s a rollercoaster ride with rival politicians and media spinning the truth every which way. A fascinating document of India’s political climate.ang

Trailer:

The Portrait (Ang Larawan) by Loy Arcenas – Philippines | 2017 – 120 min.
Narrative

Set in a mansion in Manila in 1941 just before the Pacific War, The Portrait is a romantic family-themed musical with brilliant singing by world-renowned musical stars.

Trailer:

Angels Wear White by Vivian Qu – China | 2017 – 107 min.
Narrative

Teenager Mia works at a seaside motel. One night she happens to witness a crime that takes place in the motel. For the fear of losing her job, she says nothing. Meanwhile, one of the victims finds that her troubles have only just begun. The two girls do not know that their fate will be re-written by each other.

Trailer:

Another Year by Zhu Shengze – China | 2016 – 181 min.
Documentary

180 overpowering minutes divided into thirteen months, showing a migrant worker’s family at dinner. The film documents a year in time itself, through which the breakneck changes in contemporary Chinese society may be glimpsed.

Trailer:

Aqérat (We the Dead) by Edmund Yeo – Malaysia | 2017 – 102 min.
Narrative

Hui Ling’s life will begin again when she relocates to Taiwan. For now, she lives a suspended existence near the Thai-Malaysian border, saving up for her departure. In desperation, she joins the nocturnal business of human trafficking, finding herself bearing witness to the inhumanity suffered by the Rohingya. When her façade of indifference slips, threatening the secrecy of the business, she goes on the run, accompanied by Wei, who believes that he knew Hui in a past life. (SGIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Ashwatthama by Pushpendra Singh – India | 2017 – 120 min.
Narrative

Ishvaku is enjoying his vacation at home and is immersed in Ashwatthama, the warrior from the Indian myth “Mahabharata” told by his mother every night. Lord Krishna curses Ashwatthama to meander the world for eternity for his thirst for revenge against the Pandava clan. But Ishvaku’s happiness does not last long. His mother is killed by bandits who attack the village and he is then sent to his mother’s seemingly-timeless hometown in Chambal Valley, where three states meet: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. Away from his father and with his mother dead, Ishvaku spends time alone. The sacred cow visits the town and foretells Ishvaku that wisdom and tragedy are about to come at the same time. In Ashwatthama, various symbols and fantastic images stimulate the audience’s imagination. While going back and forth between the mythical fantasy and reality, the film portrays the sense of loss, anxiety, and wounds of a boy who lost his mother with beautiful black and white images. (KIM Young-woo – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Ask the sexpert by Vaishali Sinha – India | 2017 – 81 min.
Documentary

Ask the Sexpert is the story of a highly popular 93-year-old sex advice columnist for a daily newspaper in India. Despite sex being a taboo topic in that country, the column’s brand of non-moralistic advice and humor has emboldened many to write in with their questions, the vast majority of whom seek basic information. The columnist gains popularity even while a ban on comprehensive sex education in schools is adopted by approximately a third of India’s states.

Trailer:

Sea Serpent (Baconaua) by Joseph Israel Laban – Philippines | 2017 – 93 min.
Narrative

In a sleepy fishing village island located in Philippines, a growing fear exists beneath the beautiful scenery. Divina, a sixteen-year-old girl, doesn’t complete a death report for her missing father. There is no body but he’s been gone for almost three months. Her ex-boyfriend and her younger sister start seeing each other, and her younger brother is still a troublesome little boy. The villagers are poor but kind, and try to help her, but the sea that never returns what it takes doesn’t answer. Until one day thousands of apples suddenly drift to the shore. The director Joseph Israel Laban got a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking in the United States, and has won various awards as a director and/or writer. Sea Serpent was supported by the ACF Post-Production Fund of the Busan International Film Festival, and won the Best Director Award at Cinemalaya Film Festival. It reveals the director’s sharp perspective that the place a monster is born is not in nature, but in the human world. (PARK Sungho – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Bad Genius

Bad Genius by Nattawut Poonpiriya – Thailand | 2017 – 130 min.
Narrative

Lynn, a genius high school student who makes money by cheating tests, receives a new task that leads her to set foot on Sydney, Australia. In order to complete the millions-Baht task, Lynn and her classmates have to finish the international STIC(SAT) exam and deliver the answers back to her friends in Thailand before the exam takes place once again in her home country.

Trailer:

Balangiga: Howling Wilderness by Khavn – Philippines | 2017 – 120 min.
Narrative

1901, Balangiga. Eight-year-old Kulas flees town with his grandfather and their carabao to escape General Smith’s Kill & Burn order. He finds a toddler amid a sea of corpses and together, the two boys struggle to survive the American occupation.

Trailer:

Bamseom Pirates, Seoul Inferno by Jung Yoon-suk – South Korea | 2017 – 119 min.
Documentary

Through their music, grindcore duo Bamseom Pirates puts the spotlight on South Korea’s social issues, giving a voice to the angst felt by the young people in South Korean society today. But one day in 2012, their close friend and producer is arrested on suspicion of violating the National Security Law . . . .

Trailer:

– Feature Films 

Birdshot by Mikhail Red – Philippines | 2016 – 116 min.
Narrative

A young girl living with her father, a caretaker of a land surrounding a sanctuary, accidentally shoots an endangered Philippine Eagle; a young police officer is determined to investigate the mysterious disappearance of farmers in a film that poses questions about the perilous times we live in.

Trailer:

Black Summer by Lee Weonyoung – Korea | 2017 – 110 min.
Narrative

Jihyeon works at the university as a part-timer, writing and making films. He is not ambitious and is thankful to have work that he enjoys. He finds joy in recording trivial things in life and the scenery he passes by every day. One day, as he holds an audition while preparing for his next film, he meets Geonu, a junior colleague from school. They become close as they work together, and are confused by unfamiliar emotions. Their relationship becomes a topic of controversy in the university community, and to protect Geonu, Jihyeon claims that he was the one who sexually abused Geonu. How will the two men face despair and hope? Universities seem to be places free from prejudice, but the reality is not so. When homosexuality is mentioned, students are shocked and show fear and disgust. This is even more so in a male-only house. Prejudice is evident in conversations, not only about homosexuality but also about film sites. In the end, their love is treated as an accident caused by immaturity. (NAM Dong-chul – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Boys for Sale by Itako – Japan | 2017 – 76 min.
Documentary

In Tokyo’s Shinjuku district there are bars that specialize in “Urisen”, young guys who have sex with men. Featuring candid interviews and interspersed with animation detailing the awkward, sweet, and sometimes horrifying situations these sex workers experience, the boys for sale boldly tell their stories of life in the Tokyo underground. This documentary is an illuminating look into a rarely seen world that tantalizingly shows the humanity of sex work. (Taiwan International Queer Film Festival Catalogue)

Trailer:

By the time it gets dark by Anocha Suwichakornpong
Thailand, France, Qatar, Netherlands | 2016 – 105 min.
Narrative

The second film from Anocha Suwichakornpong, the driving force behind Thai art genre films. To use as script material, a female film director interviews a woman who used to be in the student movement in the 1970s. Gradually, memories and space blend together into an exquisite collage. A film of poetic imagery full of stimulation which swept awards such as Best Picture and Best Director at the Thailand National Film Association Awards.

Trailer:

Changing Partners

Changing Partners by Dan Villegas – Philippines | 2017 – 92 min.
Narrative

Based on the Palanca Award-winning musical play by Vincent de Jesus, Changing Partners film adaptation tells the love relationship story of couple Alex and Cris at the period of breaking up. Film tells the story in 4 relationship variations. Changing Partners is a falling out love story of Alex and Cris, told in changing gender pairings. It shows the ups and downs of a domestic partnership based on the musical play by Vincent De Jesus. Where joys turns to pains in scathing and dramatic talks and encounters interspersed with songs. (Lilit Reyes)

Trailer:

Close-Knit by Naoko Ogigami – Japan | 2017 – 127 min.
Narrative

After being neglected by her mother, a little girl is taken in by her uncle and his transsexual girlfriend, who create a loving home for her.

Trailer:

Condemned Practice Mode by Chi Yueh-chun – Taiwan | 2017 – 94 min.
Documentary

Hsu Tzu-chiang was sentenced to death for a 1995 kidnapping and murder case despite the lack of forensic evidence. After a 16-year petition, Hsu was released with a life sentence in 2016. Director Chi has been documenting Hsu’s story since 2012. The journey brought Chi face-to-face with the shortcomings of society and inspired his investigation into the judicial system. (54th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Catalogue)

Trailer:

Dark is the Night by Adolfo Alix Jr. – Philippines | 2017 – 107 min.
Narrative

The film begins with the shocking scene of an unarmed man being abruptly shot dead by police. Similar to others living in many slum districts, middle-aged housewife, Sarah, is involved in drug dealing. When she withdraws from the drug business in an attempt to start a proper job, her drug addict son goes missing. Together with her husband, Sarah goes in search for her son…. The Philippines has been violently swept up in President DUTERTE’s radical war on narcotics which is said to have claimed the lives of several thousand suspected drug dealers who, without trial, have been killed on the streets. Adolfo ALIX Jr.’s latest film straightforwardly protests his country’s current situation which has provoked a significant commotion internationally as well. It is a tour de force closely resembling the socially aware films of master filmmaker, Lino BROCKA. It screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Trailer:

 

100 Asian Movies2017
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