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100 Asian Films you cannot miss (2017) – Part 3

100asian_part3

We present the 3rd part of our list of 100 Asian Films & Documentaries from 2017 you cannot miss.

We continue with our list of films…

Malila: The Farewell Flower by Anucha Boonyawatana – Thailand | 2017 – 94 min.
Narrative

Former lovers Shane and Pich reunite and try to heal the wounds of their past. Shane is haunted by the tragic death of his daughter, while Pich suffers a grave illness. As death approaches, Pich dedicates his remaining time to making Bai Sri, a ceremonial ornament. Meanwhile, Shane decides to become a Buddhist monk until one night at a graveyard, he encounters his lover in another form. (SGIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts by Mouly Surya – Indonesia | 2017 – 95 min.
Narrative

In a village among the barren hills of Indonesia, recently widowed Marlina is assaulted by bandits, but turns the tables on them, murdering a number of bandits instead. In order to prove she was justified, she decides to go to the police station in a distant town. She meets her pregnant friend, Novi, who intends to see her husband, so together they head on a journey for the town. However, unforeseen circumstances await the two women… Leading Indonesian film director, Garin NUGROHO’s original story idea is adapted by up-and-coming director, Mouly SURYA, for her third film. A tale full of surprises unfolding amid the Western reminiscent setting of Sumba Island, it world premiered in the Director’s Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival.

Trailer:

Missing by E Oni – Korea | 2016 – 100 min.
Narrative

Jiseon, a divorcee, works for a public relations company and raises her daughter. Hanmae, a nanny from China looks after the little girl. One day, coming home from work, Jiseon finds that her daughter and Hanmae have simply disappeared. The police and her ex-husband suspect that Jiseon hid the child on purpose because of an ongoing custody battle, so she sets out alone to search for her daughter. Jiseon finds out that Hanmae’s name and status were mere forgery. Can Jiseon track down Hanmae and find her daughter? The mystery surrounding the girl’s disappearance is the film’s driving force, but MISSING isn’t focused on the identify of the criminal. Director E Oni instead observes the environments that both Jiseon and Hanmae are placed in. They are both working women, driven into a corner by a male-dominant society. Hanmae is exposed to violence from her Korean husband and from her mother-in-law, while Jiseon still suffers from her ex-husband his mother’s abusive language. The rigor of living as a woman in Korea creates an emotional solidarity between the two women despite their class difference. (NAM Dong-chul – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Missing Johnny by Huang Xi – Taiwan | 2017 – 105 min.
Narrative

Zi-qi, a young woman who moved to Taipei, is receiving numerous wrong number phone calls for a man named Johnny. She gradually takes an interest in who this Johnny person could be. Zi-qi also has begun to keep a parakeet, but it goes missing. This causes the lives of Zi-qi, her landlord’s son, Li, and Yi-feng, the workman under the employ of the landlord, to cross paths. Consequently, Zi-qi’s past is slowly revealed… A tapestry of human relationships is depicted against the backdrop of Taiwan’s nostalgic residential district which still remain today. This is the directorial debut of HUANG Xi, who served as HOU Hsiao-hsien’s assistant. The attractiveness of Rima ZEIDAN, who plays the heroine, is worthy of note. The film was screened at the Taipei Film Festival where it won four awards including Best Screenplay.

Trailer:

Mon mon mon monsters! by Giddens Ko – Taiwan | 2017 – 112 min.
Narrative

One night, four high school boys decide to steal a safe and unexpectedly capture a little monster. Meanwhile, the little creature’s monster companion has been searching for it since they get separated. As the monster approaches, the boys’ minds become twisted and their friendship put to the test. In the end, everyone turns into a monster…

Trailer:

Mothers by Lee Dongeun – Korea | 2017 – 119 min.
Narrative

Hyojin teaches children in a study room business that she runs with a friend in the suburbs. One day, she is asked to take care of Jonguk, the son of her dead husband and his ex-wife. It is not an easy burden to bear, but she finally decides to keep him. Then she finds out that Jonguk is searching for his mom, and doubt is cast on her previous belief that the ex-wife is dead. On a snowy winter night, Hyojin and Jonguk visit his mom together. It is not often that a 32-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy come to live together. Though they must become mother and son, they are strangers, and becoming a family is not easy. Unlike home, where the boy is trying hard to become part of the family, Mothers is a story about a woman trying to become a mother and a friend. Director Lee Dongeun dreams of giving birth to another family following In Between Seasons. (NAM Dong-chul – BIFF Catalogue)

Motherland by Ramona Diaz – Philippines, US | 2016 – 94 min.
Documentary

Taking us into the heart of the planet’s busiest maternity hospital, this cinematic experience drops the viewer like an unseen outsider into the hospital’s stream of activity. At first, the subjects are strangers. But, as the film continues, it becomes absorbingly intimate, rendering increasingly familiar.

Trailer:

Nabubulok by Sonny Calvento – Philippines | 2017 – 95 min.
Narrative

A thriller boldly questioning the decaying humanity and community. A small town in the Philippines ahead of a festival. Luna, who used to work in a nail shop, is married to Jason, an American, and they have three children. She suddenly goes missing one day. Her aunt witnesses Jason washing bed sheets covered with blood and begins to wonder if Jason killed Luna. Then neighbors gain confidence in the aunt’s theory when they see silenced children. As Jason’s plan to return to America with the children is revealed and evidence that Luna had an affair is found, more and more villagers agree with the suspicion, but no one is willing to intervene in any way. And Jason is frustrated to realize that he cannot travel with his youngest daughter legally without Luna’s consent. Sonny Calvento has worked for TV series as a writer, and his feature debut leaves audience questioning what causes trust and human relationships to collapse. (PARK Sungho – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Narratage by Yukisada Isao – Japan | 2017 – 140 min.
Narrative

The latest work by Yukisada Isao, who is establishing his own refined sub-genre, crafting films about love rendered with an exquisite and subtle sensitivity. He narrates the scenes of a heartbreaking love story, weaving it together like the threads of a delicate fabric. The director, who spent ten years preparing this film adaptation of the original novel, uses emotionally charged images to depict the longing, jealousy and frustration of a love. Hayama and Izumi’s attraction for each other exceeds the boundaries of a high school teacher-student relationship. After entering college, Izumi meets Hayama again but feels too constrained by reality to accept her love. When Ono, a college boy, appears to Izumi, she accepts his heart, but Hayama is still on her mind. Noticing this, Ono is hurt and eaten up with jealousy. It is the acute pain of loving someone who loves someone else. Many films have dealt with similar subject matter, but the excellent performances will deeply move audiences. Matsumoto Jun and Arimura Kasumi both take up the roles of heartrending lovers, while Sakaguchi Kentaro plays the heroine’s boyfriend with seasoned skill. (KIM Young-woo – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Neomanila by Mikhail Red – Philippines | 2017 – 90 min.
Narrative

Toto, a teenage orphan, is recruited by a notorious death squad. Irma, the groups leader, soon becomes a maternal figure to the young boy. As the two form a familial bond, their loyalties will be put to the test when one of their targets turns out to be a familiar face.

Trailer:

Nervous Translation by Shireen Seno – Philippines | 2017 – 90 min.
Narrative

Nervous Translation, about a shy girl who discovers a pen that can translate the thoughts and feelings of people when they get nervous, is written and directed by Cinema One alumni Shireen Seno, whose Big Boy was part of Cinema One Originals 2013, itself a slightly odd, often magical childhood reverie. Jana Agoncillo and Sid Lucero star. (CinemaBravo.com)

Trailer:

The Trial

New Trial by Kim Tae-yoon – South Korea | 2017 – 119 min.
Narrative

Hyun-Woo, who is the sole witness to the murder of a taxi driver, is accused of committing the crime and persecuted and prosecuted. He is sentenced to a sentence of ten years. An opportunistic lawyer picks up the case sensing an opportunity, which leads to a struggle to reclaim justice.

Trailer:

Newton by Amit V. Masurkar – India | 2017 – 106 min.
Narrative

As India prepares for a general election with nine million polling booths and over 800 million voters – the world’s largest democracy – the principled clerk Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) is entrusted to conduct voting in a remote jungle village. He is challenged by extreme Maoist guerrillas determined to stop the election process, security forces who couldn’t care less about the outcome either way, and a local populace hardly infected with the spirit of democracy. Newton is thwarted at every turn. In this superb, absurdist comedy, director Amit V Masurkar succeeds in interrogating the difference between the rhetoric and reality of democracy.

Trailer:

Of Love & Law by Hikaru Toda – Japan | 2017 – 94 min.
Documentary

Fumi and Kazu are partners in love and law; they run the first law firm in Japan set up by an openly gay couple. Together for 15 years, the lawyers want to raise a family of their own in a country where their partnership has no legal recognition or protection. Driven by their own experience of being ‘outsiders’, they attract a range of clients who reveal the hidden diversity of a country that prides itself on its obedience, politeness and conformity. Tired of being silenced and made to feel invisible, the lawyers and their misfit clients expose and challenge the archaic status quo.

Trailer:

Oh Lucy! by Atsuko Hirayanagi – Japan, US | 2017 – 95 min.
Narrative

Setsuko is a single, middle-aged office worker who finds no joy in her life. Her workday begins when she witnesses a suicide on her morning commute, and continues the day as she observes a retiring coworker being congratulated by two-faced colleagues. When she becomes the replacement for her niece, Mika, at an English lesson, Setsuko is charmed by the unconventional methods of the American teacher, John, who brandishes her with the new name, Lucy. Her brief happiness is cut short when she discovers that John is leaving for America with Mika, apparently his secret lover. With Mika’s postcard as her only clue, Setsuko/Lucy sets off for California with her sardonic sister Ayako – also Mika’s disapproving mother – to track the couple down. (SGIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Okja by Bong Joon-ho – South Korea, USA | 2017 – 120 min.
Narrative

For 10 years, Mija (An) has cared for her best friend, a ‘Super Pig’ named Okja, in the mountains of South Korea. The two share an intensely close bond, but then Dr Johnny Wilcox (Gyllenhaal) arrives to take Okja to New York for a Super Pig contest. Okja is actually owned by the multi-national Mirando Corporation, run by self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (Swinton). Mija is determined to save her kidnapped friend at all costs, and is joined by the Animal Liberation Front led by Jay (Dano), an organisation determined to uncover Mirando’s true activities.

Trailer:

Old Beast by Zhou Ziyan – China | 2017 – 111 min.
Narrative

Lao Yang went bankrupt years ago due to the local economic decline. One day, he steals and spends the money that his children have raised for his wife’s surgery. When he comes home, his children tie him up, asking him to pay the money back. He gets so outraged that he takes them to court, kicking off a family tragedy.

Trailer:

Passage of Life

Passage of Life by Akio Fujimoto – Japan, Myanmar | 2017 – 104 min.
Narrative

A Burmese family of four is living in Japan. One day they get a letter that will change their lives forever – Based on a true story, this is a tale of love that crosses borders.

Trailer:

Jesus is dead (Patay na si Hesus) by Victor Villanueva – Philippines | 2016 – 90 min.
Narrative

When Iyay learns that Jesus, her estranged husband, has died, she tells her children that they are going on a trip – an inter-island road trip smack in the middle of the Philippines, to be exact. No ifs or buts about it – they are attending their father’s funeral. Her children – Hubert, who has Down Syndrome; Jude, a lovesick trans man; and Jay, who is living the bum life – join her with varying degrees of reluctance as she drives them in her extra-mini minivan. Through one unplanned detour after another, the family comes closer to confronting the past and figuring out how to simply enjoy the ride toward an uncertain future.

Trailer:

Plastic China by Wang Jiu-liang – Taiwan | 2016 – 82 min.
Documentary

11-year-old Yijie works alongside her parents in a recycling facility. Through Yijie’s story, the film explores how the wastes are recycled by the workers’ bare hands and their dilemma. Through their eyes and hands, the film looks into the impact of the global consumption of plastics on these workers’ lives and the environment.

Trailer:

Pop Aye by Kirsten Tan – Singapore, Thailand | 2017 – 102 min.
Narrative

Pop Aye is about two misfits — a man past his prime and his displaced street elephant — searching for meaning and belonging in space and time.

Trailer:

Radiance by Naomi Kawase – Japan, France | 2017 – 101 min.
Narrative

Introverted Misako pens and workshops film audio descriptions for the visually impaired. In a particularly brutal feedback session, a brusque photographer Nakamori, who is slowly losing his sight, challenges her competence. As she pushes back, the two slowly form a connection that heals and opens up a radiant universe that was once invisible. (SGIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Respeto by Treb Monteras II
Narrative

When an amateur rapper and a seasoned poet are thrown together in a moment of violence, they learn to write verses with new found clarity.

Teaser:

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda by Stephen Nomura Schible – Japan, US | 2017 – 102 min.
Documentary

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is a documentary that accompanies the prolific composer in his everyday, during a time in his life when mortality has become more pronounced and fragile. As the documentary follows him through the early stages of creating a new work, it explores how the rhythms of old age, and an awareness of environmental and social issues, have shaped his way of musical expression. (SGIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Sennan Asbestos Disaster by Hara Kazuo – Japan | 2017 – 215 min.
Documentary

The first documentary in 23 years from HARA Kazuo since his “A Dedicated Life” (1994) is an eight-year record of asbestos victims in Osaka’s Sennan district who sue the government for compensation. Sennan’s asbestos industry flourished from the late Meiji period and had over 200 factories in close proximity at the height of its prosperity, which led to it being called “Asbestos Village.” The substance can cause lung cancer and mesothelial tumors when inhaled, but despite the government being aware of the risks it posed to health, economic development was prioritized and countermeasures were negligible. In 2006, former factory workers and their families file a lawsuit against the government seeking reparation for the damage done to their health. HARA follows the activities of the plaintiffs’ legal team and investigations by a citizens group, documenting the court battle as well as the plaintiffs themselves. They are victorious in their first trial, but the government continually appeals, and the protracted legal struggle takes a discernible physical toll on the ailing victims…

100 Asian Movies 2017
Go to Part 1
Go to Part 2
Go to Part 3

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