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100 Asian Films you cannot miss (2017) – Part 4

100asian_part4

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

Shuttle Life by Tan Seng Kiat – Malaysia | 2017 – 90 min.
Narrative

One day, a car runs a red light and hits Ah Qiang and his 5-year-old sister Hui Shan. Unfortunately, Hui Shan gets killed in the accident. Ah Qiang desperately tries to see Hui Shan but he has no documents to prove their relationship. As their mother has mental problems, Ah Qiang is forced to face the incident alone.

Trailer:

Silent Mist by Zhang Miaoyan – China, France | 2017 – 101 min.
Narrative

In a village in southern China, where a river passes through, some women are raped. However, rather than causing an uproar, the village is silent. Instead, the villagers whisper behind backs, and a racketeer even preys on the parents of the victims, promising them that he would solve the case. Before the case occurs, the village is shrouded in mist, just like a prelude. “Mist” is the key to understand the movie. As the title Silent Mist suggests, the aftermath of the incident pervades the whole village like a mist, but the villagers keep silent as if it is no business of theirs. The camera plays a role in the film, like a witness following the victims, but at the moment the assailant commits the crime, it steps back like a bystander. The camera traces every path and turn in the village and captures the scenes where the victims, the attacker, and the villagers encounter each other as if nothing happened. Through this camera movement, the film delineates in a silent but hideous manner the appalling fact that it is the victims who have to suffer all the pain of the crime. (HER Namwoong – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Small Talk by Huang Hui-chen – Taiwan | 2016 – 88 min.
Documentary

Every morning, my mother wakes up, prepares my lunch, and takes off. Every evening, my mom comes home, washes up, closes her bedroom door, and is asleep by 9PM. We live in the same space, my mother and I. But for decades now, we are like strangers under one roof. No hellos, no goodbyes, and no “I love you.” Silence permeates our house as I watch her, knowing that beneath the deafening silence lies a secret that weighs heavily on her and knowing that behind her tightly pursed lips is a shame so overbearing that it suffocates her. One day, I finally summon up the courage to sit her down and make her talk. But am I ready to hear what she has to say? Are we ready to face what’s been buried for so long?

Trailer

Smaller and Smaller Circles by Raya Martin – Philippines | 2016 – 112 min.
Narrative

A boy’s body is found in a waste disposal site in Manila. The case intrigues Father Gus, a Jesuit specializing in forensic medicine. Collaborating with Father Jerome and helped by his disciple and journalist Joanna, Father Gus goes through Manila’s narrow streets to investigate the case. They find more bodies of boys whose faces and internal organs are entirely damaged and this grotesque case comes under the media spotlight. Reviewing the clues he finds, Father Gus realizes that the victims have something in common: boys from communities suffering from poverty. Based on the renowned novel of the same title, this thriller focuses on the link between good and evil in human nature. Sacred religion, medical practices, sacrifice and service often end up hiding the reality of corruption and violence. In this context, this film overlaps contamination and purity, corruption and sublimity, infernality and holiness like decalcomania. (HONG Soin – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Snow Woman (Yuki-onna) by Kiki Sugino – Korea | 2016 – 95 min.
Narrative

One snowy night, in a mountain hut, Minokichi, a hunter, sees a snow woman killing his mentor Mosaku. “Should you tell anyone, I will take your life” she says, then drifts off. A year later, Minokichi meets and marries a beauty named Yuki. She bears him a daughter, Ume. 14 years pass and Ume blossoms into a radiant lady who befriends the sickly Mikio, the village leader’s son and Mosaku’s distant relative. Mikio soon dies in the same hut as Mosaku, with his body showing the same frostbite scars. Minokichi is reminded of that horrid night, and wonders what it was that he saw, and who Yuki really is. (TIFF 2016 Catalogue)

Trailer:

Someone from Nowhere (Ma na thee nee) by Prabda Yoon – Thailand | 2017 – 87 min.
Narrative

A woman in her 20s. Her pleasant morning changes dramatically when an injured man enters… A mysterious drama set in a closed room is the second film by a charismatic young author-director.

Trailer:

Soul Mate by Derek Tsang – China | 2016 – 110 min.
Narrative

Two high school girls, the calm Qiyue and the wild Ansheng become best friends despite their difference in values and lifestyles. Falling in love with the same man has torn their friendship apart and led them into separate paths. Yet, their fate and bondage are destined to tie forever. An impressive directorial debut by Derek Tsang imbued with romantic emotions, sweeping up 19 nominations in Golden Horse and Hong Kong Film Awards.

Trailer

Stonehead by Zhao Xiang – China | 2017 – 90 min.
Narrative

This first feature from Zhao Xiang offers an emotional journey of a young boy, whose experience of gaining and losing a football reflects the deprivation and neglect faced by left-behind children in remote China. Stonehead’s football is confiscated and monopolized by his classmates. When his best friend is accused of damaging the ball, their friendship and his very integrity face a test. If you miss the delicate sympathies of Abbas Kiarostami’s childhood films, you should encounter those visions here again.

Trailer

The Bold, The Corrupt, and The Beautiful by Yang Ya Che – Taiwan | 2017 – 112 min.
Narrative

The film centres on Madame Tang, who colludes and mediates between the government and the private businesses for the benefits of her family. One case does not go according to plan, and an entire family close to Madame Tang fall victim to a gruesome murder. Ambition, desire and lust eventually change Tang’s relationships with her family.

Trailer:

The Foolish Bird by Huang Ji and Otsuka Ryuji – China | 2017 – 117 min.
Narrative

Winter is coming to a small town in southern China, when 16-year-old Lynn, a ‘left-behind’ child who grew up with her grandparents, prepares for the university entrance exams. Often getting bullied at school, she steals mobile phones and sells them to men she doesn’t know. As she takes risks, she has her first sexual experience – a cruel one.

Trailer:

The Great Buddha + by Huang Hsin-yao – Taiwan | 2017 – 103 min.
Narrative

Pickle is a night security guard at a Buddha statue factory owned by rich playboy Kevin. There, he is frequently visited by his best friend Belly Button, a recyclables collector, and together they endure the dull nightshift by watching television – until it gets broken one night. Hoping to find some drama, they stumble upon Kevin’s dashboard camera, where they find footages which contain their boss’ ugly secrets that will change their lives forever. (SGIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

The Hungry Lion by Takaomi Ogata – Japan |2017 – 78 min.
Narrative

Hitomi’s homeroom tutor is taken away by the police for suspected child prostitution and child pornography. His sex video is leaked and a rumor starts that Hitomi is the girl in the video. She can’t believe anyone would fall for such a lie, but it spreads like wildfire and Hitomi kills herself. The arrest of a teacher and the suicide of his student is easy prey for the media and reporting intensifies, creating a false image of Hitomi. The film portrays the inherent brutality in videos and other media, and brings to light our darkest desires as we consume such materials. These 78 minutes are a stark reminder that we live in the golden era of fake news across the world.

Trailer:

The Right to Kill (Tu Pug Imatuy) by Arnel Arbi Barbarona – Philippines | 2017 – 90 min.
Narrative

A hunting-fishing family lives deep the jungle on Mindanao. Their peaceful life ends when the army arrives in search of guerrillas. A tense, multi-award-winning film.

Trailer:

The Seen and Unseen by Kamila Andini
Indonesia, Netherlands, Australia, Qatar | 2017 – 83 min.
Narrative

Brother and sister Tantra and Tantri are fraternal twins. Lately Tantra has been bedridden in hospital and his brain becomes weak, almost losing consciousness. Now, there is little time left for Tantri to spend with her brother, and she has to accept that she will soon confront a life alone without Tantra who has always been beside her. Tantri often withdraws into her imagination. Her daydreams are tinged with loss and hope. In dream, fantasy and play, Tantri dances and performs a puppet show for Tantra. Through magical images, the film reveals the inner world of a girl who is facing loss, and in her own way, she is holding a farewell ceremony for her brother to deal with it. The magical images in the movie arise with a peculiar sound. The whirring of a fan in the middle of the night or the crunching sound shelling a boiled egg makes, is heard only if you listen carefully. However, such sounds create a peculiar resonance, leading the audience into a world of magical healing. (HONG Soin – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

The Third Murder by Koreaeda Hirokazu – Japan | 2017 – 124 min.
Narrative

The film opens at the scene of a homicide with the murderer setting fire to a corpse. He confesses his crime shortly after, making a lawyer named Shigemori begrudgingly take the case. As Misumi already has a prior conviction for homicide, a death sentence seems inevitable. So, Shigemori’s goal is to reduce the punishment to a life sentence. Dialogue commences with Misumi to grasp his motives, but confusion sets in as pieces of truth and fragments of the incident begin to emerge. Fans of director Kore-eda, whose subject has been the family story for years, may feel disconcerted by this movie. However, The Third Murder is a crime thriller set in the courtroom and poses questions about the legal system, and furthermore, broaches the fundamental problem of human nature and evil. Both Yakushyo Koji who plays the murderer and Fukuyama Masaharu as the successful lawyer outdo each other in powerful performances, while the talented Hirose Suzu appears as Sakie, the daughter of the murdered man, who holds the secret to the entire case. (KIM Young-woo – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

the-truth-beneath

The Truth Beneath by Lee Kyoung-mi – South Korea | 2016 – 103 min.
Narrative

Fifteen days before the election, the daughter of a hopeful candidate goes missing. Yeonhong, the candidate’s wife, goes in search of her daughter while her husband remains focused on winning the election, but it seems that no one can be trusted, as Yeonhong begins to pick up clues about her daughter. The Truth Beneath is a hard-boiled detective drama with a female protagonist. It was an attempt at something new in Korean cinema, but at the time of release, it did not appeal to audiences. However, some critics of the time noted that this film was innovative and fresh in terms of both genre and subject matter.

Initially, Yeonhong looks like a steely politician’s wife but in attempting to find her daughter, she reveals human qualities and fragility. There is no shame for her any more in being born in the countryside or not being so smart; the fact is, she becomes a clever confident person and the way she transforms is not only the maternal instinct but also the declaration that she will not let her life depend on someone else. (BIFF Catalogue 2016)

Trailer:

The Villainness

The Villainess by Jeong Byeong-Gil – South Korea | 2017 – 144 min.
Narrative

Since she was a little girl, Sook-hee was raised to be a deadly assassin. She gladly accepts the chance to start a new life when South Korea’s Intelligence Agency recruits her as a sleeper agent, with the promise of complete freedom after ten years of service. But soon after taking on her new identity as Chae Yeon-soo, a 27-year-old theatre actress, she begins to realize that for someone who has lived as a killer her entire life, normal is no easy task. When two men from her past suddenly appear in her new life, it unlocks dark secrets that should’ve stayed hidden, and the fallout is swift and explosive.

Trailer:

Those Long Haired Nights by Gerardo Calagui – Philippines | 2017 – 72 min.
Narrative

At night, Manila’s red light Burgos district starts shining and its shops get busy welcoming tourists and women from different countries. The life of Tuesday, Amanda and Barbie is also here. Providing sexual services, the three transgender women are close friends. Tuesday hopelessly longs for romantic love. Wise Amanda visits her hometown to attend her ex-girlfriend’s son’s christening. She told her family that she works for a bank and her parents have been renovating their home with her money. To her parents, she is a great son or daughter. To her friends, she is an object of both envy and temptation. Recklessly ambitious Barbie tries to make money through drug dealing, but she feels threatened by dangers hidden everywhere. Pursuing love, success and dreams, their lives become part of a confusing night. (HONG Soin – BIFF Catalogue)

Trailer:

Tokyo Idols by Kyoko Miyake – UK, Canada | 2017 – 90 min.
Documentary

Girl bands and their pop music permeate every moment of Japanese life. Following an aspiring pop singer and her fans, Tokyo Idols explores a cultural phenomenon driven by an obsession with young female sexuality, and the growing disconnect between men and women in hyper-modern societies.

Trailer:

Tokyo Vampire Hotel by Sion Sono – Japan | 2017 – 142 min.
Narrative

After celebrating her 22nd birthday with friends at a Shinjuku pub, Manami stumbles into a mind-boggling massacre. She emerges as the sole survivor, and is persistently followed by a mysterious woman who calls herself K, as well as a man who goes by the name Yamada. K belongs to the Dracula clan, while Yamada is a member of the enemy Corvins. Both are vampires, and it just so happens that Manami was destined to be chosen as the Dracula clan’s savior. Eventually, she is captured by Yamada and imprisoned in a structure built by the Corvins for a specific purpose, known as the Tokyo Vampire Hotel… A feature version of a drama series produced for streaming on Amazon Prime, this grotesque masterwork unleashes extravagant violence within colorfully production design. Don’t miss ADACHI Yumi’s extraordinary performance.

Trailer:

Underground (Pailalim) by Daniel R. Palacio – Philippines | 2017 – 84 min.
Narrative

Bangis is a poor gravedigger living inside a cemetery mausoleum with his family. As his daughter becomes ill, getting her checked into a hospital becomes a dilemma. He knows he needs to get money as soon as possible. As the illness lingers for weeks, Bangis’s desperation grows stronger. He must do something or his child won’t survive her ordeal. Risking everything, he decides to steal a newly buried corpse and sell it to a funeral parlor for money. He only hopes that everything goes well and it’s not too late for his beloved daughter.

Trailer:

Up Down & Sideways (Kho ki pa lü) by Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar
India | 2017 – 83 min. | Section: India Gold
Documentary

Up Down & Sideways is a sensory take on the everyday lives of a community of rice farmers. The village of Phek in Nagaland is home to nearly 5000 people, almost all of who sing while they work on the terraced slopes of the Naga hills. The music is as evocative as the land they work, and lyrics as poetic and poignant as the stories they share. As the seasons change, so does the music. “Without you I am nothing,” call out the first few words of all their songs, almost as a celebration and reminder of the need for the other. Drawing inspiration from the polyphonic nature of the music, Up Down & Sideways is a musical portrait of the community.

Trailer:

What Home Feels Like

What Home Feels Like by Joseph Abello – Philippines | 2017
Narrative

“What Home Feels Like” tells the home life of father and seaman, Antonio, who is forced to spend most of his time at home upon learning that he can never ride again.

Trailer:

Yellowing by Chan Tze-woon – Hong Kong | 2016 – 128 min.
Documentary

Taken from the viewpoint of the young people who participated in the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, the film offers access to their happiness, anger, sadness, and joy—through their everyday conversations amid clashes with police.

Trailer:

Youth by Feng Xiaogang – China | 2017 – 134 min.
Narrative

He Xiaoping is discriminated in the troupe because of a family scandal. Liu Feng has a crush on the lead solo Lin Dingding and gets expelled when he makes an unwelcomed advance on Lin. He Xiaoping is heartbroken because she is secretly in love with Liu Feng. Each member of the troupe learns a lesson in this coming-of-age story.

Trailer:

100 Asian Films 2017
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