20 Films you cannot miss at the 18th New York Asian Film Festival (Part 2)

nyaff2019filmsbWe continue with our list of films you cannot miss at the 18th New York Asian Film Festival which will take place from June 28th until July 14th, in New York City, United States.

Lying to mom

Lying to Mom by Nojiri Katsumi – Japan | 2018 – 133 minutes

Suzuki Koichi, a 30-something hikikomori shut-in, allows his mother to dotingly tend to his needs. When she discovers that Koichi has killed himself, the shock is so great she loses consciousness, and her memory of that day. Worried the truth might prompt a relapse, her husband and daughter lie to her. The fabrications just keep snowballing… until the family seems to implode with unspoken secrets. Lying to Mom marks an impressively mature debut by Nojiri, a longtime AD (for veterans Kumakiri Kazuyoshi, Toyoda Toshiaki, Hashiguchi Ryosuke and Ishii Yuya), who laces his tale with as much humor as grief.

July 10th | Wednesday | Film at Lincoln Center | 6:00 pm (Q&A with Director)



Ma by Kenneth Lim Dagatan – Philippines | 2019 – 72 minutes

Two tragic stories of motherhood converge in a phantasmagorically macabre tale of loss, sacrifice and evil. After his mother dies suddenly, Samuel goes into a mysterious cave that claims to grant wishes and asks for his mother’s life back. The cave wants something in exchange. Meanwhile, a childhood friend of Samuel’s mother returns to town pregnant, reeling from her fiancé’s suicide. She has what the cave wants so Samuel enlists his little brother and sister in a sinister plan to take it at any cost. Director Kenneth Lim Dagatan’s chilling feature debut proves he was born to make horror films.

July 7th | Sunday | Film at Lincoln Center | 9:15 pm (Q&A with Director)



Maggie by Yi Ok-seop – South Korea | 2018

A couple’s hospital tryst is caught on X-Ray. Thinking she and her boyfriend are the ones in the compromising radiograph, nurse Yoon-young goes in the next day to resign only to find that everyone has called in sick except the head doctor. Meanwhile random sinkholes are appearing throughout Korea and her lazy boyfriend gets a job filling them in. Narrator Maggie keeps us abreast of these bizarre set pieces, and wait until you see who she is. Bursting with creativity, Yi Ok-seop’s seemingly oblique and hilarious feature debut is an absurdist observation on believing in others as well as oneself.

July 13th | Saturday | SVA Theatre | 3:00 pm (Q&A with Director and Actor)


Samurai Marathon

Samurai Marathon by Bernard Rose – Japan, UK | 2019 – 104 minutes

British director Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved), producer Jeremy Thomas and composer Philip Glass bring Japanese history to exhilarating life with this lavish jidaigeki, set against the 1850s arrival of the infamous “black ships” that brought an end to Japan’s centuries of isolation. When feudal lord Itakura Katsuakira decides to prepare his samurai troops for the onslaught of modernization by having them compete in a marathon, his independent-minded daughter Yuki (Komatsu Nana in a breakout role) secretly joins the race. Things get complicated when the shogun’s spies mistake the run for an uprising and send a squad of assassins to quell it.

June 28th | Friday | Lincoln Center | 7:00 pm (Q&A with Director and Actors)



Savage by Cui Siwei – China | 2018 – 112 minutes

A cop waiting for his transfer, a trio of vicious thieves after a hidden trove of gold, a beautiful doctor held hostage, a local guide turned traitor: these stock characters come vividly alive in the propulsive directorial debut of screenwriter Cui Siwei (The Island). By turns droll and deadly, the film begins with an avalanche of logs atop Mt. Baekdu on the China-North Korea border, triggering a taut cat-and-mouse game as the snowfall of a lifetime rolls in. Chang Chen plays the courageous cop to Liao Fan’s callous criminal, in a viscerally thrilling showdown between good and evil… and man and blizzard.

July 4th | Thursday | Film at Lincoln Center | 7:30 pm



Signal Rock by Chito S. Roño – Philippines | 2018 – 130 minutes

Intoy lives in Biri, a small island town where he is the community factotum. His family barely makes ends meet thanks to the money his sister sends from Finland where she’s been working for years. When she suddenly leaves her abusive husband, Intoy pulls every favor he can to help her win custody of her daughter. What starts as a small slice of island life expands into a moving depiction of perseverance in a place where the only hope for women is to work in a bar or marry a rich foreigner and the men must grin and bear it.

July 7th | Sunday | Film at Lincoln Center | 3:45 pm



Still Human by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan – Hong Kong | 2018 – 115 minutes

A gruff wheelchair-ridden divorcé (Anthony Wong, Infernal Affairs) hires his umpteenth caretaker (Crisel Consunji), a Filipina who has put her dreams on hold to earn a living in Hong Kong. Despite not speaking Cantonese she gradually breaks through his rough exterior and the unlikely duo from vastly different cultural backgrounds begin to embrace their lives together through various ups and downs. This inspiring debut feature from director/ scriptwriter Oliver Chan, (and produced by Fruit Chan), surprises and charms with its universal blend of humor and pathos. It also shines an important light on the often invisible, marginalized communities and citizens of Hong Kong, highlighting diversity and humanism.

July 14th | Sunday | SVA Theatre | 6:00 pm (Q&A with Actress Crisel Conjunji)


The Crossing

The Crossing by Bai Xue – China | 2018 – 99 minutes

16-year-old Peipei lives in Shenzhen, just over the border from Hong Kong where she goes to school. In order to raise money for a trip to Japan she joins a smuggling ring, taking iPhones into the mainland. Her inconspicuous high school uniform makes her the perfect mule, but as her innocence quickly fades she may fall in too deep. Bai Xue’s striking debut combines an often stark neo realist style with flourishes of cinematic bravado to explore this strong young woman’s turbulent journey into adulthood.

July 12th | Friday | SVA Theatre | 6:00 pm (Q&A with Producer Cary Cheng)


The Rib

The Rib by Zhang Wei – China | 2018 – 75 minutes

32-year-old designer Huanyu knows he is a woman born as a man and has a support system of transgender friends, doctors and his straight best friend/roommate. However sex reassignment surgery legally requires parental approval and Huanyu’s pious Christian father sees this as a deadly sin. This breakthrough film illustrates the intense stigma and obstacles that the LGBT community must face in China, offering an inside look at both the marginalized and those who condemn them. Striking black and white cinematography with an occasional glimmer of color underlines both the authenticity and hypocrisy portrayed in this stinging real-life drama.

July 5th | Friday | Film at Lincoln Center | 5:00 pm


The Scoundrels

The Scoundrels by Hung Tzu-Hsuan – Taiwan | 2018 – 105 minutes

Promising basketball star Wen Rui lost it all when he beat a spectator in a fit of rage. Now he barely gets by working shady part time jobs. One night while trying to help an injured woman, he is hijacked and framed for robbery. Inextricably entwined with the real culprit, and haunted by a public that thinks he’s to blame, Wen Rui falls into a downward spiral of crime, treachery and violence. Known for his intricately choreographed short films, director Hung Tzu-Hsuan makes his electrifying feature debut with this taut action-packed thriller, marking him a talent to watch.

July 1st | Monday | Film at Lincoln Center | 6:00 pm



You can read the first part of this list here: PART 1

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