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10 Asian Films you cannot miss at the 21st International Film Festival

jiff2020filmsWe present a list of ten Asian films that you shouldn’t miss at the 21st Jeonju International Film Festival, which is taking place online from May 28th until September 20th, in Jeonju, Korea. *Online only for people based in Korea via Wavve platform*

About the Festival:
Launched in 2000, Jeonju IFF is now recognized as Mecca of independent film festival of Asia and the widest window of avant-garde cinema around the world. While you can find latest waves of Korean independent scene in Korean Film Competition, International Competition introduces new talents across the world and showing the potential of new cinematic aesthetics. A number of new, rising filmmakers have been introduced to the world stage by Jeonju IFF and it resulted in that the awardees of Jeonju IFF have been critically acclaimed by international film festivals scene. The directors with the Grand Prize include Suwa Nobuhiro, Apichatpong Weerasrtakul, LiuJia-yin , Denis Cote, YING Liang, Matías Piñeiro and Sherad Anthony Sanchez.

Important: This year the festival will have theater screenings only to those who produced and directed the films. General public can view some films online via the Wavve.com platform (only available for people living in Korea). For more information on how to watch the films please go here: http://eng.jiff.or.kr/Ticket/ticketOnline.asp

Selected Films:

Damp Season

Damp Season by Gao Ming – China | 2020 – 107 minutes

A young Chinese couple, Dong and Juan, who seem to be weary of dating each other, are living in Shenzhen, located in southern China. Dong works as a security guard at an old amusement park but dreams of becoming a stage actor; Juan works at a flower shop and makes deliveries. One day, the two find themselves in secret relationships. Dong befriends Yuan, a woman who comes to the pond at the amusement park, while Juan is attracted to Long, a middle-aged man who orders flowers from her flower shop. Dong and Juan come to learn more about the world through the more mature people they meet. The film is set during damp season in southern China, when humidity skyrockets to over 90 percent and is extremely uncomfortable for the people. Humidity is another character in this film, which shows the entangled relationship of four men and women. The relationship between Dong and Yuan and the one between Juan and Long are also as empty and difficult as the one between Dong and Juan. The humidity that fills up the atmosphere seems to symbolize the four people’s lack of communication and also makes it feel as though all the characters are stuck in a huge fish tank. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Don't forget the kids

Don’t forget the kids by Sumita Yasushi – Japan | 2019 – 106 minutes

The movie reminds the old wisdom that the adults should be responsible to their kids’ problems. Sadao, Yoichi’s dad drives for on-site masseuses. What he earns is not enough for him to spend on drinking and gambling. He borrows money from here and there. He does not feed his kid, let alone not paying for school. Tatsuro sexually abuses his step daughter Yukina, while his wife Taeko deliberately ignores the problem. Yukina works for on-site massage job and Yoichi is bullied at school. However, the kids’ problems, compared to those of their adult parents, seem rather minor. The film is co-produced by TERAWAKI Ken, who worked for the Agency for Culture Affairs of Japan, and MAEKAWA Kihei, who was a vice minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. They reveal terrible problems that kids can be exposed to in the Japanese society. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Forgiven Children

Forgiven Children by Naito Eisuke – Japan | 2019 – 132 minutes

A seventh grader Kira hangs out with three other delinquent teenagers. He ends up killing Itsuki, who he has been bullying. But Kira is not prosecuted in juvenile court, for the judges conclude that the evidence is insufficient. The main story of the film, which is about bullying, begins there. People on SNS and some YouTubers start to chase Kira. The community urges him to transfer to another school. Kira’s father is fired from work. After six months, Kira lives in another town, but his life is never settled. It turns out that Kira was a victim of bullying when he was in elementary school. This film shows a never-ending, continuous and vicious loop of bullying. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Memories to choke on

Memories to choke on by Leung Ming Kai and Kate Reilly – Hong Kong | 2019 – 78 minutes

The film features four short stories, offers a diverse viewpoint of the past, present, and future of Hong Kong. Forbidden City tells a story about the protagonist’s grandmother who relocated to Hong Kong from mainland China and that of maid who came from Indonesia to Hong Kong ten years ago. Forbidden City addresses the identity issue of Hong Kongers. Toy Stories follows brothers who revisit a toy store with their childhood memories, telling us about microhistory of Hong Kong. Yuen Yeung shows us foods of Hong Kong such as Yuen Yeung milk tea, rice noodle roll, and Hong Kong style French toast and tells us stories about lovers who meet and part. It´s not gonna be fun is a documentary following a woman who runs for a district council seat after the pro-democracy protests and talks about the future of politics in Hong Kong. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Obake

Obake by Nakao Hiromichi – Japan | 2019 – 62 minutes

A beautiful forest greets the viewers at the beginning of the film. One person enters the forest, and suddenly there is the universe (LCD screens that show the universe), where two stars begin a conversation. One star says to the other that it went down to Tokyo and saw an independent film titled The Balloon, which was great. The Balloon is actually the previous film made by NAKAO Hiromichi, the director of OBAKE. As the two stars look down on him, they talk complain about his production methods and talk about his private life. OBAKE is one of the most unique “films about making films.” This is a making film of OBAKE and also the filmmaker’s resume about his own filmmaking methods. Through the stars’ conversation, the director mocks his own life and comforts himself. In the latter part of the film, NAKAO destroys the universe and the stars he created and aims to stop making films. However, emotions rush at the viewers abruptly when the director takes up the camera and walks out into the forest once again. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Tezukas Barbara

Tezuka’s Barbara by Tezka Macoto – Japan | 2019 – 101 minutes

Creator of Astro Boy TEZKA Osamu’s son TEZKA Macoto turned his father’s erotic manga series that was published in a manga magazine in the 1970s into a live-action film. Mikura Yosuke is popular novelist, but he has been struggling with writer’s block for a while. One day, Yosuke meets drunk Barbara and brings her home. However, she owns great talent and provides fresh artistic inspiration to him. This film twists the relationship between the artist and the muse. Barbara’s mother is somewhat a bizarre version of Mnemosyne, mother of the nine Muses in Greek mythology. Therefore, Barbara is not a muse who serves artists unilaterally. Fantasy and psychedelic images enhance the mystic nature of Barbara. [Moon Seok]

 

 

The Shepherdess

The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs by Pushpendra Singh – India | 2020 – 99 minutes

Laila is a beautiful young woman. Following the patriarchal conventions, she moves to Kashmir to marry a man named Tanvir. Due to political conflicts, every movement in Kashmir is closely monitored by the police and military. In the middle of such situation, her appearance attracts the attention of the entire village, to the extent to which there is a power figure who is strongly determined to conquer her. This film is inspired by the poetry of 14th century Kashmiri mystic Lalleshwari and tells us a story of a brilliant, brave, and a modern young woman overcomes challenges to herself and her family. She does not only know who she is, but also desire to take her fate into her own hands. Beautiful and subliminal Himalayan landscape and seven folk songs about marriage, relocation, temptation, and others also contribute to the beauty of film. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Two without sea

Two without sea by Ikeda Elaiza – Japan | 2020 – 105 minutes

This film is Japanese famous model and actor IKEDA Elaiza’s directorial debut and will have its world premiere at the JEONJU IFF. It is a youth film about the boys in their late teens spend before they become adults. Sho and Tiaga, who grew up in the same neighborhood since they were little, are in their last year of high school. They are also the duo who beat the drums at town festivals. However, Taiga announces that he will not play drums this year to prepare to go to college. Sho, who has no plan of his future, cannot think straight. Like The Blue Bird by Maurice MAETERLINCK, the film tells the story of the youth realizing that happiness is not far away. It is a local film filmed in Tagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Voices in the Wind

Voices in the Wind by Suwa Nobuhiro – Japan | 2020 – 140 minutes

Haru, a former resident of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, lost her family in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, at the age of nine. Ever since, she has been living with her aunt in Hiroshima. When her aunt collapses and becomes hospitalized, she is once again left on her own. Haru starts hitchhiking back to her old home. This road movie follows Haru’s journey from Hiroshima to Iwate. Along the way, she encounters many people who share their life stories and wounds—not only in connection with the 2011 earthquake but also disasters that drive people into despair and helplessness. An elderly woman in a village ravaged by a landslide recalls the atomic bombings of Hiroshima. Later, Haru meets a family of Kurdish refugees, who suffer the pain of wandering without a home country. Through her encounters with others, Haru learns to embrace pain and console grief. Especially, Morio, a middle-aged man still searching for his family who went missing in the tsunami, explains why they must live on in spite of everything. Another masterpiece from SUWA Nobuhiro, Voices in the Wind, is at once a deeply moving coming-of-age story of a young girl who withstands the impact of a catastrophe, and a kind of ritual for its victims. The long take towards the end of the film where Haru speaks into “the wind phone” to communicate with the deceased is the highlight of the ceremony. [Moon Seok]

 

 

Wet Season

Wet Season by Anthony Chen – Singapore, Taiwan | 2019 – 103 minutes

The monsoon season begins in Singapore. Ling is a Chinese language teacher at a high school. She really wants to have a baby but it is extremely difficult for her to get pregnant. Her husband is too busy with work and does not seem to care about domestic life. It gets more and more difficult to take care of her father-in-law. Neither her students nor her fellow teachers care about the Chinese language that she teaches. But an unlikely friendship with a student begins, which then transforms into something more than a friendship between a teacher and a student. Wet season in this psychological drama reflects the characters’ mind. Also noticeable is that Ling, who is from Malaysia teaches Chinese language. This film also speaks to issues surrounding language identity; although more than 70% of the population is ethnically Chinese, the Chinese language is rather under-appreciated in Singapore. [Moon Seok]

 

For more information about the films and how to watch them please go to the official website: http://eng.jiff.or.kr/

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