These are four films you shouldn’t miss at the London East Asia Film Festival, which will take place from December 10th – 13th, 2020.
About the festival:
The LEAFF aims to champion the growing collaboration in East Asian filmmaking with a philosophy that marks a shift in the cinematic landscape of East Asia, and moves away from cultural and cinematic borders. Their vision is to bring a much wider, eclectic, and diverse programme of films from over 13 countries to show the richness and diversity of the region and its people.
Shifting seamlessly back and forth in time, Derek Tsang’s powerful adaptation of Jiu Yuexi’s novel In His Youth, In Her Beauty opens with a tragedy. One young student, unable to cope with the pressure of upcoming exams and the daily bullying she has constantly faced, has thrown herself off the roof of a school building. When Chen Nian (Dongyu Zhou) covers the dead girl’s face she marks herself out as the bullies’ next target. Unlike her privileged foes, Chen comes from a poor home where her mother barely makes ends meet. And the grind of school pressures and physical attacks and constant taunting from the gang sees Chen pushed closer to the edge. However, a chance encounter with Xiao Bei (Jackson Yee), a local bad boy she helps when he is attacked, might offer Chen a way of finally evening the score. Mutual respect turns to affection, even love, and together they decide to right the wrongs they face. The winner of eight Hong Kong Film Awards and a huge domestic hit, Derek Tsang’s follow-up to his 2016 hit Soulmate – which also starred Dongyu Zhou – is a powerful and affecting drama that not only focuses on a difficult subject with intelligence, it asks probing questions about the role of society, from the family to school and the law, in ensuring everyone’s right to grow up free from abuse. (LEAFF 2020)
December 11th, 2020 (Friday) | Cineworld Cinema – London Leicester Square | 17:00 pm
The film unfolds in 1962, ten years into the White Terror, the decades-long period of martial law imposed by the Kuomintang. In a middle school, a small group of students and teachers gather to read and copy banned texts. Fang Ray-shin (Gingle Wang) is infatuated with the leader of the group, while she in turn is the object of fellow student Wei Chung-ting’s (Jing-Hua Tseng) affections. For some inexplicable reason, Ray-shin and Chung-ting find themselves alone in the school at night. But it is no longer a place they recognise. The military presence has been replaced by otherworldly creatures and the school itself seems to have absorbed the brutality of the authoritarian regime and has transformed into a labyrinth of ghosts, ghouls and much, much worse. An unsettling allegory of a brutal dictatorship, Hsu’s film unleashes a barrage of impressive effects to create a nightmare world. He blurs reality, memory and dreams, shifting the action between various timeframes to reveal the impact of betrayal on the idealism of the small group, who see in their work the hope of freedom of thought and action. It’s a topic that has rarely been covered by cinema, let alone a film that proved popular with audiences and went on to win five Golden Horse statuettes at the Tapei Film Awards. With its blend of horror, action and social commentary, Detention is a rollercoaster ride of shock and suspense. (LEAFF 2020)
December 11th, 2020 (Friday) | Cineworld Cinema – London Leicester Square | 20:00 pm
Intensely obsessive-compulsive and highly phobic of germs, Po-Ching lives a very precisely scheduled but lonely life. That is until he encounters Chen Ching, a young woman whose condition is comparable to his own. Things seem as perfect as an imperfect pair could hope for, until one day when Po-Ching awakes to find his OCD has vanished. (LEAFF 2020)
December 12th, 2020 (Saturday) | Selfridges Cinema | 18:15 pm
The impending closure of his school forces 12-year-old Han to leave behind his grandmother’s idyllic mountain home and relocate to Taipei to live with his estranged mother, Li. But life in the city is fraught with adversity- especially for Li, who, after being spurned by her lover, takes a series of degrading nightclub jobs to support herself and her son. (LEAFF 2020)
December 13th, 2020 (Sunday) | Selfridges Cinema | 20:15 pm
For more information about the festival and the programme please visit the official website here: https://www.leaff.org.uk