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10 Films you shouldn’t miss at the London East Asia Film Festival

These are ten films you shouldn’t miss at the London East Asia Film Festival which will take place from October 21st – 31st, 2021 in London, UK.

– Recommended Films –

A Balance by Yujiro Harumoto – Japan | 2020 – 153 minutes

Yuko is a filmmaker working on a new project about a relationship between a teacher and student that resulted in their suicide. She is looking at intimidation might have led to their drastic act. But she soon discovers that her father, a teacher, was also involved in a similar relationship. How will this affect the way she makes the film – are there any boundaries between the professional and the personal? Yujiro Harumoto’s second feature is unfussy in its exploration of the role shame and honour plays in society, as well as examining the role of the filmmaker and the responsibility they have in entering their subjects’ lives. It is also a fascinating exploration of the boundaries of journalistic investigation. When does the ‘right to know’ infringe a person’s right to privacy? (LEAFF 2021)

Screening Date:
October 23rd, 2021 | Saturday | Odeon Luxe West End | 15:00 pm

Trailer:

A Leg by Chang Yao-Sheng – Taiwan | 2020 – 115 minutes

Screenwriter Chang Yao-Sheng’s directorial debut conjures up a darkly comic drama that explores a couple’s relationship through the prism of an administrative error. Qian Yu-Ying (Gwei Lun-Mei) is in hospital with her husband Zheng Zi-Han (Yang You-Ning), who is forced to undergo an urgent operation to have his leg removed. However, he slips into a coma and dies. Leaving in an ambulance with his body, Qian suddenly realises her husband’s leg has remained behind. She returns to the hospital and finds herself caught up in a mire of Kafka-esque bureaucracy. At the same time, the film flashes back to the past, detailing the couple’s first encounter, their life as ballroom dancers and the gradual deterioration of their relationship. In his portrait of the relationship, Chang skilfully balances mordant humour with heartfelt emotion, aided in no small part by Gwei’s superb central performance. (LEAFF 2021)

Screening Date:
October 30th, 2021 | Saturday | The Cinema At Selfridges | 20:30 pm

Trailer:

Elisa’s Day by Alan Fung – Hong Kong | 2020 – 106 minutes

For Sergeant Fai (Ronald Cheng), a cop nearing retirement, an encounter with a young woman casts his mind back to similar circumstances 15 years ago, which contributed to his career being derailed. A young couple found themselves on hard times, turned to crime and faced the consequences. In the present, Fai wonders if he could have done something different back then and whether this recent encounter is an opportunity for redemption. Alan Fung’s directorial debut, which he wrote, evinces a sombre tone as it explores a tragedy from the past and the possibility of avoiding one in the present. Understated in both visual style and performance, it is a moving portrait of ordinary lives torn apart by fate. (LEAFF 2021)

Screening Date:
October 30th, 2021 | Saturday | Odeon Covent Garden | 12:00 pm

Trailer:

Keep Rolling by Chung-Man Lim – Hong Kong  | 2020 – 111 minutes

Few filmmakers – and sadly, fewer female filmmakers – can lay claim to being as essential a part of Hong Kong cinema as Ann Hui. Born in Manchuria, she moved to Hong Kong when she was five. She trained at film school in London before returning home to become an assistant to King Hu and then direct a series of acclaimed, and sometimes controversial documentaries, before making her feature debut? ‘The Secret’ in 1979. Her fourth feature, 1982’s ‘Boat People’, brought her international recognition and over the subsequent forty years she has been a vital part of Hong Kong’s filmmaking landscape. Chung-Man Lim’s documentary portrait is an engrossing journey through Hui’s life and work, highlighting her seamless ability to shift gears with her films, between polished genre fare and more probing social issue dramas, all the while maintaining her singular voice. (LEAFF 2021)

Screening Date:
October 24th, 2021 | Sunday | Odeon Luxe West End | 21:20 pm

Trailer:

Limbo by Soi Cheang – Hong Kong | 2021 – 118 minutes

A brutal killer is on the loose on the streets of Hong Kong and veteran cop Cham Lau (Ka Tung Lam) is partnered with rookie Will Ren (Mason Lee) to hunt the assailant down. But before they do, the two men must find some common ground. Will is by-the-book, while the grizzled Cham has no time for the niceties of procedure and will get the job done any way he can, even if that pushes the duo to the very edge of legality. If the set-up recalls a classic trope of the Hong Kong police thriller, Soi Cheang’s visual approach is markedly different. Regular Johnnie To cinematographer Siu-Keung Cheng shot the film in crisp monochrome and with rain a constant in the film, the visuals often dazzle. It’s a bold choice from the actor-turned-director of the ‘Monkey King’ series. (LEAFF 2021)

Screening Date:
October 23rd, 2021 | Saturday | Odeon Luxe West End | 21:45 pm

Trailer:

Not Out by Lee Jung-gon – South Korea | 2020 – 108 minutes

To Gwangho (Jeong Jae-Kwang), baseball is everything. It’s the only path he can see in his life and he has proven himself a valuable member of his high school team. But when he fails to make the cut for a professional team, his life starts to spiral out of control. He decides to play at university, but to attend he needs funding. So he hatches a plan with a friend that draws him into the periphery of the underworld and people who have no interest in his aspirations, only his ability to play his part in their enterprise. Lee Jung-gon’s drama questions the point at which we must accept that our dreams are just that, and the danger of wanting to achieve them at any cost (LEAFF 2021).

Screening Date:
October 24th, 2021 | Sunday | Odeon Luxe West End | 15:00 pm

Trailer:

Sasaki In My Mind by Takuya Uchiyama – Japan | 2020 – 118 minutes

Yuji (Kisetsu Fujiwara), a struggling actor who still lives with his ex-girlfriend (Minori Hagiwara) and earns money through a banal job at a local factory, is approached by a friend (Nijiro Murakami) to take a role in an upcoming play he has written. After a chance encounter with an old high school friend, Yuji looks back on their past and the friendship with their mutual pal Sasaki (Gaku Hosokawa). A troubled teen, Sasaki was always the centre of attention. And Yuji realises that Sasaki may have played a more significant part in his life than he previously thought. Based on a story conceived by Hosokawa – inspired by his own experiences – Takuya Uchiyama’s compelling portrait of friendship captures the excitement, energy, absurdity and drama of youth (LEAFF 2021)

Screening Date:
October 22nd, 2021 | Friday | The Cinema at Selfridges | 21:00 pm

Trailer:

The Silent Forest by Ko Chien-Nien – Taiwan | 2020 – 108 minutes

Hearing-impaired teen Chang Cheng (Liu Tzu-Chuan) is transferred to a school catering to students with special needs. Everything seems fine at first, but Chang gradually comes to learn the institution’s terrible secret. Inspired by events that took place at National Tainan Special School, Ko Chien-Nien’s powerful and damning drama is nevertheless sensitive in its portrayal of systemic abuse that takes place at the school and the impact it has on the students. Crucially, Ko Chen-Nien and Lin Pin Chun’s screenplay examines the trauma on the students and how such abuse can carry on for years with it being uncovered or investigated. Impressively acted, it is an unsettling and sobering drama. (LEAFF 2021)

Screening Date:
October 31st, 2021 | Sunday | Odeon Covent Garden | 12:00 pm

Trailer:

Ushiku by Thomas Ash – Japan | 2021 – 87 minutes

Behind the stories of refugees fleeing war, famine and persecution around the world are the tales of their treatment when they arrive at what they hope will be a safe port. From the US, Europe and Australasia, tales of ill treatment abound. For the most part, Japan appears to have played no significant role in this. But stories escaping from the Ushiku immigration centre near Tokyo present a different portrait. Filmmaker Thomas Ash used a hidden camera to interview people held at the centre, which is utilised for anyone seeking refuge in the country. It contrasts the dire situation of the detainees, who talk of bullying and coercion by guards, with the hypocrisy of government officials’ claims that the detainees are being treated humanely. The result is a powerful and disturbing, but essential record of human rights abuses and the need for a global policy on the treatment of peoples who have every right to seek a safe home somewhere in the world (LEAFF 2021).

Screening Date:
October 24th, 2021 | Sunday | Odeon Luxe West End | 17:15 pm

Trailer:

Whether The Weather Is Fine by Carlo Francisco Manatad – Philippines | 2021 – 105 minutes

Filmmaker Carlo Francisco Manatad’s home town of Tacloban was severely damaged when Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in November 2013. His feature directorial debut focuses on the aftermath of this event. Miguel (Daniel Padilla) emerges from the detritus of the storm searching for his mother Norma (Charo Santos-Concio) and girlfriend Andrea (Rans Rifol). When he finds them, Miguel suggests they leave, but Norma wants to find her estranged husband, while Andrea has other local concerns. Meanwhile, the dreams that have plagued Manual become increasingly vivid. Manatad corrals these disparate elements into a powerful portrait of conflict, between the characters on a personal level and, on a more global scale, between humankind and the environment (LEAFF 2021).

Screening Date:
October 28th, 2021 | Thursday | The Chiswick Cinema | 18:30 pm

Trailer:

For more information about the festival please go to: https://www.leaff.org.uk

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