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10 Short Films you shouldn’t miss at the 17th Osaka Asian Film Festival

These are ten short films you shouldn’t miss at the 17th Osaka Asian Film Festival, which will take place from March 10-20, 2022 in Osaka, Japan. *The festival is running an online program available until March 21st, 2022*

– Selected Films –

A Room of One’s Own by Xie Yiran – China | 2022 – 25 minutes
Section: Spotlight | World Premiere

A young couple, Quiney (WANG Xin) and Chen Feng (XIAO Dingchen) move into their new apartment and find a giant red mattress. Quiney wants it gone while Chen Feng is happy to leave it laying there. The mattress and their attitudes to it serve as a metaphor for how they regard life as Quiney finds her space and freedom controlled by her lazy boyfriend. As the relationship becomes more toxic, she realizes something must be thrown out…

How spaces are designed and used and how families treat male and female members are some of the thrusts the film A Room of One’s Own makes in an examination of gender dynamics. While the title is a reference to Virginia Wolfe’s famous work, it has the hip visual style of a French film (filmmaker XIE Yiran dedicates her film to Anna Karina and Agnes Varda) and so its build-up of its central thesis has a light touch. [Jason Maher | OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 11th, 2022 | Friday | Cine Libre Umeda 3 | 19:00 pm
March 16th, 2022 | Wednesday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 11:30 am

Trailer:

A Winter Glove by Lee Hyeon-ju – Korea | 2021 – 28 minutes
Section: Spotlight | Japan Premiere

The existential angst surrounding beginnings and endings informs this latest short from award-winning director LEE Hyeon-ju. The central character is In-kyung (KIM Jung-min), a piano teacher at a private academy in Seoul. For her, life is one spent patiently guiding her students’ progress through their scales and scores but when her long-term boyfriend announces that he has clinched a job in Japan, everything is upended. Without telling him, she decides to take Japanese classes, but when asked in class why she is learning, she doesn’t know how to respond and a fellow student further upsets her balance…

Shot during autumn and winter, the film’s tone is dominated by a sense of melancholy, whether it is from the chilly landscape that surrounds In-kyung or the spaces that open up between herself and the people in her life as she is about to experience momentous change. [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 13th, 2022 | Sunday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 16:50 pm
March 18th, 2022 | Friday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 12:20 pm

Trailer:

An Excessive Day by Zhao Danyang – Korea, China | 2021 – 25 minutes
Section: Spotlight | International Premiere

After packing her bags and leaving the motel she has been staying at, Jin Seo-woo (OH Woo-ri) makes the long trek back to a convenience store where she’s been working part-time to claim her late final payment from her manager. When she arrives, she meets a nervous part-timer who is her replacement. As Seo-woo waits for contact with her manager, a surprising connection is revealed at the end of an excessive day.

Director ZHAO’s clear direction and concise storytelling sensitively unpacks a social issue inside a character study with skill. [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 11th, 2022 | Friday | Cine Libre Umeda 3 | 14:40 pm
March 16th, 2022 | Wednesday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 16:20 am

Trailer:

Bagmati River by Matsumoto Yusaku – Japan, Nepal | 2022 – 29 minutes
Section: Indie Forum | World Premiere

Natsuki (ABE Junko) travels from Japan to Nepal after she receives an anonymous postcard with a picture of Mt. Everest printed on the back. It reminds her of her brother Kenji, who went missing while attempting to climb Everest. Natsuki has always wondered about his motivations, what kind of person he was, and who he was close to. While Natsuki realises she doesn’t know her brother at all, she still believes that the postcard was sent by him and decides to go to Everest to find the answers to her questions.

Director MATSUMOTO Yusaku initially planned to make a documentary about KURIKI Nobukazu, a well-known mountain climber, but it became a tribute after KURIKI tragically died during an attempt to scale Everest. Shot on location in Nepal with DP KISHI Kentaro (Noise, The Sower), MATSUMOTO uses the story a woman’s ascent of Everest and the film’s audio and visuals to powerfully convey the awe-inspiring landscape, the exertion involved in inhabiting it, and the spiritual lessons it can impart. [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 12th, 2022 | Saturday | Cine Libre Umeda 3 | 14:10 pm
March 15th, 2022 | Tuesday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 14:00 pm

Trailer:

Enclosed by Yang Yi – USA, China | 2022 – 19 minutes
Section: Spotlight | Asian Premiere

With his father away from the house, a shy 14-year-old boy named Julio (Ashton MIRAMONTES) lets his longing for the affection of April (Talia MARTIN), his family’s cleaning lady, spill over during one hot summer’s day. The atmosphere is with longing and his interactions overplayed as Julio leaves signs of his desire around the house for April to discover as she goes about the quotidian aspects of her routine. As the day wears on and they get closer, he works up the courage to get closer to her, but what the youngster doesn’t quite register is that she bears the marks of violence and that his long-hoped-for moment of intimacy may see him left traumatised. [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 12th, 2022 | Saturday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 11:40 pm
March 17th, 2022 | Thursday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 16:20 pm

Trailer:

My Sister by Pan Ke-yin – Taiwan | 2021 – 25 minutes
Section: Special Programs <Taiwan: Movies on the Move 2022> | International Premiere

A family of four ride a bike to a train station. Sat between her mother and father is Hsiao-chun (HUANG Pei-chi), a newly-minted 18-year-old girl who is about to start her university days. After years of sharing a room with her super-irritating little brother Hsia-zai (CHU Yi-min), freedom beckons but conflicting emotions run through Hsiao-chun as she has found out a secret that changes how she looks at her family, especially that brat of a brother.

The build up to this pivotal sequence is one of closely observed domestic details and naturalistic acting from a stellar cast who seemingly portray ambivalence so well, we see how their actions cause gloomy emotions to overshadow Hsiao-chun’s bright future but the ending is a complete knockout as the warmth and reassurance of family bonds are revealed. [Jason Maher | OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 11th, 2022 | Friday | Cine Libre Umeda 3 | 14:40 pm
March 16th, 2022 | Wednesday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 16:20 pm

Trailer:

Natsuko by Iijima Shuna – Japan | 2020 – 16 minutes
Section: Indie Forum | Japan Premiere

Natsuko (TAKESHITA Kaori) lives with her husband in the countryside. A few times a year, he goes away for two days to meet his daughter from his previous marriage and it is during these times, while waiting for his return, Natsuko deals with her dark emotions.

In this exquisitely shot short, IIJIMA’s experience on screen clearly informs what she records and how as a lively yet observant camera captures the tiniest of gestures from a powerful performance by TAKESHITA Kaori. Through evocative sets and locations, we get Natsuko’s background and her character’s turbulent emotions come out through TAKESHITA’s restless body and dialogue delivery that aches with resignation and frustration. [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 12th, 2022 | Saturday | Cine Libre Umeda 3 | 14:10 pm
March 15th, 2022 | Tuesday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 14:00 pm

Stigma, Style by Cherly Wong Ye Han – Singapore, USA | 2021 – 13 minutes
Section: Special Programs <New Action! Southeast Asia> | Japan Premiere

In an atmospheric short taking place on a sticky summer’s day in Singapore, Kerri, our central protagonist, is fretting about spending time at her friend’s house. Specifically, it is the pool, as she has been invited to dive in. With the fast moving currents of adolescence whipping around her due to a growing awareness of changes to her own body and the perceptions of others, she is reluctant. However, her friend’s sister, Clara, gives her confidence in a way. Is it admiration or a crush? Being brave, Kerri swims into those currents to get closer to Clara and we see how she grows.

Drawing upon her own background, director WONG tells a story of girlhood via the central protagonist’s growing self-consciousness and resistance to the pressure of others as she finds the courage to take ownership of her oncoming womanhood. This sensitive story was captured by an all-female production crew. [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 11th, 2022 | Friday | Cine Libre Umeda 3 | 19:00 pm
March 16th, 2022 | Wednesday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 11:30 am

Trailer:

Strangers by Suzuki Sae – Japan | 2022 – 38 minutes
Section: Indie Forum | World Premiere

Yukie (USAMARU Manami), a dental nurse in a rural town, doesn’t verbalise her true feelings often but she dreams of living by the sea. This is vague desire becomes something more concrete when the relentless power harassment of her boss turns into sexual harassment and she makes the impulsive decision to flee to Tokyo with the clinic’s cash. There, for one day, she can be free to do as she pleases and so she changes her appearance and personality and meets up with a guy on a dating app who is hiding his own inner pain. Together, they offer each other hope for a new life even as their old ones tether them to reality.

Utilising a contrast in landscapes and sets well, director SUZUKI Sae elicits feelings of suffocation and freedom in the life of Yukie as Tokyo becomes a playground for the wounded woman who achieves a sense of peace, something brought out wonderfully by lead actress USAMARU (“Sisterhood” – OAFF2019). [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 11th, 2022 | Friday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 16:30 pm
March 17th, 2022 | Thursday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 11:30 am

Vacation Event by Choi Min-young – Korea | 2021 – 39 minutes
Section: Spotlight | International Premiere

It is 2007 and in a house without any parents, it falls upon older sister Ga-hye (PARK Han-sol) to hold down a delivery job and take care of her younger brother Kwang-hyun’s (PARK Kang-sub) even though she is a teen herself. This plucky girl is also a minor delinquent, which gets her involved in all sorts of scrapes brought on by the need for cash and Kwang-hyun’s developing consumerist tendencies – think a desire for expensive Apple iPods. When it turns out that Kwang-hyun has been made class monitor and he wants to get hamburgers and cola for his classmate’s vacation, Ga-hye plans to steal a motorcycle and buy those hamburgers with the proceeds.

Despite this only being director CHOI’s fourth film production, it features a rich atmosphere of summer and strong performances, all of which were good enough to snag the film the Jeonju International Film Festival’s Short Film Grand Prize. [Jason Maher – OAFF 2022]

Screening Dates:
March 12th, 2022 | Saturday | Cine Libre Umeda 3 | 14:10 pm
March 15th, 2022 | Tuesday | Cine Libre Umeda 4 | 14:00 pm

Trailer:

For more information about the festival please visit: https://www.oaff.jp/2022/en/index.html

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