12 Films you shouldn’t miss at the 29th Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema

These are twelve films you shouldn’t miss at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema which will take place from February 28 until March 7, 2023 in Vesoul, France.

#LookAtMe by Ken Kwek – Singapore | 2022 – 108 minutes

Sean, Ricky and Sean’s girlfriend attend a rock concert at an evangelical megachurch, where the pastor gives a virulently anti-LGBTQ+ sermon. YouTuber Sean gets in trouble for making a saucy vlog lashing out at the pastor. He is prosecuted with a defamation lawsuit for violating Singapore’s laws. As Sean’s mental state deteriorates in prison, his gay twin brother Ricky becomes a leading LGBTQ activist. (FICA 2023)

A Letter from Kyoto by Kim Min-ju – Korea | 2022- 102 minutes

Hwa-ja has raised her three daughters by herself after her husband died. One day, Hye-young, the middle child, who dreams of becoming a writer, comes back to Yeongdo in Busan after having some mishaps in Seoul. Yeongdo is a lively neighborhood where a lot of foreigners move to; according to a myth, once you enter Yeongdo, you will have trouble leaving it. The eldest, Hye-jin, works to support her family financially and the youngest, Hye-joo, dreams of going to Seoul to study after she graduates from high-school. While spending time with her mother, Hye-young comes across a letter written in Japanese that arouses her curiosity. (FICA 2023)


Apprentice by Boo Junfeng – Singapore | 2016 – 96 minutes

Aiman works in a high security prison. Rahim, the chief executioner there, accompanies prisoners condemned to death in the final days before their execution. He quickly takes the young prison guard under his wing and teaches him the ropes. Aiman proves himself to be a very industrious underling but his conscience and his real motivations gradually catch up with him…


Ilo Ilo by Anthony Chen – Singapore | 2013 – 99 minutes

In Singapore, Jiale, a turbulent, young boy, lives with his parents. Family relationships are strained and the mother, overwhelmed by her son, decides to employ Teresa, a young woman from the Philippines. Teresa is soon confronted by the self-willed Jiale, while the Asian financial crisis in 1997 begins to spread throughout the whole area.


In Our Prime by Liu Yulin – China | 2022 – 119 minutes

Yitian is a 30-year-old radio host who seems to live a fulfilling life. However, her relationships with her broke ex-husband, her lover about to get divorced, her boisterous young son, her sick and drunk father and her cousin, a food-delivery boy, reveal that her life is somewhat sad and bittersweet. The crises that Yitian and those around her face arise from the life conditions in a big Chinese city, where capitalism has swiftly taken over. (FICA 2023)


Jiseok by Kim Young-jo – Korea | 2022 – 117 minutes

In May 2017, Kim Jiseok, deputy programmer of the Busan International Film Festival, died from a heart attack at the Cannes Film Festival. This unexpected death was a shock for the whole world of Asian cinema. This documentary was conceived to pay tribute to Kim Jiseok who, as one of the BIFF’s founding members in 1996, created and made the identity of the Busan International Film Festival – the “Hub of Asian films”. (FICA 2023)


Love Life by Kôji Fukada – Japan | 2022 – 123 minutes

Taeko, her husband Jiro and her son Keita live a peaceful life. They live across from the apartment of Jiro’s parents, who had never really accepted that marriage and wish they were grand-parents. Keita is an endearing little boy, passionate about the Othello game. His accidental death at a birthday party is a tragedy for everyone. Keita’s longlost biological father, deaf and homeless, comes back to their life. Taeko, finding out about an ex-fiancé of her husband’s, gets close to her ex-husband again and helps him, putting her new relationship in danger. (FICA 2023)


Return to Seoul by Davy Chou – Korea, France | 2022 – 119 minutes

On an impulse, Freddie at 25, returns for the first time to South Korea where she was born. The young woman throws herself ardently into the search for her roots in this country, foreign to her, and sends the course of her life in new and unexpected directions.


The Farewell by Lulu Wang – China, USA | 2019 – 100 minutes

When they find out that Nai Nai, their adored mother and grandmother, is suffering from an incurable illness, her family, following Chinese tradition, decide not to tell her the truth. They therefore use her grandson’s marriage as pretext for a family reunion so as to share her last moments of happiness together. For her granddaughter, Billi, born in China but brought up in the United States, the pretence is harder to keep up. But it is also for her the chance to rediscover her roots and the intensity of the ties which link her to her grandmother…


The Sales Girl by Sengedorj Janchivdorj – Mongolia | 2022 – 124 minutes

When Namuuna slips on a banana skin and breaks her leg, she is forced to find a temporary replacement for her afternoon job that requires a great deal of discretion. And who better than shy and loner fellow student Saruul can guarantee secrecy? It doesn’t take long to convince Saruul that the money is good and the job is easy, despite being a bit out of the ordinary. In fact, the task consists in tending a Sex Shop and, at the end of the day, going personally to hand over the day’s earnings to Katya, the shop owner, an eccentric middle-aged woman living with a cat in a sophisticated apartment. Gradually, the routine meetings at the end of the shift bring the two women closer. (FICA 2023)


When the Waves are Gone by Lav Diaz – Philippines | 2022 – 187 minutes

Lieutenant Hermes Papauran, one of the best investigators in the Philippines, finds himself in a deep moral dilemma: he witnesses the responsibility of the police force in the deadly anti-drug campaign, led by the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte. Right after his election as the Philippines’ president in 2016, he launches his so-called “war against drugs”, shocking the world by the brutality and the human rights’ violations that ensue from it. The unlawful extrajudicial killings imputed to drug have become endemic and most of the murders are police-related. These atrocities are corroding Lieutenant Papauran both physically and spiritually. He suffers from a severe psoriasis, a skin disease resulting from insidious anxiety. (FICA 2023)


Women of the Weeping River by Sheron Dayoc – Philippines | 2016 – 95 minutes

In the mountains of Mindanao, in the Philippines, territorial fights, ethnic quarrels and the clan culture have torn families apart from generation to generation. In a context of general armed conflict, insecurity prevails and going out always becomes a possible danger. Satra, a young widow, is torn between the will to avenge her husband’s death and to protect her loved ones. The river that separates her family land from the Ishmaels’ is the scene of all the resentment, but also of all the pain.


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