7th East Asia Film Festival Ireland – Programme 2023

We take a look at the programme of the East Asia Film Festival Ireland which will take place from March 30 until April 2, 2023 in Dublin, and on tour from April 1 – 6, 2023 in Galway, Limerick, and Cork.

– Feature Films –

Absence by Wu Lang – China | 2023 – 102 minutes

Chinese writer-director Wu Lang’s striking debut feature tells the story of Han Jiangyu (Lee Kang-Sheng) who returns to his hometown on Hainan Island after ten years in jail. Han Jiangyu wants to reconnect with Su Hong (Li Meng) and her child, Yao, but who exactly are they to him? His former lover? His child? The town has radically changed meanwhile, with lots of skyscrapers being built, and Su Hong is planning to buy an apartment in one of them. Han Jiangyu gets a job through a developer friend Kai, who’s dad it seems was the reason Han Jiangyu went to jail. (EAFFI 2023)


Blue Island by Chan Tze Woon – Hong Kong, Japan | 2022 – 97 minutes

The original Chinese title of Blue Island specifies its blueness as melancholy reflection. Indeed, Chan Tze Woon’s beautiful film extends the run of excellent recent documentaries on the 2019 protest movement such as Inside the Red Brick Wall (2020) beyond in-the-thick-it documentary. Instead, Blue Island contemplates recent events as part of Hong Kong’s long struggle against external hegemony, including during British rule. The comparison of today’s protestors with the young leftist demonstrators of the late 1960s has been controversial. But Chan’s film has two strokes of brilliance. First, he casts today’s young protestors in re-enactments of the events of the 1960s and asks them what they feel. Second, he brings them together with the now middle-aged men and women they are impersonating. The results are thoughtful, tender, resolute, and heart-breaking. (EAFFI 2023)


Eat Drink Man by Ang Lee – Taiwan, USA | 1994 – 124 minutes

We are delighted to present, with the support of the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute, the restored version of Ang Lee’s classic and ‘exquisite’ multi-generational Eat Drink Man Woman. The last film in Lee’s family trilogy known as the ‘father knows best’ series, Eat Drink Man Woman was the first of them to be shot in his native contemporary Taipei, a place he found quite foreign upon returning there to film. Served by a fabulous cast (and fascinating food!), the film tells the story of widowed master chef Chu (Sihung Lung) who lives with his three adult daughters – Jia-Jen (Yang Kuei-Mei); Jia-Chien (Wu Chien-Lien); and Jia-Ning (Wang Yu-Wen). The weekly family gathering revolves around elaborate Sunday dinners prepared affectionally by Chu for his daughters, and occasionally a friend and neighbour. There they share the changes in their lives, each of them using this central moment to make important announcements and revelations, all to tender and wonderful effect. (EAFFI 2023)


Far Away Eyes by  Wang Chun-Hong – Taiwan | 2022 – 79 minutes

In Far Away Eyes, writer-director Wang Chun-Hong, a photographer born in Taiwan, plays the young male protagonist in his debut feature set in Taipei at a crucial period of history – the Taiwan presidential election in January 2020. Wang Chun-Hong was inspired to imagine his film – about a young man trapped by the unknown – on seeing a photograph of a group of people watching two planes in the sky. In a few months he will turn thirty and while he reflects on his emotional state, his past, present and possible future, he encounters by chance an ex-girlfriend. Wang Chun-Hong merges documentary and auto-fiction to forge his own cinematic visual style, a blended language of image overlays, mirror-images, panning and long takes. All captured in stunning black and white, time appears to slow down and scenes become near static photographs. (Marie-Pierre Richard)


Harmonium by Koji Fukada – Japan, France | 2016 – 119 minutes

Harmonium is divided in two halves: in the first we meet Toshio (Kanji Furutachi), who runs a workshop under his home where he lives with his wife Akié (Mariko Tsutsui) and their lovely daughter Hotaru (Momone Shinokawa). When Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano) a friend from Toshio’s s past, newly released from prison, arrives in their life, Toshio offers him a job. Slowly the close-knit family grows into a foursome sharing meals and vacations, but this seemingly idyllic arrangement can’t last. The second half jumps some eight years after… As with Kōji Fukada’s most recent film Love Life, underlying tension and flaws in social and domestic harmony spiral out of control with the unexpected arrival of an outsider with a shared past. With a significant narrative jumps, naturalistic performances and elegant visual compositions, camera setups and extended tracking shots reveal another deeply harrowing slow burn psycho-drama. (EAFFI 2023)


Love Life by Koji Fukada – Japan, France | 2022 – 123 minutes

Taeko (the wonderful Fumino Kimura) lives in a small Japanese city with her husband Jiro (Kento Nagayama) and her eight year old son Keita, from a previous marriage to deaf Korean-Japanese Park Shinji (Atom Sunada). After a tragic accident, homeless and jobless Park reappears in Taeko’s life. Taeko is the only person who can communicate, using Japanese sign language, with Park, and this disrupts Taeko and Jiro’s already unbalanced relationship. (EAFFI 2023)


Return to Seoul by Davy Chou – Cambodia, France, Germany, Belgium, Qatar | 2022 – 116 minutes

25 year-old French-Korean woman, Frédérique Benoît, aka Freddie, has lived in France all her life having been adopted at an early age. Now she finds herself journeying in Seoul, her first time in her native land, in a culture and a language she doesn’t know. She befriends Tena and Dongwan and on their advice seeks help from the international adoption centre, precipitating a chaotic eight year life-changing journey of self-discovery, and reconciliation with her birth parents. (EAFFI 2023)


The Novelist’s Film by Hong Sangsoo – Korea | 2022 – 92 minutes

Film writer-curator Dennis Lim remarks that in Hong’s films from the past decade ‘women are the true heroes’, and this was never more true than here. Veteran novelist Junhee (Lee Hyeyoung, In Front of Your Face), has lost her inspiration. She makes a daytrip to a small town where she visits a former colleague and bookstore owner, and this leads to chance encounters – first, a filmmaker who has failed to adapt one of her books, and then actress Kilsoo (luminous Kim Minhee) who is also questioning her role as an artist. Feeling inspired Junhee wants to make a short film with Kilsoo. (Marie-Pierre Richard)


Zero by Kazuhiro Soda – Japan, USA | 2020 – 128 minutes

The latest film by Japanese documentary filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda, Zero is a brilliant and beautiful portrait of psychiatrist Dr. Yamamoto, who retires from his clinic in Okayama after more than 50 years of practice to embark on a new path in life. Leaving his patients after all these years, and devoted to caring for himself and his frail wife Yoshiko and her slow decline from dementia, brings new challenges. His second film on Dr. Yamamoto (a follow-on to Mental, 2008) director Soda frames this as an ‘observational documentary’ based on the principles including ‘no research’, ‘no script’, and ‘roll the camera yourself’, some of his ‘10 commandments of observational filmmaking’. Moving, raw and emotional, Zero is an intimate film of deep affection. A portrait of inspiring human experience and a unique insight of an older generation dealing with health and ageing. (Marie-Pierre Richard)


– Short Films –

A Moment Twice Lived by Martin Healy – Ireland | 2016 – 12 minutes

Martin Healy’ short film, A Moment Twice Lived explores our perception of the passage of time through the subjective experience of memory, ageing and dreaming. The work makes reference to JW Dunne’s theoretical book ‘An experiment with time’ (1927), which described a series of precognitive dreams, in which he experienced multiple dimensions of time. In the film, Dunne’s theories are reflected in the formal structure of the narrative and an analogy is created between the artifice of filmmaking and the experience of time repeated. (EAFFI 2023)

All Tomorrow’s Parties by Zhang Dalei – China | 2023 – 24 mintues

China after the 1990 Asian Games. Xiao Zhou works in the state-owned film studios as a receptionist and distributes tickets for the in-house cinema screening. (EAFFI 2023)


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