100 Best Asian Films from 2022 (Part 1)

Today I start with my list of one hundred Asian feature films from 2022 that you shouldn’t miss.

The list was created considering films I watched last year, awarded films from Class A festivals, and movies I recommended during 2022. You might find some films from 2021 that I consider worth mentioning since they are cinema gems. Please remember that AFF covers festivals from East Asia, South Asia & Southeast Asia. If you enjoy this article, please share it with your friends. As always thanks for your support. – Sebastián Nadilo

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

Sean attends a church service and brings along his gay twin Ricky. After lampooning its pastor online for homophobia, Sean finds himself ensnared in severe defamation charges. The full force of law and order is brought down on him and his happy-go-lucky family—situations escalate breathlessly, wedging them deeper in an infernal place. (SGIFF 2022)

11103 by Miguel Alcazaren, Jeannette Ifurung – Philippines | 2022 – 86 minutes | Documentary

A documentary featuring survivor stories of state-sponsored violence during the martial law years of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Thousands were jailed, tortured, raped, and killed while communities were massacred in the crossfire between state forces, Maoist rebels, and Muslim separatists. In 2013, the Philippine government passed a landmark law which officially recognized these atrocities and mandated compensation for the victims, funded by the illegally-acquired wealth of Ferdinand & Imelda Marcos, hidden in their Swiss Bank accounts. 11,103 victims were given compensation as a result of the law. (11103 Website)


12 Weeks by Anna Isabelle Matutina – Philippines | 2022 – 105 minutes | Fiction

After ending her toxic relationship with her boyfriend Ben, 40-year-old Alice discovers she is pregnant. With her age and current relationship status, her first instinct is to have the pregnancy terminated. As her body undergoes dramatic changes, Alice struggles and needs to decide what to do. Will she slide back into the arms of Ben? What will this mean for the child growing inside her? (Letterboxd)


20th Century Girl by Bang Woo-ri – Korea | 2022 – 119 minutes | Fiction

Yeondu (Noh Yoon-seo) asks her best friend Bora (Kim You-jung) to collect all the information she can about Baek Hyunjin (Park Jung-woo) while she is away in the U.S. for heart surgery. Bora decides to get close to Baek’s best friend, Pung Woonho (Byeon Woo-seok) first. However, Bora′s clumsy plan unfolds in an unexpected direction. In 1999, a year before the new century, Bora, who turns seventeen, falls into the fever of first love. Director Bang Woo-ri′s 20th Century Girl is about both the joys and the sorrows of puppy love. 20th Century Girl conveys a warmth toward its characters that imbues a feeling of nostalgia for the twentieth century and an optimism for what will come in the twenty-first century. (JUNG Hanseok)


A Far Shore by Kudo Masaaki – Japan | 2022 – 128 minutes | Fiction

Seventeen-year-old Aoi lives in Koza, Okinawa with her husband and young son. Leaving her son with her grandmother, Aoi works until the wee hours at a hostess club with her best friend Mio—it is left to Aoi to scrape by for her family and make ends meet, as her frequently violent husband has no serious intention of working. Sadly he discovers her secret earnings stash one day after beating her up badly during an argument. What can she do now that her face is swollen and scarred, and she can no longer work at the hostess club? Reluctantly, she takes refuge with her mother-and-law to look for another job to support her family. Depicts a young mother’s daily experience of violence as she tries to find her footing, struggling between dependence and independence. The third feature film from director KUDO Masaaki, whose sure hand can be felt in this meticulous depiction of the true nature of the cycles of poverty in Okinawa, and the complex human portrait of a woman trapped within them. This film had its world premiere in competition at the 2022 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. (FILMeX 2022)


A Holy Family by Elvis Lu – Taiwan, France | 2022 – 87 minutes | Fiction

After twenty years of absence, director Elvis Lu returns home to his family. He comes back with the aim of facing the real motive of his departure – the stubborn belief in the powers of his elder brother, A-zhi, a psychic in the village. Lu documents day by day, realising that in the end, maybe the real wound in the family life is, in fact, his own departure. (TGHFF 2022)


A Hundred Flowers by Genki Kawamura – Japan | 2022 – 104 minutes | Fiction

Every time my mother loses her memory, I regain my love for her…
A story of love and memory, written and directed by Kawamura Genki and starring Suda Masaki and Harada Mieko, that will inevitably move you to tears. (TIFF 2022)


A Man by Kei Ishikawa – Japan | 2022 – 121 minutes | Fiction

After Rie finds love again with Daisuke, he dies in a tragic accident, then she discovers that he wasn’t the man she thought, so she tries to find the truth about the identity of her late husband. (CairoIFF 2022)


A night of knowing nothing by Payal Kapadia – France, India | 2021 – 96 minutes | Documentary

A filmmaker discovers a set of letters in a drawer at the Film and Television Institute of India. In it, “L” chronicles her estrangement from her lover, who has been forced to stop seeing her due to her caste. L has stayed on campus, where she has witnessed the emergence of a movement opposing Hindu nationalism. An unforgettable film existing in the margins between the experimental, political, and confessional, Payal Kapadia’s feature debut is a dreamy documentation of student life, and aspiration of hope for the future of a fractured country. (HKIFF 2022)


A Place Called Silence by Sam Quah – Malaysia | 2022 – 104 minutes | Fiction

Three students from Jing Mu Girls’ Middle School go missing and turn up dead. Xiao Tong, a special education student with speech impairment, feels like someone is watching her. During the rehearsal for the school’s foundation day event, a corpse falls from the ceiling of the auditorium, and Xiao Tong disappears in the midst of confusion. Her mother, Li Han, who has been working at the school to be close to Xiao Tong, begins her pursuit. Director Sam Quah artfully reveals the elements of the crimes and the individual behind them through an elaborate plot and fast-paced development. Violent images of the past interrupt and interfere with the strong visual images of the present. It is a masterpiece where the bold and delicate directing of Sam Quah stands out. (PARK Sun Young)


A Table for Two by Kim Boram – Korea | 2022 – 90 minutes | Documentary

The second feature by Kim Boram, following her 2017 film, For Vagina’s Sake, A Table for Two delves into the roots of the relationship between a daughter suffering from an eating disorder and a helpless mother. In 2007, fifteen-year-old Chaeyoung is diagnosed with anorexia and committed to a mental hospital. Feeling guilty, her mother, Sangok, tries to trace the source of her daughter’s illness but there is no way to know. Ten years later, the mother and daughter begin a conversation. Relying on Chaeyoung’s diary, drawings, and voice-over, the film explores the history of conflict and pain in mother-daughter relationships through three generations: grandmother, mother, and daughter. The film is surprising for two reasons: it shows us the secret and complex inner side of humans that cannot be captured on camera, and the perfectly transparent camera has successfully succeeded in infiltrating the intimate time of a mother and daughter. It is an extraordinary and outstanding feminist film. (KANG Sowon)


A Tale of Filipino Violence by Lav Diaz – Philippines | 2022 – 412 minutes | Fiction

A feudal heir struggles with his family’s history of exploitation and political opportunism. As the state seeks to monopolise their business, he is torn between securing his workers’ future and cooperating with Marcos’s regime. Meanwhile, his brother-in-law secretly recruits the workers to the rebel cause, drawing the military’s attention, whose presence on the estate triggers recollections of long-buried secrets. (SGIFF 2022)


A Wing and a Prayer by Lee Kwang-kuk – Korea | 2022 – 101 minutes | Documentary

Seolhee (Yeo Seolhee) and Hwajeong (Woo Hwajeong) make an impromptu trip to the East Sea while waiting to hear the results of their recent job interviews. The purpose of the trip is to make a wish while watching the sunrise, but nothing happens as they hope. The two argue during the trip and have an accidental meeting while going their separate ways. For audiences who have watched director Lee Kwangkuk′s previous work, A Wing and a Prayer may seem confusing at first. The film does not feature a particularly innovative story structure or strange coincidences that reveal the workings of everyday life. However, during the trip, minor coincidences intervene to unravel the true hearts of the two friends coolly and shake the narrative quietly. The unique senses of humor and wits energize the story that unfolds without a hitch. It is an attractive film that neatly intersects the stories of the two friends and creates a strong cohesion between the stories. (HONG Eunmi)


Absent Smile by Lavender Chang, John Clang – Singapore| 2022 – 80 minutes | Fiction

John Clang has been based in New York since his early twenties. He returns intermittently to visit his elderly parents, brings them on holidays and calls them frequently, but the pain of separation is still a lot to bear for the closely knit family. On a parallel tangent, candid portrait photography sessions of various families, where kin overseas partake live over webcam, record the precious, heartfelt moments of reconnecting with loved ones. (SGIFF 2022)


Ajoomma by He Shuming – Singapore, Korea | 2022 – 90 minutes | Fiction

Inspired by the director’s mother, Ajoomma is the story of a middle-aged, Korean-drama obsessed widow from Singapore, who travels out of the country for the first time to Seoul in South Korea and ends up getting lost. Her journey becomes an unexpected road of self-discovery, as she comes to terms with the life that she truly wants to have for herself. (TGHFF 2022)


All Summer Long by Yuki Horiuchi – Japan| 2022 – 95 minutes | Fiction

That night was a little bit special… because of that feeling that young people have when summer is coming to an end. Yamanobe and Kimi are jobhunting, but their scheduled interviews have suddenly been postponed. Syuichi makes a phone call to Rinko, who used to be a caretaker for his baseball team. Kento and Kyoko are working part time at a convenience store. In a seaside town, their unforgettable night begins. (NaraIFF 2022)


All That Breathes by Shaunak Sen – India | 2022 – 91 minutes | Documentary

In one of the world’s most populated cities, two brothers, Nadeem and Saud, devote their lives to the quixotic effort of protecting the black kite, a majestic bird of prey essential to the ecosystem of New Delhi that has been falling from the sky at alarming rates. Amid environmental toxicity and social unrest, the ‘kite brothers’ spend day and night caring for the creatures in their makeshift avian basement hospital. (TGHFF 2022)


Anime Supremacy! by Kōhei Yoshino – Japan | 2022 – 128 minutes | Fiction

The behind-the-scenes of anime creation where a rookie female director and a genius ‘prince’ director develop a fierce battle to gain SUPREMACY. Confronting what they truly like, animation directors, as well as their staff and voice-actors, passionately pursue the best piece of work that pierces the heart of audiences. (JIFF 2022)


Archaeology of Love by Lee Wanmin – Korea | 2022 – 168 minutes | Fiction

Youngsil and Insik become lovers within eight hours of meeting. He knows that she is a free spirit, so, feeling insecure, he makes her promise they will be together no matter what. She tries to keep her word, and they keep in touch even after they break up. After eight years, Youngsil begins to feel something for Udo but can’t do anything. (SIWFF 2022)


Arnold is a Model Student by Sorayos Prapapan – Thailand | 2022 – 84 minutes | Fiction

A new semester begins at Sawasdee High School. Arnold wins a gold medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad and becomes the school’s model student, favored by the school principal. Arnold has as his primary goal the desire to enter a reputable university (a goal shared by the school), but he begins to struggle when a dark temptation emerges. Meanwhile, an incident of violent punishment at the school is shared on social media causing outrage among students. Sorayos Prapapan, an alumni of BIFF Asian Film Academy, has been internationally promoted through his short films satirizing Thai society. His debut feature elegantly reveals his typical sarcastic yet humorous style. The actual ‘bad student’ movement against the Thai authoritative school system was taking place during the production of this feature, and enriched the texture of the film even more. The film depicts a story specific to Thailand today, but the look and feel of the film are universal. (BOO Kyunghwan)


To see Part 2 please go HERE
To see Part 3 please go HERE
To see Part 4 please go HERE
To see Part 5 please go HERE

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