13th FICUNAM, UNAM International Film Festival – Asian Presence 2023

We take a look at the Asian films that will be screened at the FICUNAM – UNAM International Film Festival which will take place from June 1 – 11, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico.

– Feature Films –

Girls of the Night by Kinuyo Tanaka – Japan | 1961 – 93 minutes

Kuniko lives in a rehabilitation center for prostitutes. As part of her reintegration into society she is released as long as she is able to hold a stable job in a factory. However, one of her colleagues makes public the fact that Kuniko used to walk the streets of the red light district, so she begins to suffer harassment and discrimination. With equal parts sensitivity and fierceness, Kinuyo Tanaka tells a particular story that serves as a symbol of the hard lives of prostitutes after the illegalization of sex work in 1956, facing the prejudices -often hypocritical- of the rest of the population. (FICUNAM 2023)

Love Letter by Kinuyo Tanaka – Japan | 1953 – 98 minutes

Reikichi Mayumi is a well-educated ex-officer who occasionally does translation work provided by his brother. But Reikichi still makes time to search the streets of Tokyo for Michiko, the woman he always loved. Michiko’s parents forced her to marry another man despite her love for Reikichi. While searching for her, he meets an old friend, who invites him to join his profession: writing love letters for the Japanese mistresses of American soldiers, who need money to survive. Scripted by the great filmmaker Keisuke Kinoshita, the directorial debut of Tanaka, who reserved a small supporting role, uses the conventions of melodrama to illuminate some of the problems and conflicts encountered by Japanese women after the end of World War II. (FICUNAM 2023)

Love Under the Crucifix by Kinuyo Tanaka – Japan | 1962 – 102 minutes

Also known as Mrs. Ogin, Love Under the Crucifix is set in 16th century Japan, and chronicles the doomed romance of two lovers: the daughter of a famous tea ceremony master and a samurai devoted to Christianity, who is also married to another woman. In her sixth and final film as a director, Tanaka embarked on making a jidaigeki, or period drama, a genre considered difficult and challenging for even the most experienced filmmakers. (FICUNAM 2023)

The Eternal Breasts by Kinuyo Tanaka – Japan | 1955 – 108 minutes

Fumiko’s marriage ends in separation and she must return to the family home with her two children. Soon after, news arrives that the divorce is official and she must give custody of her eldest son to the father. Thanks to the help of a childhood friend, Fumiko begins to take her penchant for writing poetry seriously, but when she begins to be published she is diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. “Eternal Breasts”, a melodrama of enormous power and feminist heart, was the first Japanese film written and directed by women. (FICUNAM 2023)

The Moon Has Risen by Kinuyo Tanaka – Japan | 1955 – 102 minutes

Mokichi Asai is a widower and father of three daughters, with whom he has lived since the last years of the war in the premises of a temple in the city of Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. The three – the eldest, a widow; the youngest , restless and matchmaking, the one in the middle, reserved and shy – are involved in complex sentimental relationships, reflecting the changing social conditions of Japan in the 1950s and the new bonds between men and women. A story that refers non-stop to Yasujiro Ozu, at that time president of the Directors Association, who entrusted Kinuyo Tanaka with the production of one of his scripts, co-written with Ryôsuke Saitô in 1947 for a film that had not been made. (FICUNAM 2023)

The Wandering Princess by Kinuyo Tanaka – Japan | 1960 – 102 minutes

Based on the autobiography of Hiro Saga, a distant relative of Japanese Emperor Hirohito, the life of the protagonist of this historical drama – set during the last years of World War II – takes a dramatic turn when Pujie, the younger brother of the Emperor of Manchuria, asks her to marry him. At first the family is reluctant, but it is the princess herself, played by the great actress Machiko Kyô, who does not hesitate to marry after meeting the young Pujie. Life will not be easy in the new land, but in time a true love will blossom between her and her husband, recent parents of a daughter. Their lives will undergo another radical change after Japan’s defeat in 1945. (FICUNAM 2023)

When the Waves Are Gone by Lav Diaz – Philippines, Denmark, France, Portugal | 2022 – 187 minutes

Lieutenant Hermes Papauran, one of the best investigators of the Philippines, is in a deep moral crossroad. As a member of the police forces, he is a first-hand witness of the murderous anti-drug campaign that his institution is implementing with dedication. The atrocities are corroding Hermes physically and spiritually, causing him a severe skin disease resulting from anxiety and guilt. As he tries to heal, a dark past haunts him and has eventually come back for a reckoning. (FICUNAM 2023)

– Short Films –

Anti-cosmos by Takashi Makino – Japan | 2022 – minutes

A physical film for showing at cinema. The soundtrack, which was mainly produced in the range of frequencies below 1000Khz, physically vibrates the viewer’s body. Anti-cosmos means similar with Noise, the power that breakthrough the cosmos/order. Inspired by “Cosmos and Anti-cosmos” by Japanese philosopher Toshihiko Izutsu. (FilmAffinity)

That Day, on the River by Lei Lei – China | 2023 – 39 minutes

In Lei Lei’s That Day, on the River, newspaper clippings, historical photographs and a film about a female basketball player serve as the source material for an exploration of his father’s childhood in provincial China. (Berlinle 2023)

ul-umra by Gautam Valluri – India | 2022 – 8 minutes

In 1887 the Hyderabadi Nobleman Viqar-ul-Umra commissioned a mosque to be built from his memory of the Moorish Mosques he saw on a voyage to Andalusia. This film is an attempt to remember ul-Umra’s mosque through movement and stillness, image and its absence.

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