PANG Ho-Cheung

PANG Ho-Cheung
With Hong Kong director PANG Ho-cheung after interviewing him in 2012

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

11th Annual South Asian International Film Festival's top honor goes to TITLI

TITLI, directed by Kanu Behl

The South Asian International Film Festival, presented by HBO, recently announced the winners of its 2014 Gala Awards, held November 23rd at Manhattan’s Carlton Hotel.

Kanu Behl's TITLI took home the festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature, presented to it by jurors Richard Lorber, Bill Straus, David Wilentz, Isil Bagdadi, and Kelly Edwards. The tale of a young man desperate to escape a brotherhood of carjackers stunned both jurors and audiences at SAIFF. The Jury's highly-acclaimed Runner-Up was Berlin and Mumbai Film Festival selection KILLA.

“KILLA is beautifully cast, right down to the teacher who lords over the children in the classroom. It's a gem of a film," says the South Asian International Film Festival's new Executive Director Joya Dass.

The Best Director Award was presented to first-time writer/director Afia Nathaniel for her film DUKHTAR. The tense drama, Pakistan's official entry to the 2014 Academy Awards, was also presented with the festival's Audience Award.

“From a festival attendance standpoint, Afia Nathaniel's DUKHTAR was the clear winner." says Dass. "We had a sold out house and a roaring response to her directorial debut.”

The jury awarded their Short Grand Jury Prize to Gitanjali Rao's TRUE LOVE STORY, a a stunning animated short about a 17-year-old orphan who uses his love of Bollywood cinema to help him woo the girl of his dreams.

The Audience Award for Short Film was awarded to VEIL from director Sreemoyee Bhattacharya.

The lavish awards ceremony took place at Manhattan’s Carlton Hotel on November 23rd, celebrating SAIFF’s eleventh anniversary. Following the awards ceremony and private dinner, guests and press were treated to a set from recording artist Ashni DavĂ©.

SAIFF 2014 WINNERS:
Grand Jury Winner, Best Feature: TITLI
Grand Jury Runner-Up, Feature: KILLA
Best Director: Afia Nathaniel for DUKHTAR
Grand Jury Winner, Best Short Film: TRUE LOVE STORY
Audience Award, Best Feature: DUKHTAR
Audience Award, Best Short Film: VEIL

The Eleventh Annual South Asian International Film Festival ran from Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 through Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 in New York City, at The SVA Theater and AMC.

For additional information on SAIFF 2014, visit www.saiff.org.

VIZ launches shojo manga YUKARISM on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Yukarism © Chika Shiomi 2011/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.
TRAVEL BACK TO EDO-ERA JAPAN WITH THE LAUNCH OF THE
SEXY NEW SHOJO MANGA SERIES YUKARISM FROM VIZ MEDIA

Dreamy Historical Romance Depicts A Teenage Writer’s
Extraordinary Past Life As A Courtesan In Edo-era Japan;
New Series From The Creator Of YURARA And
RASETSU Debuts In Print And Digitally!!

VIZ Media entices shojo manga (graphic novel) readers with the print and digital launch of the new series – YUKARISM – on December 2nd.

The nostalgia-tinted historical romance comes from creator Chika Shiomi, who is widely known among manga fans for her series YURARA and RASETSU (both available from VIZ Media). YUKARISM will be published under the Shojo Beat imprint and is rated ‘T’ for Teens. Print MSRP will be $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

A digital version of YUKARISM, Vol. 1 also debuts on December 2nd for $6.99 (USD/CAN) from VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, Android-powered smart phones. Digital volumes of YUKARISM can also be purchased through the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay stores. Future editions of this 4-volume manga series will be released in-print and digitally on a quarterly basis.

YUKARISM introduces readers to Yukari Kobayakawa, an accomplished author at the age of 17 who writes with amazing accuracy about historical Japan. As it turns out, he has the ability to slip into his past life in the Edo period – as a beautiful, renowned courtesan named Yumurasaki!

“YUKARISM is a sexy romance about past lives and gender-bending reincarnation that will captivate readers with its exquisite artwork, cute male characters and suspenseful plot,” says Amy Yu, Editor. “Creator Chika Shiomi weaves an enticing story that links each of the main characters’ past and present lives and generates some potent sexual tension as readers learn more about Yukari’s past. The gender-bending aspects also offer plenty of hilarious moments!”

Creator Chika Shiomi debuted with the manga, Todokeru Toki o Sugitemo (Even if the Time for Deliverance Passes), and her other notable works include the supernatural series YURARA and RASETSU. Her hobbies include reading manga, traveling and listening to music; favorite artists include Michelangelo, Hokusai, Bernini and Gustav Klimt.

For more information on YUKARISM, or other Shojo Beat manga titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TOUCH OF THE LIGHT is available today on DVD from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
Entertainment
presents
 Touch of the Light / Ni guang fei xiang 
Directed by CHANG Jung-chi
Starring HUANG Yu-Siang, Sandrine Pinna,
LEE Lieh, and HSIEH Kan-chun
Taiwan, 2012, 110 minutes

Touch of the Light, Taiwan filmmaker CHANG Jung-chi's  award-winning feature film debut, becomes available today on DVD  and digital from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film is an expanded remake of CHANG's 37-minute short The End of the Tunnel(2008). Both films were inspired by the true story of HUANG Yu-siang, a blind piano prodigy, when he leaves the security of his family -- mother (played touchingly by LEE Lieh), father, and younger sister -- to attend the music program at a university in Taipei. There he befriends Jie, a young woman who works in a menial service job but wants to become a dancer. In both films HUANG plays himself and Sadrine Pinna portrays Jie.

HUANG's mother drives him from their rural village to the university and helps him learn to navigate the campus.  His roommate CHU Tze-ching (HSIEH Kan-chun), a somewhat portly phys-ed major, arrives and proves to be a true friend.

The film depicts the difficulties HUANG encounters, not just those from his being blind, but even more so those arising from the negative way he's regarded and treated because of his blindness. We also learn about how some such negative encounters in his past have shaped his attitudes towards both his blindness and, to a degree, towards others.

In this poster, HUANG is center left with Pinna next to him. LEE Lieh is at lower left.

The film has an almost documentary feel about it. Partially this comes no doubt from its being derived from real life events. But also it stems from the extensive - perhaps exclusive -- use of natural light throughout. All four of the main actors, HUANG, Pinna, LEE, and HSIEH give lovely, natural performances. Also worth noting is the editing, which is exceptionally outstanding in a sequence near the end of the movie when HUANG and Jie are separately auditioning.

Touch of the Light won Best New Director for Chang at the Golden Horse Awards, one of six awards it has received, in addition to another ten nominations. It was also selected as Taiwan’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 85th Academy Awards®.

Disc Stats:
Audio: Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0
Subtitles: English/Off
Extras: Trailer; previews of other Well Go USA Entertainment releases

Touch of the Light is a very special film, both touching and life affirming.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars, very highly recommended.

Monday, November 24, 2014

WOMEN WHO FLIRT opens in North America on November 26th, 2014

China Lion Film Distribution
presents
 
Women Who Flirt
Directed by Pang Ho-Cheung
China, 2014, 96 minutes

China Lion Film Distribution will release Hong Kong director Pang Ho-Cheung's rom-com Women Who Flirt in major metro areas throughout North America on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014. China Lion Australia/New Zealand will release the film the following day, Thursday, November 27th. Both North American audiences and audiences in Australia/New Zealand will be able to see the film ahead of the Mainland Chinese release on Friday, November 28th. For the film's official website, which includes specific release locations, click here.


The Mandarin language film stars Zhou Xun (Painted Skin, The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) as Angie Zhang, a young professional women who has been in love with Marco Gong (Huang Xiao Ming (Eastern Bandits, The Guillotines) at least since their college days. In fact, she abandoned her desire to be a sculptor so that she could take the job and be near him after they graduated.

Zhou Xun as Angie

Unfortunately, Marco is clueless about Angie's feelings. Because of family issues, he's always been intent on succeeding in a career, and has always fondly thought of Angie as a friend, never really as a woman. In part this is because he likes "sweet girls" and regards Angie as too "butch." At one point he even describes her to a male friend as a dude who pee's standing up.

Marco (Huang Xiao Ming) on assignment in a restaurant

When they are together on an assignment to evaluate the service at a restaurant, Merco reveals to Angie that he's begun seeing someone he met while on a business trip to Taiwan. Her name is Hailey (Sui Tang, a.k.a. Sonia Sui) and she's an expert at manipulative flirting. She also has a derriere that's superb, as revealed by a shot of her wearing cut-off shorts that expose the bottom of her butt cheeks.

On her own, Angie has next to no chance of competing with this brazen hussy because she has no talent whatsoever at flirting. She is totally unable to be provocative, to send a man the kind of signals that indicate that she's really interested in him, and not just as a friend.

May (Sie Yi Lin, second from left) and two "Barbies" advise Angie (right)

Fortunately, her friend May (Sie Yi Lin) is quite knowledgeable about such things. She assembles "The Barbie Army," four of the best female pickup artists in Shanghai to teach Angie the ropes and help her win Marco away from Hailey and convince him that she's the one he should be with.

Hailey (Sui Tang, left) and Angie

Women Who Flirt is a charming and delightful romp. It does a terrific job of successfully crossing cultures and languages, a journey that is often beset with severe pitfalls, particularly for comedies. The cast is quite solid across the board, but special mention must be made of the exceptionally fine performance by Zhou Xun. Her facial expressions are ofttimes hilarious on their own; for example when she's trying to learn how to say "I hate you" with just the right degree of petulance.

Oh, and be sure to stick around after the colorful end credits begin for a wonderful coda, especially you fans of the 1990 film Ghost, which starred Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very highly recommended.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

DORAEMON collectables and apparel

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES NEW OFFICIALLY LICENSED
COLLECTABLES AND APPAREL BASED ON THE
CELEBRATED ANIME PROPERTY DORAEMON

VIZ Media Partners With Hot Topic To Offer
Exclusive DORAEMON T-Shirts And Highlights
Collectables Available Now From The Official
U.S. DORAEMON Product Website

VIZ Media gives DORAEMON fans a fun way to display their love of the hit anime adventure comedy that currently airs on the Disney XD channel. The company has announced it is teaming up with pop culture and alternative apparel retailer Hot Topic to offer the first-ever officially U.S. licensed DORAEMON t-shirts.

Shirt designs offered by Hot Topic include “Many Doraemon” and “Doraemon Waving,” available in distinctive men’s and women’s styles, as well as “Doraemon Eating Dorayaki,” available exclusively in women’s sizes. Shirts are available now at 30 Hot Topic store locations nationwide as well as online at: http://search.hottopic.com/search?p=Q&ts=custom&lbc=hottopic&w=doraemon.

VIZ Media is the exclusive North and Latin American master merchandise licensee for the celebrated anime property, overseeing the licensing and development of a range of DORAEMON products across all categories. The company has announced a variety of additional products and collectables available from the official DORAEMON online store, brought to you by Yes Anime at: shop.doraemon.com.


Fans browsing the online store can find unique DORAEMON products, such as the officially licensed t-shirt designs,“Doraemon Exclamation” and “Neon Skipping Doraemon,” as well as DORAEMON Buckle-Down Belts (trademark seatbelt belts made with authentic automotive style seatbelt buckles) and high quality DORAEMON and Nobi Nobita S.H. Figuarts figures. These collectables feature the latest high-grade articulation joints, which allow for realistic posing possibilities and include optional parts to customize each figure with the use of precisely placed magnets!

DORAEMON, one of the most beloved character properties worldwide, originated as a manga (graphic novel) series created by Fujiko F. Fujio in 1970. It later became a popular anime series and product franchise in Japan that continues to be a smash hit worldwide, especially in Asia. The comedy series depicts the adventures of Doraemon, a blue cat-type robot from the 22nd century, who travels back in time to help a boy named Noby by using various secret gadgets procured from his Four-Dimensional Pocket. Episodes often involve lessons for young viewers about honesty, cooperation, courage, and respect.

DORAEMON marks its 45th Anniversary in 2015 and continues to be a major worldwide franchise with over $500 million in annual global retail sales and over 600 active licensees. Over 140 million copies of the manga have been published. DORAEMON also holds the largest box office attendance record in Japan of any movie franchise, toppling Godzilla, with 34 feature films released to-date and over 100 million tickets sold last year alone. The property’s first 3D feature film, Stand By Me Doraemon, is set for release in Japan in August. The Doraemon character is also Tokyo’s bid to act as its Special Ambassador for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Visit the official DORAEMON web site at: doraemon.com or Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/DoraemonUS.

Additional information on DORAEMON and other titles and properties available can be found at http://www.viz.com/.