With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, June 18, 2012

ACF 1506: An overview of the 11th annual New York Asian Film Festival


It’s just under two weeks until the annual feeding frenzy for Asian film fans begins. Subway Cinema, an incredible group of devotees began presenting the annual New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) in 2002. This year’s fest will run from June 29 to July 12, 2012. The bulk of the fifty-plus films (THAT'S FIFTY+ FILMS!!!!!) will be shown at the Walter Reade Theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, co-presenter of the festival since 2010. The end of NYAFF, as it has for the past few years, will feature some co-presentations with the Japan Society, whose Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema will run from July 12-28, 2012, and which I’ll discuss in a separate post.

I’ve been covering NYAFFs since 2006 at AsianCineFest; last year I began contributing articles, reviews and a podcast interview with Hong Kong director and producer Tsui Hark to VCinema. (This year I'm coordinating coverage of NYAFF and Japan Cuts by four other VCinema writes and myself.) Based on these experiences, I truly feel that the New York Asian Film Festival is most certainly North America’s preeminent showcase of pan-Asian cinema. In fact, NYAFF just may be the biggest, bestest and most diverse Asian film festival in the world!

While films from Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea dominate (as is to be expected), one can also find films from Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and elsewhere. In fact, one of the sidebars of the fest this year is Warriors and Romantics: the New Cinema from Taiwan. It will feature seven films, including Wei Te-Sheng’s Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, which is about the resistance of indigenous Taiwanese natives to Japanese occupiers in the 1930s. Since it’s actually two movies (with a total running time of 274 minutes) one could say that this sidebar actually consists of eight Taiwanese films. Your count, your call.

As always, there’s no shortage of very, very, very special guests at NYAFF. A total of twelve are scheduled to be present so far, including:

Donnie Yen in Dragon which will be shown at NYAFF 2012

 - Donnie Yen – the action star and choreographer will receive the Star Asia Award.

Choi Min-Sik as Oh Dae-su in Oldboy

- Choi Min-Sik – this revered Korean actor will have a four film mini-retrospective that will include Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy.

Chung Chang-Wha interviewed on the King Boxer DVD from Dragon Dynasty

- Chung Chang-Wha – the Korean director who is best known for the game-changing Hong Kong classic King Boxer (a.k.a. Five Fingers of Death) will receive the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.

For me NYAFF means not only an incredible opportunity to see a lot of terrific films and to interview some wonderful, talented people, but to share these experiences in person at some screenings and to write and talk about them at VCinema and here on my blog.

But what about those of you reading this who have no way of attending any of these screenings and special events in person? Well, as I’ve said and written previously, NYAFF, and Japan Cuts, gives you an opportunity to find out about films that’ll certainly be of interest to you. Some may have theatrical releases, others may show at festivals, and many — if not most — are or will be available on the internet. Case in point: Dragon (a.k.a. Wuxia), a terrific martial arts drama starring Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tang Wei.  The Weinstein Company has North American rights to the film, and while I don’t know this for a fact, I’m pretty sure that there’ll be a theatrical release here before long. And I’d bet heavy that there’ll be a Dragon Dynasty DVD not too far down the road, most likely a two-disc edition.

So keep your eyes peeled for NYAFF and Japan Cuts reviews at VCinema and at AsianCineFest.

And do give these webpages a look:

- Subway Cinema NYAFF 2012 – the site includes trailers for many, if not every, film that will be shown

- FSLC NYAFF 2012

- Japan Cuts: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema – this site also offers film trailers

- A complete listing of VCinema’s coverage of the New York Asian Film Festival 2012 – coverage from years past will soon be added to this page

[This post appeared in slightly different form at the VCinema website on June 15.]

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