With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

ACF 1481: CHIHWASEON at MoMI

 Chihwaseon
Directed by IM Kwon-taek
South Korea, 2002, 120 minutes
With Choi Min-Shik, Ahn Sung-kee, Ho-jeong Yu
When: Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 3:00 PM
Where: The Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue at 37th Street, Astoria, Queens, NYC
Travel directions here
Film free with museum admission at MoMI

The Korea Society's mini-retrospective of three works starring Choi Min-shik, one of Korea’s most recognizable contemporary actors, continues this coming Sunday afternoon with this screening of Chihwaseon (Painted Fire in English; a.k.a. Stroke of Fire).

Winner of the Best Director Award at Cannes, this period portrait stars Choi as a nineteenth-century painter known as Ohwon. Born a commoner and discovered as a boy, Ohwon captivated and scandalized his country's ruling class and spent his long career in and out of favor, and in and out of trouble. Choi dazzles as the petulant, manipulative, and melancholy painter—whose behavior forecast the archetypal tortured artist of the 20th century


Chihwaseon info at The Korea Society's website here.

Chilwaseon info at MoMI's website here.

Also note that, in association with the Korean Cultural Service New York, the upcoming New York Asian Film Festival (June 29 - July 15) will present a series of new and classic Choi Min-Sik performances.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ACF 1480: R.I.P. Kaneto Shindo


Japanese director (45 titles at IMDb) and writer (168 titles) Kaneto Shindo died of natural causes in the morning hours of May 29 at the age of 100. He was born on April 22 1912 in Hiroshima prefecture. His last film, Postcard, which he both directed and wrote the screenplay for, was released in 2010.

More details at ScreenDaily.

Two of the films Shindo directed, Onibaba (1964) Kuroneko (1968), are currently available in The Criterion Collection.

Monday, May 28, 2012

ACF 1479: Free screening of FORBIDDEN QUEST next week

Korean Cultural Service
presents
Korean Movie Night 
Series 3: Epic Romance
Forbidden Quest / Eumranseosaeng
Directed by KIM Dae-Woo
South Korea, 2006, 142 minutes
When: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas (map here)
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served

A modest hit in Korea  that deserves far more attention than it received, this sharp dramedy from Kim Dae-Woo (who also directed The Servant, the first film shown in the Epic Romance series) has the endearing Yun-Seo ( the legendary Han Suk-Kyu) randomly coming across an ‘indecent novel.’ Hesitant to read it at first, he’s soon inspired to write one of his own, even asking his family rival and infamous captain of guards, Gwang-Heon (Lee Beom-Su, City of Violence), to illustrate it for him. Their book is soon the most talked-about in town and it’s eventually picked up by Jeong-Bin, the king’s favorite concubine. But when she becomes a little too involved, the two men are soon drawn in a tricky web of palace intrigue that will leave no one safe.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

ACF 1478: Two-disc DVD release of Korean gambling drama TAZZA: THE HIGH ROLLERS coming Sept 18th

Film distributor 5 Points Pictures has announced that the two-disc, special-edition DVD of TAZZA: THE HIGH ROLLERS will be available on September 18, 2012. The release will feature an upgraded English translation of the film, plus approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes of translated and subtitled video extras from the South Korean limited-edition releases – all with on/off English subtitles!

This popular and critically acclaimed drama about master gamblers (“tazza”) and the games they play features direction from CHOI Dong-hoon (The Thieves, The Big Swindle, Woochi) and an all-star cast including CHO Seung-woo (The Sword With No Name, Marathon), KIM Hye-soo (The Thieves, Modern Boy), BAEK Yoon-sik (The Taste of Money, The Big Swindle), YOO Hae-jin (Moss, Public Enemy), and KIM Yun-seok (The Chaser, Punch).
 
Based on the comic illustrated by HUH Young-man and written by KIM Se-young, Tazza was produced by Sidus FNH and Charm Films. It is presented by CJ Entertainment and IM Pictures.  

Awards:
- Grand Prize (Daesang) and Best Director: Choi Dong-hoon, 2007 Baeksang Arts Award
- Best Actress: Kim Hye-soo, 2006 Blue Dragon Awards, 2006 Chunsa Film Art Awards, and 2007 Korea Visual Arts Festival
- Best Supporting Actor: Kim Yun-seok, 2007 Daejong (Grand Bell) Film Award
- Jury Awards for Best Feature, Best Director: Choi Dong-hoon, Best Actor: Cho Seung-woo, and Best Actress: Kim Hye-soo, 2007 Newport Beach Film Festival
- Jury Prize - Best Feature Film, 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival 

Synopsis: After losing his entire savings in an illegal, backroom card game, Goni (CHO Seung-woo, The Sword With No Name) discovers it was all a set up – he was swindled by professional gamblers. Enraged and desperate, he sets out to get his money back by any means necessary. 

Impressed by the young man’s determination, veteran gambler Mr. Pyeong (BAEK Yoon-sik, The Taste of Money) takes Goni on as his apprentice and teaches him all there is to know about hwatu, a card game also known as “The War of Flowers.” 

Now Goni is ready to make his debut in an underworld where the stakes are high and the rules are few: To win, you must be ruthless. The hand must be quicker than the eye. No game is safe. And there are no friends for life, just as there are no enemies for life.


Visit www.5pointspictures.com for more information about Tazza: The High Rollers, to sign up for 5 Points Pictures’ newsletter and press release lists, or to inquire about retail opportunities.

Friday, May 25, 2012

ACF 1477: VIZ Media panel discussion, fan meet-up, and video programming at FamiCon 2012, which starts today

RUROUNI KENSHIN © 1994 by Nobuhiro Watsuki/SHUEISHA Inc.
VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES PANEL DISCUSSION,
SHONEN JUMP ALPHA FAN MEET-UP,
AND ANIME VIDEO PROGRAMMING
SCHEDULED FOR FANIMECON 2012

Publisher Invites Fans To Northern California’s
Largest Annual Anime Convention
To Be Held This Weekend

VIZ Media has detailed its participation at FanimeCon 2012, which is scheduled to take place May 25-28 at the San Jose Convention Center, located in San Jose, CA. FanimeCon is Northern California’s largest annual anime convention. VIZ Media, the nation’s biggest publisher and distributor of manga and anime content, plans to hold an informative panel discussion as well as a fan meet-up for its popular WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA digital manga magazine. Details on FanimeCon 2012 are available at: www.fanime.com.

In addition, convention attendees will be able to enjoy a variety of video programming featuring episodes from some of VIZ Media most popular anime series such as BLEACH, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, LAGRANGE – THE FLOWER OF RIN-NE, TIGER & BUNNY, and ZETMAN.

Fans and convention attendees are invited to learn insights and latest updates into the company’s manga and anime releases at the VIZ Media Panel, taking place Saturday May 26th from 3:00pm – 4:00pm in Panel Room 3. Attendees will also get opportunities to win exclusive prizes throughout the panel.

VIZ Media will also hold a special SHONEN JUMP ALPHA Fan Meet-Up on Saturday May 26th from 5:00pm – 6:00pm in Panel Room 1. Gift bags filled with a variety of fun collectables will be given away (while supplies last) and attendees can meet the SHONEN JUMP ALPHA staff and other WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA readers, and learn all about what the nation’s premier digital manga magazine has in-store for future issues. Fans who purchase memberships to WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA at the meet-up will receive a special gift (while supplies last). 

Each new digital issue of WEEKLY SJ ALPHA treats manga (comics) fans in North America to the latest chapters of some of the world’s most popular manga series only two weeks after they debut in Japan’s massively popular WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP magazine. Currently featured series include popular titles such as BAKUMAN。, BLEACH, NARUTO, NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN, ONE PIECE, and TORIKO.

WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA is available through an annual membership that provides 52 weeks of digital access to 48 weekly issues for just $25.99. Single issues of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA can be read for four weeks for only $0.99. Each issue may be read on VIZManga.com/sj-weekly, and also on the updated VIZ Manga App for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA members also receive an annual collector’s yearbook, 4 Yu-Gi-Oh! cards throughout the year delivered to your door, and access to exclusive content, including creator interviews and exclusive videos.

For more information on WEEKLY SJ ALPHA and exclusive subscriber offers, please visit SJAlpha.com or VIZManga.com

ACF 1476: iN DEMAND to handle VOD transport for ANIME NETWORK


ANIME NETWORK SELECTS iN DEMAND TO HANDLE VOD TRANSPORT

Top Japanese Animation Service Added to iN DEMAND Portfolio

Anime Network, the most widely distributed anime channel in North America, has concluded a deal with iN DEMAND, the industry's leading distributor of transactional Video On Demand (VOD) as well as Pay-Per-View (PPV) content, to handle all transport of its popular service to its subscriber universe beginning on May 24, 2012, it was announced today by Bob Benya, President & CEO, iN DEMAND and Stacy Dodson, Executive Vice President, Anime Network. Anime Network joins the more than 40 programmers who currently use iN DEMAND to deliver their On Demand content to homes across North America.
"We're thrilled to partner with iN DEMAND to transport our programming throughout North America. We have the utmost confidence in their comprehensive technical expertise, bandwidth capacity and outstanding customer service in delivering content to our affiliates," said Anime Network's Ms. Dodson.
Anime Network reaches over 45 million North American homes through Subscription and Free On Demand. Catering to its highly desirable 15-30 male demographic, Anime Network provides a variety of content packages such as Comedy, Action and Sci-Fi, with new content refreshed each week. Popular titles include Angel Beats, Book of Bantorra, Broken Blade, Clannad, Elfen Lied and High School of the Dead.
"Anime Network holds a unique place among all television services because of its distinctive content and passionate following across a huge fan base," said Mr. Benya of iN DEMAND. "We are thrilled that Anime Network has chosen our state-of-the-art transport infrastructure to deliver their popular product to millions of followers."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ACF 1475: Happy Birthday, Seijun Suzuki, Happy Birthday To You!

Screenshot of Seijun Suzuki being interviewed in Tokyo
for the Criterion DVD release of Story of a Prostitute
(C) The Criterion Collection 2005

Seijun Suzuki was born in Tokyo, on May 24, 1923. Though best known in the U.S. as a film director, Suzuki has also worked as a television director and as an actor.

After serving in the Japanese army during World War II, Suzuki worked as an assistant director at several studios. He began working at Nikkatsu Studios in 1954 and directed his first film in 1958. From then through 1966 he directed three to four films each year. After Branded to Kill (his fortieth film, released in 1967), Hori Kyusaku, president of Nikkatsu Studios at the time, fired Suzuki, claiming he made incomprehensible movies that didn't make any money. These difficulties basically arose because of Suzuki's boredom with the same B-movie genre material he was assigned. He sought new ways to make the material interesting.

Suzuki filed suit and a lengthy legal battle ensued. It was ultimately settled out of court. Although he received less compensation than he sought, Suzuki did obtain an apology from Hori. Still he went through a lengthy period during which he was blacklisted by the film studios and had to work in television. In the late '70's, he was again able to make films. His Zigeunerweisen (1980) won 17 awards and was nominated for 6 others.

Suzuki as an actor. here in Milocrorze: A Love Story (2011)

For me the greatest recognition of his work is the inclusion of a great many of his films in The Criterion Collection. These include Youth of the Beast (1963), Story of a Prostitute (1965), Tokyo Drifter (1966), Branded to Kill (1967). Some of his other films, including Underworld Beauty (1958), Kanto Wanderer (1963), Tattooed Life (1965), and the aforementioned Zigeunerweisen are available from other distributors.

So, huge AsianCineFest thanks to Suzuki for producing a fabulous body of fascinating works, and best wishes for a "Happy Birthday!"

Seijun Suzuki at IMDb

Seijun Suzuki at Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ACF 1474: THE WOMAN IN THE SEPTIC TANK begins run at MoMA

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (The Woman in the Septic Tank). 2011. Philippines. Directed by Marlon N. Rivera.
Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank / The Woman in the Septic Tank
Directed by
Marlon N. Rivera
With Eugene Domingo, JM deGuzman, Kean Cipriano
Phillipines, 2011, 87 minutes
When: May 23–28, 2012
Where: The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, NYC
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater (T2)
In Filipino, Tagalog; English subtitles
New York Premiere

This self-reflexive parody of contemporary Filipino art films and the international film festival circuit follows a trio of young filmmakers during pre-production on the film they hope will get them to Cannes. Its weeklong run in MoMA's ContemporAsian film series begins tonight.

Screening Schedule
Wednesday, May 23, 7:00
Thursday, May 24, 4:00
Friday, May 25, 7:00
Saturday, May 26, 1:30
Sunday, May 27, 5:00
Monday, May 28, 4:00

Film Admission:
$12 adults; $10 seniors, 65 years and over with I.D. $8 full-time students with current I.D. (for admittance to film programs only.) The price of a film ticket may be applied toward the price of a Museum admission ticket when a film ticket stub is presented at the Lobby Information Desk within 30 days of the date on the stub (does not apply during Target Free Friday Nights, 4:00–8:00 p.m.). Admission is free for Museum members and for Museum ticketholders.


ContemporAsian, MoMA’s annual showcase of Asian cinema, features weeklong engagements of films that capture the various styles, histories, and changes in contemporary Asian filmmaking. This series includes recent independent gems by both new and established filmmakers whose work represent the rapidly transforming visual culture of the region. This exhibition is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, and Jenny He, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ACF 1473: Happy Birthday, Maggie Q

Asian-Vietnamese actress Maggie Q (born Margaret Denise Quigley) was born May 22, 1979 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father is an American of Irish and Polish descent who met her Vietnamese mother while he was stationed there during the war. Maggie grew up in Hawaii with four siblings. She began modeling in Tokyo at the age of 17, moved to Taipei, and then Hong Kong. There she began her acting career, first on TV, then in films. Her early film work included an appearance as "girl in car" in Rush Hour 2 in 2001, and a starring role in the Hong Kong actioner Naked Weapon the following year.
Maggie Q in Balls of Fury (2007)
Among her more recent film credits are Mission Impossible III (2006), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), and the role of a priestess in the humanity vs vampires flick Priest (2011).

Since the fall of 2010, she has starred as the latest incarnation of Nikita. In this CW television station series, her character is an assassin who's gone rogue against the nefarious, secret agency that trained her. This represents an interesting change from earlier manifestations of the character: the original 1990 French film Nikita; Black Cat (a Hong Kong remake/rip-off); Point of No Return (the Hollywood version starring Bridget Fonda); and the prior TV series La Femme Nikita, which starred Peta Wilson.

So "Happy Birthday, Maggie Q," and best wishes for continuing success on TV and in films.

ACF 1472: INTRIGUE IN THE BAKUMATSU ~ IROHANIHOHETO


SENTAI FILMWORKS LICENSES
INTRIGUE IN THE BAKUMATSU ~ IROHANIHOHETO

Sentai Filmworks has announced the acquisition of Intrigue in the Bakumatsu ~ Irohanihoheto.  This 26 episode thriller soaked in blood is created and directed by Ryosuke Takahashi (Gasaraki, The Cockpit, Armored Trooper VOTOMS) and features character designs by Yusuke Kozaki and music by Hideyuki Fukasawa (Nanaka 6/17, You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle).  Animation is produced by SUNRISE.

Synopsis: In the final years of the Bakumatsu, wandering mercenary Yojiro Akizuki travels the length and breadth of Japan.  And while he employs his sword in the usual fashion, he also uses it to help him locate supernatural items which he pursues with single-minded determination, often with bloody results.  In the course of his quest, he crosses paths with a traveling theater group whose members have their own dark agenda.  Is it a chance meeting or the result of some, as yet, undiscovered conspiracy?  Swords will swing and sorcery make itself felt in Intrigue in the Bakumatsu ~ Irohanihoheto Collection 1.

Intrigue in the Bakumatsu ~ Irohanihoheto will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release to follow.

Monday, May 21, 2012

ACF 1471: VIZ's new manga series YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL to launch June 5th

YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL © 2010 by Kazuki Takahashi, Shin Yoshida, Naohito Miyoshi/SHUEISHA Inc.
© K. Takahashi
© NAS・TV TOKYO
 VIZ MEDIA DELIVERS
THE LATEST YU-GI-OH! ADVENTURES
WITH THE LAUNCH OF NEW
YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL MANGA SERIES IN JUNE

Brand New Action Adventure Series
Follows A Young Boy’s Quest To Fulfill His Destiny
And Become A Dueling Champion;
Vol. 1 First Editions Include Limited Edition
YU-GI-OH! Trading Card

VIZ Media expands its bestselling YU-GI-OH! manga (graphic novel) brand with the forthcoming release of the newest series in the popular franchise. YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL launches on June 5th under the company’s SHONEN JUMP imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. Volume 1 First Editions will also contain a limited edition collectable YU-GI-OH! trading card.

YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL is based on an
original concept by Kazuki Takahashi with story by Shin Yoshida and artwork created by Naohito Miyoshi. The new series takes place in a futuristic city where augmented reality Duels are all the rage. Duelists, using devices called D-Gazers, can interact with their environment and their opponents as never before. With more awesome monsters and unbelievable cards, the future of Yu-Gi-Oh! starts right here! No one loves Dueling more than Yuma Tsukumo, but unfortunately for him, no one is worse at it! This isn’t going to stop Yuma from trying though. When Yuma calls on the memory of his parents during the Duel, a strange being called Astral appears, and the encounter is the start of Yuma’s amazing Duel journey!

YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL is the successor to YU-GI-OH! 5D’s and takes the art of Dueling to the next level in this exciting latest saga of the internationally popular franchise,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “The manga series, which is ongoing in Japan, closely follows the YU-GI-OH! ZEXAL animated show currently airing on North American television on the CW network’s Toonzai animated program block. With plenty of action and supercharged Duels featuring a colorful new array of monsters, manga readers won’t want to miss a single adventure as Yuma Tsukumo strives to become a famous champion and fulfill his destiny!” 

Artist/author Kazuki Takahashi first tried to break into the manga business in 1982, but success eluded him until YU-GI-OH! debuted in the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1996. YU-GI-OH!'s themes of friendship and fighting, together with Takahashi's weird and imaginative monsters, soon became enormously successful, spawning a real-world trading card game, video games, and three popular anime series including the two original YU-GI-OH! series as well as YU-GI-OH! GX.

More information on YU-GI-OH! is available at: www.viz.com/yu-gi-oh.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

ACF 1470: CLUSTER EDGE licensed by Sentai Filmworks


Sentai Filmworks has announced their acquisition of Cluster Edge.  This Sci-Fi spectacular, with animation production by SUNRISE, consists of 25 episodes, plus 3 OVA episodes and was directed by Masashi Ikeda (Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Inuyasha), features character designs by Yoshihito Hishinuma (Inuyasha) and Wan Komatsuda, and music by Takayuki Negishi (Tokyo Majin, RIN – Daughters of Mnemosyne).

Synopsis: Cluster Edge Academy isn’t just any school; it’s THE school, where the offspring of the elite come together to prepare for their roles running a world where artificial soldiers and religious sects are major factors in the battle for total control.  Which may be part of why new transfer student Agate Fluorite doesn’t quite seem to fit in.

It’s not just that Agate’s enthusiastic attitude stands out among the somber, brooding balance of the student body.  There’s something about him that demands notice, even from jaded honors students like Beryl Jasper, and from the moment of arrival he’s been at the center of a series of mysteries that not even Agate understands.  Because Agate’s not just another student, he’s part of a something so momentous, and dangerous, that the world that built Cluster Edge may not survive its passing.

Cluster Edge will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release on subtitled DVD to follow.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

ACF 1469: FAILAN at MoMI

Failan
Directed by Song Hae-sung
South Korea, 2001, 116 minutes
Starring: Choi Min-sik, Cecilia Cheung and Jeong Dae-Hoon
When: Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM
Where: The Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue at 37th Street, Astoria, Queens, NYC
Travel directions here
Film free with museum admission at MoMI

The Korea Society's retrospective of three works starring Choi Min-shik, one of Korea’s most recognizable contemporary actors, begins tomorrow with this screening of Failan. In it Choi plays the perfect outsider in Song Hae-sung’s tale of a down-and-out gangster who finally finds love.

Choi Min-shik had numerous television roles, but his big break came in 1999 when he played a cold-blooded North Korean soldier in Swiri (Dir. Kang Je-gyu) and suddenly gained a reputation as one of Korea’s finest actors. His acting dominates the silver screen, but his characters have more than charisma. In Failan, he played a thug, married to a Chinese woman out of convenience, but who sheds tears of regret when his “fake” wife dies. In Strokes of Fire, which won the Best Director Prize at the 55th Cannes Film Festival, he played the famous nineteenth-century Korean painter Jang Seung-up. In 2004, Choi returned to Cannes when director Park Chan-woo’s bloody revenge epic, Old Boy, won the Grand Prix-award. Choi's impassioned and robust acting can seize an audience's heart, and he is now known to film buffs worldwide.

This Choi Min-shik tribute will be presented at the newly renovated Museum of the Moving Image, home to New York City’s finest, state-of-the-art screen. Films are free with museum admission. This tribute is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Failan info at The Korea Society's website here.

Failan info at MoMI's website here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

ACF 1468: Science Fiction Anthology THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE

THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE © 2012 VIZ Media
 NEW FROM VIZ MEDIA’S HAIKASORU IMPRINT,
A STIRRING NEW ANTHOLOGY OF FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION
AND CYBERPUNK SHOWS WHY THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE

New Literary Release Features 13 Innovative Stories From And About Japan
By An International Collection Of Some Of Sci-Fi Fiction’s Most Acclaimed Authors

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru imprint announces the release of THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE, a new fiction anthology featuring science fiction and fantasy stories from some of today’s greatest writers from both Japan and the English-speaking world. The book is now available from the company’s Haikasoru imprint and has a MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $17.99 CAN. An eBook edition will also be available for the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, the Barnes & Noble’s Nook Books Store, and the Sony Reader™ Store.

Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences, and is the first imprint based in the U.S. dedicated to Japanese science fiction and fantasy in translation.

THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE offers a selection of original and classic science fiction about Japan from some of the greatest writers in the world. Stories include a web browser that threatens to conquer the world, the longest, loneliest railroad on Earth, a North Korean nuke hitting Tokyo, a hollow asteroid full of automated rice paddies, and a specialist in breaking up “virtual” marriages. And yes, giant robots. These thirteen stories from and about the Land of the Rising Sun run the gamut from fantasy to cyberpunk, and will leave readers knowing that the future is Japanese!

“THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE is a stirring new anthology and the first release of original prose fiction by Haikasoru,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru Editor. “Japan is a nation long renowned for its futuristic worldview, and THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE will engross readers with short stories by authors such as cyberpunk legends Pat Cadigan and Bruce Sterling, New York Times bestselling author Catherynne Valente, the enormously popular and prolific Japanese writer Hideyuki Kikuchi, and hot new writers Rachel Swirsky, David Moles, and Ken Liu, who have all already won or been nominated for the Nebula and Hugo awards. We look forward to readers discovering and enjoying this new collection!”

For more information on THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE and the Haikasoru imprint, visit the dedicated website at www.haikasoru.com.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

ACF 1467: CHOI Min-Shik Tribute


The Korea Society, as part of its ongoing "Korean Cinema Now" program with the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), will be presenting a three film tribute to Korean actor CHOI Min-Shik (also spelled CHOI Min-sik or anglicized as Min-sik CHOI).

The films to be shown are:
Failan - Sunday, May 20th, 2012 at 3:00 PM
Stroke of Fire / Chiwaseon, Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 at 3:00 PM
Old Boy, Sunday, July 1st, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Choi Min-shik had numerous television roles, but his big break came in 1999 when he played a cold-blooded North Korean soldier in Swiri (directed by Kang Je-gyu) and suddenly gained a reputation as one of Korea’s finest actors. His acting dominates the silver screen, but his characters have more than charisma. In Failan, he played a thug, married to a Chinese woman out of convenience, but who sheds tears of regret when his “fake” wife dies. In Strokes of Fire, which won the Best Director Prize at the 55th Cannes Film Festival, he played the famous nineteenth-century Korean painter Jang Seung-up. In 2004, Choi returned to Cannes when director Park Chan-woo’s bloody revenge epic, Old Boy, won the Grand Prix-award. Choi's impassioned and robust acting can seize an audience's heart, and he is now known to film buffs worldwide.

This Choi Min-shik tribute will be presented at the newly renovated Museum of the Moving Image, home to New York City’s finest, state-of-the-art screen. MoMi is located at 36-01 35th Avenue (at 37 Street), Astoria, NY. Travel directions here. Films are free with museum admission.

This tribute is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

In related news, the 11th New York Asian Film Festival (June 29 - July 15) will be bringing CHOI to New York as a guest and will be screening his latest film, Nameless Gangster. NYAFF will also be showing a fistful of his classics, including Oldboy, and his underseen and heartbreaking boxing film, Crying Fist.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

ACF 1466: QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG reviewed; opens Friday

Music Box Films Presents
QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG
Directed by Yoichi Sai
Starring: Kaoru Kobayashi, Kippei Shiina,
Teruyuki Kagawa, and Shinobu Terajima
Japan, 2004, 100 minutes
When: Opens in the U.S. on Friday, May 18 in limited release
Where: New York at Cinema Village
& Chicago at the Music Box Theatre
In Japanese with English subtitles

QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG lovingly tells the life-story of a Labrador Retriever seeing-eye dog. His mistress wants all the puppies from his litter to become seeing eye dogs. The trainer she contacts, Satoru Tawada (Kippei Shiina) is reluctant to accept any of them because only their father was a seeing-eye dog, and it is difficult to train a dog to be a guide for the blind or visually handicapped unless both parents had this training and experience. Tawada reluctantly agrees to try to train one from the litter and by an interesting test procedure, the puppy who comes to be called Quill, after the unique marking on his flank that resembles a bird with spread wings, is selected.

Quill as a puppy. (Note the marking near his left hip)

The first of several separations Quill will experience in his life occurs when 'Tawada picks him up and takes him to live his first year with the Nii's, Isamu (Teruyuki Kagawa, star of Tokyo Sonata) and his wife Mitsuko (Shinobu Terajima. They are experienced "puppy-walkers" and their role is to lay the groundwork for Quill's future training. Primarily this involves nurturing his love for and trust in humans. To accomplish this they do not to scold the dog under any circumstances. On a practical level, they begin using words to familiarize Quill with objects he comes in contact with, such as cherry trees, birds, snakes, etc.

When Quill is one year old, Tawada again comes and takes him away. His training begins in earnest. but is far from auspicious. He is much slower than the other dogs being trained, and it begins to look as if he might not be suitable, that he might not "make the cut" so to speak. Then, he quite unexpectedly displays an ability to calmly "stay" for a remarkably long period of time, a most important attribute for a guide dog.

Watanabe (Kaoru Kobayashi) and Quill

His training proceeds and Tawada decides to pair Quill with Mitsuru Watanabe (Kaoru Kobayashi), a rather unpleasant and irascible blind man with a wife, a daughter and a younger son. In fact, Watanabe initially says that he would rather stay in bed than be pulled around by a dog. But after some difficulties learning how to work with and trust Quill, Watanabe accepts him as his partner and the pair begin their training together with other seeing-eye dogs and their new masters.

In a most touching scene, Quill consoles Watanabe after a failure in the training program. The two eventually manage to overcome Watanabe's difficulties, and Quill experiences another separation (though not his last) when he leaves the training camp and goes to live with Watanabe and his family. The dog has clearly won the heart of his new master.

Based on a true story, QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG is a warm and wonderful tale, beautifully told. At the press screening I recently attended, the  puppy scenes at the beginning had me in stitches. And there was more than one moment when, for me at least, it got quite a bit misty in the screening room, a genuine emotional reaction that the film earned through honesty, not melodramatic manipulation. While the entire cast and crew can be proud of what they've created, I want to give special kudos to Tadami Miya, who trained the dogs used in the film.

ACF Rating 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ACF 1465: Anime Network offering BOOK OF BANTORRA giveaway


In celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Anime Network invites fans to enter this summer’s hit series Book of Bantorra promotional giveway. The first 13 episodes of this hit series are now airing on Video on Demand and Xfinity’s Top Picks.

Successful entrants will watch the first six episodes of Book of Bantorra now through June 30 and visit the Book of Bantorra Contest Page to answer a few simple questions. 

Book of Bantorra is among four anime titles featured in May’s Xfinity Top Picks section celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Anime Network. Along with Angel Beats, Elfen Lied and Infinite Stratos, Book of Bantorra was selected because they represent the unique use of colorful illustration, pop music and storytelling indicative of the Japanese art form that has grown in worldwide popularity. 

About Book of Bantorra

When a person dies, the soul departs from its body and is crystallized into a book. Written in that book are all the memories of that soul’s life. For anyone who touches that book, the dead person’s past can be relived…. It is in the Library of Bantorra, run by an elite organization known as the Armed Librarians, that all excavated books are stored. Under the direction of Acting Chief Librarian Hamutz Meseta, all Armed Librarians possess an extraordinary combination of encyclopedic knowledge and fighting skill. For this reason, the Armed Librarians are the most difficult profession to enter in the world. But will they be good enough to stop the fanatics of the Shindeki Church from exacting vengeance on the entire world? Only time will tell, but that book hasn’t been written yet.

Monday, May 14, 2012

ACF 1464: 6th Korean American Film Festival New York to run June 5-10

Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY): 
When: JUNE 5-10
Where: Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue New York, NY 10003
Map here

Now in its sixth year, the annual Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) is the first and only film festival in New York City showcasing the diversity of Korean American and Korean diasporic perspectives in film.  Since its first annual festival in 2007, KAFFNY has continued to broaden its focus on emerging filmmakers to include international films by Korean and as well as non-Korean filmmakers.

This year, the program reflects the strong offerings in new Korean American filmmaking as well as cross-cultural Asian independent cinema. “We’re very proud to have so many premiere screenings of homegrown New York and American talent, and feel our filmmakers are now truly coming-of-age along with our festival,” says founder Dave Kim.

Hosted at Anthology Film Archives this year, KAFFNY presents New York audiences with a challenging and innovative mix of narrative features and documentaries with a strong focus on auteur-driven stories, and complex character studies, exploring such themes as loss and dislocation through journeys of discovery. KAFFNY also marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots with a special free program of films, to also screen online for the duration of the festival.

Please visit www.kaffny.com for program information and final schedule

Sunday, May 13, 2012

ACF 1463: SULTRY ASSASSIN 2 – NINJA BRAINWASH coming August 14th, 2012 from Switchblade Pictures


Switchblade Pictures has announced the newest addition to the company’s growing line of live action features: SULTRY ASSASSIN 2 – NINJA BRAINWASH.  The second in a new series of ero-ninja epics based on the novels by Junichi Yagami, SULTRY ASSASSIN 2  picks up where the previous installment, APHRODISIAC  KILL, left off  and is once again written and directed by Kenichi Fujiwara (ZOMBIE HUNTER RIKA, ZEROMAN R) and produced by the Take Shobo Company and Shintoho Pictures Co., Ltd.

Akiho Yoshizawa (MAIDROID 1 & 2, INVADER 33D) reprises the titular lead role, joined once again by WKA and WPKC world kickboxing champion Yoshihiro Sato, also the two-time winner of the Japanese national K-1 tournament (2006, 2007.)  Adding new faces to the spectacular selection of stunning physical specimens on display are a new duo of daring damsels in varying stages of distress and undress: exploitation star Shijimi (HELLDRIVER, MAIDROID 02,) and model/actress Yuzuka Kinoshita.

Summary: When Yui Kusunoki, an undercover geisha secretly in the employ of the Inner Secret Guard, disappears while en route to deliver an oral message concerning rogue Koga Ninja penetrations in southern Hikone, there’s just one sword-mistress who can go down after her: the notorious but very easy on the eyes Rin Saejima a.k.a. the Sultry Assassin!  But, knowing that her identity may have already been compromised as a result of the Koga’s Erotic Brainwashing technique, Rin devises a cunning plan of her own: one that involves bringing her “associate” Yasuburo back into her fold posing as her husband!

Get ready for sword-handling of every kind and lots of derring-do getting done in the most unexpected places (and locations) as the team behind the sizzling escapades of THE APHRODISIAC KILL reunite for a double-sworded, sordid ero-ninja epic that scholars of Japanese history would very much prefer that you don’t bring up in class: SULTRY ASSASSIN 2 – NINJA BRAINWASH.

SULTRY ASSASSIN 2 – NINJA BRAINWASH! feature will begin release on subtitled DVD on August 14th, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

ACF 1462: Seventy classic Korean films are now available on YouTube

Just had to pass on and help spread this great news from my compatriots at VCinema:

The Korean Film Archive (KOFA), a Seoul-based organization dedicated to the preservation and archiving of its country’s films, has made available seventy classic films from the ’50s to the ’90s on YouTube for free viewing now. This news was first reported on Twitter several months ago by Darcy Paquet of koreanfilm.org (itself a cleearinghouse for Korean film writing in English) and it’s a pleasant surprise that the project has already come to fruition.

What’s exciting is that these aren’t umpteenth generation VHS copies chopped into multiple parts without subtitles; they are well-preserved and rendered (several are HD) full length films with subtitles optional with YouTube’s closed captioning and interactive transcript features. One drawback I’ve found is that KOFA did not allow viewing of these films on devices of any sort, including handhelds (iPods, iPhones) or set-top boxes, so you will be confined to your computer desk or will have to hook your computer to your TV.  However, all of that is worth the chance to see the exciting range of obscure and extremely rare titles that they’ve put up: Kim Ki-young’s Woman of Fire (1971), Im Kwon-taek’s Sopyeonje (1993), Kang Dae-jin’s A Coachman (1961) and many, many more.  Simply put, to paraphrase my friend John, this is Korean film history in a single package.

Head on over to KOFA’s YouTube channel and get started watching!

Friday, May 11, 2012

ACF 1461: Anime Network and Xfinity TV celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with four titles

Anime Network Celebrates
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
on Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand 

In celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Anime Network and Comcast’s Xfinity TV are featuring four exciting titles during May on Xfinity On Demand under the Top Picks folder. The titles represent the unique use of colorful illustration, pop music and storytelling indicative of the Japanese art form that has grown in worldwide popularity. 

Anime is well known for stories with supercharged action, secret societies with sinister agendas, magical adventures and romantic trysts and these are represented in Angel Beats, Book of Bantorra, Elfen Lied and Infinite Stratos.

“We’re proud to be part of Xfinity TV’s celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and to offer our fans the opportunity to be the first to view the much-anticipated Book of Bantorra’s first 13 episodes before anyone else,” said Stacy Dodson, Anime Network’s Executive Vice President.

Xfinity TV customers can find these shows on Xfinity On Demand in the Asian Heritage folder under Top Picks.

ACF 1460: QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG to open in limited release

Music Box Films Presents
QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG
Opening in the U.S. on Friday, May 18 in limited release 

Yoichi Sai’s delightful tale  QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG (2004), the story of Quill, a Labrador Retriever seeing eye dog, is scheduled to open on Friday, May 18 in New York at Cinema Village and in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre. (AsianCineFest will review the film next week.)

Based on Ryohei Akimoto’s novel Modoken Quill No IsshoQUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG follows Quill (named for the bird wings mark on his side) from the litter to his selection as a seeing-eye dog.  After training at a school for guide dogs, Quill is paired with Watanabe, an ill-tempered blind man (Japanese Academy Award-winning actor Kaoru Kobayashi,) a professional advocate for the disabled, who at first refuses to be paired with him.  But Quill’s great patience, gentleness and unique skills eventually win him over and the two become inseparable friends. Heart-warming and visually charming,  QUILL is an irresistible treat for dog lovers.

Korean-Japanese director Yoichi Sai’s previous films, ALL UNDER THE MOON and BLOOD AND BONES, garnered top Japanese awards including the Kinema Junpo Award for Best Director, Film and Screenplay as well as the Japanese Academy awards for Best Director and Screenplay. He currently serves as the President of the Japanese Directors Guild.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

ACF 1459: The 11th New York Asian Film Festival to run June 29 - July 15

Pang Ho-cheung’s VULGARIA is the Opening Night selection

 Chung Chang-Wha (FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH)
to be honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Special focus on Taiwanese films featured

The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema with programming support from Japan Society has announced some major highlights for this year’s New York Asian Film Festival (June 29 - July 15).

The opening night film will be Pang Ho-cheung’s comedy VULGARIA. A movie about making movies, VULGARIA was shot in just 12 days, and features gangsters with names like Brother Tyrannosaur, sleazy lawyers, the sex film industry, and men who love donkeys perhaps a little too much. Pang Ho-cheung will be in attendance himself, as the festival also presents his new romantic comedy, LOVE IN THE BUFF, about a couple who meet in the smoke break alley outside their office building and try to make their romance work despite cell phones dropped in toilets, friends who have the death touch, and corporate moves to Beijing.



The 2012 NYAFF Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Chung Chang-Wha, the great Korean action director whose 1972 movie for Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers studio, FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH, was the first international martial arts hit to break through in the West. It launched the Kung-Fu craze in the USA, and he will attend the screening of that classic.

Choi Min-Sik (OLDBOY), regarded by many to be one of the finest actors in Korea, will attend the screening of his latest film, NAMELESS GANGSTER, as well as OLDBOY and his underseen and heartbreaking boxing film, CRYING FIST.


NYAFF will host a special focus on Taiwanese films, including a Fourth of July presentation of the uncut, four-and-a-half-hour SEEDIQ BALE, which could be described as that country’s exhilarating, decapitation-filled version of BRAVEHEART, all about its indigenous people fighting for their freedom in 1930. Also screening, will be the hit romantic comedy, YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE, which set box office records in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mainland China.


Filmmaking legend and NYAFF favorite Takashi Miike will be represented by PHOENIX WRIGHT: ACE ATTORNEY, NIGHT FISHING, a 30-minute short film from Korea’s Park Chan-Wook and his brother Park Chan-Kyung, NASI LEMAK 2.0, a Malaysian food movie directed by and starring controversial rapper, Namewee, KING OF PIGS, a brutal animated feature fresh out of Cannes, and SCABBARD SAMURAI, the latest film from Hitoshi Matsumoto (director and star of SYMBOL) round out the highlighted titles previewed by NYAFF.

ACF 1458: Free screening of KING AND THE CLOWN next Tuesday

Korean Cultural Service
presents
Korean Movie Night 
Series 3: Epic Romance!
 
King and the Clown / Wang-ui namja
Directed by LEE Jun-ik
South Korea, 2005, 119 minutes
When: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas (map here)
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served

During the reign of the infamous King Yeon-san, two clowns (Gam Woo-Sung and Lee Joon-Ki, both mesmerizing here) star in a satirical play about the powerful monarch, which becomes popular among the commoners. Immediately arrested for treason, they bet their lives on making the king laugh at their routine, and their surprising success allows them to stay in the palace as royal performers. When the king (Hi, Dharma’s Jeong Jin-Young) starts displaying an irresistible attraction toward one of the clowns, the performers quickly realize that they may be in over their heads. A pop culture phenomenon, this mid-budget romance about man love ended up selling more tickets than any other film in Korean history – cementing itself deeply in the public consciousness and becoming a culture-defining romantic hit.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

ACF 1457: Japan Day @ Central Park coming this Sunday, May 13th

The annual Japan Day @ Central Park will take place this Sunday, May 13th, 2012.

8:00 AM
Japan Run 4-mile Race
For more information or to register, visit the New York Road Runners website.

9:30 AM
2:30 PM
Japan Day Festival
Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park
Main entrance at 69th Street & 5th Avenue 

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of cherry trees to the United States, symbolizing an enduring cross-cultural friendship. The sixth annual Japan Day @ Central Park, a showcase of vibrant contemporary and traditional Japanese culture, will celebrate this centennial through cultural activities, stage performances and, back by popular demand, a variety of food booths.

Be sure to stop by the Yo-Yo Fishing Tent (yo-yo tsuri) co-hosted by Japan Society and the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program Alumni Association of New York.

For a detailed schedule of events, transportation options, and more, please visit japandaynyc.org.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

ACF 1456: Exciting news for both current and new subscribers to WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA

BAKUMAN。© 2008 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.
VIZ MEDIA OFFERS NEW AND EXISTING
WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA MEMBERS
A SPECIAL YU-GI-OH! TRADING CARD PREMIUM

This Week’s Issue of North America’s
Leading Digital Manga Magazine
Features Series Conclusion Of BAKUMAN
 And Interview With Manga Creator Takeshi Obata

Leading manga publisher VIZ Media continues to offer a plethora of fan-favorite, must-read manga (graphic novel) content along with exclusive creator interviews and a special collectable trading card premium for WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA members throughout the month of May.

Current WEEKLY SJ ALPHA members, as well as new subscribers that secure an annual membership to North America’s premier digital manga magazine, are encouraged sign up at http://www.sjalpha.com/sign-up before June 22nd, 2012 to receive a special limited edition collectable – a Slifer the Sky Dragon YU-GI-OH! promo card! Fans of the print SHONEN JUMP magazine have already been treated to two previous God Cards (Obelisk and Ra), and the trilogy is now complete with this release. Just like the other God cards, each Slifer the Sky Dragon has Kazuki Takahashi Sensei's printed signature!

Another not-to-be-missed offering will be the release of the final chapter of the smash hit series BAKUMAN, written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata. The concluding chapter will debut digitally in the May 7th issue of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA, available on VIZManga.com/sj-weekly.

As the critically acclaimed BAKUMAN series (rated ‘T’ for Teens) reaches its climactic conclusion, fictional manga creators Moritaka and Akito’s series, Reversi, proves so successful they are awarded their own anime series. It’s been a long wait for Moritaka, who promised Miho Azuki in middle school that they’d get married when she did the voice for a character in his anime series. With everything on the line, Miho gives the performance of a lifetime. Now, with the anime series about to air, Moritaka needs to find the perfect words to ask Miho to marry him!

YU-GI-OH! © 1996 KAZUKI TAKAHASHI © 2011 NAS・TV TOKYO

As a bonus feature, available exclusively to WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA members, the publication is proud to present a very special interview with Takeshi Obata, the renowned artist of BAKUMAN who also created the artwork to the acclaimed series, DEATH NOTE.

Each new digital edition of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA treats manga fans across North America to the latest chapters of some of the world’s most popular manga series only two weeks after they debut in Japan’s massively popular WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP magazine.

WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA is available through an annual membership that provides 52 weeks of digital access to 48 weekly issues for just $25.99. Single issues of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA can be read for four weeks for only $0.99. Each issue may be read on VIZManga.com/sj-weekly, and also on the updated VIZ Manga App for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA members also receive an annual collector’s yearbook, 4 Yu-Gi-Oh! cards throughout the year delivered to your door, and access to exclusive content, including creator interviews and exclusive videos.

For more information on WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA and exclusive subscriber offers, please visit SJAlpha.com

Monday, May 07, 2012

ACF 1455: UPOTTE! is coming soon from Sentai Filmworks


Forget about girls WITH guns, Sentai Filmworks has announced their acquisition of Upotte!, the show that’s all about girls who ARE guns!  Upotte! features the scripts by Naruhisa Arakawa (Listen To Me, Girls! I am Your Father, Blue Seed), direction by Takao Kato (To Love Ru, Pandora Hearts) and character designs by Akio Takami (Buso Renkin, Steam Detectives).

Synopsis: Kiss kiss, bang bang!  The arms race takes on a startling new development when the arms come with heads, legs and very feminine bodies attached!  Yes, at Seishou Academy every girl is literally a lethal weapon, and they’re all gunning for the top shot at getting their own personal serviceman!  Needless to say, it’s going to be difficult for newly recruited human instructor Genkoku to adjust to working with a living arsenal of high caliber cuties with tricky names like FNC (Funko,) M 16A4 (Ichiroku,)  L85A1 (Eru,) and SG 550 (Shigu,).  Especially since many have hair triggers and there’s no bulletproof vest that can stop a really determined coed!  He’ll have to rewrite the operator’s manual on student/teacher relationships, and pray that his job description won’t include having to field strip and reassemble one of his cadets in the dark.  But unfortunately (for him,) FNC’s already thinking about becoming HIS personal weapon, and she usually gets what she aims for!  Get ready for explosive situations, amour piercing rounds, cheap shots galore and one VERY shell-shocked homeroom instructor in UPOTTE!

UPOTTE! will begin release through select digital outlets soon with a home video release to follow.