With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

ACF 1849: Maiden Japan licenses MOBILE POLICE PATLABOR TV


Maiden Japan has announced its acquisition of the legendary series Mobile Police Patlabor TV. This 47 episode series features direction by Naoyuki Yoshinaga (Maison Ikkoku, Irresponsible Captain Tylor) with character designs by Akemi Takada (Kimagure Orange Road, Urusei Yatsura), mechanical designs by Yoshinori Sayama (RahXephon, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counter Attack) and Yutaka Izubuchi (Gasaraki, Toward the Terra) and music by Kenji Kawai (Vampire Princesss Miyu, Sorcerer Hunters).

Maiden Japan will be distributing Mobile Police Patlabor TV in conjunction with home video distributor Section23 (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed) on bilingual BD & DVD (July 16th) and in digital formats. 

Synopsis: Giant Robots, sociopaths, madmen waving guns: these aren’t just the problems the Mobile Police have to deal with every day, these ARE the Mobile Police! But in a world where giant robots called Labors are frequently used for criminal purposes, the boys and girls in blue have to face things that are even bigger and scarier! So when police cadet Noa Izumi comes in to take a pilot aptitude test and instead initiates a high speed chase after a stolen Police Labor, it’s clear that she’s got exactly the right combination of guts, brains and just plain crazy that the Second Special Vehicles Division desperately needs.

But fitting into the frequently insane lifestyle of SV2 won’t be easy. She’ll have rivals for the pilot seat of the mech that’s stolen Noa’s heart, and her patrol duties will include herding whales, exorcising hauntings and fighting rogue military units on top of the usual terrorists. On the other hand, she gets to carry the biggest handgun EVER. The wheels of justice keep turning (or, in this case, running on giant metal legs,) as SV2 hits the street in Mobile Police Patlabor TV.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

ACF 1848: NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN available on DVD and Blu-ray on April 2nd

© Hiroshi Shiibashi / SHUEISHA, Nurari Project
 VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT
OF THE HIT SUPERNATUAL ANIME ACTION SERIES
NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN
ON DVD AND BLU-RAY

When Night Falls, The King Of The Yokai
Rises Up In This Thrilling Action Series
About A Middle School Student With A Secret Life

VIZ Media gives anime fans a new dose of supernatural anime action as it announces the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN this coming Tuesday, April 2nd.

The fantasy adventure series about a young man who is part human and part supernatural demon is rated TV-14 and will carry a DVD MSRP of $44.82 U.S. / $43.24 CAN and a Blu-ray MSRP of $54.97 U.S. / $66.15 CAN. The new 2-disc set features Episodes 1-13 presented with original Japanese (with English subtitles) and English dubbed dialogue options. DVD bonus features include production art and the official U.S. trailer. The Blu-ray edition features a color production art gallery, clean opening and the official U.S. trailer.

Rikuo Nura is an average middle school student by day and yokai (a supernatural demon) by night. He’s not just any yokai – he is the grandson of Nurarihyon, the Supreme Commander of the Nura clan! Rikuo wants to live a normal life. However, his grandfather wants him to succeed as the rightful heir. When an inter-clan conflict threatens the stability within their organization, Rikuo must decide whether he will live his life as a human or accept his yokai heritage.

“Anime fans everywhere are going to love the action-packed storyline of NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN, which incorporates elements from Japanese mythology and updates them into a kinetic new supernatural adventure,” says Charlene Ingram, Sr. Marketing Manager, Animation. “The talented cast of top U.S. voice actors, including Kyle Hebert, Grant George, Mela Lee, and Darrel Guilbeau in the lead role of Rikuo Nura, really brings the action to life. Fans won’t want to miss the entire first season of this riveting anime series!”

The NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN anime series (English-dubbed) is also featured on Neon Alley, VIZ Media’s 24/7 anime channel available for the PlayStation®Network and the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system, and now also for the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live®.

NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is based on the bestselling NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN manga series created by Hiroshi Shiibashi (rated ‘T’ for Teens; also published by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint). Hiroshi Shiibashi debuted in Japan in Business Jump magazine with the series, Aratama. NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is his breakout hit.

More information on NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is available at http://www.viz.com/anime/dvd/nura-rise-of-the-yokai-clan-video.

Friday, March 29, 2013

ACF 1847: Maiden Japan announces acquisition of RUIN EXPLORERS



Maiden Japan has announced its acquisition of Ruin Explorers a tale of dungeons, dangers and dysfunctional damsels.  This four episode OVA series features direction and screenplay by Takeshi Mori (Gunsmith Cats, Vandread) with character designs by Toshihisa Kaiya and music by Masamichi Amano (Princess Nine, Giant Robo). 

Maiden Japan will be distributing Ruin Explorers in conjunction with home video distributor Section23 (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed,) on bilingual DVD (July 2nd) and in digital formats.

Synopsis: Ancient curses, enchanted artifacts and plain old fashioned dungeon diving: that’s what Fam and Ihrie do for a living - whenever these lovely young ladies can get someone to pay them for it, that is.  As two highly trained magic users with slightly faulty spelling abilities (Fam can’t do anything destructive and Ihrie keeps turning into a mouse,) they’re off on a quest for the “Ultimate Power.”  All they have to do is find three artifacts: the Proof Of Royalty, the Sword of Sargus and the Mirror of Truth.  So how hard can it be?

Unfortunately, Sorceress Rasha and her muscle-headed partner Migel are on the same quest, as are the mysterious Prince Lyle, the anything for a buck merchant Galuff with his dog Gil, and the sinister magician Rugudurol!  And to make this epic odyssey even more odd and complex, it’s not really clear as to exactly which ones are the bad guys!  Hold onto your talismans and amulets, because the road to high adventure is about to have a multi-mage pileup, and the fate of all humanity may just be in the hands of two underpaid young women trying to make a living as RUIN EXPLORERS!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

ACF 1846: First-time ever NARUTO SHIPPUDEN design contest

 
Naruto Shippuden design contest sample shirt
VIZ MEDIA AND WELOVEFINE ANNOUNCE SPECIAL FIRST-TIME EVER
NARUTO SHIPPUDEN DESIGN CONTEST

Manga Creator Masashi Kishimoto, Along With Manga Editor And Director
Of The Smash Hit Anime, Invite Artists And Fans To Tap Their Inner Ninja
For A Chance To Win Trip To Anime Expo 2013 And Other Prizes

VIZ Media has announced a special NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Design Contest, sponsored by NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN licensee WeLoveFine (WeLoveFine.com), that began recently and will run through midnight on Tuesday April 16th.

Fans are encouraged to channel their inner ninja and flex their artistic muscle to create an original “stylized” or “super deformed” (Chibi-style) rendering of a prominent NARUTO SHIPPUDEN character. All designs MUST incorporate characters and themes from NARUTO SHIPPUDEN and not from any previous episodes or manga volumes of the NARUTO series. Art pieces should be scanned and submitted to WeLoveFine. Submittals must be 100% original; exact copies of NARUTO manga or anime will not be accepted; do not trace any original NARUTO manga or anime artwork. Complete contest details are available at: http://www.welovefine.com/contest/39-naruto-shippuden-design-contest.

Contest submissions will be judged and winners personally selected by WeLoveFine, along with esteemed Guest Judges Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, Joe Otsuki, Editor of the NARUTO manga, and Hayato Date, Director of the NARUTO SHIPPUDEN anime series.

Naruto Shippuden design contest sample shirt

The Grand Prize winner will received a paid 3-days 2-nights trip to attend Anime Expo 2013, the nation’s biggest anime convention set to be held in Los Angeles, CA, July 4-7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Prize package includes a 4-day Anime Expo membership badge, 1 round trip airfare (limited to U.S. domestic flights only) and lodging near the convention center.

The three Guest Judges will also select their personal favorite design for a “Judges Pick” winner, and each of those artists will win $300 in cash! One runner-up winner will receive a $150 gift certificate for WeLoveFine.com and five Honorable Mention winners will each receive a $50 gift certificate for WeLoveFine.com.

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, NARUTO was first introduced in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan in 1999 and quickly became that country’s most popular ninja manga targeting tweens and teens. The manga series (rated ‘T’ for Teens, in print and digital editions) and animated counterpart (NARUTO rated ‘T’ for teens, and NARUTO Shippuden rated ‘T+’ for older teens) are some of VIZ Media’s most successful properties and have captivated millions of fans across North America, Europe and South America. NARUTO is a co-production of TV TOKYO, VIZ Media parent company Shueisha Inc., and Pierrot Co., Ltd.


Naruto Shippuden design contest sample shirt

Author/artist Masashi Kishimoto was born in 1974 in the rural Okayama Prefecture of Japan. After spending time in Art College, he won the prestigious Hop Step Award for new manga artists with Karakuri (Mechanism). Kishimoto decided to base his next story on traditional Japanese culture. His first version of NARUTO, created in 1997, was a one-shot story about fox spirits; his final version, which debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1999, quickly became the most popular ninja manga in Japan.

In the NARUTO manga and animated series, Naruto Uzumaki wants to be the best ninja in the land. He's done well so far, but Naruto knows he must train harder than ever and leaves his village for intense exercises that will push him to his limits. NARUTO SHIPPUDEN begins two and a half years later, when Naruto returns to find that everyone has been promoted up the ninja ranks – except him. Sakura’s a medic ninja, Gaara’s advanced to Kazekage, and Kakashi… well he remains the same. But pride isn’t necessarily becoming of a ninja, especially when Naruto realizes that Sasuke never returned from his search for Orochimaru. Plus, the mysterious Akatsuki organization is still an ever-present danger. As Naruto finds out more about the Akatsuki’s goals, he realizes that nothing in his universe is as it seems. Naruto is finding that he’s older, but will he also prove wiser and stronger?

More information on NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN is available at www.Naruto.com.

ACF 1845: FISTS OF LEGEND to open nationwide in U.S. on April 12, 2013

CJ Entertainment
presents
Fists of Legend
Directed by KANG Woo-suk
Starring HWANG Jung-min, YU Jun-sang,
YOON Jea- moon, YU Hae-jin, and  LEE Yo-won
South Korea, 154 minutes
Korean with English subtitles

The South Korean action/drama  Fists of Legend will open nationwide in the U.S. on April 12, 2013 in 19 theaters: New York (AMC Empire, AMC Bay Terrace), New Jersey (AMC Ridgefield Park), Philadelphia (AMC Plymouth Meeting), Washington DC, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Fullerton, Santa Clara, Las Vegas, Seattle,, San Diego, Irvine, Washington DC.


Synopsis: On a television show billed as “the greatest fight show on Earth,” eager amateurs with lots to prove boldly step into the ring and expect to leave bloody but victorious. The ratings-hungry producers seek out legendary, but largely forgotten street fighters and mine their desperation for recaptured glory and redemption into ratings gold.

Based on the Korean web comic Legendary Fist, Fists of Legend features three old friends and rivals from high school days. Twenty-five years later, they get invitation to the big fight for the chance to win $200,000 and much more. Deok-kyu, whose Olympic dreams were dashed, now runs a struggling noodle shop. Jae-seok who always wanted to be number one but still finds himself in a third-rate gang. And Sang-hoon, a thug turned corporate executive who must go back and find his bloodlust one last time.

An epic saga about friendship and family, Fists of Legend moves back and forth between the present day and their long-lost glory days, with the film featuring a high-octane blend of staged MMA alongside street fights.

Directed by legendary Korean filmmaker KANG Woo-suk (Public Enemy Trilogy, Moss, Silmido) with fights and action choreographed by top talent JUNG Doo-Hong (G.I Joe Retaliation, The Berlin File, Mongol) Fists of Legend delivers a one-two punch of unparalleled action and dramatic story.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

ACF 1844: THE RETURN OF THE OLD SCHOOL KUNG FU FEST coming to Anthology Film Archives

The Return of the Old School Kung Fu Fest
When: April 19, 20, and 21, 2013
Where: Anthology Film Archives
Second Avenue and East 2nd Street
Map

Subway Cinema, the organization that presents the fantastic annual New York Asian Film Festival, is going back to its roots with a special weekend long film series in April entitled The Return of the Old School Kung Fu Fest.

Six films will be presented, each to be shown on two different days. There will also be a "Special Screening - One Show Only!!!" of a surprise film at 8 PM on Saturday, April 20th.


The series is dedicated to the memory of Daniel Anderson Craft, one of the directors of Subway Cinema, who succumbed to cancer earlier this year.

Subway Cinema info here.

Anthology Film Archives info here.

ACF 1843: HIGHWAY to be showcased in MoMA's annual Asian film series

MoMA
presents
ContemporAsian
Highway
Directed by Deepak Rauniyar
Nepal, 2012, 80 minutes
When: April 25, 2013–May 01, 2013
Where: Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, NYC
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters

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 represents the rapidly transforming visual culture of the region.

The sixth season of ContemporAsian opens with the New York premiere of Highway, the first Nepalese film to premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. The most talked-about cinematic event in Nepal’s history has divided audiences at home and thrilled cineastes worldwide.

Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film.

ACF 1842: THE BERLIN FILE doing great bu$ine$$ in North America


The Berlin File, directed by RYOO Seung-wan, was released in North America on February 15th and  has been having a very successful run here, as this article at the Korean Film Biz Zone (kobiz) indicates. Great news for director RYOO and the cast and crew in particular and for Korean cinema in general. And of course for their fans here in North America.

My review of the film here.

My email interview with director RYOO Seung-wan here. (I'm pleased to point out that, in my preface to my final question, I said that "I think [The Berlin File] will be quite successful." Sure seems I got that one right.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

ACF 1841: Two screenings of PEOPLE'S PARK in NYC

Directed by Libbie D. Cohn & J.P. Sniadecki
USA/China, 2012, 78 minutes
When: Thursday, 3/28/2013 at 6:15 PM
at MoMA Titus 1 Theater, 11 West 53rd Street, NYC
Tickets at MoMA
and
Saturday, 3/30/2013 at 6:00 PM
at Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65 Street, NYC
Tickets at Walter Reade
New York Premiere!
Directors JP Sniadecki and Libbie Dina Cohn in person at all screenings


An immersive, inquisitive visit to the People’s Park in Chengdu, China, this film was created in a single virtuoso tracking shot. The joys of communal play, exercise, and leisure time come under intense scrutiny from the relentless gaze of the directors' lens, creating alternate states of unease and exhilaration.

Online sales for screenings at MoMA end three hours prior to showtime. Any remaining tickets will be available at the MoMA Film desk beginning 30 minutes before showtime.

These screenings of People's Park are part of the New Directors/New Films series which is co-presented by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

ACF 1840: Free screening of BLOODY FIGHT IN IRON-ROCK VALLEY

Korean Cultural Service New York
presents
Korean Movie Night 2013
Series Two: Micro-Budget Genre Invasion!
 Bloody Fight in Iron-Rock Valley / Cheol-ham-gye-gok-eui hyeo-too
Written and directed by Ji Ha-jean
South Korea, 2011, 89 minutes
When: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Map

Writer/director Ji Ha-Jean turns the Korean revenge film on its head with this outlandish 2011 spectacle, featuring a wild new take on a tried and true genre. When a nameless man is sprung from prison, he embarks on a bloody, vengeful mission to take down a criminal known only as “Ghostface” – spiraling himself into a series of wild, violent quests that leaves no one who meets him unscathed. A fragmented narrative and smooth jazz soundtrack made Bloody Fight in Iron-Rock Valley one of the most surreal adventures you’ll ever embark upon.

A huge hit at last year’s New York Asian Film Festival, this $35,000 film took “Best Korean Independent Film” at Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival and won “Best Asian Genre Film of the Year” from the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ACF 1839: SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE is now available

THIS IS NOT A NOVEL.
THIS IS NOT A SHORT STORY COLLECTION.
THIS IS SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE

Award Winning Japanese Sci-fi Novel
Has North American Debut
From VIZ Media’s Haikasoru Imprint

VIZ Media’s literary imprint Haikasoru has announced today’s North American debut of author Toh EnJoe’s SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE, a work of hard science fiction where vignette, story, and philosophy combine to create a novel designed like a concept album. In Japan, EnJoe’s prize-winning fiction is well known for blending hardcore science fiction with bizarre surrealism.

SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE is available now and carries an MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. An eBook edition is also 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.

This is not a novel. This is not a short story collection. This is Self-Reference ENGINE. Instructions for Use: Read chapters in order. Contemplate the dreams of twenty-two dead Freuds. Note your position in space-time at all times (and spaces). Keep an eye out for a talking bobby sock named Bobby Socks. Beware the star-man Alpha Centauri. Remember that the chapter entitled “Japanese” is translated from the Japanese, but should be read in Japanese. Warning: if reading this book on the back of a catfish statue, the text may vanish at any moment, and you may forget that it ever existed. From the mind of Toh EnJoe comes Self-Reference ENGINE, a textual machine that combines the rigor of Stanislaw Lem with the imagination of Jorge Luis Borges. Do not operate heavy machinery for one hour after reading.

“Self-Reference ENGINE is unlike any typical science fiction novel,” says editor Nick Mamatas. “On one level, this is an astounding work of hard science fiction by a brilliant author with a PhD in physics. But it’s also extremely rich with literary allusion. If you’re a reader interested in how the fundamental laws of physics and the space-time continuum can be bent or even broken, or are prone to liking everything from the meta self-referential aspects of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 to avant-garde postmodernism, SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE is a must-read!”

Author Toh EnJoe was born in Hokkaido, Japan in 1972. After completing a PhD at the University of Tokyo, he became a researcher in theoretical physics. In 2007 he won the Literary World Newcomer’s Prize with “Of the Baseball.” That same year also saw the publication of his book, Self-Reference ENGINE, which caused a sensation in science fiction literary circles and was ranked #2 on SF Magazine’s list of the best science fiction of the year. Since then, EnJoe has been one of those rare writers comfortable working in both “pure literature” and science fiction. In 2010 his novel, U Yu Shi Tan, won the Noma Prize for new authors. In 2011 his “This Is a Pen” was nominated for the Akutagawa Prize, and he won Waseda University’s Tsubouchi Shouyou Prize. In January 2012, he won the Akutagawa Prize with “Butterflies of a Harlequin.” His other works include Boy’s Surface and About Goto.

For more information and to read an excerpt of Self-Reference ENGINE, visit the dedicated website at http://www.haikasoru.com/self-reference-engine.

For more information on Haikasoru and other titles available from the imprint, visit the website at Haikasoru.com.

ACF 1838: Maiden Japan to distribute BLACK MAGIC M-66 this summer

(Note: this image is from the slipcase of my English dubbed VHS tape, not the upcoming release.)
Maiden Japan has announced its acquisition of the classic OVA Black Magic M-66.  Co-directed by legendary manga master Masamune Shirow (GHOST IN THE SHELL, APPLESEED) and visionary director Hiroyuki Kitakubo (JO JO’s BIZZARRE ADVENTURE, GOLDENBOY,) this fast-paced, action-packed show features sound direction by Yasunori Honda (GREEN LEDGEND RAN, DRAGON HALF) and music by Seiyo Katayanagi.

Maiden Japan will be distributing Black Magic M-66 in conjunction with home video distributor Section23 (Clannad, High School of the Dead, Appleseed) on English subtitled DVD (July 9th) and in digital formats.

Synopsis: When two malfunctioning combat androids are accidentally unleashed on a “Terminate at All Costs” mission against the unsuspecting granddaughter of their creator, an entire city becomes the battleground and not even the military may be able to stop them!  The girl’s only hope: Sybil, a freelance journalist who’s out to get the scoop of her life, if she can somehow keep both herself and her subject alive long enough to file a report.

But first, she has to remember to put her clothes on!  It’s a tour de force of violence and mayhem on an epic scale as two damsels in distress and two deranged battle robots face off, girl vs. mecha style, in the all-time anime classic Black Magic M-66.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ACF 1837: NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2013 begins tomorrow

NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS 2013
When: March 20–31, 2013
Where: The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
and The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1 at MoMA

Now in its 42nd year, the renowned New Directors/New Films festival, presented jointly by The Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, introduces New York audiences to the work of emerging or not-yet-established filmmakers from around the world.

Here's some info about two Asian-related films that will be shown:

Directed by Luo Li
U.S. Premiere!
Director Luo Li in person at all screenings!

In this crafty reworking of part of the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, Emperor Li Shimin is now a bureaucratic boss in a big city, where the crooked Dragon King’s attempt to change the weather has backfired and condemned him to death.

Directed by Libbie D. Cohn & J.P. Sniadecki
New York Premiere!
Directors JP Sniadecki and Libbie Dina Cohn in person at all screenings!

An immersive, inquisitive visit to the People's Park in Chengdu, China created in a single virtuoso tracking shot, this film scrutinizes the joys of communal play, exercise and free time.

Visit newdirectors.org for details about the entire series.

ACF 1836: Happy Birthday wishes to Hong Kong actor Simon Yam


Simon Yam in PTU: Police Tactical Unit

Veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam was born in that city on March 19th, 1955. His IMDb filmography lists over 188 films and TV appearances, most of the latter from early in his career, which began in 1977. He's played a wide variety of roles on both sides of the law. (Interestingly, his father and elder brother Peter Yam Tat-Wing were both law-enforcement officers.)

Simon Yam as the serial killer in Dr Lamb

Some of his films that are better known in the West include:

Bullet in the Head (1990)
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Dr. Lamb (1992)
Full Contact (1993)
The Mission (1999)
PTU (2003)
Breaking News (2004)
Election (2005)
Kill Zone, a.k.a. S.P.L. (2005)
Election 2 (2006)
Exiled (2006)
Ip Man (2008)
Sparrow (2008)
Bodyguards and Assassins (2009)
Ip Man 2 (2010)

Simon Yam in Black Ransom (2010)

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting Simon during the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival, at which he received the festival's first Star Asia Award. We chatted some, during which I told him about how I'd come to be interested in and to write about Hong Kong and other Asian films. A few moments after we separated, I felt a hand gently touching my arm. It was Simon; he'd come back to say that he just wanted to thank me for caring so much about Hong Kong films! I was so taken aback that all I could say was probably something like it was my pleasure. I mean, here was this major Hong Kong actor going out of his way to come back over to me and express his thanks.

So, Happy 58th Birthday, Simon Yam, and may there be many happy returns of you to the screen in years to come.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

ACF 1835: FROM UP ON POPPY HILL opens tomorrow in New York

The New York International Children's Film Festival
presents
Studio Ghibli's
From Up on Poppy Hill
Directed by Goro Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki
When: Opens Friday, March 15, 2013
Where: IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave (at West Third)
Map for IFC
and
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65TH (Lincoln Center)
Map for Lincoln Center

As part of The New York International Children's Film Festival, GKIDS is proud to present From Up on Poppy Hill, the new film from legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, and The Secret World of Arrietty.

The film opens New York on March 15, LA and Toronto on March 22, and expands to major North American markets on March 29.

To purchase tickets or for information about the New York International Children's Film Festival, click here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

ACF 1834: BEN 10 OMNIVERSE graphic novel series to debut this fall

TM & © Cartoon Network
VIZ MEDIA TO LAUNCH NEW
BEN 10 OMNIVERSE
ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES THIS FALL

Inspired By The Popular Kids Animated Action Series On Cartoon Network,
New Original Graphic Novels Will Add An Exciting New Chapter
To The Dynamic Property’s Story

VIZ Media has announced that it will support Cartoon Network’s BEN 10 OMNIVERSE animated program with a brand new series of original graphic novels inspired by the popular action/adventure program. The BEN 10 OMNIVERSE series will be rated ‘A’ for All Ages, will launch in the fall of 2013 under the company’s VIZ Kids imprint, and will be available in print and digital editions. Print volumes will carry an MSRP of $7.99 U.S. / $9.99 CAN each.

Ben 10 Omniverse is the latest installment of the hit Ben 10 franchise and was developed by Men of Action, a Development/Production House dedicated to writing, conceptualizing, and developing work of exceptional quality, commercial viability, and explosive creativity. The debut volume of VIZ Media’s BEN 10 OMNIVERSE will feature artwork by Alan Brown with story written by Cory Levine. Future volumes will feature artwork and stories by a variety of noted comic book artists and writers.

In the animated Ben 10 Omniverse series, broadcasting currently on Cartoon Network, Ben Tennyson looks forward to being a solo superhero with his brand new Omnitrix, a watch-like device that allows him to change into different kinds of aliens. But Grandpa Max has other ideas. He assigns Ben a new Plumber partner, Rook, who is highly skilled with his Proto-Tool, but lacks any field experience – especially on Earth. Ben has absolutely no desire to be a tour guide, especially since a mysterious new villain has him in his sights! Ben has defeated all kinds of evil, and is quick to remind everyone that he’s saved the universe at least a dozen times. But even with 10 brand new aliens at his disposal, Ben may have finally met his match! This weekend (March 16-17) Cartoon Network will celebrate Ben 10 with a “Ben 10 Bootcamp” marathon, complete with 17 straight hours of programming, including television movies and episodes from each of the series based on the animated kid hero. 

“VIZ Media is very excited to release new original BEN 10 OMNIVERSE graphic novels based on the latest installment of the popular kid’s action franchise,” says Beth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director. “Beating the bad guys is just part of the superhero gig. With a little help from his rookie partner, Ben will explore the alien underground and discover enemies from his past looking for a rematch. VIZ Media will carry over the show’s visual art style and tone to the original graphic novel series.  We are thrilled to open an exciting new chapter in the BEN 10 OMNIVERSE story this fall!”

For more information about BEN 10 OMNIVERSE or other VIZ Kids titles, please visit http://www.vizkids.com.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ACF 1833: VIZ announces free sticky DOT comics iPad app for kids

VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES FREE
sticky DOT comics
iPAD APP FOR KIDS


New Digital Destination For Young Readers To Debut
30 Parent-Trusted Manga & Graphic Novels, Including
 POKÉMON, VOLTRON FORCE And LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE

VIZ Media has announced the launch of sticky DOT comics, its new kids comics app for the Apple iPad and iPad mini.

© 2009 Pokémon. 
© 1995-2009 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc. 
TM and ® and character names are trademarks of Nintendo.
POCKET MONSTER SPECIAL © 1997 Hidenori KUSAKA, MATO/Shogakukan


Sticky DOT comics, a proprietary app developed by VIZ Media, brings the best all-ages comics to the iPad with content featuring fan-favorite characters both familiar and new. Fans can securely browse, download and read a diverse collection of popular manga and graphic novels including full volumes of POKÉMON, MAMESHIBA, MR. MEN LITTLE MISS, REDAKAI and VOLTRON FORCE. 

sticky DOT comics is available for free download through the iTunes Store. Individual volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the application for a debut price of $2.99-$3.99 per volume. Readers are encouraged to check the app regularly, as new series and volumes, as well as free previews, will be added frequently.

sticky DOT comics Launch Week Titles Will Include:

PokÉmon Adventures
PokÉmon Adventures: DIAMOND AND PEARL/PLATINUM
PokÉmon Black and White
PokÉmon: DIAMOND AND PEARL ADVENTURE!
Mameshiba: On the Loose!

Little Miss Sunshine: here comes the sun!
Mr. Strong: Good Thing I Came Along!
Redakai
Voltron Force



VOLTRON FORCE: 
TM&  © World Events Productions. Under license to Classic Media.


Now with the sticky DOT comics iPad app, fans of any age can take their favorite family-friendly manga and graphic novels on the go,” says Beth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director, VIZ Kids. “There’s something for everyone in this debut, including the adorable adventures of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, the action of REDAKAI, and the awesome fun of POKÉMON, available for the first time in digital form, and we’ll be adding more exciting series and content to sticky DOT comics soon!”


For more information on sticky DOT comics, please visit the dedicated sticky DOT comics page on iTunes.


For more information on VIZ Kids graphic novels and manga, please visit VIZKids.com.

ACF 1832: PUNCH streets today

CJ Entertainment
and
5 Points Pictures
present
Punch / Wan-deuk-i
Directed by LEE Han
South Korea, 2011, 107 minutes
Two-Disc Special Edition
SRP: $29.99

DOH Wan-deuk (YOO Ah-in) doesn't have much good going for him. As soon as he was weaned as an infant, his mother (played by Jasmine LEE) left him and his father. His old man (actor PARK Soo-yung) is a hunchback who performs as a dancer at the Chariot Cabaret with his partner, Min-ku (KIM Yung-jae), a sweet if slow-witted younger man. Not only poor financially, Wan-deuk is also a poor, unmotivated student who is almost a senior in high school. His homeroom teacher, LEE Dong-ju (Kim Yun-seok), is eternally on his case, not just at school but also at home, since he is also Wan-deuk's neighbor. The one thing that Wan-deuk, a rather sweet and well-intentioned youth, is really good at is fighting.

Wan-deuk (left) and his teacher Dong-ju

This coming-of-age story about an at-risk young man is based upon the 2008 novel Wan-deuk Yi by KIM Ryeo-ryeong. The book, a best-seller, was unanimously selected to receive the first-ever Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction.

Director LEE Han has made some of Korea's most beloved and heartwarming films (Lover's Concerto; Almost Love; Love, First). With Punch he has produced a tender and touching tale of a young man trying to find himself, aided by his tough taskmaster of a teacher and neighbor.

Martial arts writer Ho-jeung (right) and her foul-mouthed brother

Each of the significant characters in the film is interesting, clearly defined and well portrayed. Besides the five already mentioned, there are three others. Ho-jeong (actress PARK Hyo-joo), another neighbor, writes martial arts novels and lives with her brother (KIM Sang-ho). He screams curses at Wan-deuk and Dong-ju whenever they disturb him, which happens frequently. Yoon-ha (KANG Byeol) is a lovely, bespectacled classmate of Wan-deuk and a romantic interest develops between the two of them.

There is over an hour of video extras on the second disc. These include:

- Story Before the Movie
- About the Characters
- “Hey You, Doh Wan-deuk!”
- Music Story
- Deleted scenes (with on/off director commentary)
- Poster shoot video
- Image gallery
- Original South Korean trailer
- Director and cast bios
- Liner notes
- 5 Points Pictures trailers.

The feature film offers the choice of either monochrome (nicely outlined white) or duel colored English subtitles. Personally, I prefer the latter as I find they make it easier to discern what is said by different characters.

Punch could be described as either a comedic drama or as a dramatic comedy, depending upon how it resonates with each particular viewer. In any case, it's a delightful film that touches one's heart. The plethora of extras on the second disc further make it a most worth-while acquisition.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

ACF 1831: Free screening of YOUNG GUN IN THE TIME tonight

Korean Cultural Service New York
presents
Korean Movie Night 2013
Series Two: Micro-Budget Genre Invasion!
Young Gun in the Time / Yeong-geon tam-jeong-sa-mu-so
Directed by OH Young-Doo
South Korea, 2012, 95 minutes
When: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Map

Director Oh Young-Doo and producer Kaizo Hayashi (president of the jury at Japan’s Yubari Fantastic Film Festival 2011) team up for this intense, dramatic adventure! Young Gun (Hong Young-Geun) is a petty detective drawn to a mysterious woman with a startling personal request. After turning her down, he follows the starlet out of his office, only to see her killed in a violent car accident. Traumatized, he’s soon even more shocked to see the same woman appear before him, begging him to find a way back in time so that he might save her life. Young Gun has only three days to complete his task… but first, he’s going to need to find a time machine!

Financed for an amazing low budget of $45,000, more than half of Young Gun in the Time’s funds came from the cash prize from Director Oh winning the Grand Prix at the Yubari Fantastic Film Festival in 2011!

Friday, March 08, 2013

ACF 1830: Happy Birthday wishes to Cynthia Rothrock


Action actress Cynthia Rothrock was born on March 8, 1957 in Wilmington, Delaware. Asian action film fans are likely to have first encountered her in Yes, Madam! (1985), in which she co-starred with Michelle Yeoh. Or perhaps in Sammo Hung's Millionaire's Express from the following year. Check out her full filmography at IMDb.

ACF 1829: THE LAND OF HOPE at Japan Society this Sunday

The Land of Hope / Kibo no Kuni
Written and directed by Sion Sono
With Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Ootani,
Jun Murakami, and Megumi Kagurazaka
Japan, 2012, 133 minutes
In Japanese with English subtitles
When: Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street NYC
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
New York Premiere

Director Sion Sono, whom The New York Times calls “the Japanese provocateur,” once again challenges viewers’ emotions, this time millions of miles away from the cult shockers for which he is best known. The Land of Hope is the world’s first fictional film about the 3/11-related nuclear power plant meltdown, and recounts disaster, aftermath and personal tragedy in two ordinary families. “So passionately filmed it commands emotional involvement” (Deborah Young, The Hollywod Reporter), the film offers a psalm to those who, far from falling in the throes of despair, stay resilient and cling to the hope of  better tomorrows. But a hovering sense of an even greater calamity, from which this time there may be no return, tugs at the edges of the movie, giving it the cold splendor of the best broken-backed tales.

The Land of Hope won the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival.

Tickets: $12/$9 Japan Society members

Buy tickets online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

This screening of The Land of Hope is part of Hope, Struggle & Rebirth in the Shadow of 3/11, Japan Society's commemoration of the 2nd Anniversary of Japan’s 2011 Earthquake. The other events are a concert and a lecture encompassing resilience and recovery. Details here.

And don't forget about Yellow Line, the final film of the Girls, Guns & Ghosts film series. It will be shown at 4:00 pm on Sunday. Separate admission fee. Buy tickets online for Yellow Line, or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

ACF 1828: UTAMARO AND HIS FIVE WOMEN to screen at Japan Society

Utamaro and His Five Women (c) 1946 Shochiku Co., Ltd
Utamaro and His Five Women / Utamaro o Meguru Gonin no Onna
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
With Minosuke Bando, Kinuyo Tanaka, Kotaro Bando
Japan, 1946, 35 mm, 106 minutes
When: Saturday, March 9, 2013
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
Map and visitor information here

In conjunction with Japan Society Gallery's Edo Pop exhibition, the Film Program will screen the classic Utamaro and His Five Women, focusing on the life and work of a legendary 18th-century "floating world" artist caught between his fierce dedication to his art and a fiery storm of love intrigue. 

Tickets: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students

Buy tickets online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

ACF 1827: MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO's 25th anniversary celebrated by VIZ


VIZ MEDIA CELEBRATES THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 
WITH TWO NEW RELEASES
FROM THE STUDIO GHIBLI IMPRINT

Upcoming Releases For Fall Include
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: A NOVEL
And An Updated Edition Of The Official Film Picture Book
Featuring Special New Cover Design For The Anniversary

VIZ Media celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Hayao Miyazaki’s landmark film with the October 1st release of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: A NOVEL and a new edition of the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO Picture Book.

Published under VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli Library imprint, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: A NOVEL will carry an MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN, while the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO Picture Book will carry an MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN.

In the charming animation classic MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds – and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO was created by famed director Hayao Miyazaki and released as a feature film in 1988 by his Studio Ghibli, which also produced Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo later on. TOTORO’s popularity soon became an international phenomenon and has spawned a vast array of adorable plush characters, toys, collectables and other memorabilia.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: A NOVEL
MSRP: $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN · Available October 1st 2013
The superbly animated classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki is now retold in a novel written by Tsugiko Kubo. This prestigious hardcover edition also features original watercolor illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story written by veteran children's book author Tsugiko Kubo. Sure to delight both existing fans and new readers! 

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO picture Book New Edition · Rated “A” for All Ages · MSRP: $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN · Available October 1st 2013
This companion, full-color book to MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO features artwork taken directly from the movie. The updated edition also features new cover design and allows parents and children to relive Totoro's magical adventures with scene-by-scene illustrations and character dialogue.

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO was one of the most beloved animated movies ever created by Studio Ghibli, and new and veteran fans alike will now be able to enjoy the adventures of this whimsical gentle forest spirit in a variety of fun ways throughout 2013,” says Masumi Washington, Sr. Editorial Director, Editorial Production. “The gorgeously illustrated MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: A NOVEL brings Hayao Miyazaki’s classic story to life for readers, and the new edition of the picture book will be a perfect complement to the release later this year of the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's most celebrated animation directors. In 2005 he was awarded the Venice International Film Festival's Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, and his Studio Ghibli received the festival's Osella Award for overall achievement in 2004. Miyazaki's films include Spirited Away, winner of the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo, all of which have received great acclaim in the U.S. Miyazaki's other achievements include creating the highly regarded manga series Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Starting Point: 1979-1996, a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs that chronicle his early career and the development of his theories of animation. Both are published in English by VIZ Media.

More information on VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli titles is available at www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

ACF 1826: RUROUNI KENSHIN ~ NEW KYOTO on sale today


Section23 Films is pleased to announce today’s release of Sentai Filmworks newest acquisition from Aniplex Inc.: Rurouni Kenshin ~ New Kyoto Arc. It's available today on DVD & Blu-Ray.

Title:                  RUROUNI KENSHIN ~ NEW KYOTO
Running Time:   90 min.
Age Rating:       TV 14
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
CAT:                  SF-RKK010
UPC:                 814131010438
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:   Section23 Films
Street Date:       3/5/2013
Format:              DVD
SRP:                 $29.98

Title:                 RUROUNI KENSHIN ~ NEW KYOTO BLU-RAY
CAT:                 SFB-RKK010
UPC:                 814131019738
Format:             BD
SRP:                 $39.98

SYNOPSIS: Although she's only sixteen and looks even younger, Misao Makimachi is already a skilled and competent member of the Oniwabansh? ninja clan.  Which is a fortunate thing for Misao, as her onimitsu talents may be all that keeps her alive when a journey in search of the leader of the clan, Aoshi Shinomori, leads her instead into a face-to-face encounter with an even more dangerous man and a plot to overthrow the Meiji government!

Quickly enmeshed in the affairs of the legendary assassin Hitokiri Batt?sai, now known as Kenshin Himura wielder of the reverse-blade sword, Misao finds herself pulled into the middle of a deadly intrigue against Makoto Shishio, who is orchestrating the conquest of all Japan, beginning with Kyoto!  Get ready for blades to flash and blood to flow as Nobuhiro Watsuki's acclaimed Rurouni Kenshin returns at long last to the world of animation in the epic Rurouni Kenshin - New Kyoto Arc.