With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL coming to Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD on August 4th

Well Go USA
presents
Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal
Directed by Peter Pau and Zhao Tianyu
Starring Li Bingbing and Chen Kun
China/Hong Kong, 2015, 118 minutes

Academy Award® winning cinematographer Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000) makes his third bow as a director (alongside co-director Zhao Tianyu) with the romantic fantasy adventure epic Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal, debuting on Digital HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD next Tuesday, August 4th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Featuring “a story filled with its fair share of demons, monsters, magic and mystics, coupled with romance, danger and spectacular action,” (Film Combat Syndicate) the film depicts legendary hero Zhong Kui, a fabled warrior with mysterious powers, who is forced to conquer the realms of Heaven and Hell to save his people and the woman he loves. The film stars Chen Kun (Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) as the mythic demon hunter and Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame) as the alluring snow demon with whom he falls in love. Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal includes a behind-the-scenes featurette that delves in to the visual effects employed in the film and the music that sets the mood.

Synopsis: Shot in scenic locations in Mainland China, Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal depicts the story of Chinese legendary anti-hero Zhong Kui, a young man endowed with mysterious powers who is forced into a battle among the realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell in the course of his attempt to save his countrymen and the woman he loves.

Bonus Features Include:
-- Making of featurette
  -- The Music Journey
  -- Visual Effects
-- Trailer

Monday, July 27, 2015

Comedy manga series MAID-SAMA! coming August 4th from VIZ

MAID-SAMA! Vol. 1:
Kaicho wa Maid Sama! © Hiro Fujiwara 2006/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.
VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES THE SHOJO ROMANTIC
COMEDY MANGA SERIES MAID-SAMA!

Hilarious Romantic Sparks Fly After The Female President
Of A Predominantly Male High School Is Found Working
In A Maid Café By A Handsome Classmate

VIZ Media delivers a romantic comedy manga (graphic novel) series with the launch of MAID-SAMA! on August 4th.

Creator Hiro Fujiwara’s energetic series is rated ‘T’ for Teens. The first 2 complete volumes of MAID-SAMA! will be bundled into a fresh 2-in-1 omnibus edition that will carry a print MSRP of $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN. The 2-in-1 edition also launches digitally on August 4th via VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores. Subsequent 2-in-1 volumes of the 9-volume series will be published in English on a quarterly basis under the Shojo Beat imprint.

As if being class president of a predominantly male high school isn’t hard enough, Misaki Ayuzawa has a major secret – she works at a maid café after school! How is she supposed to keep her image of being ultra-smart, strong and overachieving intact once school heartthrob Takumi Usui discovers her double life?! Can Misaki trust Usui to keep her secret from the rest of the kids at school? And why the heck is he always showing up at the maid café? Maybe she should start taking him seriously when he says he likes her – especially when he throws in an unexpected kiss!

“Manga readers got a taste of MAID-SAMA! when it was originally published in North America, but it has been out of print for many years and the exciting conclusion of the series has never been available in English,” says Amy Yu, Editor. “We are very excited to announce the return of this humorous manga series for its complete run. The new VIZ Media editions will feature fresh translations and captivating new cover art that will make each volume a fun read for both new and veteran shojo manga fans!” Manga creator Hiro Fujiwara is from Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. MAID-SAMA!, was her first long-running manga series and initially ran in Japan in Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine.

For more information on MAID-SAMA! or other manga titles published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Actor Tadanobu Asano, director Koji Morimoto, and DJ Ken Ishii to be Official Guests of Honor at JFFSF

Renowned actor Tadanobu Asano
 2015 JAPAN FILM FESTIVAL OF SAN FRANCISCO WELCOMES
ACTOR TADANOBU ASANO, DIRECTOR KOJI MORIMOTO AND
TECHNO DJ LEGEND KEN ISHII AS OFFICIAL GUESTS OF HONOR

Star Of Ichi The Killer, Thor, And Battleship Will Attend To Receive Japan
Film Festival Of San Francisco Honorary Award And Joins Renowned
Anime Director And Legendary Techno DJ For Special Appearances

The 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (JFFSF), the first and only fully-dedicated Japanese film celebration for the S.F. Bay Area together with the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT proudly present actor Tadanobu Asano, anime director Koji Morimoto and techno DJ Legend Ken Ishii as official Guests of Honor for San Francisco’s annual Japanese pop culture festival.

Tadanobu Asano will attend the opening night event at The Castro Theatre to receive Japan Film Festival of San Francisco Honorary Award. Tadanobu Asano is widely known for starring roles in movies such as Ichi the Killer, Zatoichi, Thor, 46 Ronin, and Battleship. Koji Morimoto is renowned as one of Japan’s top anime directors and is also a founder of acclaimed Studio 4℃ and known for works such as Animatrix and Genius Party Beyond. Ken Ishii is a legendary techno DJ and producer who has performed live internationally and enjoys a worldwide fan base in the electronic music scene.

An Opening Night Event on Friday August 7th at The Castro Theatre kicks off the Japan Film Festival of S.F. with a special 35mm presentation of director Sogo Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80000V, a rollicking comic-book style action film that stars top Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, who will be on hand to personally introduce the film and participate in an audience Q&A immediately following the screening. Throughout the weekend, the Japan Film Festival of S.F. will present additional films also starring Asano, including My Man and Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi.

The Opening Night Event will culminate with a live DJ set collaboration between Japan’s legendary techno DJ and producer, Ken Ishii, and director Koji Morimoto. Advance tickets to the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT/JFFSF Opening Night Event at the Castro Theatre are available now for $25.00 each from http://jpop2015.brownpapertickets.com.

Tadanobu Asano also is set to appear at the SF premiere screening of My Man on Saturday, August 8th 6:00PM. Asano will introduce the film and will participate in an audience Q&A at NEW PEOPLE Cinema.

Koji Morimoto is set to appear at the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT at Fort Mason Main Stage on Saturday, August 8th, 12:00 PM ahead of the screening event, The World of Koji Morimoto, a collection of 3 illustrious animated short films by Koji Morimoto set to screen on Sunday, August 9th, 1:50pm at NEW PEOPLE Cinema. Morimoto will introduce the film and will participate in an audience Q&A.

Koji Morimoto will additionally appear for an autograph session at on Saturday, August 8th 1:30 PM in bookseller Kinokuniya’s booth at Fort Mason. Additional details to be announced shortly at J-POP.com.

Techno DJ legend Ken Ishii

Ken Ishii is set to headline a second evening concert performance of J-POP LIVE NIGHT on Sunday, August 9th at the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT Fort Mason.

“It is a great pleasure to present Tadanobu Asano with the Japan Film Festival of San Francisco Honorary Award,” says Manami Iiboshi, Executive Director of Japan Film Festival of San Francisco. “As one of the most inspiring and outstanding figures leading the Japanese film industry, and as an internationally acclaimed actor who actively works on projects beyond boundaries, he is extremely deserving of this Award. We are also thrilled to have director Koji Morimoto and DJ Ken Ishii performing together at our opening night event at the Castro. It is probably the first time since their legendary collaboration on “EXTRA” in the 1990’s.”

Opening in conjunction with the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT on Saturday, August 8th and running thru Sunday, August 16th, the 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco will take place at the NEW PEOPLE Cinema, located inside the NEW PEOPLE entertainment complex in Japantown at 1746 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94115 (www.newpeoplecinema.com). Tickets to individual screenings are $13.00 each, unless otherwise noted. Film summaries, trailers, screening times and advance tickets are available at: www.JFFSF.org.

JFFSF Opening Night at Castro Theatre

ELECTRIC DRAGON 80000V
Friday, August 7th, 8:00pm
Dragon Eye Morrison (played by Tadanobu Asano) is a reptile investigator who suffers from an intermittent explosive disorder caused by brain damage he sustained in a childhood accident. He manages to find a way to survive and control his urges to destroy with his love of reptiles and an electric guitar. Meanwhile, Thunderbolt Buddha (played by Masatoshi Nagase), an electric repairman turned vigilante who has acquired powerful electro-conductive powers after sustaining a childhood accident, goes after crime bosses and gangsters that take advantage of electric signals. Holding an obsessive hatred towards Morrison, Thunderbolt Buddha challenges him to a final showdown on the rooftops of Tokyo.

Tadanobu Asano & Koji Morimoto Films to Screen at the 2015 JFFSF:

MY MAN
Saturday, August 8th, 6:00pm – Special Guest Appearance by Tadanobu Asano
When loneliness leads to forbidden love, how far will you go? After losing everything in a tsunami disaster, 10-year-old Hana is taken in by a young distant relative Jungo. The pair begins living together as family while sharing the profound sense of loss. Amidst the deep snows of Hokkaido, both desire to fill their empty, love-starved hearts and they set foot into a forbidden world. When an elder benefactor in their small town Mr. Oshio learns of Jungo and Hana's illicit relationship, tragedy begins to take over. Don't miss the special personal appearance by actor Tadanobu Asano who will introduce this film!

THE WORLD OF KOJI MORIMOTO
Sunday, August 9th, 1:50pm – Special Guest appearance by Director Koji Morimoto
A collection of three short films by one of Japan’s top anime director Koji Morimoto, widely known as a founder of Studio 4℃ and his works such as Animatrix and Genius Party Beyond. The famed director will appear in person to introduce the films as well as participate in an audience Q&A.

- Magnetic Rose (45min): Magnetic Rose is the first of three episodes of MEMORIES, based on the manga by Katsuhiro Otomo (the creator of Akira). The film follows the members of the deep space salvage vessel Corona. While performing a salvage mission, the crew encounters an odd distress signal emanating from the Sargasso region, ominously nicknamed “The graveyard of space.” Soundtrack composed by Yoko Kanno.

- Noiseman Sound Insect (15min): In the space of music, people used to live in the music fruit in the trees. One day, Dr. Frankein secretly succeeds in creating the creature 'Noiseman' by feeding the music fruit as fuel. Since then, the space was dominated by noise, not music. When a pair of kids Tobio and Reina find out this secret, they challenge Noiseman to bring the music back home again. The film’s soundtrack was written by Japanese composer, arranger, and musician Yoko Kanno.

- Genius Party Beyond: Dimension Bomb (20min): Dimension Bomb is one of the five short animated omnibus "Genius Party Beyond," produced by Studio 4℃, which director Koji Morimoto founded in 1986. One day, a boy named Shin who wears a pupa-like mask encounters a girl named Koo. The days spent with Koo, who is a free spirit unlike any other, start to fill up his life with cherished and unforgettable moments. Noted musical composer and arranger, Yoko Kanno, provides the voiceover of Koo.

BLIND SWORDSMAN: ZATOICHI
Sunday, August 9th, 4:00pm
Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi is a 2003 samurai action film, directed by and starring actor Takeshi Kitano ("Beat" Takeshi) as Zatoichi. It also co-stars Tadanobu Asano, who plays Ronin Hattori, Zatoichi's rival. The film is a revival of the classic Zatoichi series of film and television series. It won the prestigious Silver Lion for Best Director award at Venice Film Festival and went on to win numerous other awards internationally.

NEW PEOPLE Cinema is a 143-seat cinema located in the underground floor of NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco. Equipped with a cutting-edge HD digital projection and THX®-certified sound system, NEW PEOPLE Cinema is home for local film festivals and entertaining events. www.newpeoplecinema.com.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sentai Filmworks has acquired LA CORDA D’ORO: BLUE SKY


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, La Corda D’Oro: Blue Sky. Taking place eight years after Hino Kahoko’s time in the first season of La Corda D’Oro, Blue Sky introduces us to Kanade Kohinata and a new group of musical prodigies as they prepare themselves to shine on the biggest stage and create new memories, friendships and rivalries in what’s sure to be an unforgettable summer.

Kojin Ochi was Chief Director of the series, with Keiichiro Ochi handling series composition. Maki Fujioka provided character designs, and music for the series was composed by Koichiro Kameyama. Originally broadcast in Japan on Nippon TV, the animation production was handled by TYO, whose previous projects included Appleseed and Neo Angelique Abyss.

La Corda D’Oro: Blue Sky will soon be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Friday, July 24, 2015

THE DEMON PRINCE OF MOMOCHI HOUSE is now available from VIZ

THE DEMON PRINCE OF MOMOCHI HOUSE Vol. 1:
MOMOCHISANCHI NO AYAKASHI OUJI Volume 1 © Aya SHOUOTO 2013
VIZ MEDIA LAUNCHES SHOJO MANGA SERIES 
THE DEMON PRINCE OF MOMOCHI HOUSE 

New Paranormal Romance By
KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS
Creator Aya Shouoto Is Available Now!

VIZ Media has announced the launch of Aya Shouoto’s THE DEMON PRINCE OF MOMOCHI HOUSE.

The shojo manga (graphic novel) series about a teenage girl who inherits a haunted house is rated ‘T’ for Teens and carries a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The series is also available digitally via VIZManga.com and the VIZ Manga App as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and GooglePlay stores. Future volumes of the series, which is also ongoing in Japan, will be published quarterly under the Shojo Beat imprint.

On her sixteenth birthday, orphan Himari Momochi inherits her ancestral estate that she’s never seen. Momochi House exists on the barrier between the human and spiritual realms, and Himari is meant to act as guardian between the two worlds. But on the day she moves in, she finds three handsome squatters already living in the house, and one seems to have already taken over her role!

“THE DEMON PRINCE OF MOMOCHI HOUSE features the exquisite artwork and beautiful character designs that have made Aya Shouoto a star in shojo manga,” says Nancy Thistlethwaite, Senior Editor. “The endearing relationships among the residents of Momochi House will make this a special series for shojo manga fans.”

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Free screening of SCARLET INNOCENCE next Tuesday

Korean Cultural Service NY and Asia Society NY
co-present
Korean Movie Night New York's
Summer Edition
Scarlet Innocence / Ma-dam Ppaeng-deok
Directed by YIM Pil-sung
Starring: JUNG Woo-sung, LEE Som
South Korea, 2014, 112 minutes
In Korean with English subtitles
New York Premiere

When: Tuesday, July 18, 2015, 6:30pm
Where: Asia Society 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC

Free Admission; all seating is first come, first served.
Doors open @ 6 pm

“Sporting a pair of terrific turns from Jung Woo-sung and LEE Som in a story that stealthily sidles through genres, Scarlet Innocence is a stylish neo film noir with a distinct Korean flavor”
– Toronto International Film Festival

This startling romantic thriller soaked in lust and revenge is the latest offering from YIM Pil-sung, director of the 2007 horror Hansel and Gretel. Heartthrob JUNG Woo-sung (Cold Eyes and The Good, The Bad, The Weird) and emerging star LEE Som set the screen on fire in a cautionary tale of desire and punishment. College professor Hak-kyu (JUNG Woo-sung) abandons his young student lover Deokee (LEE Som) after a torrid affair. Eight years later, as he is losing his eyesight, the professor befriends a young neighbor who turns out to be Deokee, who has returned and is hell-bent on revenge.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chop Suey's Next Wave


KCET is hosting an episode of California Matters with Mark Bittman on Chinese food.

Yong Chen, UC Irvine history professor and author of Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America talks about the evolution of Chinese restaurants in the U.S. with Mark Bittman in this UC Global Food Initiative production.

They visit Los Angeles Chinatown to compare the artifice of the old "food towns" with Irvine, a growing Chinese American suburb with restaurants that cater to an increasingly affluent immigrant community.

Check out the delicious five+ minute video at: Chop Suey's Next Wave | California Matters with Mark Bittman | Shows | KCET.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

KUNG FU KILLER available today on Blu-ray and DVD from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
Entertainment
Presents
Kung Fu Killer / Yi ge ren de wu lin
Directed by Teddy Chen
China/Hong Kong, 2014, 101 minutes

Who's killing the great kung fu masters of Hong Kong?

This (a play on the title of the 1978 comedy Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?) might serve as an alternate title for this terrific martial arts action fest directed by Teddy Chan (Bodyguards and Assassins, The Accidental Spy) and starring Donnie Yen (Special ID, Ip Man and Ip Man 2, with the third installment currently filming), who also served as action director. It becomes available today, Tuesday, July 21st on Blu-ray™ & DVD. (It's already been available on Digital HD since July 7th.)

The film starts with Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen) turning himself in at Hong Kong's Central Police District Headquarters. His face and clothes are bloody and his right eye is bruised, swollen and closed. (This has to be one of the most unflattering movie entrances ever.) Seems he's killed someone.

Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen, left) takes on a slew of fellow prisoners

Three years later he's in prison serving the five-year sentence that was handed down. There's a report on television that Mak Wing-yan a master of boxing, has been beaten to death. Hahou is certain that this is the first of what will be a series of attacks on the city's leading martial arts proponents.

He manages to speak to Chief Inspector Luk Yuen-sum (actress Charlie Young, seen in the Pang Brothers' 2008 English language remake of Bangkok Dangerous and in Seven Swords, 2005) and names several martial arts masters, one of which he claims will be the killer's next victim. Luk's skeptical at first, but as events proceed as Hahou claimed they would, she arranges for him to be temporarily released in police custody with the understanding that, if he is truly helpful in solving the case, his remaining prisons sentence may be shortened.

Chief Inspector Luk Yuen-sum (actress Charlie Young) tries to draw a bead on the Kung Fu Killer

The serial killer continues to work his way through various martial artists, defeating each by using their own specialty against them. Having started with fists against the boxer, he goes after specialists in kicking, grappling, and weapons. In each case Hahou and the police are just a bit behind the murderer, who manages to get away from them in one instance.

Hahou's motives become suspect when he takes off with telling the police and returns to his hometown of Fo Shan. There he reunites with Sinn Ying (Bai Bing, As the Light Goes Out, Shaolin). She is the romantic interest for Hahou, and has kept his once famous martial arts club going in his absence.

I had a good feeling about this film when I watched its trailer. That's not always a true indicator of how good a film is in its entirety, but in this case it was. Kung Fu Killer is an outstanding action film, one of the best I've seen in recent years.

Hahou (Yen) faces the Kung Fu Killer in the film's climactic finale

And once again Donnie Yen has proved himself to be the most exciting martial arts action star -- and action choreographer -- working in Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese films. (Kung Fu Killer, as Kung Fu Jungle -- the film's international English title -- recently received the Best Action Choreography award at the 34th Hong Kong Film Awards.)

Bonus features include a four segment "Making Of" featurette and the film's trailer.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; very good, highly recommended. This one's for owning!

VIZ releases SAILOR MOON R Set 1

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES HOME MEDIA
RELEASE OF SAILOR MOON R SET 1

Season 2 Of The Legendary Anime Series Available As Limited
Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack With 22 Uncut Episodes,
Exclusive Extras And Full-Color Episode Guide

VIZ Media delivers exciting new action to home media audiences with the release of SAILOR MOON R Set 1 as a special Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack as well as a multi-disc Standard Edition DVD Set. The sets are available now at favorite retailers.

The greatest magical girl anime series of all time continues in the second season of the original SAILOR MOON. Fans can expand their home media collections with 22 uncut episodes, presented on Blu-ray and loaded with many never-before-seen extras. Uncut English dubbed as well as Japanese subtitled dialogue options are available on both formats. SAILOR MOON R is rated "TV-PG.”

In SAILOR MOON R, Usagi and her friends return to their normal lives after their epic battle, but the Sailor Guardians are called back into action when powerful new enemies appear. By the power of the Legendary Silver Crystal, Sailor Moon gains strength with a dazzling new attack and transformation. The coming battle won't be easy, but things get even more complicated when a mysterious pink-haired girl falls form the sky and goes after Mamoru.


The new SAILOR MOON R Set 1 Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack contains a deluxe, 6-disc collection (3 DVDs & 3 Blu-rays), packaged in a beautiful reflective chipboard box with extra space to house the concluding edition of the second season of the series. The Combo Pack features Episodes 47-68, presented in crisp 1080p video preserving the original 4:3 aspect ratio. The combo pack also includes exclusive bonus content such as special cast interviews, behind-the-scenes footage from the English dub recording sessions as well as clean opening and ending segments, digital art galleries, and official series trailers. The Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack also comes with a 96-page full-color episode guide. MSRP will be $79.98 U.S. / $93.99 CAN. A Standard Edition Combo Pack is also available for $69.99 U.S. / $81.99 CAN featuring the same on-disc content.

The SAILOR MOON R Set 1 DVD Set contains 3 discs (featuring Episodes 47-68) with beautifully illustrated variant O-card packaging and embossed holofoil printing. Episodes are presented in 480p standard video format. Uncut English dubbed as well as Japanese subtitled dialogue options are available. MSRP will be $44.82 U.S. / $51.99 CAN.

The legendary SAILOR MOON anime series depicts the adventures of Usagi Tsukino, a cheerful 14-year-old schoolgirl who often finds herself in unwanted trouble. One day, she saves a talking cat named Luna from some mean kids, and her life is changed forever. Luna gives Usagi a magic brooch that transforms her into Sailor Moon, guardian of love and justice! Now Usagi must work with Luna to find the other Sailor Guardians and the Moon Princess, whose Legendary Silver Crystal is Earth’s only hope against the dark forces of the evil Queen Beryl.

The SAILOR MOON anime series is inspired by the bestselling manga (graphic novel) series created by Naoko Takeuchi (published in North America by Kodansha). In the series, Usagi Tsukino is a clumsy but kindhearted teenage girl who transforms into the powerful guardian of love and justice, Sailor Moon. Meeting allies along the way who share similar fates, Usagi and her team of planetary Sailor Guardians fight to protect the universe from forces of evil and total annihilation!

SAILOR MOON Season 1, Sets 1 and 2 are also available for home media viewers as Blu-ray/DVD Combo Packs and also as Standard DVD Editions.

For more information on SAILOR MOON, or other award-winning anime titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of DRAMAtical Murder


The secrets of Aoba’s island home are as deep as the ocean itself, and finding the answers to the mysteries within will only bring more questions in Sentai Filmworks' latest acquisition, DRAMAtical Murder. This psychological action series is directed by Kazuya Miura, with series composition by Kabura Fuchii and Touko Machida (Chaika –The Coffin Princess-, Wake Up, Girls!), music by Yuuki Hayashi (Diabolik Lovers, Haikyu!!) and animation production by NAZ (Hamatora).

Aoba has a part-time job at the junk shop "Mediocrity," and lives with his grandmother Tae on the island of Midorijima, which is located to the southwest of the Japanese island chain. While hand-to-hand combat turf wars called "Ribstiez" have spread across the island, an online game "Rhyme," which is set in a virtual world has become quite popular. Aoba spends his time participating in neither, until one day, he is suddenly -- and forcibly -- dragged into a Rhyme battle...

DRAMAtical Murder will be available soon through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

SANCHU UPRISING: VOICES AT DOWN will close-out JAPAN CUTS

Jihei (Naohisa Nakagi), right with eyepatch, returns to Sanchu
Sanchu Uprising: Voices at Dawn / Atarashiki Tami
Directed by Juichiro Yamasaki
Japan, 2014, 117 minutes
When: Sunday, July 19, 2015 @ 6:00 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
International Premiere

Sanchu Uprising: Voices at Dawn will be the Closing Film for this year's JAPAN CUTS film festival.

Set in the early 1700s in Sanchu, Okayama Prefecture, the film depicts the reaction of farmers, woodworkers, and iron workers to the increased taxes that are coming into effect to satisfy the members of Japan's ruling class, the shogunate, the daimyo (local lords) and the samurai. The film focuses primarily on Jihei (Naohisa Nakagi) a simple farmer whose wife Tami (Kano Kajiwara) is pregnant with their first child.

Under the leadership of Tokeumon (Shinnosuke Uryu), the rebels secure an agreement by which all but one of their demands are met. But this is just a ploy by the authorities to sew division and dissent amongst the rebels, which is exactly what happens. As the situation escalates and violent conflict becomes inevitable, suspicions and betrayal arise. Jihei, a reluctant participant at best, wants nothing more than to live and makes a fateful decision.


Sanchu Uprising is in many ways an unusual jidaigeki (period film). While it shares with Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai the basic tale of oppressed farmers, here the farmers defend themselves against the authorities, not against bandits with the aid of seven ronin (masterless samurai). And there is no violence to speak off depicted onscreen. By focusing on the various elements of the rebellion -- the aforementioned farmers, woodworkers and iron-workers -- and on one individual farmer in particular, director Yamasaki has produced an intriguing new take on the genre.

The live-action black-and-white film includes an animated sequence by Tomomichi Nakamura and an experimental score by Ayako Sasaki. The film's concluding segment brings the story into the present and is done in color.

This screening will include an introduction and Q&A with director Juichiro Yamasaki.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Additional events announced for J-POP SUMMIT's "Interactive Pavilion"

2015 J-POP SUMMIT ANNOUNCES
TECH-FOCUSED KEYNOTES, PANELS,
PITCH EVENTS AND “IDEA-THONS”
FOCUSING ON INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)
AND THE GLOBAL MAKER MOVEMENT

S.F.’s Annual Japanese Pop Festival Adds A First-Of-Its-Kind Showcase
Of Attractions That Showcase How Japanese Innovation Is
Driving Creativity And Linking Technology And Culture

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT, the Japanese pop culture event held annually in San Francisco, augments its just-announced “Interactive Pavilion,” with a special series of technology-focused keynotes, panel discussions, “idea-thons,” and pitch events focusing on the burgeoning “Maker Movement” and the evolving Internet of Things (IoT) to be led by several notable technology luminaries from San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and Japan.

The J-POP SUMMIT “Interactive Pavilion” is a first-of-its-kind showcase of cutting edge Japanese technology, consumer product design and innovation from a diverse range of large, as well as start-up companies, pushing the limits of Japanese technical innovation and development. The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT takes places Saturday and Sunday August 8th & 9th at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s Marina district.

Throughout the weekend, J-POP SUMMIT attendees to Fort Mason can enjoy a colorful assortment of Japanese pop-influenced culture, fashion, pop art, live music, technology, and travel attractions that will be complemented by celebrity Guests of Honor, Panels, Music live concert, and a wide assortment of vendors and other programming. Tickets and V.I.P Passes are available now at: www.J-POP.com.

J-POP SUMMIT Interactive Pavilion Keynote & Panel Discussion

An Interactive Technologies Keynote will be delivered by one of the world's leading digital creators, Kaoru Sugano, on Sunday, August 9th on the Fort Mason Main Stage. The Creative Director of Dentsu Inc. will speak on how pop culture and technology are driving the creation of digital content. Through case studies of past projects such as Sound of Honda - Ayrton Senna 1989, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions Titanium and Grand Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival. The film features legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna driving through a dazzling environment of digital light and sound. Mr. Sugano will show how he utilizes data that is undetectable to the naked eye to create revolutionary emotional productions with lasting emotional resonance.

The Interactive Technologies Panel Discussion will take place on Sunday, August 9th on the Fort Mason Main Stage and will focus on “Manufacturing That Links Tech & Culture -- The Future of the "Maker Movement." This panel will examine the transition from mass production to an age of individual manufacturing, and what that means for the tech world. With the emerging "Maker Culture" as a theme, the J-POP SUMMIT presents this session specially focused on the maker movement.

J-POP SUMMIT Interactive Pavilion Technology Forum

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT “Interactive Pavilion” also presents a special Interactive Technology Forum, to take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 8th & 9th at the Firehouse, located adjacent to the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. As part of this event, a pair of “Idea-thons” and a technology “pitch event” will focus on the theme of the "Internet of Things” (IoT).

J-POP SUMMIT IoT Idea-thon Vol. 1: "Build-Up Smart Home with MESH!"
With the spread of Nest and Smartthings, there has been a surge of interest in smart homes being built around Silicon Valley. This Idea-thon will offer attendees a glimpse into a new type of IoT x DIY construction using MESH and a cardboard building kit to build a prototype design of a smart house.”

J-POP SUMMIT IoT Idea-thon Vol. 2: "Hack the Data with Yamaha Motor and more!"
With the growing popularity of activity tracking using technology like FitBit, Apple Watch and other devices that collect environmental data from sensors attached to homes and cars, a fast emerging topic is how to utilize all the acquired information. How will the world change when this data can be used to highlight areas of daily human life that were previously overlooked? This will be an IoT x Data Idea-thon debating the truel nature of IoT.

J-POP SUMMIT Interactive Pavilion Technology Pitch Contest

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT “Interactive Pavilion” presents a Japanese-American start-up pitch contest “POP Tech Pitch / Innovation Weekend SF x Japan X” co-sponsored by SunBridge Global Ventures, Inc. and the Women's Startup Lab that will take place Saturday, August 8th at the Firehouse.

Startups and entrepreneurs using premier technologies from Japan and America will gather to present a variety of innovative business plans. Judges will include a panel of technology investors and business accelerators active in various markets. The contest winner and runner-up will be awarded a trip to Japan and pitch at the ’Innovation Weekend Grand Finale’ in Tokyo at the end of the year along with other winners from all over the world.

About The "Interactive Pavilion"
Emphasizing 3 distinct categories, the “Interactive Pavilion,” is presented with support and cooperation from the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) San Francisco Office and presents a dynamic array of technology and interactive product exhibits from 21 companies highlighting a diverse range of large, as well as start-up companies, pushing the limits of Japanese technical innovation and development. "HOME,” focusing on individuals and families; "WORK,” focusing on the office lifestyle; "MOBILITY,” focusing on links between home-life and office-life.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A HARD DAY opens in NYC today

Kino Lorber
presents
A Hard Day / Kkeut-kka-ji-gan-da
Written & Directed by Kim Seong-hun
Starring: Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Jin-woong, Jeong Man-sik,
Shin Jung-keun and Jang In-sub
South Korea, 2014, 111 minutes 
Language: Korean (with English Subtitles)

A Hard Day, a crime caper/comedy combo from South Korea, opens today, Friday, July 17, 2015 in New York City at the Village East Cinemas with a national release to follow. (Info on other cities, venues and opening dates is available here.)

Things aren't going well for homicide detective Go Geon-soo, played by actor LEE Sun-kyun. (Note: in subtitles at the press screening I attended, the character's name was spelled Ko Gun-su; in some press materials it's spelled Go Gun-soo. Take your pick.)

One night while driving to the funeral home where his deceased mother is awaiting burial the following day, the divorced cop hits and kills a male pedestrian. Panic stricken, he decides to hide the victim in the trunk of his vehicle. Meanwhile, investigators from I.A.D. (Internal Affairs Division) have shown up at his office and uncovered incriminating evidence of embezzlement by him and his coworkers. After narrowly avoiding detection and arrest by police at a road stop to detect drunk drivers, the increasingly desperate Go reluctantly decides to place the corpse in his mother's casket.


But things continue to go badly for Detective Go. It seems that someone is fully aware of the hit-and-run and demands -- for some unknown reason -- that Go provide him with the deceased's body. Meanwhile, one of GO's coworkers is seeking a criminal who is wanted for at least two murders and is uncovering leads that might tie Go to the fatal accident.

A Hard Day is the sophomore directing effort by Kim, who also wrote the screenplay. It's a brilliant blend of black comedy and thrilling suspense. It's sharp, smart and extremely well-paced, one of the best films I've seen in quite awhile, and a definite "must-see" as far as I'm concerned.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Asian Films at Fantasia 2015

Sorry to be a couple of days late with this, but the Fantasia International Film Festival, which began two days ago on July 14th and will run through August 4th in Montreal, is showcasing some terrific Asian films.

CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION: RINGO LAM’S WILD CITY

It’s been a long wait, but the dark god of hard-edged Hong Kong cinema is back. Alongside John Woo and Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam was key in defining the spirit of HK film in the late ’80s. Now, after a near-decade hiatus from feature filmmaking, he’s ready to show the world once again what happens when high-octane action and a hard-knock social conscience collide. Canadian Premiere.

Shinjuku Swan
A TRIO OF PREMIERES FROM THE GREAT SION SONO

Maverick director Sion Sono (LOVE EXPOSURE, SUICIDE CLUB), one of the most unique voices in modern cinema, makes a thunderous return to Fantasia with an unprecedented three films! First up is the International Premiere of manga adaptation SHINJUKU SWAN, featuring Gou Ayano (LUPIN THE THIRD), Takayuki Yamada (MILOCRORZE), and Erika Sawajiri (HELTER SKELTER)! Then, bear witness to Sono's sweet side at the North American Premiere of the family friendly LOVE & PEACE, an improbable mix of Japanese pop music, tokusatsu cinema, and talking toys - all laced with his unique sense of humour and critical, yet sensible view of modern Japan. Last but not least, the director hasn't lost his flair for subversion and pitch-black humour, and the North American Premiere of TAG wholeheartedly proves it! When action, gore, and uneasy hilarity meet existential reflection and lucid social commentary, you know Sion Sono is in the house - and the legendary director promises to leave his mark on Fantasia 2015.

THE WORLD PREMIERE OF KEN OCHIAI’S NINJA THE MONSTER

A reserved ninja, an impulsive samurai, a beautiful princess and a monster… A crafty blend of contextualized historical facts, adventure film and fantastic cinema from Ken Ochiai, director of UZUMASA LIMELIGHT, winner of last year’s Cheval Noir award at Fantasia. World Premiere.

ASSASSINATION – INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF ONE OF
SOUTH KOREA’S MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS OF 2015!

In 1933 Shanghai, a command to covertly assassinate the commander of the Japanese army is given to a top-notch female sniper - but a traitor informs Japanese authorities, who promptly send out a hitman to get rid of her! Get ready for the International Premiere of ASSASSINATION, directed by Choi Dong-hoon (THE THIEVES), a tense, explosive period thriller that lavishly recreates its bygone era and boasts a cast of Korea's biggest stars - including MY SASSY GIRL's Gianna Jun, THE CHASER's Ha Jung-woo, and THE HOUSEMAID'S Lee Jung-jae! International Premiere.

THE INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF TAKESHI KITANO’S
RYUZO AND THE SEVEN HENCHMEN

Coming immediately after his OUTRAGE saga, Takeshi Kitano’s hilarious crime story stars screen legend Tatsuya Fuji (IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES) as a retired yakuza who realizes that the only way to break the monotony of his daily life by reuniting with his old gang. This is a funny and heartfelt meditation on growing old that only the master of Japanese cinema could deliver. International Premiere

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ASLEEP playing at JAPAN CUTS

Terako (Sakura Ando) and Mr. Iwanaga (Arata Iura)
AsleepShirakawa yofune
Directed by Shingo Wakagi
Japan, 2013, 91 minutes
When: Thursday, July 16, 2015 @ 6:30 pm
Where: Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Map
North American Premiere

Asleep, as befits its title, is a quiet, gentle and slow-paced film about Terako, a young woman played by twenty-nine year old actress Sakura Ando. She is having an affair with a somewhat older married man named Mr. Iwanaga. Provided for by him, Terako has little to do with her time but to wait for his calls and increasingly turns to sleep as a means to pass time until their next rendezvous. When the two get together in town, their meetings 'were like the shadow of a dream," as she puts it in one of the film's numerous voice-over narrations.

Terako did have one close friend, a roommate from college named Shiori (actress Mitsuki Tanimura), but she moved out and took a peculiar job as a companion to various customers -- men, women, even foreigners -- who want or need someone to sleep besides them in bed, no sex acts involved. Unfortunately Shiro committed suicide and is now available to Terako only in memories and in dreams.

Shiori (Mitsuki Tanimura, left) and Terako (Sakura Ando) in Shiori's canopied bed

Based on a short story from a 1989 compilation of the same name by author Banana Yoshimoto (Kitchen, N.P.), Asleep draws the viewer into Terako's downward spiral of increased lassitude. The dramatic tension of the film derives from this engrossing descent into deeper and longer periods of lethargy contrasted with the audience's identification with Terako and their desire for her to somehow "pull out of it." Not until the film's final moments is there an indication of which way things will probably go for Terako.

Director Wakagi, who co-authored the screenplay, has crafted a compelling piece of psychological cinema. There's no real back-story aside from the fact that Terako and Shiori were once friends and shared an apartment. Similarly, aside from the fact that they met in winter, there's no information about how Terako and Mr. Iwanga -- as she always refers to him, at least in the English subtitles -- happened to come together. We merely meet them in mid-relationship, a point that is essentially a state of romantic stasis, thereby causing Terako's problem with spending too much time asleep. But her story is fascinating one and a showcase for Ms. Ando's considerable talents as an actress.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, recommended

Asleep is the first of two Centerpiece Presentations that will be playing at Japan Society NY's JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film on Thursday, July 16th. The second film is 100 Yen Love, also stars Sakura Ando, who will be present for introductions and Q&As for both films. Miss Ando is this year's recipient of the festival's CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Performance in Film.

Santai Filmworks has acquired NON NON BIYORI REPEAT


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, Non Non Biyori Repeat, the second season of the slice of life comedy series, as part of its Summer 2015 anime season lineup. Based on the manga from original creator Atto, Non Non Biyori Repeat is set in a quiet country village, where Hotaru and her three best friends will once again find ways to make their time together as fun as possible, while enjoying everything that the open spaces of the countryside has to offer.

The principal staff will return for the new season of Non Non Biyori, including director Shinya Kawatsura as well as Reiko Yoshida, who will once again be handling series composition. Mai Otsuka will be providing character designs, and music will be composed by Hiromi Mizutani. Animation production will be handled by Silver Link., whose previous projects included Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya and Dusk Maiden of Amnesia.

Non Non Biyori Repeat is scheduled for a July 2015 release and will soon be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

VIZ announces new acquisitions

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES EXCITING NEW
MANGA AND NOVEL ACQUISITIONS

Six New Titles Announced For 2016 Release
Include Action And Shojo Titles

VIZ Media has detailed a wide array of brand new manga (graphic novel) and prose novel acquisitions that include several notable titles to be launched during the Winter and Spring 2016 seasons.

The acquisitions were announced this past weekend at the 2015 Anime Expo, the largest dedicated anime convention in the U.S. New shojo manga titles include SHURIKEN AND PLEATS, the new series by VAMPIRE KNIGHT creator Matsuri Hino; and BEHIND THE SCENES, a dramatic new comedy by Bisco Hatori, the famed creator of OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB.

The highly anticipated post-series spin off to the world’s most popular ninja comic, NARUTO: THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING joins the Shonen Jump catalog. Also joining the lineup will be SCHOOL JUDGMENT: GAKKYU HOTEI, a high school litigation series with story by Nobuaki Enoki and artwork by Takeshi Obata, the acclaimed artist of DEATH NOTE, ALL YOU NEED IS KILL, and BAKUMAN. With the debut of DRAGON FULL COLOR: FREEZA ARC, fans can experience Akira Toriyama’s bestseller in a whole new way.

Finally, from the Haikasoru imprint, literary fans can look forward to the debut in Spring 2016 of THE LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES: DAWN, the first volume of the classic space opera novel series that translates the European wars of the 19th Century to an interstellar setting and that won the Seiun Award for Best Science Fiction novel in 1987.

“Comedy, drama, and futuristic sci-fi action are on tap for next year with the launches of these forthcoming new series,” says Leyla Aker, Executive Vice President, Publishing. “We look forward to announcing more details on these titles soon and to fans and readers diving into each of the exciting new releases next year!”

New Winter 2016 Acquisitions:

NARUTO: THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Debuting Winter 2016
Naruto was a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. Then he channeled that energy into learning amazing ninja techniques and saving the world! Now Naruto has achieved his dream of becoming the greatest ninja in the village, and his face sits atop the Hokage monument. But new troubles are bubbling up in the shinobi world…

SHURIKEN AND PLEATS, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Debuting Winter 2016
Created by Matsuri Hino, the renowned creator of VAMPIRE NIGHT, MERUPURI and CAPTIVE HEARTS (all available from VIZ Media), when the master she has sworn to protect is killed, Mikage Kirio, a skilled ninja, travels to Japan to start a new, peaceful life for herself. But as soon as she arrives, she finds herself fighting to protect the life of Mahito Wakashimatsu, a man who is under attack by a band of ninja. From that time on, Mikage is drawn deeper into the machinations of his powerful family.

New Spring 2016 Acquisitions:

BEHIND THE SCENES, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Debuting Spring 2016
BEHIND THE SCENES is a dramatic new comedy from Bisco Hatori, the creator of OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB and MILLENNIUM SNOW! Ranmaru Kurisu comes from a family of hardy, rough-and-tumble fisher folk, and he sticks out at home like a delicate, artistic sore thumb. It’s given him a raging inferiority complex and a permanently pessimistic outlook. Now that he’s in college, he’s hoping to find a sense of belonging. But after a whole life of being left out, does he even know how to fit in?!

DRAGON FULL COLOR: FREEZA ARC • Rated ‘A’ for All Ages • Debuting Spring 2016
Akira Toriyama's original, bestselling series is now available in a full-color version! After his epic battle with Vegeta, Son Goku must obtain the wish-granting Dragon Balls in order to resurrect their fallen allies! Their search will take them all the way to the planet Namek where the evil Freeza and his minions are slaughtering the Namekians in order to fulfill Freeza’s wish for immortality. What will it take to defeat this great evil? 

LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES: DAWN • Debuting Spring 2016
This latest Haikasoru literary release was authored by Yoshiki Tanaka and launches a highly anticipated series of novels. In the 36th Century humanity has conquered the galaxy and colonized countless star systems. The Galactic Empire, modeled along Prussian lines, and the democratic Free Planets Alliance are at war, and the fate of every human being in the universe hangs in the balance. This classic Japanese space opera, which was adapted into a legendary anime, is finally available in English for the first time.

SCHOOL JUDGEMENT: GAKKYU HOTEI, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Debuting Spring 2016
In order to curb the crime running rampant in the elementary school system, a new solution has been enacted in the form of the School Judgment System. Now the young students themselves will be responsible for solving the issues that befall them. But are they up for the task?

For more information on manga titles distributed and published by VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sentai Filmworks announces acquisition of MONSTER MUSUME


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, Monster Musume, as part of its Summer 2015 anime season lineup. Based on the manga from original creator OKAYADO, this romantic comedy series explores a world where mythical creatures called liminals live alongside humans. Kimihito Kurusu is unknowingly volunteered into the human-liminal exchange program, and soon his house is overrun by females of every species vying for his attention.

Tatsuya Yoshihara will be directing the series, with Kazuyuki Fudeyasu handling series composition. Character design will be managed by Takaya Sunagawa, who will team up with Shunji Akasaka to contribute chief animation direction. Animation production will be provided by Lerche and Seven.

Monster Musume is scheduled for a July 2015 release and will soon be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Ringo Lam - recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award at NYAFF 2015

Ringo Lam (left), an unidentified female, and Samuel Jamier, one of NYAFF's co-directors
(Photo by Philip Tsai)

On Saturday, June 27, 2015, veteran Hong Kong director Ringo Lam received the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th New York Asian Film Festival.

Lam began directing in 1983, and is well known for such films as City on Fire (1987) and Full Alert (1997), both of which screened at NYAFF. Like Tsui Hark and John Woo, he also has worked in Hollywood, where he directed Jean-Claude Van Damme in Maximum Risk (1997) and Replicant (2001).

Since 2003, Lam has been on a hiatus, directing only a sequence of the three-part movie, Triangle (2007), with Tsui Hark and Johnnie To. Wild City (2015) marks his return to directing a full length feature film. It is set to debut July 25, 2015 at the Fantasia International Film Festival and will subsequently be released in Hong Kong and Singapore on August 20th.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sentai Filmworks has acquired of HIMOUTO! UMARU-CHAN


Sentai Filmworks has announced its latest acquisition, Himouto! Umaru-chan, as part of its Summer 2015 anime season lineup. Based on the original manga series by Sunkaku Head, the series reveals the secret life of 16-year-old Umaru, whose schoolmates believe to be beautiful, kind, intelligent and practically perfect in every way. Only her brother Taihei knows the real Umaru, who lives on snack foods, refuses to help with the chores and spends all her time sleeping and watching TV… until the day a classmate catches her in the act, and Umaru must come up with an even bigger lie to conceal the truth.

Directing the twelve episode series is Masahiko Ohta (Love Lab, Brighter Than The Dawning Blue, Mitsudomoe) while series composition is provided by Takashi Aoshima (Sabagebu! - Survival Game Club-, Love Lab, Indian Summer). Aya Takano (Polar Bear’s Cafe) adapts the character designs from Head’s originals, Yasuhiro Misawa (Love Lab, Kokoro Connect, Arcana Famiglia) provides the music and Doga Kobo (Engaged to the Unidentified, Another, Koihime Muso, Majestic Prince) is in charge of overall animation production.

Himouto! Umaru-chan is scheduled for a July 2015 release and will soon be available through select digital outlets with a home video release to follow.

Sixteen movies added to 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco

2015 JAPAN FILM FESTIVAL OF SAN FRANCISCO
EXPANDS PROGRAM SLATE AND ADDS
16 MORE ACCLAIMED MOVIES

3rd Annual Japanese Film Festival For S.F. Bay Area Presents Biggest Program
To-Date With Additional New Action, Sci-Fi Anime, Documentary,
Historical Drama, Crime Drama, Short Film, And Romantic Mystery
Films Scheduled To Premiere At NEW PEOPLE Cinema

The 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (JFFSF), the first and only fully-dedicated Japanese film celebration for the S.F. Bay Area, has just announced 16 additional films that will screen as part of this year’s program.

Presenting a diverse array of current and acclaimed Japanese cinema, this year’s slate features a number of notable Japanese films across a variety of genres such as action, anime sci-fi, documentary, short film, historical drama, crime drama, coming-of-age, and romantic mystery. The just-announced films augment an extensive roster of titles already announced to run during the weekend of the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT, taking place at Fort Mason on Saturday and Sunday August 8th and 9th. A complete listing of film summaries, trailers, screening times and advance tickets are available at: www.JFFSF.org.

The 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco opens in conjunction with the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT on Friday, August 7th at the Castro Theatre, and runs thru Sunday, August 16th at NEW PEOPLE Cinema located inside the NEW PEOPLE entertainment complex in Japantown at 1746 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94115 (www.newpeoplecinema.com). Tickets to individual screenings are $13.00 each, unless otherwise noted.

The latest announced films will run at the NEW PEOPLE Cinema beginning the week of Monday August 10th with screenings continuing until Sunday, August 16th.

THE KINGDOM OF DREAMS AND MADNESS
Monday, August 10th, 7:00pm
Granted near-unrestricted access to the notoriously isolated Studio Ghibli, director Mami Sunada follows the three men who are the lifeblood of Ghibli – the eminent director Hayao Miyazaki, producer Toshio Suzuki, and the elusive and influential “other director,” Isao Takahata – over the course of a year as the studio rushes to complete two films, Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

HARAJUKU DENIER
Monday, August 10th, 9:20pm
This film unfolds in Harajuku, the melting pot of Tokyo and the epicenter of many popular sub-cultures. The lives of many young and dream-filled eccentrics, teenyboppers, narcissists, tourists, and workers from various countries – cutting-edge filmmaker Shuta Tanaka humorously captures the amalgamation of cultures found in today’s Harajuku in an ensemble cast comedy.

LITTLE FOREST – SUMMER & AUTUMN
Tuesday, August 11th, 7:00pm
Here comes the farm-to-table film for foodies! Little Forest, Summer & Autumn is a beautiful adaptation of the popular comic by Daisuke Igarashi about a young woman’s self-discovery through farming, cooking, and eating to live through the changing seasons. Ichiko moves back from the city to the tiny village in Northeastern Japan where she grew up and starts living a sustainable lifestyle that she learned from her mother.

THE WIND RISES
Tuesday, August 11th, 9:15pm
Hayao Miyazaki pays tribute to engineer Jiro Horikoshi and author Tatsuo Hori in his creation of the fictional character Jiro – the center of the epic tale of love, perseverance, and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world. Inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni – Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes and grows to become one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers.

UZUMASA LIMELIGHT
Wednesday, August 12th, 7:00pm
A nostalgic portrait of kirare-yaku - an actor whose forte is being "cut to death" with a sword in samurai films, Uzumasa Limelight goes behind the scenes of the distinctive film genre. A professional extra named Kamiyama (played by real-life kirare-yaku Seizo Fukumoto) has devoted 50 years of his life as a kirare-yaku. When the studio decides to discontinue its productions, he finds himself at a loss. Will the art of dying by the sword live on?

WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE
Wednesday, August 12th, 9:00pm
The newest feature from Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli is a sweeping story of friendship, mystery and discovery that delivers breathtaking animation that only Ghibli can bring to life. When shy and artistic Anna moves to the seaside to live with her aunt and uncle, she stumbles upon an old mansion surrounded by marshes, and a mysterious young girl named Marnie. The two girls instantly form a unique connection that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.

THE CASE OF HANA AND ALICE
Thursday, August 13th, 7:00pm
Directed by multi-faceted filmmaker Shunji Iwai, The Case of Hana & Alice follows Tetsuko Arisugawa (a.k.a. Alice), a transfer student at Ishinomori Middle School. She hears a strange rumor about a murder case in school. Meanwhile, Alice’s classmate Hana is said to know something about the case… Was Judas really murdered? Hana and Alice embark on an adventure to solve the mystery of the “smallest murder in the world.”

HAVE A SONG ON YOUR LIPS
Thursday, August 13th, 9:00pm
This touching school drama unfolds around Yuri Kashiwagi, a former piano prodigy, who returns to her hometown to work as a temporary music teacher and supervise the chorus members at the local middle school. While practicing for the regional contest, chorus members get an assignment from Yuri to write a letter to themselves in 15 years. Facing their personal issues, Yuri and her students begin to find their own voices.

OUR FAMILY
Friday, August 14th, 7:00pm
From Yuya Ishii, the award-winning director of The Great Passage, comes this honest adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel about a family that pulls together to fight a terminal illness will resonate close to the heart. Reiko’s daydreams and forgetfulness were not concerning to her broken family until a trip to the doctor reveals that she has brain cancer. With Reiko given only one week left to live, how will this dysfunctional family keep from falling apart?

KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL
Friday, August 14th, 9:20pm
Directed by Ryuichi Hiroki, one of Japan's leading directors in the erotic fantasy genre known as pinku (pink films), Kabukicho Love Hotel is an erotically charged drama that traces the intersecting stories of a group of employees and visitors at a notorious "Love Hotel” (a type of short-stay hotel in Japan used primarily for sexual activities) in Tokyo's red-light district- from a sexless young couple with broken dreams to a middle-aged couple on the run.

100 YEN LOVE
Saturday, August 15th, 12:00pm
32-year-old slacker Ichiko lives with her parents until a fight with her disapproving sister escalates, prompting her to move out and start working at a local 100-yen shop. One day she meets boxer Yuji, whom she has seen passing by on his way home and becomes attracted to him. After her life takes more unexpected and unwanted turns, she takes up boxing herself and attempts to change her ways.

TOKYO SHORT SHORTS 2015: A New Generation of 5 Short Films
Saturday, August 15th, 2:30pm
Co-presented by Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia. By popular demand, JFFSF teams up again with the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia to present the exclusive SF premiere of five outstanding short films directed by several up-and-coming filmmakers from Japan! Enjoy a colorful mix of comedy and drama that reflect life in Japan with a delicate and witty touch.

THE BIRTH OF SAKÉ
Saturday, August 15th, 4:30pm & Sunday August 16th, 12:00pm – Director Erik Shirai will attend both screenings followed by Q&A sessions
The Birth of Saké is a cinematic documentary that reveals the story of passionate saké-makers and what it takes to make world-class saké at Yoshida Brewery, a 144-year-old family-owned small brewery in Northern Japan. Director Erik Shirai and producer Masako Tsumura were granted unprecedented full access to film at the brewery and capture the intense and relatively unknown process (even within in Japan), of traditional saké making.

THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA
Saturday, August 15th, 7:00pm
This Academy Award nominated film is legendary Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata’s (Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko) rendition of Japan’s most famous folktale, that has been decades in the making. Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter, a tiny baby girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.

INITIATION LOVE
Sunday August 16th, 2:30pm
Co-starring ex-AKB star Atsuko Maeda and Shota Matsuda, this romantic mystery is based on the bestselling novel by Kurumi Inui. In the late 1980s, a college student in Shizuoka Prefecture named Suzuki begins a romance with a dental hygienist named Mayu. However, when Suzuki moves to Tokyo for his job and the two are forced into a long-distance relationship, their relationship starts to fall apart as Suzuki begins spending time with another woman named Miyako.

0.5MM
Sunday August 16th, 5:00pm
Co-presented by the Legacy Film Festival on Aging. Director Momoko Ando takes on the big subjects of Japan’s historical, social and emotional psyche with her second feature epic. Based on the director’s own novel and starring her sister Sakura Ando in the leading role of Sawa, an oddly determined caregiver for the elderly, the film is a lengthy yet magnetic road movie that brilliantly captures Sawa’s unexpected encounters and unique relationships with the elderly.

NEW PEOPLE Cinema is a 143-seat cinema located in the underground floor of NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco. Equipped with a cutting-edge HD digital projection and THX®-certified sound system, NEW PEOPLE Cinema is home for local film festivals and entertaining events. www.newpeoplecinema.com

Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok received Star Asia Award at NYAFF 2015

Aaron Kwok (Photo by Philip Tsai)

Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok received the Star Asia Award on June 26th at the 14th New York Asian Film Festival.

Once one of the kings of Cantopop, he began acting in TV series in the late 1980s and started to concentrate much more on his acting -- as opposed to his singing -- career in the 1990s. He has won several other awards -- including best actor awards at Taipei's Golden Horse Film Festival two years running (2005 and 2006) -- and been nominated for others.

The Star Asia Award was presented in conjunction with NYAFF's opening night screening of Port of Call (2001). PoC was one of two of his films that were screened at the festival, the other being Cold War (2012).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Free screening of C'EST SI BON this Tuesday at Asia Society NY

Korean Cultural Service NY and Asia Society NY
co-present
Korean Movie Night New York's
Summer Edition
C'est Si Bon / Sae-si-bong
Directed by KIM Hyun-suk
Starring: KIM Yun-seok, JUNG Woo, HAN Hyo-joo, KIM Hee-ae
South Korea, 2015, 119 minutes
In Korean with English subtitles

When: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 6:30pm
Where: Asia Society 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC

Free Admission; all seating is first come, first served.
Doors open @ 6 pm

It is 1960s Seoul. OH Geun-tae (JUNG Woo), a country boy with a booming baritone voice, is discovered by aspiring singer-songwriter Lee Jang-hui and thrust into the bustling world of Seoul’s iconic folk music café C’est Si Bon. He unwittingly becomes the third member of the yet-to-debut “C’est Si Bon Trio” and the begrudging buffer between two rivals in the band—the vocal genius Song Chang-sik and the heartthrob Yun Hyeong-ju. One day, aspiring actress Min Ja-young (HAN Hyo-joo) enters the picture and the young men are completely bewitched. Will their muse inspire them to create legendary music or wreck the band before they even begin?


“This reassessment of the golden years of South Korea’s Western-style folk music scene follows a trio of musicians through the turbulent era... Realistically showcasing the interior of C'est Si Bon, with its devoted coterie of youthful, enthusiastic music fans and rotating roster of idolized performers” – Hollywood Reporter

CJ Entertainment released C'est Si Bon in select theaters in the U.S. and Canada this past February.

Sentai Filmworks announces that PARASYTE -THE MAXIM- is heading to Adult Swim's Toonami anime block


Humankind’s extinction begins this fall as Parasyte -the maxim- invades Toonami, the hugely popular Adult Swim™ anime block.

During their Anime Expo 2015 panel, Sentai Filmworks announced that Parasyte -the maxim- is heading to Adult Swim, basic cable's #1 network with young adults for over a decade.

Parasyte -the maxim- chronicles a silent, sinister alien invasion and follows 17-year-old Shinichi, whose life gets seriously complicated when one would-be invader assumes control of his right hand. Originally broadcast in Japan on Nippon TV, the series is produced by MADHOUSE and adapted from the groundbreaking sci-fi/horror manga created by Hitoshi Iwaaki.

Parasyte –the maxim- is scheduled to begin broadcast on Toonami this October.

Detailed schedule information will be released as soon as it becomes available.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

2015 JAPAN FILM FESTIVAL OF SAN FRANCISCO announces film lineups

 2015 JAPAN FILM FESTIVAL OF SAN FRANCISCO ANNOUNCES
FILM LINEUPS FOR THE J-POP SUMMIT WEEKEND

The Bay Area’s Only Dedicated Japanese Film Festival Complements
The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT With Premiere Screenings And Special
Guest Appearances At NEW PEOPLE CINEMA;
Additional Films To Be Announced Shortly

The 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco (JFFSF), the first and only fully-dedicated Japanese film celebration for the S.F. Bay Area, has announced an exciting schedule of screenings and special guest appearances taking place during the weekend of the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT.

Opening in conjunction with the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT on Saturday, August 8th and running thru Sunday, August 16th, the 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco will take place at the NEW PEOPLE Cinema, located inside the NEW PEOPLE entertainment complex in Japantown at 1746 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94115 (www.newpeoplecinema.com). Tickets to individual screenings are $13.00 each, unless otherwise noted. Film summaries, trailers, screening times and advance tickets are available at www.JFFSF.org.

The 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco proudly presents more than 25 celebrated films, many premiering in the U.S. for the first time, showcasing a wide range of Japanese cinema, including live-action, anime, short film, and documentary titles across a range of genres such as action, science fiction, historical drama, crime drama, coming-of-age, and romantic mystery.

Special guests for the 2015 Japan Film Festival of San Francisco will include acclaimed Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, who is widely known for roles in movies such as Ichi the Killer, Zatoichi, Thor, 46 Ronin, and Battleship, as well as one of Japan’s top anime directors, Koji Morimoto, who is a founder of renowned Studio 4℃ and known for works such as Animatrix and Genius Party Beyond.

A special Opening Night Event on Friday August 7th at The Castro Theatre kicks off the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT and Japan Film Festival of S.F. with a special 35mm presentation of director Sogo Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80000V, a rollicking comic-book style action film that stars top Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano.

The evening will be highlighted by a personal appearance by actor Tadanobu Asano, who will introduce the film and participate in an audience Q&A, as well as a live DJ set collaboration by one of Japan’s legendary techno DJ and producer, Ken Ishii, along with Japan’s top anime director Koji Morimoto. Advance tickets to the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT/JFFSF Opening Night Event at the Castro Theatre are available now for $25.00 each from http://jpop2015.brownpapertickets.com.

The 2015 J-POP SUMMIT takes place Saturday and Sunday August 8th & 9th at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s Marina district. Tickets and V.I.P Passes to the 2015 J-POP SUMMIT are available now at www.J-POP.com. Throughout the weekend, attendees can enjoy a colorful assortment of Japanese pop-influenced culture, fashion, pop art, live music, technology and travel that will be complemented by celebrity Guests of Honor, anime programming, cosplay and pop idol contests, and a wide assortment of vendors and other programming.

NEW PEOPLE Cinema is a 143-seat cinema located in the underground floor of NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco. Equipped with a cutting-edge HD digital projection and THX®-certified sound system, NEW PEOPLE Cinema is home for local film festivals and entertaining events. www.newpeoplecinema.com.

VIZ announces multi-territory media distribution for ONE-PUNCH MAN

 VIZ MEDIA, VIZ MEDIA EUROPE AND ANIME CONSORTIUM
JAPAN ANNOUNCE ACQUISITION OF MULTI-TERRITORY
MEDIA RIGHTS TO ONE-PUNCH MAN ANIME SERIES

Action-Driven Superhero Series By Studio Madhouse Based
On The Bestselling Manga Series About A Superhero Who
Just Needs A Villain Strong Enough To Take Him On

VIZ Media has teamed with VIZ Media Europe S.A.R.L. (VME), the leader in Japanese Entertainment content in Europe, and Anime Consortium Japan Inc. (ACJ), the Japanese company for official anime streaming, to jointly announce the acquisition of the multi-territory media distribution rights for the anime series, ONE-PUNCH MAN.

Announced earlier this year, the ONE-PUNCH MAN anime is based on a bestselling manga series, created by writer ONE and artist Yusuke Murata, about an average-guy-turned-superhero who packs quite the punch! Three content distribution companies will join force to manage the digital distribution, home media, merchandise, and TV rights to the newly produced anime series for their respective territories.

• VIZ Media will manage the master license for ONE-PUNCH MAN in North America, Latin America and Oceania, as well as stream the series in the U.S.
• VIZ Media Europe will oversee & stream the property for EMEA, including Russia
• In addition, ACJ will stream the subtitled version of the program in all above territories

Additional details about availability will be forthcoming.

“ONE-PUNCH MAN is a beautifully produced, action-driven series, and we will leverage our expertise in developing anime content across all major consumer formats with a savvy combination of proprietary and partner distribution channels to bring this series to audiences on the widest possible range of media devices and platforms,” says Brad Woods, Chief Marketing Officer, VIZ Media.

“We are very excited to bring ONE-PUNCH MAN to European audiences. Our extensive distribution and licensing infrastructure across the region will ensure that fans will be able to catch every episode localized for their countries and across an array of multimedia platforms and a variety of licensed goods ” says Pascal J. Bonnet, Senior Director TV Sales & Licensing, VIZ Media Europe

“We are very pleased to add ONE-PUNCH MAN to our anime digital media streaming service, and look forward to delivering this extraordinary superhero action series to our users around the world,” says Ririko Kubo, Sales Promotion Division, Anime Consortium Japan Inc.

VIZ Media also publishes the ONE-PUNCH MAN manga series (rated ‘T’ for Teens) under its Shonen Jump imprint. The series is currently serialized in VIZ Media’s WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP magazine, and full volumes are available digitally first in North America via the VIZ Manga platform and partner digital storefronts. The series launches in print in September.

ONE-PUNCH MAN was animated by the renowned Japanese studio, Madhouse, and helmed by famed anime director, Shingo Natsume, (Space Dandy, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos) and features character designs by Chikashi Kubota (From the New World, Robotics:notes). In the series, Saitama is a hero who only became a hero for fun. After three years of “special” training, though, he’s become so strong that he’s practically invincible. In fact, he’s too strong—even his mightiest opponents are taken out with a single punch, and it turns out that being devastatingly powerful is actually kind of a bore. With his passion for being a hero lost along with his hair, yet still faced with new enemies every day, how much longer can he keep it going?

Manga creator ONE began ONE-PUNCH MAN as a web comic, which quickly went viral and garnered over 10 million hits. Japanese manga publisher (and VIZ Media parent company) Shueisha eventually secured the publishing rights to the series which has sold more than 4.5 million copies to-date. In addition to ONE-PUNCH MAN, ONE writes and draws the series Mob Psycho 100 and Makai no Ossan.

Yusuke Murata is a highly acclaimed and skilled manga artist best known for his work on the football series, EYESHIELD 21 (also published in North America by VIZ Media). In 1995, Murata won the prestigious 122nd Hop Step Award for his series, Partner, and placed second in 1998 in the semi-annual Akatsuka Awards for Samui Hanashi.

For more information on ONE-PUNCH MAN or other anime titles from VIZ Media, visit www.VIZ.com/opm/.