With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

ACF 1523: Opening Night at NYAFF

Scene from Pang Ho-cheung's Vulgaria

Last night I attended the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival's opening night screening of Vulgaria.

It was the most joyous film night of my life.

Just before 6 pm I left my apartment in Riverdale, a section of the Bronx near the Hudson River. Walked east several blocks, then up the three flights of stairs to the Number 1 train for the ride down to Lincoln Center, which takes a bit under an hour.

Grabbed a chili-dog from a street vendor after I got out at the 66th Street subway stop and ate it on the short walk to the Walter Reade Theater of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which is on 65th Street just east of Broadway.

The terrific 2012 NYAFF T-shirt

I had some time before my scheduled interview with Pang Ho-cheung, director of Vulgaria, at 7:15, so I got my 2012 NYAFF t-shirt which features terrific graphics from Oldboy, which will be shown at 1 pm today (Saturday) and King Boxer, a.k.a. Five Fingers of Death, which is playing at 5:30 today. I also grabbed a copy of the gorgeous,, full color NYAFF festival brochure and some other materials about NYAFF and the upcoming Japan Cuts festival, which will run July 12-28, 2012.

When the time came, I was led up, around and down various stairways and hallways to one of the "Green Rooms" where I had my 15 minute interview with director Pang. (I made this trek a couple of times for interviews at the 2011 NYAFF and have almost gotten the hang of it. But I still think I might get lost if I had to do it on my own.) Pang's English was very good, and the available interpreter was only needed briefly a very few times. Hope to get the interview online very soon.

With director Pang after our interview

I then hooked up with Colleen Wanglund; she writes for the VCinema blog, to which I also post as well as serving as a co-host on the VCinema podcast. I was glad to have the presence of mind to introduce her to the members of Subway Cinema who were passing by from time to time.

Then it was time for the 8:30 screening of Vulgaria. After the prime movers of Subway Cinema were introduced, Grady Hendrix, one of the original founders of Subway Cinema gave his usual energetic and rousing, P.T. Barnum-like address to the audience, which pretty much packed the theater. Pang spoke briefly, then the film began.

And it was a rousing success. This was the first time that I'd attended the opening night screening at NYAFF, and it was just as I expected. The film (which I've reviewed here at ACF) was a perfect choice. The audience roared with laughter, over-and-over-and-over again, and there were empathetic responses to some of the touching scenes involving the main character's young daughter, scenes that serve as beautifully measured counterpoints to the raunchy vulgarity that dominates the film.

I wasn't able to stay for Pang's Q&A after the film or for the free beer provided by festival sponsor Kirin. Wish I could have.

But it still was as perfect an evening as I could've dared hoped for. And I think that probably was that way for just about everyone else who attended.

Friday, June 29, 2012

ACF 1522: VIZ announces plans for 24-hour anime channel NEON ALLEY

24-Hour Anime Channel Launches On The Game Console This Fall

VIZ Media has unveiled plans for Neon Alley, a 24-hour anime channel featuring the world’s best titles set to debut on a major game console this fall. The service will be available in the United States and Canada.

Neon Alley’s schedule will include a mix of action, adventure, science fiction, supernatural, fantasy, and horror anime, all uncut and dubbed in English, and presented in HD (when available). Programming will include blockbuster anime titles like NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, INUYASHA: THE FINAL ACT, and DEATH NOTE, and will allow fans to discover new titles such as TIGER & BUNNY, BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC, ZETMAN, and NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN, along with original content that provides news and behind-the-scenes access for fans of anime and manga.

“We created Neon Alley for fans to watch the best anime titles in the world right on their TV,” said Ken Sasaki, President and Chief Executive Officer for VIZ Media. “Neon Alley will have weekly exclusive premieres of the hit titles they love, along with a mix of new, cutting-edge titles they didn’t know they were missing.”

Neon Alley will be a subscription-based service, subsidized with limited commercial advertising, to keep the launch price to consumers at a low $6.99 per month. Anime fans can register online at NeonAlley.com for news, updates on the service’s launch, and to find out how to get a sneak preview of the series debuting during the first season. Neon Alley is the first platform designed to be studio agnostic, featuring titles from other anime producers and distributors, and will unveil its programming lineup, special introductory offers, new acquisitions and other partnerships throughout the next several months.

More information on Neon Alley at www.NeonAlley.com.

More information on VIZ Media at www.VIZ.com.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ACF 1521: FAR FROM FORGOTTEN at The Korea Society on June 29th

Far From Forgotten
When: Friday June 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm
Where The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue, 8th Floor, NY, NY
Entrance on East 57th Street

In June of 2010, 10 Korean War veterans, now in their 80s and living in Long Island New York: Sal, Robert, Bill, Bob, Eugene, Frank, Arthur, John, Joseph, and Henry, visit Korea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The documentary Far From Forgotten, traces these veterans’ emotional return to the DMZ and war memorial, where they realize that the DMZ that they visited after 60 years is not a reminder of the war but a place where we learn to find peace and plan for a hopeful future. Directors Jia Lim and Michael Unger will be present to introduce the film and several veterans who served in the Korean War.

ACF 1520: BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC anime film trilogy at 2012 Comic-Con International


VIZ Media Welcomes Studio 4ºC Founder, President & Producer Eiko Tanaka,
And Plans An All-Day BERSERK Celebration With Panel Discussion,
Exclusive Film Screening, And Autograph Session

VIZ Media invites fans attending 2012 Comic-Con International to join an exciting all-day celebration of all things BERSERK on Friday, July 13th as the company announces a special slate of activities to preview the forthcoming release of the BERSERK: THE Golden Age Arc trilogy of anime feature films this fall.

An appearance by the Founder/CEO of Studio 4ºC, which produced the new films, is scheduled in addition to an informative panel discussion. In addition there will be a very special, advance, on-site screening of BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC I – THE EGG OF THE KING. The film will formally debut later this year.

The VIZ Media Comic-Con booth will be a hub of activity throughout Friday, July 13th as the company welcomes Studio 4ºC Founder, President and CEO Eiko Tanaka to the show. The recent BERSERK: THE Golden Age Arc film trilogy, based on the bestselling medieval dark fantasy manga (graphic novel) series created by Kentaro Miura, was produced in Japan by Studio 4ºC. Tanaka is a prolific anime producer whose notable credits include work on Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service as well as producing director Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories and Michael Arias’s Tekkonkinkreet, which was awarded the Nipon Academy Award for Best Animated Film and nominated for an Oscar. She also took part in the production of Warner Brothers’ Batman: Gotham Knight, the animated television program, Thundercats, and Microsoft’s Halo Legends. Eiko Tanaka will appear at the VIZ Media booth (# 2813) for a very special signing session at 3PM. Ms. Tanaka will also have a signing at the Dark Horse Comics Booth # 2615 at 2PM.

Comic-Con attendees are further invited to an informative BERSERK panel discussion scheduled for Friday, July 13th from 5:30pm to 6:30pm in Room 32AB. Tanaka will be joined by VIZ Media staff for a rare interview session to find out what it really takes to transform this stark manga into a gripping animated feature. Fans will not want to miss the very special sneak preview of Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II - The Doldrey War. Come early and receive fun BERSERK promo items; additional prizes also will be given away during the panel.

BERSERK Day will be capped off with a special Comic-Con exclusive – a live on-site screening of BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC I – THE EGG OF THE KING, scheduled for 8:30pm to 10:30pm in Room 32AB. The film will be preceded by a special personal introduction by Eiko Tanaka.

Combining a foreboding medieval European-insired setting with fantasy and exquisitely detailed swordsmanship, BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC I – THE EGG OF THE KING follows lone mercenary Guts as he travels the land where a hundred-year-old war is taking place. His ferocity and ability to take down enemies attracts the attention of Griffith, leader of the mercenary group “The Band of the Hawk,” and Guts is recruited to the unit. Thanks to their continued victories on the battlefield, the bond between Guts and Griffith deepens, but despite all their success, Guts begins to question his reasons for fighting for Griffith’s dream. Unknown to Guts, this unyielding dream is about to bestow a horrible fate on them both.

The BERSERK manga series, by Kentaro Miura, debuted in Japan in 1989 and quickly drew a devoted following, going on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. The series, still ongoing in Japan, has been published in North America and the UK, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Latin America. The BERSERK manga has also inspired a popular anime television series and has spawned a variety of related video games, collectable figures and toys, and music soundtracks, as well as the current BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC film trilogy.

For more information on the BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC film trilogy, visit the official Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/BerserkFilm.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ACF 1519: Grady Hendrix’s Guide to the 2012 NY Asian Film Festival 2012

Grady Hendrix is one of the co-founders of Subway Cinema, the sponsoring organization of the annual New York Asian Film Festival. He is currently a member of the organization's Board of Directors, which sounds  way more corporate than it is, I'm sure. And though Grady's is also busy with other things, he's still involved with the fest, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent than in the past.

Anyway, he's written up this guide to things he's looking forward to at this year's NYAFF, which begins this coming Friday. His thoughts -- and writings -- are always worthwhile, so check them out here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ACF 1518: Win Tickets to See VULGARIA at the New York Asian Film Festival [NYAFF 2012]

VCinema, an affiliate of AsianCIneFest, has a pair of tickets to give away to the 8:30 pm screening of Vulgaria at the NY Asian Film Festival this Friday, June 29th.

To win you must answer one simple question. That question, rules and info can be found here.

But you must hurry as entries must be received by Wednesday, June 27th, 2012, midnight PST.

Read Pierce Conran's review of Vulgaria at VCinema.

Read my review of Vulgaria at AsianCineFest 1513.

ACF 1517: Win Tickets to See WAR OF THE ARROWS at the New York Asian Film Festival [NYAFF 2012]

VCinema, an affiliate of AsianCineFest, has a pair of tickets to give away to the 6:30 pm screening of War of the Arrows at the NY Asian Film Festival this Friday, June 29th.

To win you must answer one simple question. That question, rules and info can be found here.

But you must hurry as entries must be received by Wednesday, June 27th, 2012, midnight PST.

Read Pierce Conran's review of War of the Arrows at VCinema.

ACF 1516: TOWANOQUON COMPLETE COLLECTION is available now from Section23 Films

Section23 Films has announced the spectacular new series of animated features from anime powerhouse BONES. TOWANOQUON COMPLETE COLLECTION is out today both on DVD & Blu-Ray by Section23 client, Sentai Filmworks.
Running Time:   300 min.
Age Rating:       TV 14 (V)
Language:         English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by:    Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by:  Section23 Films
Format:             DVD
SRP:                $59.98

Format:             BD
SRP:                $69.98

SYNOPSIS: In the not-too-distant future, children are being born with special powers, marvelous and remarkable abilities.  But what would seem like a wondrous gift turns out to be a dangerous curse.  For the world is now run by The Order, and these miraculous "deviants" are hunted down-and killed.  But Quon and his group of Attractors are out to rescue these children before The Order's elite squad of ruthless cyborgs detect them.  From their hideout beneath a popular amusement park, the Attractors use high tech gadgetry and their own remarkable abilities to save these children, and teach them to harness and control their powers to overthrow the very powers that seek to destroy them.  With spectacular animation, stunning fight sequences, and richly detailed characters, Towanoquon is destined to be an anime classic and must-have for any animation fan's library.

Monday, June 25, 2012

ACF 1515: OLDBOY at MoMI

Directed by Park Chan-wook
Starring: Choi Min-shik, Kang Hye-jung, and Yu Ji-tae
South Korea, 2003, 120 minutes
When: Sunday July 1, 2012
Where: The Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue at 37th Street, Astoria, Queens, NY
Travel directions here
Free with Museum admission

Director Park Chan-wook’s flamboyant colors and giltzy cinematography and Choi Min-shik’s unforgettable performance have made Oldboy an international hit. 

In this visually entrancing revenge thriller, Choi plays Oh Dae-su, an ordinary businessman who survives fifteen years of captivity in a single room only to be released and further tormented by his captor. As Dae-su uncovers the mysteries of his kidnapping, he leaves behind a trail of horrific vengeance. An international box office success, Oldboy cemented director Park’s reputation as a master of cruel pulp, and demonstrates Choi’s agility at split-second pivots from brutal emotion to heartless violence.

Oldboy is the final film in the mini-retrospective of Choi's works presented by The Korea Society as part of their ongoing “Korean Cinema Now” program with MoMI, the newly renovated Museum of the Moving Image.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2012

ACF 1514: TIGER & BUNNY producer and English voice cast at Anime Expo


Producer Masayuki Ozaki and Top English Voice Actors
Including Yuri Lowenthal, Patrick Seitz and Others Join
VIZ Media for Panel Discussion on the Hit Anime Action Series

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, marks its highly anticipated return to Anime Expo 2012 with the announcement that it will welcome special show personal appearances by the Japanese Producer along with several top American voice actors from the hit anime action series, TIGER & BUNNY.

Anime Expo is the nation’s largest anime convention and will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA from June 29th to July 2nd. VIZ Media will be located in Booth 1401. Information on Anime Expo is available at: www.anime-expo.org.

VIZ Media will welcome TIGER & BUNNY Producer Masayuki Ozaki as its exclusive guest for a very special panel discussion to be held on Saturday, June 30th 12PM to 1:30PM in Room LP1. Masayuki Ozaki began his anime career in 2004 at Sunrise, Inc., where he was a planning manager for Mobile Suit Z Gundam. He went on to play an important role in producing anime features including Dinosaur King, INUYASHA: THE FINAL ACT (distributed by VIZ Media), and Gintama: The Movie. In addition to producing anime, Mr. Ozaki produces a variety of live music events, musicals and other areas of show business.

VIZ Media will augment the TIGER & BUNNY fun at the Saturday panel discussion by also welcoming the talented voice actors that brought the characters to life for North American fans. VIZ Media plans to release the TIGER & BUNNY series on Blu-ray and DVD in 2013. Anime Expo attendees won’t want to miss the opportunity to meet and question the English cast members in attendance, including:  

  • Laura Bailey (Dragon Kid)
  • John Eric Bentley (Fire Emblem)
  • Yuri Lowenthal (Barnaby Brooks Jr. / Bunny)
  • Tara Platt (Agnes)
  • Patrick Seitz (Sky High)
  • Travis Willingham (Rock Bison)

Also on Saturday, catch Mr. Ozaki and the TIGER & BUNNY voice actors at the South Hall Autograph Area at 3:30pm, where fans will have the opportunity to meet everyone at a signing session.

TIGER & BUNNY (rated TV-14) is set in Stern Bild, a metropolitan city where superheroes called NEXT help to maintain peace. Sporting sponsor logos on their suits, these heroes work to solve cases and save people’s lives in order to earn Hero Points, while also helping to improve the public image of their corporate sponsors. Their activities are documented and broadcast by the popular show “HERO TV,” in which each superhero strives to become the “King of Heroes” of the year.

One such hero is Wild Tiger (real name Kotetsu T. Kaburagi), a veteran superhero who relies on his years of experience and instincts to fight crime. Though obligated to work for his boss’s best interest, Kotetsu follows his own code of honor and is even willing to cause destruction to public property for the sake of protecting the lives of his fellow citizens. Over time, he has grudgingly earned the nickname “Crusher for Justice.” Now, Kotetsu suddenly finds himself forced to team up with rookie hero Barnaby Brooks Jr.

For more information on TIGER & BUNNY and other animated titles from VIZ Media  visit www.VIZAnime.com.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


A photo shoot in producer To's office space
Directed by Pang Ho-cheung
Hong Kong, 2012, 90 minutes
In Cantonese and Profanity with English subtitles
When: Friday, June 30, 2012 at 8:30 PM
North American Premiere
Where: New York Asian Film Festival
The Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th Street, New York, NY

This hilarious, raunchy romp through the process of film-making as experienced by a CAT III Hong Kong producer is the Opening Night Film at this year's New York Asian Film Festival. And it more than lives up to its title.

To Wai-cheung (actor Chapman To) is a down-on-his luck producer of the kind of films whose premieres are never shown on TV. He's being interviewed about just what it is that a producer does by a Professor Cheng in front of an auditorium full of students. He explains that, just as pubic hair reduces friction between a couple fornicating, so a producer is responsible for easing friction between people! And we -- and the film -- are off!

In a series of flashbacks, To elaborates on what befell him in the course of making his latest movie. He has had to deal with his ex-wife, a barrister to whom he is behind in his alimony payments. She wants to severely curtail, if not completely end, his visitation rights with their daughter, Jacqueline. To's further suffers from his almost totally incompetent female assistant. And then there's the matter of a bounced check, or two, or three, or four, or more.

Double the pleasure of Clerks II?

A call from a friend results in him hooking up with Brother Tyrannosaurus, a mainland gangster with money to born and some peculiar culinary and sexual inclinations. Brother T says he'll back a film remake of the porn classic Confessions of a Concubine, providing it again stars Yum Yum Shaw, who was in the original.

This puts To in a quandary because, as Yum Yum indicates when she and To "do lunch," she wouldn't think allowing herself to be shot in the nude at her age and that no one would want to see her like that anyway. When he hooks up with a would-be starlet named Popping Candy, To comes up with a brilliant plan to make everyone happy. Tyrannosaurus will get the porn star he loved when he was a youth in the film he's financing. Yum Yum will get to star but not reveal her aged body. Popping Candy finally will get to star, at least to a degree, in a movie. And best of all, To will get to make a movie and hopefully lots and lots of money!

Director To with aspiring actress Popping Candy

[Popping Candy, I must note, is played by the lovely and extremely well-endowed Dada Chan (best known as "E-cup Babe"). The character's name, build, and nature bring to my mind the character Kandi (played by April Bowlbi) who became Alan's second wife and was in a total of fifteen episodes of Two and a Half Men from 2005 to 2007.]

Needless to say, things do not go according to To's plans. But he has an angle and an answer for everything. And he also proves himself to be a masterful manipulator as he slyly arranges to save his completed film from pre-release purgatory.

Subway Cinema, the group that presents the annual NYAFF, says this about Vulgaria: "Shot in just 12 days, on a microscopic budget, the actors, director, and screenwriter wrote this porno Apocalypse Now as they went along." All I can say in response is that to have come up with a comedic triumph like Vulgaria under these circumstances is INCREDIBLE!

This is a "be sure to see it if you can" screening. Just also be sure to stick around through the credits or you'll miss some final touches that further cement this film as one helluva terrific comedy.

I'll be there even though I've already watched a screener DVD. I can't wait to see it again, especially in the context of NYAFF's opening night with what's sure to be a huge, enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

Plus, special guest, director Pang Ho-cheung, will attend the screening!

This screening of Vulgaria is part of Return of the King: Hong Kong Movies 15 Years After the Handover, a festival sidebar update on the status of the Hong Kong film industry fiften years after the handover to Mainland China.

And for another positive review of Vulgaria, this one by Pierce Conran at AsianCineFest associate VCinema, click here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ACF 1512: JIU JIU coming July 3rd

JIUJIU © Touya Tobina 2009/HAKUSENSHA, Inc.

High School Gets Complicated For A Girl
From A Family of Demon Hunters
In A New Shojo Series From VIZ Media

VIZ Media unleashes the demon-hunting romantic fantasy of Touya Tobina’s shojo manga series, JIU JIU, on July 3rd. The new series will be published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Born into a family of “Hunters,” Takamichi's destiny is to pursue and slay demons. When her twin brother is killed, she is saved from despair by a pair of Jiu Jiu – shape-shifting familiars – in the form of two wolf pups named Snow and Night. Now Takamichi is in high school and an active Hunter. Snow and Night can't wait to attend school in their human form to "protect" her. But are they ready to go off leash...?

JIU JIU is an intriguing new series that offers a strong combination of romantic drama, supernatural action, and humor centering on the deepening bonds between a girl and two wolf shapeshifters,” says Annette Roman, Editor. “Growing up in a family of demon hunters isn’t easy. Things become more complicated when the pair of cute wolf pups grow up into her bodyguards, learn to shift into (hot!) human form, and decide to follow their mistress to school. Don’t miss this new rhapsody of swords, fangs and romance from Shojo Beat this summer!”

Manga creator Touya Tobina is originally from Tokyo. In 2005, her series, Clean Freak Fully Equipped, won the Grand Prize in the 30th Hakusensha Athena Newcomers Awards. Her series Jiu Jiu originally debuted in Japan as a one-shot manga in the shojo magazine, Hana to Yume. 

For more information on JIU JIU, or other shojo manga titles from VIZ Media, visit www.ShojoBeat.com.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ACF 1511: Shinsedai Cinema Festival tickets and passes now available

Lovers of Japanese cinema who live in or around Toronto -- or who can make it there -- should get out their credit cards or get some cash ready. Why?

Because advance individual tickets and festival passes for the Shinsedai Cinema Festival, which will run from July 12th to 15th, are now available online here.

Tickets can also be purchased (cash only)  at these Toronto retailers:

Eyesore Cinema
801 Queen Street West, 2nd Floor
(416) 955-1599


Things Japanese
128 Harbord Street
(416) 967-9797.

ACF 1510: NYAFF 2012 Trailer

The trailer for the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival is now available online. It is not to be missed. So click here and watch it already!


 Two-Day Only Special Exhibit At NEW PEOPLE Will Display
Original Production Art, Concept Drawings, And More
From The Popular Anime Sci-Fi Film Series
As Part Of Annual Weekend-Long Festival
Celebrating Japanese Pop Culture

NEW PEOPLE, a dynamic entertainment destination bringing the latest examples of Japanese popular culture to North American shores, will present the U.S. premiere of the EVANGELION POP-UP MUSEUM as part of the 2012 J-POP Summit Festival. This special time-limited special exhibit, to be staged inside the venue’s 3rd Floor SUPERFROG Gallery, launches on Saturday, August 25th and is co-produced by Nippon Television and NEW PEOPLE.

The 2012 J-POP Summit Festival commences with the theme of “Cyberpop Overload!,” and will be held across San Francisco’s Japantown, in association with the Japantown Merchant Association, on Saturday, August 25th and Sunday, August 26th. General admission to The EVANGELION POP-UP MUSEUM is $5 with re-entry stamp, but will only run for the duration of the J-POP Summit Festival. Tickets will be available at NEW PEOPLE’s 3rd Floor SUPERFROG Gallery on the day of the event. More information about the Festival is available at J-POP.com.

The EVANGELION POP-UP MUSEUM at NEW PEOPLE will offer an extensive collection of original concept and production art, character drawings and other key artifacts from the famed Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone and Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance film series. Anime/Manga and sci-fi fans are invited to enjoy this unique exhibit and catch a rare inside glimpse at how original drawings, computer graphics and animation for these films were created. A variety of rare and valuable Evangelion books, toys and collectables, and other items will also be on display.

Evangelion is one of the most successful anime properties ever produced and its massive international popularity approaches an almost religious following among fans,” says Seiji Horibuchi, the President/CEO of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. and Chairman of the J-Pop Summit Festival Committee. “We are extremely honored to offer J-POP Summit attendees this special opportunity to enjoy a wide range of captivating artwork and other rare artifacts from the show that have never been exhibited before outside Japan.”

In the Evangelion: 1.0 and 2.0 films, fourteen year old Shinji Ikari is called to Tokyo-3 by his father who he hasn’t seen in more than eight years. His father reveals to him a gigantic humanoid weapons system that the special governmental agency has secretly developed to fight alien invaders called Angels. He enlists Shinji to pilot the giant artificial human Evangelion Unit One. In an explosive new storyline full of brutal action and primal emotion, a group of young pilots maneuver their towering, cyborg Eva Units into combat against a deadly and disturbing enemy.  The third film of the series, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, is set for release in Japan this fall.

A variety of other pop-inspired attractions including fashion shows, theatrical film premieres,  live art performances, celebrity appearances, and mini-concerts by some of Japan’s hottest bands are planned for the 2012 J-POP Summit both inside the NEW PEOPLE complex, and outdoors at the adjacent Peace Plaza. Innovative artists from Japan will join a variety of product merchants and food vendors from the Bay Area to offer an array of pop-inspired products and delicacies for sale in open air displays on both sides of Post Street, the main Japantown thoroughfare.

NEW PEOPLE opened in 2009 and has become a unique must-see attraction of San Francisco’s cultural landscape. The 20,000 square foot contemporary venue features the latest examples Japanese popular culture expressed though film, art, fashion, and a variety of specialty boutiques and ongoing monthly events. NEW PEOPLE is located at 1746 Post Street in the city’s Japantown.

About NEW PEOPLE, Inc.
Based in San Francisco, California, NEW PEOPLE, Inc. (www.newpeopleworld.com) offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan through its unique entertainment destination as well as through licensing and distribution of selective Japanese films. NEW PEOPLE Entertainment (www.newpeopleent.com), a film division of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. strives to offer the most entertaining motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages, especially the manga and anime generation, in North America. Some titles include DEATH NOTE, GANTZ, KAMIKAZE GIRLS, and THE TASTE OF TEA.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


AsianCineFest affiliate VCinema has two pairs of tickets to give away to the midnight screening of GOKE: BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL on June 30th, 2012 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of the New York Asian Film Festival. Info and contest rules here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ACF 1507: Speed up of print editions of BLEACH announced by VIZ

BLEACH © 2001 by Tite Kubo/SHUEISHA Inc.
2 New Volumes Of Hit Action Manga Debut Each Month Thru
The End of 2012 To Synchronize Series With Japanese Counterpart

VIZ Media kicks the Soul Reaping drama of BLEACH into high gear as it announces a special speed up of the print editions of Tite Kubo’s hit supernatural action manga (graphic novel) series. Beginning this month and continuing through December 2012, two new BLEACH manga editions will debut every month.

BLEACH is published by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and carries an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. The accelerated schedule is designed to synchronize the series with its digital counterpart on VIZManga.com by the end of the year.

Ichigo Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghosts – he was born with the gift. When his family is attacked by a Hollow – a malevolent lost soul—Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured spirits themselves find peace. Find out why Tite Kubo's BLEACH has become an international manga smash-hit!

BLEACH Volume 40 – Available Now!
While the Soul Reaper captains deal with Aizen’s forces in Karakura Town, Ichigo faces Ulquiorra in Hueco Mundo. To match the powerful Espada, Ichigo will have to rely on his Hollow powers. But will the darkness overwhelm him…?

BLEACH © 2001 by Tite Kubo/SHUEISHA Inc.

BLEACH Volume 41 – Available Now!
Pushed to the verge of death by Ulquiorra, Ichigo releases his Hollow powers. But can Ichigo control his powers long enough to claim victory against his rival, or will he lose everything he’s been fighting for...?

BLEACH Volume 42 – Available July 3rd
The battle between the Soul Reaper Captains and Aizen’s Espadas continues with the fate of Karakura Town in the balance. And just as things take a turn for the worse, some surprising allies make their grand entrance!

43 Available July 3rd
The battle against Aizen’s Espadas continues as the Soul Reapers search for a way to defeat Barragan’s terrifying abilities. Meanwhile, Shunsui will need every trick in his bag to compete against Stark!

BLEACH (rated ‘T’ for Teens) is author/creator Tite Kubo's second manga title. Kubo made his debut with ZOMBIE POWDER (also published in North America by VIZ Media, rated ‘T’ for Teens), a four-volume series appearing in Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. To date, BLEACH has been translated into numerous languages and has also inspired an animated TV series that began airing in Japan in 2004. Beginning its serialization in 2001, BLEACH remains a mainstay in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. In 2005, BLEACH was awarded the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award in the shonen (boys) category.

For more information on BLEACH visit Bleach.viz.com.

Monday, June 18, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Donnie Yen in Dragon which will be shown at NYAFF 2012

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

Choi Min-Sik as Oh Dae-su in Oldboy

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

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

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

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

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

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

And do give these webpages a look:

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


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

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

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ACF 1505: CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES to receive theatrical, digital channel, DVD & BD releases

Sentai Filmworks has announced the forthcoming release of the year’s most eagerly awaited animated feature, CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES. The latest brainchild of writer/producer/director Makoto Shinkai, the pioneering creator who first turned the Japanese animation industry on its head by producing the hit VOICES OF A DISTANT STAR almost single handedly using his own personal computer, CHILDREN will be Shinkai’s longest and most complex film to date and promises to further continue the director’s evolution as one of the most important emerging talents in the animation industry.

Joining Shinkai once again are some of his most trusted collaborators, including composer TENMON, who has created the score to every Shinkai film since the director’s first short, SHE AND HER CAT; animation director/character designer Takayo Nishimura and art director Takumi Tanji, who have both risen up the production chain with Shinkai, having begun as an animator and background artist respectively on THE PLACE PROMISED IN OUR EARLY DAYS and 5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND; and most especially the ground-breaking production company ComixWave Films, which has distributed all of Shinkai’s major works to date.

Synopsis: Strange sounds in the darkness…  Unearthly music from an old crystal radio…  These are all the warning Asuna Watase has before a simple walk to her clubhouse catapults her into a nightmarish adventure that will take her beneath the Earth to a lost land beyond the realm of legend!  Attacked by a strange monstrous creature, rescued by a mysterious stranger and pursued by a relentless enemy, Asuna finds herself enmeshed in a centuries old mystery that will bind her to a strange young defender and lead her inevitably, towards a secret that may hold the key to life itself!  From Makoto Shinkai, the critically acclaimed anime wunderkind who’s thrilled audiences around the world with the masterworks VOICES OF A DISTANT STAR and THE PLACE PROMISED IN OUR EARLY DAYS, comes an all new, dark and truly epic journey into a world you’ve never seen before: CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES.

CHILDREN WHO CHASE LOST VOICES will begin theatrical release on June 26 – July 3 at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles.  General release through digital channels will follow with a home video release on DVD & BD later this year.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

ACF 1504: JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema, July 12-28

Scene from Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins
 JAPAN CUTS: The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema
July 12-28, 2012, at Japan Society
World’s Largest Japanese Film Festival Presents Most Features Ever in 2012 with
39 Films, 33 Premieres, 6 Special Guests, 3 Awards, Parties and More

Japan Society has recently put out extensive information about the upcoming Japan Cuts Festival. This outstanding annual event has been highlighting recent Japanese films since 2007, with an oldie-but-goodie thrown in from time to time. From July 12-15, Japan Cuts will again dove-tail with the New York Asian Film Festival for a number of co-presentations.

This year’s fest pays tribute to the late actor Yoshio Harada, screening his final film Someday and 9 Souls. The festival also highlights the career of living legend Koji Yakusho, presenting five of his most inconic films: Chronicle of My Mother, Cure, Shall We Dance?, Toad's Oil (which Yakusho also directed), 13 Assassins, and The Woodsman and the Rain. Yakusho will be on hand for the July 20 screening of The Woodsman and the Rain for an introduction, Q&A and reception. On that occasion, the festival will award the star the first ever JAPAN CUTS prize, the Cut Above Award for Excellence in Film. Yakusho will also appear for the July 21 screening of Takashi Miike's hit samuri action movie 13 Assassins.

Marking 16 months after Japan’s Tohoku region was devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crises, the Focus on Post 3.11 Cinema series encompasses Women on the Edge, Chips, A Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima, No Man’s Zone and the shorts series We Are All Radioactive.

This year’s parties include the Striking Love! JAPAN CUTS Opening Party, following the July 14 screening of Love Strikes!, with an introduction and Q&A with star actress Masami Nagasawa--this year's recipient of NYAFF's Rising Star Asia Award; and the  DON'T STOP! JAPAN CUTS Party following the July 26 screening of Don’t Stop!, featuring an introduction with director Kenji Kohashi. Other special guests during the festival are Monsters Club director Toshiaki Toyoda for the July 15 screening introduction and Q&A; No Man’s Zone director Toshi Fujiwara for the July 22 screening introduction and Q&A; and Leonie director Hisako Matsui for the July 27 screening introduction and Q&A

Finally in the how-lowbrow-can-you-go category, the festival includes two Anime from Hell for the 18-and-over crowd, Asura and Gyo; three delectably depraved shorts screened back-to-back as The Atrocity Exhibition; and the outrageous Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead by modern schlockmeister Noboru Iguchi (RoboGeisha, Mutant Girls Squad).

“This year’s expanded and expansive edition of JAPAN CUTS reflects our (slightly maniacal) ambition to be the ultimate platform for Japanese cinema in North America – in the world perhaps?” says Japan Society’s chief film programmer and festival curator Samuel Jamier.  “In this respect, the explosive, purposefully off-balance mix of dark-themed hard-core actioners, blockbusters, hit comedies, nano-budget indie titles and philosophical art house pieces emphasizes the wild diversity of the production in the archipelago, as well as its incredible resilience, despite the rise of its East Asian neighbors and the current severe economic conditions. We might not be solving the epistemological conundrum that is Japanese and world cinema (or event zombie apocalypse), but we’re giving it a good try.”

The complete film schedule is listed below. For information about individual films and to order tickets, click here.

JAPAN CUTS 2012 Schedule At-A-Glance

Thursday, July 12
6:30 - Asura
8:15 - Smuggler

Friday, July 13
6:30 - Hard Romanticker
8:40 - The Atrocity Exhibition (Let's Make the Teacher… + Big Gun + Henge)

Saturday, July 14
1:00 - Scabbard Samurai
3:15 - Tokyo Playboy Club
5:30 - Gyo
7:15 - Love Strikes! + Striking Love! JAPAN CUTS Opening Party!*

Sunday, July 15
1:30 - Ace Attorney
4:15 - Tormented
6:00 - Monsters Club*
8:00 - Chips

Tuesday, July 17
7:30 - Zombie Ass

Wednesday, July 18
7:30 - Girls for Keeps

Thursday, July 19
6:30 - Someday
8:30 - 9 Souls

Friday, July 20
7:00 - The Woodsman and the Rain, Centerpiece Gala Presentation*

Saturday, July 21
1:00 - Shall We Dance?
3:30 - Toad's Oil
6:00 - Chronicle of My Mother
8:20 - 13 Assassins*
11:00 - Cure

Sunday, July 22
1:00 - Love Strikes!
3:15 - No Man's Zone*
5:20 - About the Pink Sky
7:20 - Isn't Anyone Alive?
9:30 - Roadside Fugitive

Tuesday, July 24
7:00 - Rebirth

Wednesday, July 25
7:00 - Rent-a-Cat
9:15 - Ushijima the Loan Shark

Tuesday, July 26
7:00 - Don't Stop! + DON'T STOP! JAPAN CUTS Party*

Friday, July 27
7:00 – Leonie*

Saturday, July 28
1:00 - A Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima
3:00 - Women on the Edge
5:00 - Lonely Swallows
7:00 - The Brat!
9:00 - Space Battleship Yamato

*Director or actor introduction and/or Q&A!