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10.23.2007

asian films at afi fest 2007

For those of you in the Los Angeles area, there are a number of Asian and Asian American films playing at the upcoming AFI Fest, running November 1-11 at the ArcLight Hollywood Cinemas. It's a pretty solid list of films. I'm particularly interested in checking out Munyurangabo, Lee Isaac Chung's debut film set in the years after the Rwandan genocide of 1994, made in collaboration with Rwandan youths at a refugee camp where Chung worked and lived. It looks pretty awesome. Here's also a humongous list of Asian films playing at the festival, compiled the good folks at APA First Weekend Film Club:
PLEASE VOTE FOR ME
DIR: Weijun Chen
China
How do you build democracy in the world's largest communist community? Start small ... very small. This charming film follows the intense politicking to become class monitor of a third-grade class in Wahun Province.
Thu. Nov 8, 9:45 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 4:30 pm

BLIND MOUNTAIN
(MANG SHAN)
DIR: Li Yang
China
CAST: CAST Lu Hunag, Youan Yang, Yuling Zhang, Yunle Ha
A demographic time bomb haunts China today, as Deng Xiaoping's One-Child Policy has left too few women available for Chinese men to marry, especially in the less prosperous countryside. The promise of a decent-paying job lures the naive, ingenuous Bai Xuemei (beautifully played by newcomer Huang Lu) to a desolate farming village in northern China. Director Li Yang has created a story that symbolizes an entire society caught in the disorienting crisis of radical change.
Sun. Nov 4, 12:00 pm / Mon. Nov 5, 10:00 pm

A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS
DIR: Wayne Wang
USA
CAST: CAST Faye Yu, Henry O, Vida Ghahremani, Pasha Lychnikoff
Directed by Wayne Wang (SMOKE, CHAN IS MISSING), A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS is the story of Mr. Shi, a widower and a retiree from Beijing. When Yilan, his only daughter who lives in the U.S., has a divorce, he decides to visit her in the small town where she works as a librarian. His intention is to stay with her until he helps her recover from the trauma.
Sat. Nov 3, 10:45 pm / Mon. Nov 5, 5:30 pm

SECRET SUNSHINE
(MILYANG)
DIR: Chang Dong Lee
South-Korea
CAST: CAST Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-ho, Seon Jeong-yeob
When her husband dies in a car accident, Shin-ae decides to leave Seoul with her son Jun (Seon Jeong-yeob). She relocates to Miryang, a nondescript city with no particular appeal other than its being the hometown of her deceased spouse, in Lee Chang-dong's latest masterpiece, SECRET SUNSHINE.
Fri. Nov 2, 6:45 pm / Sun. Nov 4, 3:00 pm

SOLOS
DIR: Loo Zihan, Kan Lume
Singapore
CAST: CAST Lim Yu-Beng, Goh Guat Kian, Loo Zihan
Inspired by true events of a teacher-student affair, SOLOS narrates the fading relationship of a couple, and the love of a mother who fears her son will never return to her. The silence that dwells between the characters brings out their loneliness as they struggle with disappointment but are unable to share their true emotions.
Sun. Nov 4, 9:45 pm / Tue. Nov 6, 4:30 pm

PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA
DIR: Wayne Wang
USA
CAST: CAST Ling Li, Brian Danforth, Pamelyn Chee, Patrice Binaisa
A companion piece to A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS, THE PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA shares that film's theme of Chinese citizens finding the United States alienating and bewildering. As kinetic and edgy as its twin is restrained and subtle, THE PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA follows 24 hours in the life of Sasha, a young Chinese woman who is four months pregnant from a fling back in Beijing. Interrupting her first year of college in Omaha, Nebraska, she travels to San Francisco for an abortion and confront her lover's male friend.
Sat. Nov 3, 9:00 pm / Mon. Nov 5, 3:30 pm

SAKURAN
DIR: Mika Ninagawa
Japan
CAST: CAST Anna Tsuchiya, Kippei Shiina, Hiroki Narimiya, Yoshino Kimura, Miho Kanno, Masatoshi Nagase, Minami, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Kenichi Endo, Ayame Koike, Megumi Yamaguchi
Based on the popular manga of the same name, this film details the education and early career of a popular geisha, or courtesan. Passions and goals collide for girls who seek to become the oiran, the highest-ranking prostitute who only the wealthiest and most powerful could hope to patronize. This lush and opulent vision of a lost world is a one-of-a-kind cinematic export from first-time director Mika Ninagawa.
Thu. Nov 8, 10:30 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 12:45 pm

NIGHT TRAIN
DIR: Yinan Diao
China
CAST: CAST Liu Dan, Qi Dao, Xu Wei, Wu Yuxi, Wang Zhenjia, Meng Haiyan
Director Diao Yi Nanreturns to AFI FEST with this masterful film about a female bailiff who has to execute prisoners who have committed crimes of passion. During the evenings, she takes a night train to a nearby town to attend matchmaking dances. She mistakes the intentions of a mysterious man who turns up and befriends her.
Tue. Nov 6, 8:45 pm / Fri. Nov 9, 12:30 pm

THE FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON
(LE VOYAGE DU BALLOON ROUGE)
DIR: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Taiwan / France
CAST: CAST Song Fang, Juliette Binoche, Simon Iteanu, Hippolyte Girardot, Louise Margolin
With the classes she teaches, her puppet shows and her two children, Suzanne is a mother overwhelmed by her obligations. To ease the situation, she takes in a young Taiwanese baby sitter, Song Fang, who forms a special bond with her son. Taiwanese master Hou-Hsiao Hsien, working with the great Juliette Binoche, explores hisperennial themes of family and identity in a striking new setting.
Fri. Nov 9, 1:15 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 6:45 pm

FUNUKE, SHOW SOME LOVE YOU LOSERS!
(FUNUKEDOMO, KANASHIMI NO AI WO MISERO)
DIR: Daihachi Yoshida
Japan
CAST: CAST Eriko Sato, Aimi Satsukawa, Hiromi Nagasaku, Masatoshi Nagase
After their parents die in hilariously gory fashion, the three Funuke siblings are reunited to mondo effect, reigniting rivalries that have lain dormant since their childhood. Juxtaposing an innocuous rural setting with manga-fueled mania, director Daihachi Yoshida delivers a debut film that promises a seemingly limitless career. The ensemble cast shines as the utterly unhinged family, especially Hiromi Nagasaku's brilliant portrayal of a fanatically "calm" housewife hellbent on keeping her family together.
Mon. Nov 5, 9:00 pm / Wed. Nov 7, 4:30 pm

HOLLYWOOD CHINESE
DIR: Arthur Dong
USA
CAST: FEATURING Joan Chen, Nancy Kwan, Ang Lee, Amy Tan, Christopher Lee, James Hong, B.D. Wong, Wayne Wang
Arthur Dong critically re-examines the history of Hollywood's construction of the stereotypic Chinese identity on film. He artfully weaves together seventy five years of film-clips with the commentary of Ang Lee, Joan Chen, James Hong and others who are reshaping the image of Chinese people in the cinema of today.
Wed. Nov 7, 6:45 pm

TERRORIZER
(KONGBU FENZI)
DIR: Ed Yang
Taiwan/ Hong Kong
CAST: CAST Cora Miao, Li Liqun, Wang An
Edward Yang attempts in THE TERRORIZER a virtual dismantling of montage theory. One of Yang's most closely scrutinized films, it ends with a shot of a novelist vomiting -- which would seem to be a none-too-subtle commentary on the process of creating fiction, Yang's included. But it's also just one more enigmatic element in what is Yang's most provocative and structurally challenging work.
Sat. Nov 3, 4:00 pm

PRINCE OF THE HIMALAYAS
DIR: Sherwood Hu
China
CAST: Purba Rgyal, Zomskyid, Dobrgyal, Sonamdolgar, Trashi, Lobzangchopel, Dechendolma, Lobden, Ciringdongrub, Oma
Something is rotten in Lhasa, a lush adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet is set in the most unlikely of places: the Tibetan mountains. With gorgeous costumes and stirring performances, the film breaths new, unexpected life into one of the world's best known stories.
Fri. Nov 9, 7:00 pm / Sat. Nov 10, 10:00 pm

MAD DETECTIVE
DIR: Johnnie To
Hong Kong / China
CAST: CAST Lau Ching-wan, Andy On, Lee Kwon Lun, Lam Ka Tung
Back together at the helm of MAD DETECTIVE, Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai have set the screen ablaze to create a fiery action drama. This film is both a thrilling adventure exposing the dark side of Hong Kong’s police force and a fascinating journey into the meanderings of a contorted mind.
Mon. Nov 5, 6:45 pm
That's a lot of films. I also one of the festival's TALK/SHOW programs includes a conversation on movie stereotypes and American popular culture, featuring filmmaker Arthur Dong. For more information on all programs, including ticket info, visit the AFI Fest website.