With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

ACF 911: Two anime series from VIZ debut on multiple online content outlets


iTunes, PlayStation® Network, And Amazon Video On Demand
Begin Offering Both Hit Adventure Series To Rent Or Own

VIZ Media has announced the availability of hit anime series HIKARU NO GO and MÄR for Download-To-Rent / Download-To-Own (DTR/DTO) from leading online content providers iTunes, PlayStation® Network, and Amazon Video on Demand.

The complete series for HIKARU NO GO (Episodes 1-75) and MÄR (Episodes 1-52) will be presented dubbed and uncut, and will be available immediately from the iTunes Store in the U.S. (http://www.itunes.com/) and Canada (http://www.itunes.ca/). As a special promotion, Episode 1 from each series will be available for FREE download through August 23, 2011!

Amazon Video on Demand and the PlayStation® Network video delivery service, available exclusively for the Sony PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) and PlayStation®3 (PS3™) entertainment systems, will offer Season 1 of HIKARU NO GO and MÄR, beginning with Episodes 1-3. New installments will be released every Monday. Episode 1 from each series will be available for FREE download through March 22, 2011.

All episodes are $0.99 each for Download-To-Rent and $1.99 for Download-To-Own across all platforms.

HIKARU NO GO is a unique story that revolves around the ancient Japanese strategy game of Go, and is based on the manga written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata (also published domestically by VIZ Media). Hikaru Shindo is like any sixth-grader in Japan: a pretty normal kid with a two-tone head of hair and a penchant for antics. His life completely changes when he finds an old bloodstained go board in his grandfather's attic. The ghost of an ancient go master named Fujiwara-no-Sai was trapped in the board and soon becomes a part of Hikaru's consciousness. Together Hikaru and Sai make an unstoppable go-playing team!

MÄR is based on the hit manga series by Nobuyuki Anzai (creator also of FLAME OF RECCA), published in North America by VIZ Media. An ordinary middle-school boy with an overactive imagination, Ginta Toramizu dreams about fairy tales and make-believe lands. One day at school, a gate appears and he enters the World of MÄR, the world of his dreams. Within the World of MÄR exist ÄRM: accessories with unique powers. Soon, Ginta stumbles upon Babbo, an ÄRM that can speak, and learns that he has been summoned to this mythical world to stop the Chess Pieces, a group of rogue soldiers, from destroying the World of MÄR. Now part of Team MÄR, Ginta and Babbo fight in War Games against the Chess Pieces to save the MÄR World. But will Ginta’s mission be compromised by his ally’s secrets?

For more information on the HIKARU NO GO and MÄR anime and manga series, visit VIZAnime.com.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

ACF 910: Doll Festival (Girls' Day): Hinamatsuri at Japan Society

Doll Festival (Girls' Day) / Hinamatsuri
Sunday, March 6, 2010 at 2:00 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, NYC
(between 1st and 2nd Avenyes)

Doll Festival (Hinamatsuri) is a time to wish for the health and future happiness of young girls. Enjoy music performance and songs, taste festival-related snacks and drinks and help decorate ceremonial dolls (hina-ningyo)! Children and families will create their own hina dolls to take home. Boys are welcome to participate.

Recommended for children ages 3-10 and accompanying adults.
Program subject to change.

$12/$5 Japan Society members; children ages 2 or under free.
Corporate and individual member families may purchase tickets at the discounted price.

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm. [02.28.10 Update - Just received notification from Japan Society that this event has Sold Out. If you're interested, I guess you can call and find out if there have been any cancellations.]

ACF 909: ORESAMA TEACHER - new manga from VIZ debuts March 1st



New Shojo Beat Series Follows A Reformed Teenage Delinquent
As She Tries To Lead A Normal And Peaceful High School Life

VIZ Media brings the hilarious high-school hijinks of Izumi Tsubaki’s manga (graphic novel) series, ORESAMA TEACHER, to North American audiences on March 1st. The new title will be published under the Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T’ for Teens, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Mafuyu is the no-nonsense, take-charge and hard-hitting leader of her high school gang. But when she gets expelled for being a delinquent, her mother, fed up with her daughter’s wayward ways, sends Mafuyu to an isolated school far off in the country. Determined to make the best of the situation and make her mother proud, Mafuyu decides to turn over a new, feminine, well-behaved leaf. But her fighting spirit can’t be kept down, and the night before school starts she finds herself defending some guy who’s getting beaten up. One slip wouldn’t have been a problem, except the guy is…her teacher?! How can Mafuyu learn to be a good girl if her teacher won’t let her forget her wicked past?

“Mafuyu is going to have to try very hard to be the well-behaved, ultra-shiny, super-feminine high school student she longs to become,” says Pancha Diaz, Editor. “But along the way, she will have to contend with a homeroom teacher who blackmails her, an unruly classmate who likes to fight, and her own tendency to still find trouble. We invite readers to jump into her latest story and follow Mafayu as she strives to live like a normal high school girl.”

Izumi Tsubaki began drawing manga during her first year of high school. She was soon selected to be among the top ten of Hana to Yume's HMC (Hana to Yume Mangaka Course), and she subsequently won Hana to Yume's Big Challenge contest. Her debut title, Shrink the Distance, ran in 2002 in Hana to Yume magazine. In addition to THE MAGIC TOUCH (published in North America by VIZ Media), she is working her current manga series ORESMA TEACHER (I'm The Teacher).

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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

ACF 908: Next Korean Movie Night series to feature four Korean animation films

Korean Movie Night Series 2:
Korean Animation Explodes!
Every other Tuesday starting March 1, 2011
Showtime: 7:00 pm
(Doors open at 6:30 pm)
Where: Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street @ Canal, NYC
(One block from the A, C, E & 1 train Canal Street stops)
Price: Free!!!!!
Seating: First-come, first served

Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night continues in March with free screenings of four animated films.

Everyone knows all about Japanese animation, but what do we know about Korean? There are stories about North Korean animation sweatshops employed to work on The Lion King and The Simpsons and there’s the fact that most television animation in the 90’s was drawn in Korea, but since 1967, South Korea has been releasing its own animated films that are almost never shown in the United States. After the glut of Korean animation in the 90’s things died down but recently there has been a new explosion of talent and experimental techniques that are once again putting Korean animation on the world stage.

Tuesday, March 1 @ 7:00 pm
Directed by In Geun Kwak
New York Premiere

Gaining a cult reputation on the film festival circuit, THE STORY OF MR. SORRY started life as a graduation project from the Korean Academy of Film Arts and it’s one weird slab of surrealism. Animated in a simple, 70’s style, it’s a trip down the ear hole as a sad sack ear cleaner discovers a doorway to the human subconscious and is put on a path that includes political assassination, a game show called To Kill or Not to Kill and incest.

The Story of Mr. Sorry trailer at YouTube

Tuesday, March 15 @ 7:00 pm
Directed by Lee Seong-Gang
New York Premiere

On the other end of the spectrum is this lush, gorgeously animated film from the director that people call “Korea’s Hayao Miyazaki,” Lee Seong-Gang. His previous film was the lush MY BEAUTIFUL GIRL MARI, and he spent years making this follow-up, a big budget animated epic. Exquisitely detailed and shimmering with eye-popping colors, it tells the tale of one of Korea’s mythical, shape-shifting five-tailed foxes and its encounter with an alien.

Yobi, the Five-Tailed Fox trailer at YouTube

Tuesday, April 5 @ 7:00 pm
Directed by Hong Eun-ji, Park Jae-ok, and Soo Kyoung
US Premiere

A surprisingly moving animated film, WHAT IS NOT ROMANCE is all about a middle aged couple approaching their anniversary and it’s as tender, delicate and subtle as the best arthouse movie. Tensions are rising, dinner table conversation is nonexistent and all their romance seems dead. Leaping backwards in time it returns to the beginning of their marriage when they were head over heels in love with each other and traces it to the present when they barely talk and tries to see if there’s any way for a couple married for years to get back to the way things were.

What is not Romance trailer at Animation Insider

Tuesday, April 19 @ 7:00 pm
North American Premiere

What line-up of Korean animation would be complete without a glitzy, gaudy, crowd-pleasing anime-style manhwa (Korean manga) adaptation? Based on the most popular manhwa of the late 90’s, AUDITION is a teen-girl-ready romance about four dudes, all misfits, who form a rock band. All the main characters are already licensed products in Korea and this feature film version of their well-known story took 8 years to make. It’s pure pop culture cream cheese: smooth and delicious.

(Obviously this film has no relationship and should not be confused with Takashi Miike's 1999 live-action film based on Ryu Murakami's short novel, both of the same name.)

Audition trailer 2 at YouTube

ACF 907: 5th annual Korean American Film Festival NY to take place March 17-20th

Director Dai-Sil Kim-Gibson


The Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY) presents its 5th season with a special anniversary program featuring retrospectives of Dai-Sil Kim-Gibson (Sa-I-Gu, Wet Sand, Silence Broken, A Forgotten People, Olivia’s Story), with panel discussion featuring Charles Burnett; and Jae-Han Lee (71:Into the Fire, The Cut Runs Deep, Sayonara Itsuka, A Moment to Remember; set to remake John Woo’s The Killer).

Festival highlights include a live re-score of Madame Freedom by DJ Spooky for the opening reception, over 12 outstanding feature films and more than 25 innovative short films by emerging and award-winning Korean directors from America, Korea and around the world.

This year’s schedule includes a program of four feature films that exhibit the diversity of Korean-American film:

The Boat
2:00 pm, Theater 1

Korean Japanese co-production directed by Young Nam Kim, tells the unlikely story of a cross-cultural friendship that develops between a couple of smugglers, Hyung Gu (Ha Jung Woo) and his contact on the other side, a young Japanese man called Toru (Tsumabuki Satoshi).

psychohydrography by Peter Bo Rappmund

6:00 pm, White Box

An analysis of the flow of water from mountain to aqueduct, city to sea. Shot at and around the Eastern Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, Los Angeles Aqueduct, Los Angeles River and Pacific Ocean. HD video constructed entirely from single frame photography, directed by Peter Bo Rappmund.

The Woman, the Orphan, and the Tiger
7:30 pm, White Box

The third film in a trilogy of narrative experimental films by Jane Jin Kaisen dealing with international adoption and the ideological, geopolitical, historical, and psychological effects of that process. This film looks at the legacy of international adoption from a feminist perspective and within a transgenerational and transnational scope.

The House of Suh
7:30pm, theater 1

Award-winning documentary by Iris Kim recounts the chilling story of the House of Suh, an immigrant family whose pursuit of happiness quickly became riddled with misfortune, culminating on September 25, 1993, when Andrew shot and killed his older sister’s fiancé of eight years, Robert O’Dubaine, at Catherine’s bidding.

For the complete program, visit kaffny.com. Early VIP tickets can be purchased through the Kickstarter campaign by clicking here, or through the website.

Tickets cost $12 (general admission) and $8 (students and seniors).

Friday, February 25, 2011

ACF 906: Yakuza lecture and film screening at Japan Society on March 10th

Yakuza in Popular Media & Real Life: Cracks & Chasms
Lecture plus Film Screening
When: Thursday, March 10, 2010 at 6:30 PM
(Film to follow at approxiamately 8:15 PM)
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, NYC
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

From popular films to games and comic books, yakuza culture has been portrayed and discussed in many media. Jake Adelstein, author of Tokyo Vice--one of the rare books revealing real yakuza culture in Japan--discusses the differences between the image the yakuza want to project and how the major groups really function, and what the taboos are of depicting yakuza in Japan.

After the Lecture:
Onibi: The Fire Within
(at approximately 8:15 pm)
Directed by Rokuro Mochizuki
With Yoshio Harada, Reiko Kataoka, Sho Aikawa
Japan, 1996, 101 minutes, 35mm, color
In Japanese with live English subtitles

Often regarded as Rokuro Mochizuki's masterpiece, Onibi injects both sexual passion and subdued sentiment into the macho world of yakuza cinema. Jake Adelstein introduces the film.

Lecture only:
$12/$8 Japan Society members, seniors & students
Film only: $12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors & students
Lecture & Film: $16/$12 Japan Society members

Special offer available only at Japan Society Box Office or by telephone at (212) 715-1258. Offer not available online.

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

This lecture and film screening are part of Japan Society's film series Hardest Men in Town: Yakuza Chronicles of Sin, Sex & Violence, which runs from March 9 - 19, 2011.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ACF 905: "disOriented" opens tonight in New York, runs through March 5th

February 24 - March 5
Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 3pm & 7:30pm
Sunday at 4pm
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
(416 West 42nd Street. NYC)

Got this last minute news from Korean Cultural Service about a new play opening this evening in New York.

Written by Kyoung H. Park and directed by Carlos Armesto, disOriented tells the story of Ju Yeon, an immigrant living in New York, who has distanced herself from her Korean Roots.

Kyoung H. Park is a Korean-Chilean playwright, author of Sex and Hunger, disOriented, Heartbreak/India, and many short plays including Mina. His work has been presented in several Off/Off-Off-Broadway venues including New Dramatists, Culture Project, Ensemble Studio Theater, Ma-Yi Theater and etc. Kyoung is recipient of an Edward Albee Playwriting Fellowship, Arvon Foundation Writer's Grant, Global Arts Village Fellowship, Theater of the Oppressed Exchange Fellowship.

Carlos Armesto is the Artistic Director of Theatre C, a New York based theatre company devoted to creating innovative and arresting theatrical events through the fusion of diverse artistic forms. Mr. Armesto is a former Associate Artistic Director of The Ensemble Studio Theatre.

"Virile and flamboyant ... [Zaritt's] long line is magnified to powerful effect" - GIA KOURLAS (The New York Times)

"Rare is the performer who, like Zaritt, can be simultaneously physical and intellectual, and sensual and cerebral." - CHRISTOPHER ATAMIAN (The Forward)

Tickets ($18) may be purchased online at http://www.ticketcentral.com/ or by calling 212-279-4200.

ACF 904: "Holi" celebration on March 19th, 2011 at NY's South Street Seaport

Bright Colors Fill the Air as Revelers
Celebrate Holi Aboard Peking Ship
in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport

Holi, the Indian festival of Colors, is typically celebrated to signify the commencement of spring by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. For the fourth year, IN Group, along with the Seaport Museum New York, brings revelers an exclusive Holi Event, “Rang Barse” on Peking Ship, a 377-foot ship docked at the South Street Seaport set against the picturesque backdrop of Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Rejoice in the Indian Festival of Colors decadently with food, drinks, unlimited “rang” (colored powder), the South Asian fusion sounds of DJ Jay Dabhi, traditional Indian dhol (drum) players, and a special Bollywood-style performance by Dhoonya Dance Group on Saturday, March 19, 2011, from noon to 3:30 p.m. at Pier 16 in South Street Seaport.

“Holi is all about new beginnings by welcoming spring with a colorful ‘spring in your step,’” says Rohika Hardas of IN Group. “People come here as strangers but leave as friends, and we’re providing a safe, enjoyable environment for all of our guests who want to start a new season with a little color in their lives.”

Limited tickets are currently available at $45; prices will increase leading up to the event. The price includes food, two cocktails, unlimited colored powder, and the best South Asian entertainment. For more information about the event and to order tickets, log on to www.ingroupevents.com.

About IN Group: New York-based event management company IN Group’s mission is to conceptualize, create, and execute events that provide the best experiences and create memories by building relationships and inspiring people. Since its inception in 2007, IN Group has successfully orchestrated non-profit fundraisers, food and wine festivals, and social and cultural gatherings. We can tailor stylish, trendy, and motivational events to fit any group’s needs and expectations.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ACF 903: "Hardest Men In Town" yakuza film series is coming to Japan Society, March 9-19, 2010

Outrage: The Way of the Modern Yakuza © 2010 “Outrage” Production Committee

Hardest Men in Town:
Yakuza Chronicles of Sin, Sex & Violence

When: March 9-19, 2011
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, NYC
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

The next film series at Japan Society (NY) consists of fifteen examples of the widely popular yakuza genre.

The Japanese gangster movie genre wil be presented through its various avatars, transformations and contradictions, from 1960s productions featuring chivalrous kimono-clad, sword-wielding gangsters and gamblers to today's ruthless gun-toting villains dealing in debt, hustling hardcore porn and scheming and scamming in dark trades and deeds.

Over the past 50 years, they've remained snarling, swaggering, tattooed and inexplicably sexy. In the line-up, there will be blood and broken bones, hookers and hopheads, and plenty of juicy political blackmail… in 15 films that rack up the stiffs like Jacobean tragedies and show grand visions of manly amity and betrayal: classics and lesser known titles by Kinji Fukasaku, Takashi Miike (Dead or Alive), Hideo Gosha (The Wolves), Takeshi Kitano (Outrage), Rokuro Mochizuki (A Yakuza In Love, Onibi: The Fire Within) and Sydney Pollack (The Yakuza), among other offerings you can't refuse.

For descriptions of and showtimes for all the films that will be shown, and to order tickets online, click here.

Hardest Men in Town is made possible through the generous support of The Globus Family.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ACF 902: Reminder - "Forever the Moment" screens for FREE this evening in NYC

Forever the Moment
Directed and co-written by LIM Soon-Rye
Starring: MOON So-ri, KIM Jeong-eun, and Martin Lord Cayce
South Korea, 2008, 124 minutes
When: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open at 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street, NYC,
near the 1, A, C, E Canal St. subway stops
Cost: FREE!!! No RSVP required

The Korean Cultural Service's series of sports-themed movies concludes tonight with this film based on the true story of Korea’s women’s handball team competing at the 2004 Summer Olympics. In it, a one-time player from the national team becomes the last minute coach of the new team and recruits some of her now-middle-aged former teammates.

Directed by LIM Soon-Rye (sometimes spelled YIM Soonrye), one of the few female directors in Korea, and starring MOON So-ri, it became a major word-of-mouth hit in 2008, and it remains one of the greatest sports movies ever made, from any country.

Like all the films in the various Korean Movie Night series that Korean Cultural Service has offered, admission is FREE! This has got to be one of the best things going for NY's fans of Asian films, and Korean Cultural Service cannot be praised too highly for these presentations.

Monday, February 21, 2011

ACF 901: "Needless Collection 1" on sale in both DVD and Blu-Ray editions


Section23 Films has announced the release of the hit series NEEDLESS. The first 12 episodes plus The Secret of Saint Lilly Academy Shorts on 2 discs are available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

Tagline: Crazy Times Call For Crazy Measures!

Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V, L, D)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: DVD
SRP: $59.98

Running Time: 300 min.
Age Rating: TV 14 (V, L, D)
Language: English & Japanese with English Subtitles
Published by: Sentai Filmworks
Distributed by: Section23 Films
Format: BD
SRP: $69.98

SYNOPSIS: They're called Needless-mutants who wield amazing powers such as super speed, the ability to change form, and some, like Blade, the power to "learn" other opponent's powers. It's Blade's greatest ability. But is it powerful enough to overcome his weakness for cute young girls in revealing little skirts? Find out in the craziest action comedy anime of the year!

ACF 900: "Neuro: Supernatural Detective" now available at VIZAnime.com & Hulu


New Series Now On VIZAnime.com and Hulu

VIZ Media has brought an exciting new animated series to North American audiences with the recent launch of NEURO: SUPERNATURAL DETECTIVE on VIZAnime.com (www.VIZAnime.com), the company’s own premier website for free anime, as well as the streaming content provider HULU (www.Hulu.com).

The new series (rated ‘M’ for Mature) will debut with the first five subtitled episodes available, with new installments available weekly.

In NEURO: SUPERNATURAL DETECTIVE, Neuro Nogami is a demon that feeds on criminal mysteries and riddles in the human world. In order to protect his identity, he forms a partnership with Yako, an incisive 16-year-old high school girl. This unlikely crime-solving duo devours one mystery after another in search of the ultimate appetizing mystery!

NEURO: SUPERNATURAL DETECTIVE is based on a popular manga (graphic novel) series created by Yosei Matsui that sold over 3 million copies in Japan and is produced by the famed animation studio, MADHOUSE.

For more information on NEURO: SUPERNATURAL DETECTIVE and other animated titles from VIZ Media visit www.VIZAnime.com.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ACF 899: "Bakuman" Art Contest Is Announced by VIZ Media

BAKUMAN。 © 2008 by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata/SHUEISHA Inc.


Love To Draw? Win Valuable Prize Packages Of Art Supplies
From The DELETER Manga Shop, Sakura Of America, and More!

VIZ Media and SHONEN JUMP Magazine invite fans and artists to participate in a new art contest inspired by the hit manga (graphic novel) series BAKUMAN。. Contest submissions will be accepted until April 29th and may be mailed to:

BAKUMAN Fan Art Contest
C/O VIZ Media
P.O. Box 77010
San Francisco, CA 94107-9913

A release form must be signed and included with each submission
. More information and the release form is available at: www.ShonenJump.com/bakumanfanartcontest.

Winners will be announced on June 7th.

One First Place winner will receive a DELETER Manga Manga Tools Set ST, a Sakura Pigma Manga Comic Pro 8 Piece Set and a Manga Studio EX 4 software package. Three runner-up winners will each be awarded a DELETER Manga Tools Set ST along with a Manga Studio Debut 4 software package. Special Honorable Mention awards will go to five other winners who will each receive a Sakura USA Pigma Manga - Comic Pro 6 Piece Set.

BAKUMAN。(Rated ‘T’ for Teens) is written by the author of DEATH NOTE, Tsugumi Ohba, with artwork by Takeshi Obata, the artist known for series such as DEATH NOTE, HIKARU NO GO, and RALΩGRAD. The story follows average student Moritaka Mashiro, who enjoys drawing for fun, but when his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?

More information on BAKUMAN。 and other Shonen Jump titles, is available at www.ShonenJump.com.

ACF 898: Six film KIM Ji-woon retrospective coming to BAM

The Korea Society and BAMcinématek salute the wildly eclectic KIM Ji-woon — a director whose body of work has included comic horror (The Quiet Family), satiric drama (The Foul King), classic horror (A Tale of Two Sisters), action thriller (A Bittersweet Life), the Western (The Good, The Bad, and The Weird), and the crime thriller with his latest, I Saw The Devil.

Six films will be shown during the series, which will run from Friday, February 25th through Wednesday, March 2nd, 2010. Director Kim will be on hand for a discussion of his most recent work after the February 25th screening of I Saw the Devil (2010), which will kick off the series on the 25th.

For the complete schedule of films and to order tickets online, click here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

ACF 897: Reminder - One-night-only screening of GANTZ in San Francisco

(c) Hiroya Oku/Shueisha (c) 2011 "GANTZ" Film Partners

GANTZ (English Subtitled Version)
Directed by Shinsuke Sato
When: Saturday, 2/19 at 7:15pm - ONE NIGHT ONLY!
Where: VIZ Cinema at New People, San Francisco
Tickets: $12.00 (attendees will also receive a special GANTZ poster)
Japan, 129min, 2011, Digital, Japanese with English subtitles

VIZ Cinema at NEW PEOPLE will offer a special one-night-only screening tonght, Saturday, February 19th of the live-action sci-fi thriller GANTZ (in Japanese with English subtitles). GANTZ is based on the smash hit manga and anime series and was world-premiered at 334 theatres nationwide in January.

GANTZ is based on a hit manga series created by Hiroya Oku and stars leading Japanese actors Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima) and Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City). The film tells the story of two childhood friends that are accidentally killed while trying to save another man's life.

Rather than find themselves in the hereafter, however, they awaken in a strange apartment in which they find a mysterious black orb they come to know as 'GANTZ'. Along with similar abductees, they are provided with equipment and weaponry and manipulated into playing a kind of game in which they are sent back out to the greater world to do battle with alien beings, all while never quite knowing whether this game is an illusion or their new reality.

VIZ Cinema at NEW PEOPLE is the nation's only movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX-certified sound system.

ACF 896: Special screening of "Good Morning, President" in Washington, D.C.

Good Morning, President
Directed by JANG Jin
South Korea, 2009, 132 minutes
When: Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 6:00 PM
Where: The Korea Economic Institute of America
1800 K Street NW, Suite 1010
Washington, DC 20006

D.C. area residents will be treated to a special screening of this delightful film which was a crowd favorite at The Korea Society film series New York Korean Film Festival 2010, where it played at both the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

Film Description:
Good Morning President
is a delicious rumination about power and decision-making, set largely in the head of state's kitchen. Jang's film about three successive Korean presidents is as winning as the best of Frank Capra, but while the pacing and domestic relationships may seem as American as apple pie, the settings and political relationships are as Korean as kimchee.

The older President Kim Jung-ho has to come to grips with his winning the lottery at the end of his term. Next in office is the younger President Cha Ji-wook who faces dilemmas both in foreign policy and on a personal level as a potential organ donor to a dying man. Next in line, female President Han Kyuong-ja faces the crisis of divorce.

ACF mini-review (from ACF 707, posted October 1, 2010):
The three stories are nicely intertwined, so the film doesn't feel choppy or particularly segmented. While both serious and touching at times, the film also provides bouts of good humor. Overall, highly enjoyable entertainment.

ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, solidly recommended.

Friday, February 18, 2011

ACF 895: Reminder - "The Sword of Doom" screens tonight at Japan Society (NY)

The Sword of Doom / Dai-bosatsu toge
Directed by Kihachi Okamoto
Japan, 1966, 119 minutes
When: Friday, February 18, 2011, at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY
(Between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

The soul is the sword.
Study the soul to know the sword
Evil mind, evil sword.
- Instructor and master swordsman Toranosuke Shimada (Toshiro Mifune)

Kihachi Okamoto's chambara classic The Sword of Doom, which stars Tatsuya Nakadai and features Toshiro Mifune in a significant role, will be shown tonight at Japan Society, NY.

For my review of The Sword of Doom which appeared earlier this week, click here.

Buy Tickets Online for Friday's screening or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

And for a really good, recent New York Times article about samurai films written by Wendell Jamieson, in which The Sword of Doom looms large, click here.

ACF 894: Works of quilt master KIM Haeja will be on exhibit at The Korea Society

10,000 Threads
The collected works of KIM Haeja
The Korea Society
950 Third Avenue at 57th Street, NYC
(Entrance on 57th Street, south-west corner of the intersection)
February 22 - March 31, 2011

Traditional Korean quilting, with its unique “nubi” line-stitching, is elevated to a high art under the masterful hands of award-winning artisan Haeja Kim. A designated holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property award by the Korean government for her efforts at preserving Korea’s artistic heritage, Kim meticulously line-stitches layers of batting and fabric into fine garments and coverings. The tiny stitches are employed over each article in a deceptively simple pattern, with smaller stitching highly valued and the mark of a true expert.

Gallery Reception
Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 6-8 PM

RSVP here.

Nubi textiles are thought to have originated among Buddhist monks, who valued its strength, simplicity, and insulation against Korea’s frigid winters. Lay people employed it for traditional dress and soldiers for defense against the cold and added physical protection. However, the hand-craft of nubi largely disappeared in modern times with the introduction of the sewing machine.

Master Kim has been breathing new life into the art ever since she surprised visitors to the Korea Annual Traditional Art Exhibition two decades ago with 3mm-5mm nubi stitchwork—a feat, not seen for a century, that won the Prime Minister’s Award. Today, she is much sought after as a teacher and master of the form. In her humble and elegant rural studio, surrounded by attentive student apprentices, she displays a unique dedication to craft, hand-processing her fabrics with natural dyes like indigo, safflower, and charcoal. Her work has been exhibited in Korea, Japan, China, and France. This exhibition at The Korea Society represents Kim’s first major U.S. showing.

The items selected for this special showing will be grouped in three parts:
Feb 22 - March 4 Children's Clothing
March 7-18 Adult Clothing
March 21-31 Children's Ceremonial Clothing

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ACF 893: "Forever the Moment" screens for free in New York City next Tuesday

Forever the Moment
Directed and co-written by LIM Soon-Rye
Starring: MOON So-ri, KIM Jeong-eun, and Martin Lord Cayce
South Korea, 2008, 124 minutes
When: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open at 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street, NYC,
near the 1, A, C, E Canal St. subway stops
Cost: FREE!!! No RSVP required

Probably the world’s only movie about handball, if there’s one film in this series that is going to break your heart, it’s Forever the Moment. Based on the true story of Korea’s women’s handball team competing at the 2004 Summer Olympics, it finds a one-time player from the national team recruiting some of her now-middle-aged former teammates when she’s asked to step in to coach the new national team at the last minute.

Directed by Lim Soon-Rye (sometimes spelled YIM Soonrye), one of the few female directors in Korea, it became a major word-of-mouth hit in 2008, and it remains one of the greatest sports movies ever made, from any country.

Oh, and it also stars MOON So-ri, one of AsianCineFest's favorite actresses, and I'm not talking just Asian or Korean actresses.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ACF 892: Sword of Doom at Japan Society

The Sword of Doom / Dai-bosatsu toge
Directed by Kihachi Okamoto
Japan, 1966, 119 minutes
When: Friday, February 18, 2011, at 7:30 PM
Where: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY
(Between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

The soul is the sword.
Study the soul to know the sword
Evil mind, evil sword.
- Instructor and master swordsman Toranosuke Shimada (Toshiro Mifune)

Kihachi Okamoto directed many jida geki (period films) that are well-known in the West and available on DVD, such as Samurai Assassin, Kill!, Red Lion, and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo. But The Sword of Doom most certainly is the one with which Westerners are most familiar.

Set in the early 1860s, as the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate is about to fall, it is based upon an incredibly lengthy novel entitled Daibosatsu Toge ("Great Budda Pass") by Kaizan Nakazato. The novel, from which the film gets its name in Japanese, was serialized in newspapers for over three decades, starting in 1913! It remained unfinished at the time of Nakazato's death in 1944, by which time forty-one volumes had been published.

The film stars Tatsuya Nakadai as Ryunosuke Tsukue, the epitome of the anti-hero. He is cruel and evil, a man seemingly without conscience, and dedicated only to using his sword. Kicked out of the sword school where he studied, he is forced to leave his village after killing an opponent in a competition and then dispatching numerous of his associates who are seeking revenge. Ryunuske then joins a shinsengumi, an unofficial group of men supporting the Tokugawa shogunate, not out of political conviction but to earn money for saki and to use his sword to kill.

There have been several film versions of this story, usually in two or three parts. One that was done in three parts is Satan's Sword. This trilogy was directed by Kenji Misumi (Parts 1 and 2, both 1960) and Kazuo Mori (Part 3, 1961). It starred Raizo Ichikawa (the Shinobi no mono and Nemuri Kyoshiro series, as well as numerous other films) as Ryunoske. Okomoto's version also was to have been a trilogy, which may account for the now iconic freeze frame on which The Sword of Doom concludes. For whatever reason, the other films were not made.

I've now seen The Sword of Doom at least three times. It's only been with my recently watching it again to refresh my memory and write this post that I've come to realize what a great film it is. Previously I was thrown by some of the leaps in the narrative, which no longer bother me, and the feeling that the film doesn't end but seems to just stop. The gaps in the story line of the film probably didn't bother the Japanese filmgoers, since the massive original story was pretty familiar to them. And the "ending" was intended as a "cliff-hanger" in anticipation of the next installment, which as it turned out, never came to be.

I've now come to appreciate the film as it is, especially the three great set pieces, each of the one-against-many category. The first and last, an awesome finale, feature Nakadai; the one in the middle has Mifune decimating members of the shinsengumi who have mistakenly attacked him thinking he was someone else.

The Sword of Doom is a classic, no ifs-ands-or-buts. So it not surprisingly earns an ACF Rating of 4 out of 4 stars, highest recommendation.

Buy Tickets Online for Friday's screening or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

For those not in New York or who simply cannot make the screening, The Sword of Doom is also available on a DVD from The Criterion Collection. There are no extras on the disc, but a very informative, short essay by Geoffrey O'Brien is included with the DVD.

And for a really good, recent New York Times article about samurai films written by Wendell Jamieson, in which The Sword of Doom looms large, click here.

ACF 891: Anime "Dream Eater Merry" acquired by Sentai Filmworks


Sentai Filmworks has announced its acquisition of DREAM EATER MERRY, the latest hit anime series from animation powerhouse J.C. STAFF (Excel Saga, Azumanga Daioh, Revolutionary Girl Utena,) Based on the hit manga by Ushiki Yoshitaka, directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi (Street Fighter Alpha, Boys Over Flowers,) using scripts and story compositions by Hideki Shirane and character designs by Masahiro Fuji (both Hayate the Combat Butler,) the 12 episode DREAM EATER MERRY series rolls out the unique premise of a boy with the ability to predict dreams who becomes the focus of the ambitions of a unique race of demons who use dreams to access our world!

Sometimes daydreaming can get you into trouble, but what do you do when it’s OTHER people’s dreams that you have to watch out for? For the last 10 years Yumeji Fujiwara’s life has been getting progressively stranger, beginning with suddenly gaining the ability to predict what kind of dreams other people will have! Then his own dreams took a bizarre turn in which he was being pursued by armies of cats! Now, however, the weird-o-meter has just maxed out: Not only has Yumeji learned that the leader of the dream cats needs Yumeji’s body to access the real world, but a beautiful girl suddenly drops on top of him and announces that she’s a Dream Demon who needs to return to HER world! There are a lot of sleepless nights ahead, as Yumeji has to deal with the dream stalking, a dream walking and the little bitty problem of the fabric separating reality and fantasy being torn to shreds in DREAM EATER MERRY!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ACF 890: Subway Cinema co-presenting three Asian films at Film Comment Selects

The editors of Film Comment, the monthly magazine of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Subway Cinema, the programmers of the New York Asian Film Festival (which will be returning this July to the Walter Reade Theater - yeah!!!!!), have teamed up for three thrill-packed, blood-soaked appetizers...

For information about these three co-presentations and all the other films being shown, and to order tickets online, click here. (Note that at this link, the films are listed in alphabetical order.)

Directed by Kim Ji-woon
South Korea, 2010, 141 minutes
Sunday, February 20 at 1:00 PM

Giving new meaning to catch-and-release, a secret agent searches for the serial wacko who murdered his fiancée and takes a very special form of vengeance. The twisty, gruesome new thriller by the director of The Good, the Bad, the Weird was initially banned in South Korea for its meticulous attention to bloody detail. Marked by Kim's agile set pieces, and a sustained mood of encroaching darkness, it stars Lee Byung-hun (The Good, the Bad, the Weird) and Choi Min-sik (Oldboy). Also: don't miss the six-film Kim Ji-woon retrospective at BAMcinematek, February 25 to March 2!

Directed by Sion Sono
Japan, 2010, 144 minutes
Thursday, February 24 at 8:00 PM
Tuesday, March 1 at 8:45 PM

"Cold Fish is two-and-a-half hours of full throttle hysteria, splattered in eye-gougingly garish hues. Shamoto, the mild-mannered proprietor of a tropical fish store, finds himself and his family drawn into the orbit of a jovial fellow fish dealer named Murata, a serial killer who gleefully slaughters their business competitors and disposes of their remains...Beneath the film's copious helping of blood, bones, and innards lies a post-economic bubble ero guro parable about the ordinary fascism of contemporary Japan's middle class."-Olaf Möller, Film Comment, November/December 2010

Directed by Andrew Lau
China, 2010, 104 minutes
Friday, February 25 at 10:45 PM

From the director of Infernal Affairs, this razzle-dazzle action flick set on the eve of World War II marks a new chapter in the mythology of Chen Zhen, the masked martial arts character originated by Bruce Lee in Fists of Fury. Returning to Shanghai after the death of his mentor, Chen (Donnie Yen) joins the resistance against the impending Japanese invasion--all the while unknowingly romancing a Japanese double agent. Superheroic fighting and crazed camerawork ensue.

ACF 889: HONG Sang-soo's "Hahaha" to screen at the Museum of the Moving Image

Written and directed by HONG Sang-soo
South Korea, 2010, 115 minutes
When: Sunday, February 20th, 2010 at 6:00 PM
Where: The Museum of the Moving Image
35th Avenue at 37th Street, Astoria, NY
(From midtown, taxi or N/Q Train outbound to 36th Avenue)

The Korea Society joins the newly renovated Museum of the Moving Image in presenting Hong Sang-soo’s entertaining Hahaha, a deceptively light romantic comedy, which won the Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2010.

A filmmaker on the skids plans to move to Canada to meet a film-critic friend. During a drinking session, they decide to share memories of trips they took to the same seaside town.

This special screening will take place in the new 267-seat theater at the Museum of the Moving Image at 35th Avenue & 37th Street in Astoria.

For more information, please visit www.koreasociety.org or www.movingimage.us.

About the Director:
Since winning Best New Director at the Asian Pacific Film Festival, Hong Sang-soo has emerged as a leading contemporary Korean director. Greatly influenced by French New Wave cinema, Hong’s work is unique among Korean filmmakers. He skillfully captures simple moments in life and crafts unforgettable scenes of human relationships and interaction. He won international recognition for The Power of Kangwon Province, Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Woman is the Future of Man, The Turning Gate, and Woman on the Beach.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Documentary Fortnight 2011: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media, running February 16 through 28 in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, celebrates its 10th anniversary with 20 feature-length documentary films representing 14 countries; two performance events; and thematic programs focusing on independently made contemporary Chinese documentaries and the legacy of New Day Films, the first distributor to be run by and for filmmakers.

Below is informaion about the documentaries related to Asia.

For the full festival screening schedule, click here.

2010, Japan/USA/South Korea
Directed by Kazuhiro Soda
U.S. premiere
Introductions and discussions with Soda
Thursday, February 17, 8:00. T1
Monday, February 21, 4:00. T2

Toshio Kashiwagi drives disabled and elderly people to appointments with his affordable taxi service. His wife, Hiroko Kashiwagi, is a professional caregiver who also runs a nonprofit home-helper agency for the elderly and disabled. While Hiroko visits 91-year-old cancer patient Shiro Hashimoto to help in his daily routines, her husband returns home to feed the hungry stray cats outside their door. As government funding for these services dwindle, the hungry stray cats encounter a "thief" and the elderly man recalls being drafted into WWII for the price of a postcard. In Japanese; English subtitles. 75 min.

The Warriors of Qiugang
China. 2010
Directed by Ruby Yang
New York premiere
Wednesday, February 23, 7:30
Thursday, February 24, 4:00. T2

This portrait of grassroots activism is a rare example of people speaking out against the abuses caused by corporate greed in modern China. When the house and fields of farmer Zhang Gongli, located near the banks of the Huai river in the village of Qiugang, were destroyed by pesticides, he filed a lawsuit against the private chemical factory adjoining his land. The film follows his community's efforts to get media support, solicit help from a local NGO, and bring their concerns to the attention of the national government. In Chinese; English subtitles. 39 min.

Screens with My Fancy High Heels below.

My Fancy High Heels
2010. Taiwan
Directed by Ho Chao-ti
U.S. premiere
Introductions and discussions with Ho Chao-ti

While filming a series of stories about clothing, the filmmaker discovered just how complicated the process of making a pair of shoes was. Her fascinating, surprising film follows the trail of shoes, from women in sophisticated high heels on Manhattan's streets to the manufacturers and young female assembly line workers in China who make them. In Chinese, English; English subtitles. 56 min.

I Wish I Knew
2010, China
Directed by Jia Zhangke
Thursday, February 24, 7:00. T2

18 people from Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong recall their lives in Shanghai from the 1930s to 2010. After the Chinese Communists‘ victory in 1949, thousands of Shanghainese left for Hong Kong and Taiwan. Leaving meant being separated form home for 30 years, remaining meant suffering through the Cultural Revolution and other Chinese political upheavals. In Chinese; English subtitles. 118 min.


Fortune Teller
2010. China
Directed by Xu Tong
Friday, February 18, 4 p.m.
Monday, February 21, 7:00. T2

The film's narrative is divided into sections with paired chapter headings, in the style of popular fiction during the Qing Dynasty. Li Baicheng is a charismatic traditional Chinese fortune-teller who lives in a village near Beijing with his deaf and mute wife Pearl, who he rescued from an abusive family. He cares for her while also telling the fortunes of his clients, most of whom are prostitutes. As the police crack down on both fortune-tellers and prostitutes, Li Baicheng and Pearl are forced to move to his hometown, where he is haunted by his family‘s past and China's history. In Chinese; English subtitles. 157 min.

2010, China
Directed by Xu Xin
New York Premiere
Introduction and discussion with Xu Xin.
Saturday, Feb 19, 1:30. T2

In December 1994 a fire broke out in the Karamay Friendship Theater in Urumqi, killing 323 people, 288 of whom were school children performing for a special event. Government officials were ushered out, while the children were locked inside. Interviewing over 60 people related to the victims and showing video footage shot at the time of the disaster, the film slowly unravels the details of the incident, and provides a platform for the families to speak and be heard. Denied an official public apology, many of the victim‘s family members have suffered their own physical and emotional trauma. In Chinese; English subtitles. 356 min.; 15 min. intermission. [Also an International Film Selection]

2009. China
Directed by Huang Weikai
Introduction and discussion with Huang
Friday, February 18, 7:15
Sunday, February 20, 2:00. T2

This portrait of Guangzhou is masterfully compiled from 1,000 hours of amateur footage shot by various cameramen. Huang interweaves scenes of traffic jams, accidents, floods, police violence, protestors, and lost, wandering souls into an epic look at urban life in China, a riveting black-and-white collage of apocalyptic imagery that's both unsettling and surreal. In Chinese; English subtitles. 58 min.

2010. China
Directed by Li Ning
Sunday, February 20, 5:00
Wednesday, February 23, 4:00. T2

Avant-garde dancer Li Ning documents five years of his struggle to balance life as a choreographer with a dance troupe of committed college students, and his responsibilities as a son, husband, and father. Li Ning‘s life becomes intertwined with the film and with his own obsessions; his life before the camera is driven and chaotic, a public platform and a confessional. Loosely chronological and rife with symbolism, the film is a riveting portrait of an artist‘s attempts at expression and conflicts with societal norms. In Chinese; English subtitles. 168 min.

ANPO: Art X War
2010. USA/Japan
Directed by Linda Hoaglund
Introduction and discussion with Hoaglund
New Day Program 2: Friday, February 25, 7:00. T2

ANPO refers to the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, which permits the continued presence of numerous U.S. military bases in Japan. In 1960, public resentment against the military presence erupted in massive popular demonstrations that were crushed by Japan‘s C.I.A.-backed Prime Minister Kishi. A wide range of Japanese artists depicted this resistance with a rich archive of art and films, including many large-scale paintings long hidden from public view. Contemporary artists continue to draw on their predecessors‘ legacy, depicting problems generated by the bases. Shot in high definition, the film reveals the extraordinary passion behind this wave of paintings, photographs, anime, and documentary and narrative films. In Japanese, English; English subtitles. 89 min.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ACF 887: Happy Birthday, Kelly Hu!

A talented and gorgeous actress, Kelly Hu was born February 13, 1968 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Of Chinese, Hawaiian, and English ancestry, she is a fourth generation American. The first Asian-American to be crowned Miss Teen USA (1985), she was also named Miss Hawaii in 1993. After a modeling stint in Japan and Italy, she moved to Hollywood and got her first big break in 1987 in the TV show Growing Pains.

She has since appeared in scads of television shows. I think I first became aware of her when she co-starred in Marshall Law (1998-200) with Sammo Hung. Most recently she had two stints on the hit CBS reboot of Hawaii Five-0, where she portrayed Laura Hills, an aide to the governor. (Here's hoping she'll be back in more episodes and hopefully have more to do, preferably helping the Five-0 team kick some bad-guy-butt.)

And of course, she's been in numerous films, including:

The Doors (1991)
The Scorpion King (2002)
Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
X2 (2003, a.k.a. X-Men 2: X-Men United)

Her work in action films benefited from her being a black belt in karate. She is also a very fine comedienne, as demonstrated in the unfortunately short-lived TV series In Case of Emergency (2007). Her next movie is Almost Perfect, which filmed (at least in part) in New York, and which has not yet been released.

So, best wishes for a wonderful birthday, Kelly, from Dr. G, one of your biggest fans.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ACF 886: February additions announced for the VIZ Manga App for the Apple iPad


Two Fun New Shojo Manga Debuts Complement
The Latest Updates To 13 Other Popular Series

VIZ Media has announced a variety of exciting new additions for the month of February for its digital library of manga (graphic novel) titles available from the VIZ MANGA APP for the Apple® iPad™ mobile device. Just launched is Matsuri Hino’s shojo fantasy fairytale, MERUPURI, while the supernatural adventure of NATSUME’S BOOK OF FRIENDS, by Yuki Midorikawa, launches on February 21st. The latest February update will also feature new additions to 13 other popular VIZ Media series currently available.

The VIZ MANGA APP is available for free through the iTunes Store and all manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the application for $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) per volume.

MERUPURI, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • Available Now!

All high school freshmen Airi Hoshina ever wanted was to someday live in a cozy home with a loving husband and find joy in the little things in life. As a result, she makes it her daily mission to get to school on time because school legend has it that the longer one's non-tardy streak is the better boyfriend one will find. But just when her daily routine is working like clockwork, an occurrence of fairytale proportions threatens to disrupt her grand plan.

NATSUME’S BOOK OF FRIENDS, Vol. 1 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens •
Available February 21st

Takashi Natsume can see the spirits and demons that hide from the rest of humanity. He has always been set apart from other people because of his gift, drifting from relative to relative, never fitting in. Now he's a troubled high school student who has come to live in the small town where his grandmother grew up. And there he discovers that he has inherited more than just the Sight from the mysterious Reiko.

Additional new manga volumes available by the end of February include:

D. GRAY MAN Vol. 4
NARUTO Vol. 14

The recently launched VIZ MANGA APP is the leading application to read Japanese manga on the iPad, with a downloadable library of the most popular manga series in the world. Readers are encouraged to check the app regularly, as new additions to the store and free Chapter 1 previews of other forthcoming manga series for the iPad are featured.

For more information on the VIZ MANGA APP, please visit www.VIZ.com/apps/.

Friday, February 11, 2011

ACF 885: Asia Society (NY) presents a tribute to Iranian filmmaker Jafar Pahahi

Image from The White Meadows

Asia Society presents a film series that honors the work of critically acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and highlights its global artistic and social significance. The series, which begins on February 25 and runs through March 11, includes three films Panahi directed, one film he edited, and a panel discussion exploring creative expression in Iran. Panahi has received international recognition for his work, garnering Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion, Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear, and Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or awards.

Even before he made international headlines for his recent affiliation with the Green Movement in Iran, Panahi was celebrated as one of the most influential cinematic voices in Iranian and world cinema. Panahi was recently sentenced to a six-year prison term and a twenty-year ban on filmmaking. The sentence is being appealed. (Read additional background following program schedule below.)

Panahi is known for his realistic and unflinching portrayal of contemporary Iranian life, treating his subjects, often women and people living on the margins of society, with deep humanism. Using non-professional actors to play characters very much like themselves, his films evoke a social urgency.

To view trailers and for more information on the series, visit http://asiasociety.org/jafarpanahi.

Tickets can be registered online and are available for pick-up on days of events. For more information, visit http://asiasociety.org/jafarpanahi or call (212) 517-ASIA.

This series is part of Creative Voices of Islam in Asia, a three-year initiative made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE (all films in Persian with English subtitles):

The White Meadows
Directed by Mohammad Rasoulof
Iran. 2009. 93min. 35mm.
Friday, February 25, 2011, 6:45 PM

In this dreamlike film, a boatman navigates the increasingly brackish waters around a coastal land, collecting the stories of heartaches and tears of its inhabitants. As he witnesses misguided attempts to appease the gods and make the land green again, whether by offering a bride to the sea or penalizing a painter who sees in different colors, the boatman remains powerless. The deeply poetic film is an allegory of intolerance, brutality and superstition. Film edited by Jafar Panahi. Director Rasoulof received a 6-year jail sentence along with Panahi. Both are appealing their sentences.

Film introduced by Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University.

Co-presented with Global Film Initiative.

Golden Seashell Award, San Sebastián International Film Festival
“A gorgeously wrought fable”-- Nick Schager, Slant Magazine
“a devastating but oblique critique of theocracy”—Henry Stewart, The L Magazine

Directed by Jafar Panahi
Iran. 2006. 93min. 35mm.
Saturday, February 26, 2011, 3:00 PM

Defying the law that prohibits women from attending sporting events, several Iranian young women disguise themselves as men to crash the qualifying game between Iran and Bahrain for the 2006 World Cup at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. Mostly shot in real time during the actual game and featuring non-professional actors, the film, at once comedy, political allegory and suspense, is an engaging tale about lively young women fighting for freedom.

Film introduced by Negar Mottahedeh, Associate Professor of Literature, Duke University.

Silver Bear Award, 2006 Berlin International Film Festival
“Eloquent, invigorating, tightly paced, and endlessly enjoyable”— Michael Koresky, indieWIRE
“The amateur ensemble cast and superb satire make this one of the best football films going.”-- Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

Panel Discussion: A Tribute to Jafar Panahi
and Creative Expression in Iran
Wednesday, March 2, 2011, 6:45 PM

The panel highlights the cinematic achievement of filmmaker Jafar Panahi and explores the current state of creative expression in Iran.

Speakers include: Hamid Dabashi (Columbia University—Moderator), Hadi Ghaemi (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran), Negar Mottahedeh (Duke University), Richard Peña (Film Society of Lincoln Center/Columbia University).

Crimson Gold
Directed by Jafar Panahi
Iran. 2003. 95min. 35mm.
Friday, March 4, 2011, 6:45 PM

Hussein, a pizza delivery man and Iran-Iraq war veteran, rides his motorcycle in Tehran to deliver orders. His job takes him to wealthy homes where he witnesses firsthand the life of the privileged. This day-to-day experience leaves him feeling invisible and humiliated. Circumstances lead to a violent robbery in a jewelry store, where Hussein takes on a final destructive path. Starring a real-life pizza delivery man, Crimson Gold takes a sharp look at economic disparity in a society where unrest is always waiting to explode. The screenplay, written by Abbas Kiarostami, is based on an actual event.

Film introduced by Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University.

Un Certain Regard Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival
“[Crimson Gold] exposes the cruelties and inequities of a society sharply polarized by class and corrupted by selfishness, snobbery and cynicism.”—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“brilliantly combines unpretentious humanism and impeccable formal values.” – J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

The Circle
Directed by Jafar Panahi
Iran. 2000. 91min. 35mm.
Friday, March 11, 2011, 6:45 PM

Several women, each having spent time in jail, find themselves in the punishing bustle of Tehran. One woman tries to return home but cannot get on a bus unaccompanied by a close male relative. Another woman seeking an abortion is threatened with violence. Others take desperate measures to find money. All are trapped in a circle of fate for women living in an oppressive society, whether in or out of jail.

Film introduced by Negar Mottahedeh, Associate Professor of Literature, Duke University.

Golden Lion Award, Venice Film Festival
“daring, despairing, beautiful work”—Richard Corliss, Time Magazine
“a stinging, tautly structured indictment of Iranian society told through its women’s eyes.”—Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe

About Jafar Panahi:

Jafar Panahi
, born on July 11, 1960 in Mianeh, Iran, is one of the most influential filmmakers in Iran. After studying film directing at the College of Cinema and Television in Tehran, Panahi made several films for Iranian television and was the assistant director of Abbas Kiarostami's film Through the Olive Trees (1994). He has directed several films and won numerous awards in international film festivals such as the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

One of Iran’s most celebrated filmmakers, Panahi is known for his realistic portrayal of contemporary Iranian life. Whether he is depicting women struggling in an oppressive environment or people living on the margins of society, Panahi treats his subjects with a deep sense of humanism and compassion. Often using non-professional actors to play characters very much like themselves, his films evoke a social urgency. Feature films that Panahi has directed include Offside (2006), Crimson Gold (2003), The Circle (2000), The Mirror (1997), and The White Balloon (1995). Panahi has also worked as writer and editor for other directors’ films.

Panahi is a supporter of Iran’s Green Movement that took shape in demonstrations in June 2009 following the disputed national elections. In late July the same year, Panahi was arrested after visiting the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young woman who was shot to death during a protest. He was released 8 hours later following intense media coverage. A month later, he travelled to Montreal to serve as jury president of the World Film Festival, appearing in a green scarf on the opening night.

In February 2010, Panahi was prohibited from travelling to the Berlin Film Festival to participate in a panel about Iranian cinema. In March 2010, he was taken from his home along with his wife, daughter and 15 guests, including filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof (The White Meadows). Most were released in 2 days. Rasoulof was released in 16 days, while Panahi remained in detention. The Iranian government claimed that Panahi was arrested for making a film about post-election events against the regime, a claim denied by Panahi’s family.

The Iranian film community called for his immediate release. The international film community followed by signing a petition in April 2010. Signers included Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Ang Lee, Michael Moore, Martin Scorsese, Federation of European Film Directors, Berlin Film Festival, Toronto Film Critics Association, among many others. Panahi was named a member of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival 2010 but was unable to attend due to the imprisonment. In May 2010, Panahi started a hunger strike in prison. He was released on $200,000 bail a week later.

On December 20, 2010 after being prosecuted for “assembly and colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” Panahi was handed a 6-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making films, writing, granting interviews, and traveling overseas. Film director Rasoulof also received a 6-year jail sentence. Both are appealing their sentences.