14th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival – Asian Showcase! All on April 29th.
The Asian Showcase will feature the Regional Premieres of Key of Life as the Japanese Spotlight, A Werewolf Boy as the Korean Spotlight, and One Mile Above as the Chinese Spotlight.
Key of Life is a highly comedic tale of a down-and-out actor who decides to take over someone else’s life — only to find himself filling the shoes of an elite assassin.
The mega-blockbuster from Korea, A Werewolf Boy, follows an elderly South Korean woman as she reflects on the time when her family took in a feral boy whose fierce loyalty resulted in a painful sacrifice. The film stars, Song Joong-Ki, Park Bo-young, and Yoo Yeon-seok.
The multi-award winning film, One Mile Above, is the inspiring and true tale of a young man who picks up his late brother’s challenge of cycling to the highest point in Tibet. The emotional power of the film is matched by the stunning beauty of the Tibetan landscape.
7:15 p.m. – Key of Life (Kagi-Dorobo no Method) (2012, Japan, 128 min)
7:30 p.m. – A Werewolf Boy (Neuk-dae-so-nyeon) (2012, Korea, 122 min)
8:00 p.m. – One Mile Above (Kora) (2012, China, 90 min)
10:00 p.m. – Post Screening Gala (Fashion Island, Newport Beach)
Perhaps one of the foremost scholars on Japanese Cinema, Donald Richie passed away at 88. He was one of the early proponents of Kurosawa outside of Japan. (NY Times – Donald Richie)
Two westerners make a film in North Korea called Comrade Kim Goes Flying. Is it important? Are restrictions loosening? The film has to be a piece of crap, since the film has to be positive in light about North Korea, but at the same time how did this happen? It’s approved by the State, and it has no distribution and not much information. (LA Times – Comrade Kim)
Kim Ki-duk went from being a blue collar type guy with an average hair cut and a penchant for the ladies to now being a pony tailed hipster. What a difference a few years makes. His film Pieta just won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, but with some controversy. Evidently, the PT Anderson film was supposed to win, but because there’s a rule of winning more than two awards, the jury had to go back. (Nation – Kim Ki-duk)
I’ve seen most of the films on this list, and what strikes me the most is how not one filmmaker can have two films in it. I’d think Zhang Yimou could easily have more than a single film in it, same with Chen Kaige and since it’s dipping into Hong Kong, how about another Wong Kar Wei film? Although they take on another tone, not one John Woo film which revolutionized action films? Drunken Master? Once Upon a Time in China? The list is ambitious in idea, but overall, this should just be a top 20, or don’t bother including Hong Kong and Taiwan. They could easily have their own lists. (whatsonxiamen – Top 10)
Wong Kar Wai, the international festival hero is on the Jury for the Berlin Film Festival which takes place next year. Get your plane tickets, book the hotels, he’ll be in the house. His choices of films should be interesting. His “The Grandmasters” film, scheduled to shoot in July, is a question mark. (indiewire – Wong Kar Wei)
The act of adopting Chinese female babies has now crested to a point where the kids are becoming adults. I’m not sure when it all began, but surely it was after the One Child Policy in 1980 when families were allowed only one child making a boy was more desirable. What happens to a couple “needing” a boy and they give birth to a female? What if the female was born with a birth defect? Adoption. Somewhere Between is a documentary by Linda Goldstein Knowlton, who adopted her own daughter from China. She captures the lives of four Chinese adoptees living in America. Each are at a time where they’re interested in figuring out who they are. They’re all in their early teens and their time to do something becomes immediate.
Fang “Jenni” Lee is sure she’s from an ethnic minority and doesn’t know her background which will remain a mystery. She lives in Berkeley and her family is getting a divorce which affects her since her past is reliving itself in a way. While traveling back to China, she meets a child with Cerebral Palsy and needs help. She works with the child, and helps her and it becomes a story in itself. Jenna is a great student and actually volunteers time at the orphanage she comes from. Her story will unravel at a later date. Ann Boccuti seems like she’s fine with her life. She’s like any other white girl but she travels to Europe to meet other adoptees along with another “cast” member, Haley, and it pushes them to figure out their pasts. It appears that the kids shot their own camera that’s a bit shaky and lo-fi, but it captures what I’d think they’re seeing perfectly. It was perhaps some of the most important footage of the project.
Ann and Haley
The cameras focuses for a segment on the ultra religious, Haley as she goes on a search for her birth parents. The most touching and telling part of the entire tale happens when she travels back to China and posts signs in her local town. It’s minutes later when a man comes up to claim her as her father. At first you might be unsure as to how legitimate he is. Is he seeking camera time? Support? Or is he real? They do a DNA swab and Haley returns to the States. It all seems too easy.
The man turns out to be her father and Haley and her parents elect to go back to China to hear the entire story of her past. She meets her birth mother, father, sisters, and brother. You can see it in his eyes, which the camera captures without any special flare. The father loves her and explains his efforts to get her back when she was put up for adoption by her mother. Sad times and it’s obvious he’s broken by it.
See Somewhere Between by finding dates on their website.
It won Oscars, so why not make a samurai version in Japan? The premise is already hilarious. It’s similar in time, 1880, but the ousted samurai lives with the aboriginal people of Japan – the Ainu who are in small numbers in Northern Japan. The film, A Thing That Can’t Be Forgiven, will be directed by Lee Sang-Il, a Japanese director of Korean descent. Unforgiven was directed by Clint Eastwood.
The last film they showed was the classic 1948 film, The Bicycle Thief. A great tribute to cinema and the owner of the house took is personally.
“After the movie ended, Kim Eun-ju, the theater operator, had her head shaved before moviegoers and reporters packing the theater hall. Several volunteer theater workers cried and embraced Kim after most of her hair was gone, shouting, “Stop it! Stop it!”" (The Republic – Kim Eun-ju)
The theater is scheduled to become a hotel.
Her name is Kailyn Leeb. I wonder who gets to play the role of the cab driver? She’s an upgrade from the first Total Recall. The things that lack of oxygen can do to people…
That’s Prashant Bhargava who won Best Feature at the Hawaii International Film Festival. (HIFF – Day 3) Yes I voted for it.
Los Angeles opening on July 20!
Here’s some videos below. One is an interview with Prashant Bhargava and a trailer.
Jon Moritsugu’s latest happenings. It’s a film contest. While the world cleans up and makes sharp videos. Jon won’t hesitate to go dirty. Click a “like” if you like it. It’s 45 seconds and it’s about a film production nightmare. If you don’t know him, Jon Moritsugu is the underground film king. He makes films to his own liking, literally, and he’s one of the best in his genre. I’ve known Jon for ages, and he’s almost always left out of any Asian American cinema conversation.