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)
A film about Albert Reyes by Brian Miller.
‘Reyes of El Sereno’ is the first in a series of short films Brian Miller is making about the folkart of backyard haunts, winding path “mazes”, and DIY haunted houses. The first installment focuses on local artist Albert Reyes and the elaborate haunted house he has been working on in his backyard for over a decade. This video portrait takes the viewer on a trip to Albert’s hometown, his work studio, and of course through the haunted house itself.
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)
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.
Ai Weiwei might be the most famous living artist today. Surely he’s a controversial figure, at least from the eyes of China and while he produces work from museum exhibitions around the world, he’s continuously persecuted. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry captures the history of Ai Weiwei, from his days in New York City, to his rise as a media and art star. The film captures both sides of him. His work, which also melds into his Tweeting and documenting his own persecution. Director Alison Klayman captures numerous great moments, from the opening shots of Ai Weiwei’s cats to his detention and release.
GR: It’s obvious Ai Weiwei wants to be on camera. I’m sure many wanted to make a documentary. I’m wondering how did you get to the top of the list?
AK: Well, I really lucked out because I was already living in China for a couple of years so by the time that I first met him I was based in Beijing, I was able to speak and work in Mandarin. And my roommate was curating an exhibition of his photographs for a local gallery. She asked if I wanted to make a video for the exhibition so that was how I met him. I was sort of handed not only the introduction, but sort of the responsibility of filming him and so there was never any kind of approach, really. It was essentially something that I came to very organically and I luckily I pursued it and he let me be around. And he liked the video I made for the exhibition so things kind of progressed from there.
GR: There have been other documentaries of some sort. Were those done concurrently while you began filming. I think you started filming 4 years ago?
AK: Yeah, I started filming at the end of 2008. There was a BBC Imagine, sort of an hour long piece that was really about him but it was about his Tate Modern exhibition. They sort of came around the end of summer of 2010 and was on air by November. They kind of came through. There was also a half hour show. There was also something done for German art television. But again, I think the nature of my project was so different from something like that. They’re all good, there’s a lot of movies that can be made about Ai Weiwei but I think mine is — my sort of thought as really a longitudinal project. I just wanted to be around to see what happened, I didn’t have an outline when I began and I really wanted to get it as personal as I could to really see what he’s like.
This should be a great doc.
Straight from the director:
“Most people know George Takei as Mr. Sulu, the helmsman from the original STAR TREK television show and movies. Fewer people know that George was imprisoned for four years during his childhood in a Japanese American internment camp. In his activism, he equates the experience of Japanese Americans during WWII with the civil rights struggles that LGBT people face today. In 2005, after a lifetime of being “closeted” George “came out” publicly so that he could participate in the struggle for marriage equality.
The film chronicles George’s rise to fame, and how he went from a STAR TREK celebrity to becoming an active voice in civil rights. George’s personal struggles with keeping his homosexuality a secret are recounted. But, it was ultimately George’s priority and commitment to civil rights that compelled him to “come out” at age 68. Prompted by California’s struggle for marriage equality, George used this opportunity to advocate for the cause by publicly announcing himself as a gay man in the media, and in 2008, he legally married his male partner of 25 years, Brad Altman.” (Treknews – George Takei)
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.
Just read this line: “The film stars current Hong Kong martial arts superstar Donnie Yen, LUST, CAUTION’S Tang Wei, and Japanese/Taiwanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro. The film is very much an ode to classic kung fu films and one can tell that Chan is a huge fan, employing the likes of cult heroes Kara Hui and the incomparable Jimmy Wang Yu (THE ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN).”
It’s also directed by Peter Chan. It’s a film starring young legends of the screen who are still bright and energetic. It’s showing Monday. Yes, a monday May 14th at 9:30pm at CGV Cinemas. (LAAPFF – Dragon)