Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror lined up for New York Asian Film Festival

The Clone Returns Home (Japan, 2009)Subway Cinema has announced a slate of interesting science fiction, fantasy, and horror films for their eight annual New York Asian Film Festival, which is scheduled to run from June 19 through July 5 at the IFC Center in New York. Genre titles include:

  •  THE FORBIDDEN DOOR (”Like a 19th century gothic novel adapted by Alfred Hitchcock and directed by David Lynch”)
  • 20TH CENTURY BOYS and 20TH CENTURY BOYS: CHAPTER TWO – THE LAST HOPE (”like Stephen King’s IT crossed with a giant robot movie”)
  • THE CLONE RETURNS HOME (”it’s been compared to Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS, and they ain’t all wrong”)
  • K-20: LEGEND OF THE MASK (”in an alternate future Japan full of airships and antique cars, this is the kind of superhero movie you’d get if the world was stuck at the turn of the century”)
  • MONSTER X STRIKES BACK: ATTACK THE G8 SUMMIT (remake/sequel to 1967’s THE X FROM OUTER SPACE featuring the hideous space chicken, Guilala, from Minoru Kawasaki [THE CALAMARI WRESTLER])
  • WHEN THE FULL MOON RISES (ersatz recreation of a “lost” Malaysian film full of “secret communist cults, werewolves, were-tigers, ghosts, private eyes, midgets and eerie secrets it’s so deadpan you don’t know if you should be laughing or crying”)
  • DREAM (”surreal, dark fantasy about two people who find that their dreams are connected”)

Below is a press release announcing the opening night, closing night, and centerpiece presentations:

OPENING NIGHT FILM
The World Premiere of WRITTEN BY(Hong Kong, 2009). Directed by Wai Ka-fai. Starring: Lau Ching-wan, Kelly Lin, Mia Yan.

The man behind Johnnie To is, of course, Wai Ka-fai, the writer of almost every single film from Johnnie To and Milkyway Image, Wai Ka-fai also co-directed several of the best movies from Milkyway including RUNNING ON KARMA, FULLTIME KILLER and MAD DETECTIVE. As Johnnie To says about him, “In our company, he is the creative driving force. Wherever he goes, we follow.” Lau Ching-wan and Wai Ka-fai first worked together as writer/director and actor on the fractured gangster flick TOO MANY WAYS TO BE NO. 1 back in 1997 and now, 12 years later, they’re back for the equally experimental WRITTEN BY a movie that can best be described as a Hong Kong melodrama whose back has been broken by Charlie Kaufman.

Lau Ching-wan plays a lawyer who dies in a car wreck, leaving behind his wife and daughter. To console herself, his daughter writes a novel wherein she and her mother have died in a car wreck but her father has survived. To her surprise, the character of her father in her book decides that HE needs to write a novel to console himself and in his novel he has died but his wife and daughter have lived…and on and on in an endlessly recursive loop as wounded characters desperately apply fiction to try and dull the sharp edges of their grief.

We’re incredibly proud to host Wai Ka-fai and Lau Ching-wan at the New York
Asian Film Festival this year, and special thanks to Chinastar, the film’s distributor, for making this happen.
- interviews with Wai Ka-fai and Lau Ching-wan are available.

CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION
The World Premiere of VAMPIRE GIRL VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL (Japan, 2009). Directed by: Yoshihiro Nishimura & Naoyuki Tomomatsu. Starring: Yukie Kawamura, Takumi Saitoh, Elly Otoguro, and Kanji Tsuda, with a special appearance by TOKYO GORE POLICE’s Eihi Shiina

Last year, special effects genius Yoshihiro Nishimura directed TOKYO GORE POLICE and people sat up and noticed. Now he returns with VAMPIRE GIRL VERSUS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL a movie that makes TGP look sedate by comparison. Nishimura makes his home in the world of low budget movies but his imagination and style aren¹t limited by the cash on hand and any movie he touches bears his distinctive stamp: high pressure blood spray, human bodies mutated beyond recognition and a gore-drunk celebration of the new flesh.Part of a loose cabal of collaborators that includes Sion Sono and Takeshi Shimizu (JU-ON), Nishimura directs like a David Cronenberg who grew up on exploitation cinema and comic books rather than European arthouse cinema. Embracing the Japanese special effects aesthetic that never seems to mind if a zipper is showing on the back of a monster suit as long as the overall impact of the effect is big enough, Nishimura’s movies are one part high school theater, one part avalanche of mutated flesh and one part grand guignol.

As for the film itself, the title says it all. It’s a duel to the death between schoolgirl vampires, reanimated corpses and a Dr. Frankenstein who teaches science and has a lab underneath the gym. The freaky touch of co-director Tomomatsu (ZOMBIE SELF DEFENSE FORCE, STACY, EAT THE SCHOOLGIRL) is also not to be underestimated and the movie is filled with bizarro send-ups of Japanese culture, Chinese culture and the shallow Japanese
obsession with African American culture (culminating in a truly jaw-dropping scene of prosthetic-wearing black students chanting “Yes We Can!” before a track meet, that’s guaranteed to spark walk-outs).

We’re incredibly proud to host director Yoshihiro Nishimura, the film’s action choreographer Tak Sakaguchi and its visual effects supervisor Tsuyoshi Kazuno.
- interviews with Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi and Tsuyoshi Kazuno are
available.

CLOSING NIGHT FILM
The World Premiere of BE SURE TO SHARE (2009, Japan). Directed by: Sion Sono. Starring: Akira, Eiji Okuda

Sion Sono is best known as a cinematic provocateur who first came to Western attention when he had 54 schoolgirls leap to their deaths in front of a train to kick off his 2002 film, SUICIDE CLUB, with a big, red splat. Since then he¹s kept up his reputation with movies like EXTE, about killer hair extensions and, now, with his four hour exploitation extravaganza, LOVE EXPOSURE, about God, religion, the Virgin Mary, upskirt photography, martial arts, sex and porn (also screening in this year’s festival). But what you don’t know is that he’s equally well known in Japan as a poet and that softer side of his personality gets exposed in BE SURE TO SHARE. Featuring pop star Akira from the band EXILE in one of his first motion picture performances, you’d think this would be nothing more than a disposable flick for EXILE fans, but Sono transforms this film into a quiet meditation on death and the relationship between fathers and sons. Director and actor Eiji Okuda plays a tough-as-nails father who makes the Great Santini look like a wimp. Now, diagnosed with cancer he’s trapped in the hospital and his wife and son (Akira) spend their days visiting and trying to keep his spirits up. Just when it looks like he’s about to recover, Akira finds out that he has cancer too, and that his father may out-live him. Determined not to worry anyone, he keeps it to himself and vows that he’ll beat his disease.

Jumping backwards and forwards in time, BE SURE TO SHARE isn’t an easy-to-swallow melodrama about fathers and sons. Sono opens the film up and makes it an essay, colored with regret, about how we’re constantly running after each other, and never catching up. About the small things we do every day without thinking about them and how these tiny, insignificant moments ultimately make up our lives. We’d say it will break your heart, but Sono might object to such an easy sentiment. So how about this: by the time this movie is over, you¹ll feel like your chest has been cracked in two.

We’re very proud to welcome Sion Sono and star Eiji Okuda as our guests at this year’s festival. Co-presented with Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film

About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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