The New York Asian Film Festival, now in its 14th year, has released the complete lineup for its 2015 edition, which will take place from June 26 – July 11 in NYC.
In addition to featuring a special program focusing on pioneering female directors and producers in Korean cinema, the festival’s press notes promise that a number of films being screened will “offer superb female portraits: defiant, fierce… free.” These portraits of complex Asian female characters will help fill a very serious void: only 4% of all female characters in the top 100 grossing films of 2014 were Asian. (When was the last time you remember seeing a film with a female — or for that matter, male — Asian protagonist?)
Diverse movies make more money, but as Darnell Hunt, director of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, told the Women’s Media Center, “The powers-that-be will often compromise on profits and compromise the overall good of the company simply to maintain their positions. They also will come up with all kinds of nonsense. They’ll say, ‘The market determines the market’ … They’ll say, ‘Films with diverse characters don’t sell overseas’ … Look at ‘Furious 7.’ It’s made [more than $1 billion globally] in its first two weeks. It has an Asian director; a majority of its characters are not white.”
The NYAFF will also screen several works by female Asian directors. Emily Ting’s “It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong” will play at the festival fresh off its run at the Los Angeles Film Festival. In an interview with Women and Hollywood, Ting explained what inspired her to write and direct the film, which marks her feature narrative debut: “I had lived in Hong Kong for five years as an expat prior to moving back to the US. As much as I found the city exciting and gorgeous, I never quite felt at home there. I found it quite hard to connect to people for some reason. I’ve always wanted to make a film about two people connecting in this occasionally alienating city and build a love story around that.”
Other woman-helmed highlights from the lineup include Boo Ji-Young’s “Cart,” an empowering story about female employees who challenge a powerful corporation, and Lu Yang’s “Brotherhood of Blades,” a violent and action-packed epic set in 1627.
For more information on tickets and dates, visit the NYAFF’s site. Check out all of the women-directed films screening at the festival below. Plot summaries are courtesy of the Film Society Lincoln Center unless otherwise noted.
Boo Ji-young | 2014 | DCP | 103 mins
Q&A with Boo Ji-young and producer Shim Jae-myung
In this pro-union flick, the 99% rise up after a bunch of female employees at a chain retail giant (think Wal-Mart) get laid off via text message. When they decide to go on strike, management calls in the thugs…
It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong
Emily Ting | 2014 | DCP | 78 mins
Q&A with Emily Ting, Jamie Chung, and Bryan Greenberg
This compelling walk and talk romance à la Richard Linklater, centered on two Hong Kong expats who randomly cross paths one night, is as much about the attraction between the leads as it is about the love of Hong Kong.
The Last Reel
Kulikar Sotho | 2014 | DCP | 106 mins
This engaging drama about a rebellious Cambodian girl determined to shoot the missing ending of a 40-year-old movie starring her mother is a meditation on Cambodia’s past and present, and the power of art.
Kiki Sugino | 2014 | DCP | 97 mins
North American Premiere
Two couples find their needs and desires driving them further apart in this erotic and melancholy drama set in Bali.
Yim Soon-rye | 2001 | 35mm | 109 mins
Introduction by Yim Soon-rye
In this modern Korean classic, a failed cover band returns to the lead guitarist’s hometown to try to get a fresh start, but the past, women, booze, and drugs threaten to break them apart.
Yim Soon-rye | 2014 | DCP | 113 mins
North American Premiere
Q&A with Yim Soon-rye
The All The President’s Men of bioresearch, Yim Soon-Rye (one of Korea’s few female directors) turns in a sharply suspenseful powerhouse thriller based on the true story of one of the biggest scientific frauds of the 21st century.
Brotherhood of Blades
Lu Yang | 2014 | 106 mins
A one-in-a -million wu xia movie with all the reach, and none of the extravagance, of the biggest epics, Brotherhood of Blades leaves behind the genre’s flying swordsmen, weightless fantasy wirework, and dull speeches about brotherhood to deliver magnificent period action, drama and characters that are swayed by cold cash and slain by cold steel rather than honor and the hard line of duty. Rich in historical detail, brutal in its depiction of violence, this dark blockbuster demands to be seen on the big screen. (New York Asian Film Festival)