New York Asian Film Festival to Screen Thirteen Japanese Titles

New York Asian Film Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary from June 22 through July 5 at the Film Society at Lincoln Center and July 6 through July 9 at SVA Theatre. Of the 51 films to be screened, 13 are from Japan, including the world premiere of the Opening Night gala title Twisted Justice, directed by Kazuya Shiraishi and starring Go Ayano, who will receive NYAFF’s International Rising Star Asia Award.

NYAFF Films from Japan

All About Lily Chou-Chou (dir. Iwai Shunji, 2001)
A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (dir. Iwai Shunji, 2016)
Creepy (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)
Hentai Kamen 2: The Abnormal Crisis (dir. Yuichi Fukuda, 2016)
If Cats Disappeared from the World (dir. Akira Nagai, 2016)
Kiyamachi Daruma (dir. Hideo Sakaki, 2015)
Miss Hokusai (dir. Keiichi Hara, 2015)
Swallowtail Butterfly (dir. Iwai Shunji, 1996)
Tekkonkinkreet (dir. Michael Arias, 2006)
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989)
Too Young to Die! (dir. Kankuro Kudo, 2016)
Twisted Justice (dir. Kazuya Shiraishi, 2016)
What a Wonderful Family! (Yoji Yamada, 2016)

Co-hosted by Subway Cinema and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, NYAFF will also present Iwai Shunji with the Lifetime Achievement Award, making him the first Japanese recipient in the festival’s 15-year history. Three of Iwai’s three cinematic epics – Swallowtail Butterfly (1996), All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001), and A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016), also starring Ayano – will screen during the festival’s opening weekend. Iwai has proven himself one of Asia’s most influential filmmakers since his mid-1990s Undo, Picnic, and Love Letter. He is recognized for capturing the spirit of the times and stretching the cinematic language of Asian cinema. Despite his early successes, he has continued to reinvent himself, recently directing his first animated feature.

Ayano, Japan’s hottest actor of 2016, is being recognized for his chameleon-like range. He stars in two of the festival’s key films, Twisted Justice and A Bride for Rip Van Winkle.

Special screenings also include a Founding Fathers Tribute, a focus on the favorite films of the festival’s programmers, including Michael Arias’s madcap animated feature Tekkonkinkreet to Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man.

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

© 2016 TWISTED JUSTICE Film Partners

Opening Night Gala
Twisted Justice
Kazuya Shiraishi, 2016
World Premiere
Wednesday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. (with an appearance by Kazuya Shiraishi and Yoshinori Chiba)
Tuesday, June 28 at 6:00 p.m. (Q&A with Go Ayano, who will receive a Screen International Rising Star Asia Award)
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

Taking his inspiration from the biggest scandal in Japan’s police history, Kazuya Shiraishi has created a massive and sinister crime epic about the grand forces of corruption that brings to mind the best of Kinji Fukasaku’s yakuza movies (​Cops vs. Thugs ​among others). Starting in 1970s Hokkaido like a nervous Japanese Starsky & Hutch–​chan​, the film charts the moral descent of Detective Moroboshi (Go Ayano) over three decades. Green in years but already hard-grained and ready to play rough, the young cop quickly gets a bit too cozy with the other side of the law when his senior colleague Murai (Pierre Taki) teaches him the ropes and ruts of the police business. Soon, he swaggers and rants through the streets of Sapporo, a lean, mean, sex-crazy bully, indistinguishable from a yakuza. Burning with the same blaze as the hard-boiled classics of yore, ​Twisted Justice​ scorches away the sleekness and macho self-congratulation of the genre. ​

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

“IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD”
© 2016 TOHO CO., LTD. / Hakuhodo DY Media Partners Inc. /
Shogakukan Inc. / AMUSE INC. / CROSS COMPANY INC. /
Magazine House Co., Ltd. / Lawson HMV Entertainment , Inc. /
Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. / KDDI CORPORATION /
GYAO Corporation / NIPPON SHUPPAN HANBAI INC.

If Cats Disappeared from the World
Akira Nagai, 2016
North American Premiere
Friday, June 24 at 4:00 p.m.
Monday, June 27 at 9:00 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

A thirtysomething postman (Takeru Sato) who can’t get rid of a stubborn cold goes to the doctor only to find out he is dying from a brain tumor. Stumbling home, where he lives alone with his beloved cat, he is shocked to meet a man (Sato again) who looks exactly like himself. Claiming to be the devil, the stranger offers to extend the postman’s life by one day for every thing he chooses to erase from the world. So begins a bizarre week spent in a world without phones, movies, and clocks… And as these mundane objects disappear, they spark memories of the past, and reveal the deeper connections between the everyday items we take for granted and the moments that make us human. The postman seeks out people from his past, including his ex-girlfriend (Aoi Miyazaki), as he retraces these threads. Like the best of Murakami, the film is about dying, the connections we make in life, cute cats, and letting go.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

© 2016 A Bride for Rip Van Winkle Film Partners

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle
Iwai Shunji, 2016
New York Premiere
Friday, June 24, 6:15 p.m. (Iwai Shunji receive the Lifetime Achievement Award)
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

How far would you go for human connection or love? Iwai Shunji’s latest masterwork probes at these questions – themes of modern isolation and technological (dis)connection that he has explored throughout his career. Unassuming and a bit aimless, Nanami (a marvelous and subtly complex Haru Kuroki) has no friends and only connects via social networks and online chats. She can’t even get respect from her students, who tease her relentlessly. We first meet her on a blind date with Tetsuya (Go Jibiki), and when things go well in the relationship they decide to get married. With no one to invite to the wedding and embarrassed by her divorced parents, Nanami turns to the online all-around fixer Amuro (Go Ayano) – half Sganarelle, half Mephistopheles – for help. For a large fee, he fills her wedding with actors and strangers, and Nanami’s fall from grace begins . . . Mysteries unfold slowly and suspensefully in this film that invites us to lend its broken, moorless characters not just our pity, but our love. ​


20th Anniversary Screening
Swallowtail Butterfly
Iwai Shunji, Japan, 1996, 35mm, 147m
Saturday, June 25, 2:45pm (Q&A with Iwai Shunji)
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

Occupying pretty much the same cultural territory in Japan that Pulp Fiction occupies in America, Iwai Shunji’s Swallowtail Butterfly is a seismic shockwave of sci‐fi cool that exploded onto the Japanese film scene and electrified a generation. Near‐future sci‐fi shot with handheld cameras and edited to a twitchy rhythm, Swallowtail Butterfly posits an alternate history where an economically flush Japan has attracted millions of immigrants who live in the Yentown ghettos, working on the margins, always on the hustle, trying to score that yen. Pop star Chara plays, well, a pop star who achieves fame when her Yentown comrades co-opt a Yakuza cash scam and become rich enough to open a nightclub and release albums. Fueled by composer Takeshi Kobayashi’s exuberantly moody J-pop soundtrack, the violent, propulsive, sexy film sheds ideas at the speed of light about identity, ethnicity, and how money builds and how it destroys. Seeing it today is like re-reading your high school diary: The way it wears its heart on its sleeve can be cringe-inducing, but you have to admire its willingness to lay it all on the line.

You watch ​ Swallowtail​ Butterfly​ in awe and wish that today’s filmmakers had this kind of courage, which you can have only when you’re young and in love with film.

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

Testuo: The Iron Man

NYAFF 15th Anniversary Screening
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan, 1989, DCP, 67m
Saturday, June 25, 11:00 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

NYAFF organizers are using their 15th Anniversary as an excuse to screen a 27‐year‐old film they’ve never shown before, but since when did they follow any rules? This hard‐rocking audio‐visual bullet to the brain puts the punk in cyberpunk and they have wanted to show it for years – so why not now? Shinya Tsukamoto’s black‐and‐white, pulsing, heavy‐metal nightmare is about a man who is driven insane with pleasure when he sticks a piece of metal into his leg, and a salaryman who wakes up with metal spikes growing out of his cheek. From there on it’s all swooning lo‐fi cinematography, drill penises, and some of the most nightmarish imagery ever put on film. It was unlike anything that had ever come out of Japan, and upon its release, Tetsuo wiped the floor with all other Japanese movies, spawned two sequels, and made Tsukamoto one of world cinema’s biggest stars. NYAFF says it’s like David Lynch’s Eraserhead remade by David Cronenberg, but that doesn’t even begin to describe the high weirdness this movie will cause to explode out of your brain like a biomechanical orgasm.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

©2016 “What a Wonderful Family!” Film Partners

What a Wonderful Family!
Yoji Yamada, 2016
U.S. Premiere
Sunday, June 26, 12:00 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

After over 20 years, Yoji Yamada returns to comedy with brisk energy and exhilarating grace and chooses to show the distress of a family in all its dysfunctional glory. Not exactly a concept you would expect genuine laughs from, but the lighthearted sense of humor elevates the film above any melodramatic mush and turns it into one of the best comedies of the year. Enjoying the comfort of a hard‐earned retirement, which he spends golfing and boozing himself up at the local hostess bar, Japanese patriarch (sort of) Shuzo (Isao Hashizume) understandably has a bit of a shock when Tomiko (Kazuko Yoshiyuki), his dutiful wife of 50 years, decides she’s actually mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore – which in Japanese means she politely hands him the paperwork for a divorce. As family‐wide panic sets in, their three adult children are forced to deal with their own relationship hang‐ups and intergenerational (mis)communication.


All About Lily Chou‐Chou
Iwai Shunji, 2001
Sunday, June 26 at 2:15 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

Iwai Shunji’s ode to the wanton cruelty of youth, alienation, technology, and the ethereal power of music is just as powerful today as it was when it burst onto the scene at the dawn of the new century, winning prizes at the 2002 Berlin and Shanghai Film Festivals. The film, which meanders through the ever-shifting relationships of high school children who are casually cruel to one another, focuses on Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara), a shy teen who is first glimpsed standing in a rice field vibing the the titular pop star’s music while Internet chat room messages cover the screen. The withdrawn Yuichi doesn’t have many friends, but he does have his love of Lily Chou-Chou, a pop star with a cult-like group of followers who find sanctuary in her music. Yuichi’s apathy for his old friend Shusuke (Shugo Oshinari) turns to viciousness after an incident on summer vacation stirs up a slow-building storm of violence, tribalism, teenage prostitution, rape, theft, and bullying. Beautiful cinematography, remarkable performances by a young cast, and a haunting score all serve Iwai’s successful attempt at capturing the feeling of being a teenager. ​

Presented with the support of the Japan Foundation New York.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

TEKKONKINKREET © 2006 Taiyo Matsumoto/Shogakukan, Aniplex, Asmik Ace, Beyond C, dentsu, TOKYO MX. All Rights Reserved.

10th Anniversary Screening
Tekkonkinkreet
Michael Arias, 2006
Sunday, June 26, 5:15pm (Appearance by Michael Arias)
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

Celebrating its 10‐year anniversary, Michael Arias’s adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto’s Tekkonkinkreet manga is an exquisitely animated action film. Deep in Treasure Town, the tough, violent Black and the far more innocent White are orphans who soar through the twisted streets like pint‐sized superheroes. Black decides that he needs to rule Treasure Town and protect White and starts going after the yakuza trying to raze the place and turn it into an amusement park. Snake, the yakuza boss, is angry at Black’s victories over his men and decides to hire three almost superhuman hit men to take him out. Soon it is up to White to save Black, and perhaps all of Treasure Town, from Black’s own dark nature. Filled with surreal flourishes, Tekkonkinkreet is a masterpiece of animation and a brutal, beautiful tale of love and friendship in the face of urban and human decay.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

© 2016 “CREEPY” FILM PARTNERS

Creepy
Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016
New York Premiere
Wednesday, June 29, 6:00 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

Based on the award‐winning novel by Yutaka Maekawa, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s newest film is a return to the horror hallmarks of his early works. After narrowly escaping with his life after encountering a psychopath, cool and brooding detective (is there any other kind in a Kurosawa film?) Koichi Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) turns in his badge for a fresh start in the suburbs with his wife Yasuko (Yuko Takeuchi). Not quite satisfied with his new position as a criminal psychology professor at the local university, Takakura becomes interested in a cold case involving a missing family and the daughter they left behind. Yasuko tries to befriend her neighbors, only to be bluntly rebuffed until she meets the strange Nishino (a scene‐stealing Teruyuki Kagawa). As the plot threads converge, and the mysteries of the past bleed into the present, the film becomes a horrific exercise in Kurosawa’s signature atmosphere and dread. Truly skin‐crawling, the film delivers on the promise of its title.


Too Young to Die!
Kankuro Kudo, 2016
North American Premiere
Friday, July 1 at 3:30 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Saturday, July 9 at 6:15 p.m.
SVA Theatre – 333 West 23rd
Japanese with English subtitles and tons of profanity

“Motherf**ker!” is the war cry of writer-director Kankuro Kudo’s new extravaganza, a heavy-metal comedy that features hairstyles that could easily be mistaken for exploding crows and enough all-around bad-assery to send the whole current J-Rock scene back to study in Thatcher-era Birmingham. But beneath the feast of rock music and hilariously absurd re-imaginations of Buddhist imagery, Kudo’s film is a simple and sometimes deeply affecting tale of love and life choices. The story follows a high school student, Daisuke (Ryunosuke Kamiki), literally down to hell. As it happens, the bus that the boy was on crashed, dragging the entire class to death. Daisuke is rudely awakened by the guitar-shredding demon Killer K (Tomoya Nagase) and his headbanging devil bandmates in a psychedelic version of Buddhist hell. Determined to reunite with his sweetheart Hiromi (Aoi Morikawa), who might still be alive, Daisuke makes a pact with Killer K to escape Inferno. But heaven and earth, it seems, are a few reincarnations away.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

© 2014-2015 Hinako Sugiura・MS.HS : Sarusuberi Film Partners

Miss Hokusai
Keiichi Hara, 2015
New York Premiere
Sunday, July 3, 2:30 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

One of the finest recent examples of the animated art form, ​Miss Hokusai​ is an absolute treat to behold. Based on Hinako Sugiura’s manga series ​Sarusaberi​, the film offers episodic glimpses into the life of ukiyo-e master Katsushika Hokusai’s daughter O-ei (voiced by Anne Higashide), who was herself an accomplished artist, and examines the struggles of artistic genius through the complex relationship of the father and daughter, who the film posits were more co-creators than history may suggest. Conformed to social mores outside the home, within O-ei is as bold and brash as her dad and has no qualms about the popular erotic content they create. Though grounded in reality, the film does allow for some fantastical metaphors for the artistic process, including a marvelous scene in which O-ei has to tame a dragon before she can get it right on paper. Filled with scenes that can only be described as visual poetry, ​Miss Hokusai​ is as mesmerizing as the art that inspired it. Winner of four awards at the 2015 Fantasia Film Festival.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, NYC, Japan, films, cinema, film festival, Film Society Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, Iwai Shunji, Go Ayano

Kiyamachi Daruma

Kiyamachi Daruma
Hideo Sakaki, 2015
International Premiere
Tuesday, July 5, 6:00pm (Appearance by Hideo Sakaki)
Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street
Japanese with English subtitles

In most career paths, the absence of any arms and legs would be something of an impediment, but who knew that limblessness could be an advantage if employed as a debt collector for the yakuza? Veteran character actor Kenichi Endo​ g​ives a tenacious performance as Katsuura, a former boss in the Kyoto Yakuza who had his limbs removed after an act of betrayal by one of his henchmen. With the help of underling­turned­nursemaid Sakamoto (Masaki Miura), Katsuura terrifies people into paying back their debts in truly unsettling ways. Adapted from a banned novel by Hiroyuki Maruno, Hideo Sakaki’s politically incorrect gangster fable alternates scenes of cringing corporeal violence with moments of even more shocking tenderness, united by an underlying tide of black humor. The title refers to a Daruma doll, the Japanese equivalent of those inflatable bounce-back clowns.

 

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©Keisyu Ando/SHUEISHA・2016「HK2」PRODUCTION COMMITTEE

Hentai Kamen 2: The Abnormal Crisis
Yuichi Fukuda, 2016
North American Premiere
Wednesday, July 6 at 8:30 p.m.
SVA Theatre – 333 West 23rd
Japanese with English Subtitles

Mac with the nutsack is back, proving that we will always have weird Japan, which beats Batman v Superman any day. Kyosuke Shikijo (a singularly beefy Ryohei Suzuki) tries to find a healthy balance between his new life as an ordinary college student and his secret pervy heroics as Hentai Kamen, whose superpowers – a result of the combined genetic legacy of his masochistic detective father, who died in the line of duty, and his mother, a deranged, sadistic dominatrix – are triggered by wearing his cute girlfriend Aiko’s panties on his head. But after a lover’s quarrel, Aiko (Fumika Shimizu) demands the return of her underwear. Bad timing: There is a worldwide disappearance of panties. Unable to transform into Hentai Kamen, Kyosuke falls into the doldrums just as he is challenged by a dangerous new foe. Crotch‐based martial arts, fishnets, pathos, humor, mankinis, and a literal panty storm are all on perverted display in this sequel to the 2013 NYAFF Audience Award winner.

NYAFF is also having a 15th Anniversary Surprise Screening on Friday, July 8 at 840 p.m. at SVA Theatre. They’re not revealing the name of the film; they’re just saying that it “has special meaning to our founders.”

For the complete lineup and to purchase tickets, please visit Subway Cinema’s website and Film Society Lincoln Center’s website.