New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada

Fourteen Films from Japan Featured in NYAFF 🗓 🗺

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Walter Reade Theater & SVA Theatre Map

The 17th New York Asian Film Festival

Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 15

Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater – 165 W. 65th Street (from June 29 through July 12)
SVA Theatre – 333 W. 23rd Street (from July 13 through July 15)

Admission: $15/$12 seniors, students, and persons with disabilities/$10 members
3+ Film Package: Tickets just $13/$10 students, seniors, and persons with disabilities/$9 members
All-Access Pass: See everything at Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater for $249.
All-Access Pass: See everything at SVA for $99.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema present the 17th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), beginning on Friday, June 29. Of the almost 60 films in the festival, showcasing the most exciting comedies, dramas, thrillers, romances, horrors, and arthouse films from East Asia, 14 are from Japan.

From vicious, life-destroying phone scams to balletic battles between equally corrupt cops and yakuza, NYAFF offers films that reflect on contemporary society while offering extreme genre pleasures. There are self-referential takes on cinematic zombies, existential date nights, and teens finding their own corners of the world despite familial and societal expectations.

Calling this year’s installment “Savage Seventeen,” the festival has a rich history of presenting films that deal with the social issue of teenage bullying. Many of these have proven to be launching pads for some of Asia’s biggest stars, and the subject is at the root of such modern classics as All About Lily Chou-Chou, Whispering Corridors, and Confessions. In a year when youths in the U.S. are standing their ground and demanding political change, NYAFF presents the North American premieres of three films about teenagers who just won’t take it anymore: Kim Ui-seok’s After My Death, Takaomi Ogata’s The Hungry Lion, and Eisuke Naito’s Liverleaf.

Opening Night is the North American premiere of Masanori Tominaga’s Dynamite Graffiti, an unorthodox and sprightly drama based on the life and times of Japanese porn magazine king Akira Suei, who cultivated future artists such as Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama. This spirited tale of sexual exploitation is an ode to free expression, proving that the so-called “smut” of today might very well become the art of tomorrow. The film is a metaphor for the humble origins of the festival as a Chinatown-born grindhouse showcase introducing the works of Johnnie To and several of the modern masters of Korean cinema.

Seven films will battle in the second edition of NYAFF’s re-launched Main Competition, now dubbed the Tiger Uncaged Award for Best Feature Film: Kazuya Shiraishi’s Blood of Wolves (Japan), Nam Ron’s Crossroads: One Two Jaga (Malaysia), Eisuke Naito’s Liverleaf (Japan), Dong Yue’s The Looming Storm (China), Sunny Chan’s Men on the Dragon (Hong Kong), Jeon Go-woon’s Microhabitat (South Korea), and Treb Monteras’s Respeto (Philippines). Six of the seven films are receiving their North American premieres at NYAFF, with one world premiere. Four of the competition titles are debut films, reflecting the festival’s ongoing support for new directors.

The festival honors its tradition of presenting awards to recognize outstanding talent and filmmakers from Asia that are still under the radar in the West. The Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Japan’s Masato Harada, a former U.S.-based film critic. He is most recognizable to Western viewers for his role as the villain Mr. Omura opposite Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. Since his debut in 1979, he has positioned himself as one of Japan’s most unique and important directors. While he has worked in nearly every genre, he is best known for tackling societal issues such as teenage prostitution, illegal immigrants, and the role of the media. Screening in the festival are his dark classic gem Kamikaze Taxi on 35mm; the recent Kakekomi (2016), a period piece about female empowerment; and his most recent historical epic Sekigahara, about the one-day battle in 1600 that defined modern Japan.

The New Cinema from Japan lineup is represented by one of the festival’s largest contingents of directors yet. In addition to NYAFF’s tribute to veteran director Masato Harada, the festival is bringing a group that could be described as defining a “new wave” of Japanese cinema: Eisuke Naito with his circle-of-revenge drama Liverleaf, Takaomi Ogata with experimental youth drama The Hungry Lion, Masao Takeshita with slow-burn drama The Midnight Bus, and Kanata Wolf with his slacker debut Smokin’ on the Moon. Also attending is actor Tasuku Emoto, who brings his mischievous charm to the protagonist of porn publishing odyssey Dynamite Graffiti. Other highlights include Shinsuke Sato’s cross-generational superhero showdown Inuyashiki, Shinichiro Ueda’s meta zombie film homage One Cut of the Dead, and Isao Yukisada’s brutal youth drama River’s Edge.

Here are the 14 films representing Japan in this year’s NYAFF:

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
© Dynamite Graffiti film Partners

Dynamite Graffiti (Masanori Tominaga, 2018) – North American Premiere

Friday, June 29 at 6:30 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Opening Night!
Q&A with director Masanori Tominaga and actor Tasuku Emoto

Party Pass holders are invited to visit the Opening Night Market in the Furman Gallery. Food, drink, and dessert from multiple vendors will be provided as well as live music!

Natural born rebel and entrepreneur Akira Suei became Japan’s porn-mag mogul in the ’80s. While he flooded the market with erotic pictures, he also introduced the sophisticated work of now-acclaimed writers and photographers, including Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama. Director Masanori Tominaga brings Suei’s 1982 memoir to the screen with this monumental biopic that chronicles his rise from sign painter to publisher and beyond. Suei’s pivotal struggle with Japan’s prudish moral right is woven with tales of personal demons, from his mother’s literally explosive demise to his own turbulent relationships, set against the backdrop of Japan’s bursting bubble economy.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
THE THIRD MURDER ©2017 FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK: AMUSE INC: GAGA CORPORATION All rights reserved.

The Third Murder (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2017) – New York Premiere

Saturday, June 30 at 12:15 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

This powerfully moving drama from internationally acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda (winner of this year’s Palme d’Or for the upcoming Shoplifters) follows the story of a man struggling to find the truth while questioning his own faith in the law. Leading attorney Shigemori takes on the defense of murder-robbery suspect Misumi, who had served jail time for another murder 30 years ago. Shigemori’s chances of winning the case seem low, as his client freely admits his guilt. But as he digs deeper, listening to the testimonies of the victim’s family, the once confident lawyer begins to doubt his client’s guilt.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
THE HUNGRY LION ©2017 The Hungry Lion. All Rights Reserved.

The Hungry Lion (Takaomi Ogata, 2017) – North American Premiere

Saturday, June 30 at 2:45 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Q&A with director Takaomi Ogata

When a high-school teacher is arrested for statutory rape, his sex video is leaked and rumors spread that the girl in it looks just like his student Hitomi. She vehemently denies the accusations, but the hearsay penetrates her previously picture-perfect life, leading to unrelenting harassment and abuse by those around her. The frenzy erupts into a terrifying indictment of society, human nature, and its unconscionable media. Featuring a stark aesthetic that reflects the film’s avoidance of easy answers, The Hungry Lion is a tragic and powerful cautionary tale.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
Sekigahara ©2017 TOHO CO. LTD./Asmik Ace, Inc./SUMITOMO CORPORATION/DENTSU INC./East Japan Marketing & Communications, Inc./KINOSHITA GROUP/J Storm Inc./The Asahi Shimbun Company/THE MAINICHI NEWPAPERS/JIJI PRESS, LTD./WOWOW INC./HANKYU TRAVEL INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD/Tokyu Agency Inc./Nihon Eiga Broadcasting Corporation/GYAO Corporation/NIPPON SHUPPAN HANBAI INC./THE CHUNICHI SHIMBUN/KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Sekigahara (Masato Harada, 2017) – Tribute to Harada Masato, New York Premiere

Saturday, June 30 at 5:00 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Q&A with director Masato Harada, who will receive the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award

This sweeping epic delves into Japanese history’s bloodiest battle, fought on a single day in 1600, with losses of 30,000 people. Sekigahara teems with historical characters and enough Machiavellian maneuvering and exciting action for an entire miniseries. But the focus is squarely on the motives and strategies of two towering figures whose forces meet for the final showdown: Mitsunari Ishida and Ieyasu Tokugawa (a scheming Koji Yakusho). Harada’s powerful, Kurosawa-like reinterpretation overturns conventional understanding of their motives, transforming their fateful conflict into a war between justice and political opportunism.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
KAKEKOMI © 2015 KAKEKOMI Film Partners

Kakekomi (Masato Harada, 2015) – Tribute to Masato Harada, New York Premiere

Sunday, July 1 at 12:30 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Director Masato Harada will be in attendance

Set in the Edo period, Harada’s first jidai-geki follows the wayward ways of three kakekomi (“runaway women”) who seek freedom from disastrous marriages in the mountain temple of Tokeiji, in Kakamura. But to obtain divorce papers, they must first endure two years of monastic service at the Buddhist nunnery. While their men roam outside the gates, some with regret in their hearts, others with vengeful plots in their heads, romance blooms between one of the women and an aspiring writer who lives next door. Hilarity and tragedy ensue in this tale of sisterhood, women’s rights, and patriarchal oppression.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
Kamikaze Taxi ©1994 PONY CANYON INC.

Kamikaze Taxi (Masato Harada, 1995) – Tribute to Masato Harada

Sunday, July 1 at 6:00 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Q&A with director Masato Harada 

This rebellious road movie proved Harada an auteur to watch. Employing a mélange of cinematic devices and genre tropes, he unleashes a surprisingly humanistic diatribe against the sexism, racism, and corruption in society. When low-level yakuza Tatsuo’s girlfriend is killed at the whim of a sadistic politician, he goes on a rampage for revenge, incurring the gang’s wrath. While on the run, Tatsuo teams up with a marginalized taxi driver (Koji Yakusho), whose taciturn character belies his world-weary resolve. Together they turn all forces of evil on their heads.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
BLOOD OF WOLVES ©2018 THE BLOOD OF WOLVES Production Committee

Blood of Wolves (Kazuya Shiraishi, 2018) – North American Premiere

Monday, July 2 at 9:15 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

In 1988, the streets of Hiroshima are rife with yakuza, and loose cannon cop Ogami (Koji Yakusho) is rumored to be as corrupt as they are. Rookie detective Hioka learns this the hard way when Ogami gives him a crash course in subterfuge and street smarts as the two attempt to shake down the mob. A missing persons case leads them into the thick of the action, and soon they find themselves caught in the crossfire of an escalating gang war. Shiraishi (Twisted Justice) once again delivers a giddily gritty and stylish crime opus of shootouts and severed pinkies that blurs the lines between justice and treachery.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
RIVER’S EDGE ©2018 River’s Edge Film Partners : Kyoko Okazaki : TAKARAJIMASHA

River’s Edge (Isao Yukisada, 2018) – North American Premiere

Tuesday, July 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Veteran director Isao Yukisada brings to the screen early nineties cult manga River’s Edge, which vividly portrays the tribulations of high schoolers in a Tokyo suburb as they struggle through a brutal, often invisible side of teenage life. The uncompromising yet captivating story follows Haruna (Fumi Nikaido, NYAFF Rising Star 2014), who stands between her taunted gay friend and her bully boyfriend. As their stories intertwine with those of other troubled schoolmates, the film enters provocatively dark territory, including cheating, eating disorders, and mysterious corpses, reminiscent of Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
THE SCYTHIAN LAMB ©2018 The Scythian Lamb Film Partners ©Tatsuhiko Yamagami, Mikio Igarashi:KODANSHA

The Scythian Lamb (Daihachi Yoshida, 2017) – New York Premiere

Tuesday, July 5 at 9:15 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

A sleepy seaside town is stirred by the arrival of six mysterious strangers who acclimate to local life in distinct roles: a malevolent boatman, a sexy caregiver, a frightening launderer, a timid barber, a methodical cleaning woman, and a simple-minded deliveryman. Oblivious to their origins, city official Tsukisue supports their assimilation—until the discovery of a dead body forces him to unravel their secrets. NYAFF alumnus Daihachi Yoshida (The Kirishima Thing, Pale Moon) combines his patented quirkiness with a crucial message about forgiveness and redemption in this black comic manga adaptation, which features an all-star ensemble cast.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
LIVERLEAF © Rensuke Oshikiri : Futabasha Publishers Ltd ©2017 (Liverleaf) Film Partners

Liverleaf (Eisuke Naito, 2018) – North American Premiere

Sunday, July 8 at 7:00 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Q&A with director Eisuke Naito

This inspired manga adaptation creeps up on you and packs a wallop. Haruka, a high school student who has just moved to a small town, endures relentless bullying with the stiffest upper lip since Kaji Meiko in the Female Prisoner Scorpion series. Only the handsome and honorable Mitsuru takes her side, further enraging her tormentors. After the hazing escalates to unfathomable proportions, Haruka metamorphoses—and shit gets real. Director Naito elicits nuanced characterizations from his talented young cast while deftly unspooling a pressure-cooker narrative bursting with madness, twists, and catharses.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
SMOKIN’ ON THE MOON © SMOKIN’ ON THE MOON Production Committee

Smokin’ on the Moon (Kanata Wolf, 2017) – International Premiere

Tuesday, July 10 at 9:15 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Q&A with director Kanata Wolf

This striking debut from independent production house Gentle Underground Monkeys follows two slackers who work at a midnight bar while also selling marijuana. When they get dangerously close to some unhinged yakuza, they follow wildly divergent fates. Former musician and video game director Kanato Wolf pulls out all the stops for this dazzlingly eclectic film, yet for all its glorious gonzo cult movie trappings, Smokin’ on the Moon also proves to be a deeply moving, bittersweet tale of love, friendship, and perseverance in the face of life’s daunting challenges.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
MIDNIGHT BUS © 2017 MIDNIGHT BUS film committee

Midnight Bus (Masao Takeshita, 2017) – North American Premiere

Wednesday, July 11 at 6:00 p.m.

Walter Reade Theater

Director Masao Takeshita will be in attendance

Middle-aged Riichi Takamiya drives the midnight bus between Tokyo and snow-swept Niigata, where he lives. Just as the relationship with his younger girlfriend is about to bloom, his emotionally desperate ex-wife suddenly reappears. At the same time, their son inexplicably quits his job in Tokyo and returns home, and their soon-to-be-engaged daughter espouses defiant resentment at her mother for leaving them in the first place. Based on an award-winning novel, this deceptively quiet tale eloquently details a broken family coming to terms with the quotidian yet often suffocating travails of blood relations, love, and life itself.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD © Enbu Seminar

One Cut of the Dead (Shinichiro Ueda, 2018) – North American Premiere

Friday, July 13 at 10:20 p.m.

SVA Theatre

A low-budget film crew about to shoot a zombie movie at a desolate warehouse is suddenly attacked by real zombies. The cruelly uncompromising director forces his resilient producer, faithful male lead, and feisty ingénue to confront the living dead head-on for the sake of capturing it all in one shot, with no consideration for their lives. Then it gets really crazy. Purposely built on clichés, One Cut of the Dead is one of the most original genre-bending exploits in years, an exuberant homage that exudes pure passion for filmmaking.

 

New York Asian Film Festival, NYAFF, Subway Cinema, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, SVA Theatre, Japanese films, film festival, Japanese cinema, Masato Harada
INUYASHIKI © 2018 Movie Inuyashiki Production Committee © Hiroya Oku: Kodansha

Inuyashiki (Shinsuke Sato, 2018) – North American Premiere

Sunday, July 15 at 1:00 p.m.

SVA Theatre

Decrepit milquetoast salaryman Inuyashiki, downtrodden at both home and work, finds out he is terminally ill—only to be reborn as an indestructible combat cyborg after an apparent alien encounter. High schooler Shishigami (Takeru Satoh of the Rurouni Kenshin franchise) shares the same other-worldly fate, but while Inuyashiki uses his new superpowers to help people, Shishigami seeks to wreak havoc on humanity, setting the stage for an inevitable, epic showdown between the teenager and the senior citizen. This stunning adaptation of Hiroya Oku’s best-selling manga brings to life the flesh and blood of its characters and adds an ironic, genuinely original twist to the superhero genre.

 

The New York Asian Film Festival, co-presented by Subway Cinema and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is curated by executive director Samuel Jamier, deputy director Stephen Cremin, programmers Claire Marty and David Wilentz, and associate programmers Karen Severns and Mori Koichi.

For the entire lineup of films and to purchase tickets, please visit Film Society Lincoln Center’s website.