Special Screenings

The Special Screenings section presents 9 new films from Asia and around the world.

The Whispering Star / ひそひそ星 [opening film]

Japan / 2015 / 100 min.
Director: SONO Sion
In a future universe enveloped by a tranquil peace, the human race has been drastically reduced by numerous disasters. The world is populated by 80 percent robots and 20 percent humans. SUZUKI Yoko, an android travelling to various planets with a computer partner in a retro space ship, is a courier for an interstellar service that delivers packages to humans. She lands on a “whispering planet” where humans are in danger of dying if sounds over 30 decibels are made…. What began as a script and storyboards written in 1990, “The Whispering Star” is the first film to be made by SONO Sion’s independent production company, Sion Productions, which he established in 2014. The film was shot in Fukushima Prefecture, still scarred by 3/11, with the cooperation of local residents. It is an extremely unique, lyrical sci-fi masterpiece.

Mountains May Depart / 山河故人 [closing film]

China, Japan, France / 2015 / 125min.
Director: JIA Zhangke
Spanning 26 years, JIA Zhang-ke’s latest masterpiece depicts on a grand scale the past, present, and future of a woman who lives determinedly despite being rocked by Chinese society’s radical progress. Fenyang, 1999. Tao, who was involved with childhood friend Liangzi, accepts the marriage proposal of ambitious businessman Jinsheng. Emotionally hurt, Liangzi leaves Fenyang vowing never to return. Soon, Tao gives birth to a boy and names him “Dollar.” In 2014, Tao is divorced from Jinsheng and lives alone in Fenyang. One day, Dollar returns after many years to attend the funeral of Tao’s father. Reunited with her son after so long Tao learns Dollar will move to Australia with Jinsheng….
© Bandai Visual, Bitters End, Office Kitano


Iran / 2015 / 82 min.
Director: Jafar PANAHI
A yellow taxi travels through the streets of Tehran. The driver is director Jafar PANAHI who strikes up conversations with those who board the taxi. The small camera mounted to the dashboard captures PANAHI and the passengers talking about bootleg DVDs, discrimination against women, etc., and illuminates the diversity of people living in contemporary Tehran. Still officially forbidden from engaging in filmmaking activities, PANAHI’s latest, “Taxi”, accomplishes a level of entertainment overflowing with humor and drama despite its extremely restrictive setting. The splendid performance displayed by PANAHI’s niece, who accepted the trophy for PANAHI when the film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, is also worthy of note.

Murmur of the Hearts / 念念

Taiwan, Hong Kong / 2015 / 119 min.
Director: Sylvia CHANG
The beautiful Green Island lies off the coast of Taitung in Taiwan. Siblings Nan and Mei were born and raised there, but when their parents divorce, sister Mei moves to Taipei with their mother, while brother Nan stays on the island with their father. Mei grows up to become an art teacher, but can't abandon her dream of becoming an artist. Her boyfriend Hsiang is a boxer aiming for the Olympics, but a problem with his eyesight jeopardizes his career. Meanwhile, Nan, who has been living a quiet life on the island after the death of his father, decides to head to Taipei in search of Mei, who he has not seen since she left years earlier... Sylvia CHANG's new directorial effort “Murmur of the Hearts” offers a delicate and audacious study of three young people and their conflicted emotions. The freeness of its style evokes the freshness of its stirring story.

Dearest / 親愛的

China, Hong Kong / 2014 / 130 min.
Director: Peter CHAN
A 3-year-old boy goes missing in the streets of Shenzhen, China. His parents desperately search for him, but fail to locate his whereabouts. Three years later the boy is found in a village far from Shenzhen, but does not remember his biological parents and adores the kidnapper’s wife like a mother, deploring being separated from her. Before long, the kidnapper’s wife decides to go to Shenzhen to find her “dearest child”…. Drawn from an actual incident, Peter CHAN’s “Dearest” is a dramatically moving film that earned positive reviews at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival for its depiction of the complicated relationship between parent and child. The synergy of contemporary Chinese cinema’s finest actors including Vicki ZHAO, who won the best actress award for her portrayal of the kidnapper’s wife at the Hong Kong Film Awards, is also a highlight.
© 2014 We Pictures Ltd.

Office / 華麗上班族

China, Hong Kong / 2015 / 118 min.
Director: Johnnie TO
“Office,” which miraculously reunites the trio of CHOW Yun Fat, Sylvia CHANG, and Johnnie TO, who turned out a string of hit Hong Kong films in the 1980s, is a musical adapted from a stage production written and directed by CHANG. It takes place within a large company on the verge of going public on the stock market. Internal secrets are exposed one by one as desires surge between a diverse cast of characters, such as the company chairman and the female CEO who has been his mistress for the last 20 years, a mid-level employee who waits eagerly for a chance to improve his status, and a new hire brimming with hopes and dreams. In terms of its subject matter, it could be described as a successor to TO's “Life Without Principle.” A major highlight is its gorgeous production design, courtesy of longtime WONG Kar-wai collaborator William CHANG.

Promise / 約束 Lifeline / 昼も夜も

Japan / 2011 / 15 min. (Promise)
Japan / 2014 / 69 min. (Lifeline)
Directors: SHIOTA Akihiko
“Promise” is a short film produced for a special Johnny Walker website. Once a month 7-year-old Haruka is visited by her father from whom she lives apart. Today is that day. Each successive “mission” she clears brings her closer to her father…. “Lifeline” was produced for Nestle’s official homepage. A woman shows up at the used car dealership run by Ryosuke in the suburbs of Tokyo. Deserted by a man, the woman sits in a used car at the front of the shop and will not leave. From their sudden meeting, the pair’s past will emerge. When SHIOTA Akihiko created both films, he applied the methodology from his independent film years of gradually fleshing out an extremely rough script. In that sense, one can say both films are a return to SHIOTA’s roots.
© 2014「昼も夜も」Partners

Afternoon / 那日下午

Taiwan / 2015 / 137 min.
Director: TSAI Ming-liang
Two men sit in the ruins of a building. One of them is director TSAI Ming-liang and the other is LEE Kang-sheng, the indispensable actor in TSAI’s films. A forest stretches out beyond the window, and trees rustle in a gentle breeze…. “Afternoon”, TSAI’s latest film, is a touching work that records the two men’s conversation with a fixed position camera. TSAI has cast LEE in the lead of all his narrative films since his debut film “Rebels of a Neon God” in 1992. The conversation of these two men, whose collaboration can be called unparalleled even among global cinema, is not limited to their creative activities but unfolds to cover a wide range of topics such as life philosophy, food, travel, etc. The film grants viewers the priceless experience of sharing the intimate time TSAI and LEE pass together.
© Homegreen Films, 2014