The Special Screenings section presents 8 new films from Asia and around the world.
Love Education 【opening film】
China, Taiwan / 2017 / 120 min. / Director: Sylvia CHANG
Hui Ying cares for her mother until she passes away, then attempts to relocate her father’s countryside grave so that her mother can share it with him. However, her father’s childless first wife Nana lives in the same rural village where the grave is located and vehemently opposes moving it, which sends the village into an uproar. Hui Ying’s daughter Weiwei works in television, and decides to cover the two womens’ dispute on her own program. However, Weiwei has a problem of her own, involving a tricky situation with her lover... Revered actress Sylvia CHANG directs and stars in this drama set in contemporary China about three generations of women. Its casting of master filmmaker TIAN Zhuang-zhuang (“The Blue Kite”) in the role of the protagonist’s husband is one of its many charms. Screened as the closing film of the Busan International Film Festival.
24 Frames 【closing film】
Iran, France / 2016 / 114 min. / Director: Abbas KIAROSTAMI
Abbas KIARTOSTAMI, who is also a very accomplished photographer, attempts to merge the two artistic forms of photography and cinema with this film which is based on his postulation of what happens the moment before, or possibly after, a photograph is taken. Applying precise digital technology, KIARTOSTAMI depicts "the after" of 20 photographs he has selected such as horses walking on a snowy field, a flock of birds soaring over an industrial zone, among others. The moment the beautiful still images come to life is breathtaking. It is a film which should also be called a modern version of Persian miniature paintings. The production took over three years to complete by Iranian technicians, but KIARTOSTAMI, who died in July of 2016, did not see its completion. It world premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and China / 2017 / 111 min. / Director: Walter SALLES, Aleksey FEDORCHENKO, Madhur BHANDARKAR, Jahmil X.T. QUBEKA, JIA Zhang-ke
An omnibus feature on the theme of time, produced by JIA Zhang-ke and directed by filmmakers from the five BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. “When the Earth Trembles” follows a young man continuing to search for his father, who went missing when a mining company’s dam burst in November of 2015. “Breathing” presents an arguing couple who live in a remote snow-covered canyon. “Mumbai Mist” accompanies an elderly man who rediscovers his purpose in life through meeting an orphan boy, and tries to track him down after he disappears. “Still Born” is set in a near future where fate is predestined, and revolves around a woman who risks her life to alter her destiny. The final segment, “Revive,” takes place in Pingyao, the former capital of Shanxi Province in China, and involves a husband and wife who worry over whether they should have a second child.
Thailand, German, Norway / 2017 / 108 min. / Director: Pen-Ek RATANARUANG
Viyada is a television actress in her 30s who is married to wealthy foreigner, Jerome. However, their married life takes a turn for the worse after Jerome converts to a new Buddhist sect. The head of the sect assaults Viyada and when she learns her husband had consented, she offers to give money to Guy, a young man she meets by chance, in exchange for killing Jerome. Pen-ek RATANARUANG's latest work, which screened as the opening film of the Venice Film Festival's "Venice Days" section, is a dark film noir unfolding in a picturesque locale. Celebrated French, music video director, Stéphane SEDNAOUI, portrays Jerome. SHIMIZU Koichi, who works in the Thai film industry, serves as composer.
China / 2017 / 107 min. / Director: Vivian QU
In a small seaside town in the south of China, Mia works nights at a motel’s reception desk. She witnesses a middle-aged male customer rent a room with two young girls, and later learns that they were sexually abused. The police begin an investigation, but the motel’s owner fears getting dragged into it, and asks Mia to testify that she saw nothing. However, she needs money to extract herself from her current predicament, and embarks on a certain course of action... This intricately-woven drama involving several different women unfolds in a resort area that boasts a massive statue of Marilyn MONROE. Vivian QU, an experienced producer of many independent Chinese masterworks, gives full rein to her rare talent as a director. Screened in competition at the Venice International Film Festival.
Hong Kong, France, German / 2017 / 87 min. / Director: WANG Bing
The latest film by WANG Bing world premiered at this year's Locarno International Film Festival where it won the Golden Leopard for Best Film. In a quiet village in southern China, 67-year-old FANG Xiuying has been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years and the symptoms are worsening. Her condition is determined to be no longer treatable and she is sent home from the hospital. WANG Bing's camera remains focused on the bedridden elderly woman whose expression never seems to change. It also records the conversations of the relatives and neighborhood people who come to the house to visit FANG. However, who this elderly woman is and the details of her history are left almost completely unexplained. This is a challenging tour de force not only chronicles a single death, but also poses various questions to the viewers.
Japan / 2017 / 215 min. / Director: HARA Kazuo
The first documentary in 23 years from HARA Kazuo since his “A Dedicated Life” (1994) is an eight-year record of asbestos victims in Osaka’s Sennan district who sue the government for compensation. Sennan’s asbestos industry flourished from the late Meiji period and had over 200 factories in close proximity at the height of its prosperity, which led to it being called “Asbestos Village.” The substance can cause lung cancer and mesothelial tumors when inhaled, but despite the government being aware of the risks it posed to health, economic development was prioritized and countermeasures were negligible. In 2006, former factory workers and their families file a lawsuit against the government seeking reparation for the damage done to their health. HARA follows the activities of the plaintiffs’ legal team and investigations by a citizens group, documenting the court battle as well as the plaintiffs themselves. They are victorious in their first trial, but the government continually appeals, and the protracted legal struggle takes a discernible physical toll on the ailing victims...
Japan / 2017 / 142 min. / Director: SONO Sion
After celebrating her 22nd birthday with friends at a Shinjuku pub, Manami stumbles into a mind-boggling massacre. She emerges as the sole survivor, and is persistently followed by a mysterious woman who calls herself K, as well as a man who goes by the name Yamada. K belongs to the Dracula clan, while Yamada is a member of the enemy Corvins. Both are vampires, and it just so happens that Manami was destined to be chosen as the Dracula clan’s savior. Eventually, she is captured by Yamada and imprisoned in a structure built by the Corvins for a specific purpose, known as the Tokyo Vampire Hotel... A feature version of a drama series produced for streaming on Amazon Prime, this grotesque masterwork unleashes extravagant violence within colorfully production design. Don’t miss ADACHI Yumi’s extraordinary performance.
USA / 1926, 1980 / 98 min. / Director: Robert J. FLAHERTY, Frances Hubbard FLAHERTY, Monica FLAHERTY
Robert and Frances FLAHERTY's "Moana", the silent film masterpiece depicting the lives of people of Samoa in the South Pacific, is considered to have engendered to the term "documentary". 50 years after its completion, Robert's daughter, Monica FLAHERTY, returned in 1975 to the village she had visited with her parents at the age of 3. Recording the sounds of the same locations as well as re-enacting the dialogue of the individuals who appeared in the film using local people, she succeeded in realizing a sound version of "Moana" which was released in 1980. However, budgetary limits caused the film to be created from 16mm footage. The film being screened now is a sound version digitally restored in 2014 using a 35mm nitrate preview print made in 1925 from the original negative as its primary element.
Taiwan / 1979 / 191 min. / Directors: King HU
This supernatural masterpiece, adapted from a Song dynasty tale, details numerous bizarre happenings involving a young scholar, who has been ordered to transcribe a Buddhist sutra used in a ritual to pacify the souls of dead soldiers. Shot in South Korea at the same time as “Raining in the Mountain,” it features a cast of director King HU’s regulars, with the addition of Sylvia CHANG as a beautiful apparition. What sets it apart are its abundant depictions of spectacular and vast nature, as well as its unhurried pace. In HU’s own words, “It is the only one of my works that was not made as an action film.” Several versions exist, so many that even HU himself was not aware of them all. This digital restoration was coordinated by the Taiwan Film Institute, and received its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in 2016.