Wang Bing is one of the greatest documentary filmmakers working today: his new film explores the patients/inmates of a run down mental institution somewhere in China. Wang’s astonishingly observant camera reveals these patients’ inner beings, their loves and their sometime madness with absolute respect and limitless compassion.
K-pop as you’ve never seen it! Lee Harkjoon gets incredibly intimate access to the grooming and launch of girl band 9 Muses (the endless rehearsals, the rivalries) and nails the whole system. Dragons & Tigers Award nominee.
The spirit of Eraserhead lives on in Ikeda Akira’s droll, deadpan story of a paperclip maker and his romantic longing for a butterfly woman. Featuring weird juice drinks, unknown languages and a human cocoon! Dragons & Tigers Award nominee.
Riri Riza’s very realistic fiction focuses on the refugees who fled to Indonesia when East Timor became independent… but longed to go back home. Deeply humane and beautifully acted, this crowd-funded film was shot in Atambua itself.
This gorgeously shot (by Chris Doyle, regular DOP of Wong Kar-wai) and elegantly restrained drama is a remarkably assured debut by Flora Lau. Hong Kong movie queen Carina Lau gives a tour de force performance as a matron whose husband suddenly disappears. Her driver (Chen Kun) has secrets of his own: will they overcome their own solitudes?
Hong Kong superstars Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng team up with Johnnie To for this wild, sparklingly madcap genre-bender: a romantic/detective/horror/thriller/comedy. He’s a blind amateur investigator; she’s a feisty young cop. To at his most dazzlingly playful, with beguiling performances by HK’s best.
Korea has all but cornered the market in comedy-dramas about the family, and Song Haesung’s film is one of the best. A middle-class failure (the wonderful Park Haeil) has to learn to live with his criminal brother and his sexually incontinent sister—not to mention his unflappable mom.
Kim Soohyun’s portrait of a phenomenal woman: she works as a voice artist (games, ads) but when she’s asked to consider a Brecht role, a flood of reflections on gender and madness is unleashed. Dragons & Tigers Award nominee.
Shim Hyunseok explores an end-of-the-world dilemma.
In just 13 fixed shots, without dialogue, new director Yang Zhengfan creates a series of striking scenes set in southern China. Each one hints at a micro-story, some humorous, some tragic, others rich with symbolic meaning. Surrender to the film’s measured pace and prepare to be enthralled.
Midway between a rave concert and a Koreeda documentary, Matsue Tetsuaki’s trippy film (in hypnotic 3D) looks at Goma, a Japanese didgeridoo player who has trained himself to play again after an accidental brain injury. Small film, big experience!
Through the story of a young woman who returns to her native village in Gansu (next to Tibet and spiritually close, too), journalist-turned-director Chai Chunya builds a poetic, Buddhist meditation on dying traditions. Dragons & Tigers Award nominee.
A delicious anime from Mizushiri Yoriko.
A low-key, observational doc about Garibong, the area of Seoul now dominated by Korean-Chinese immigrants; Park Kiyong quietly goes beyond sociology to empathy with a group notorious for hostility to the host community.
After Sawako Decides and Mitsuko Delivers, Ishii Yuya gives us: the making of a dictionary! Matsuda Ryuhei (Gohatto) plays the geek who finds spiritual fulfilment—and a side-order of true love—in a huge editorial challenge. The humour and warmth you might expect; the Dickensian flavour is a wonderful surprise.
Two iconic 90s Hong Kong pop groups, fabulous glam-pop Grasshopper and brilliantly satirical Softhard, mount a joint concert in 2012 and sell out 12 consecutive days. Yan Yan Mak captures not just the shows, but their fans’ fervour and HK’s passionate attachment to its ever-changing identity.
Another brilliant storytelling riddle from Lee Kwangkuk, director of Romance Joe.
Images of Korean aid-volunteers in Southeast Asia + a seemingly unrelated text = a witty, provocative experimental film that raises questions inside and beyond the frame.
Set in 1990s Singapore, Anthony Chen’s vivid, bittersweet debut chronicles the relationship between a family of three and their newly arrived Filipino maid, Teresa. As she develops a bond with rascally son Jiale, the parents face economic and personal crises with dignity and unexpected reserves of love. Winner, Caméra d’Or, Cannes 2013.
Kim Dongho’s short has the inside dope on filmfest juries.