After going completely virtual in 2020, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) returns with a hybrid program of screenings from August 6 to 22.
The festival will open on August 6 with the South Korean action drama “Escape From Mogadishu” by Ryoo Seung-wan, which depicts the perilous escape attempt of Korean embassy workers stranded at the start of the civil war. in Somalia.
Samuel Jamier, executive director of NYAFF, calls it one of the biggest Korean releases of the year and says the film will hit theaters concurrently with its international premiere in person at the Film at Lincoln Center.
â’Escape From Mogadishu’ shows Korea’s expansion and where it aims to be,â Jamier said. “It would have been difficult to conceive 10 years ago another war film set in Somalia, territory that was only explored in ‘Black Hawk Down’ in a way.”
One of the few American film festivals devoted to images from the Asian continent, the New York Asian Film Festival has been in existence for 20 years.
Presented by the New York Asian Film Foundation in association with Film at Lincoln Center, the 20th annual festival will feature its largest lineup to date, with two world premieres, six international premieres, 29 North American premieres, eight US premieres and nine premieres New Yorkers. In addition to FLC’s Virtual Cinema, screenings will take place at FLC’s Walter Reade Theater and SVA Theater.
The feature film competition lineup includes “Anima” by Cao Jingling (China), “City of Lost Things” by Yee Chih-yen (Taiwan), “Hand Rolled Cigarette” by Chan Kin Long (Hong Kong), “Joint” by Oudai Kojima (Japan), “Ten Months” by Namkoong Sun (South Korea) and “Tiong Bahru Social Club by Tan Bee Thiam” (Singapore). These are the directors’ first and second feature films and shortlisted for the Uncaged Award.
NYAFF will screen films from Japan, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Singapore. New this year will be the Asian American Focus selection, which features a number of films shot in the United States. “Serpent’s head.”
For the first time, Variety will honor a couple of Asian filmmakers at this festival. Ann Hui will receive the Variety Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award, while the Variety Star Asia Award will go to Gordon Lam.
The festival will feature Hui’s debut film âThe Story of Woo Vietâ to celebrate his 40th anniversary as well as the recent documentary âKeep Rollingâ, which explores his career as a filmmaker.
âWhile director Ann Hui has been celebrated in Europe, we believe her work is still a bit under the radar in the United States and deserves to be celebrated,â Jamier said. “We are proud to present some of his best and early work, from the Vietnamese trilogy ‘Boat People’ and ‘The Story of Woo Viet’, as well as a comprehensive documentary exploring his long and outstanding career in ‘Keep Rolling’ . ‘”
Lam’s films “Limbo”, directed by Soi Cheang and “Hand Rolled Cigarette” by Chan Kin Long will be screened.
The other winners are rising stars Bang Min-A, Janine Gutierrez and Sosuke Ikematsu, as well as Yoon Jae-Keun for the Excellence in Action Cinema award.
Jamier would like to continue expanding to other parts of Asia, especially with the recent rise in violence against Asian Americans. He hopes the festival can help unite members of his community and get other communities to speak out on their behalf.
âWe live in the same country, I think people need to say something on some level,â he says. âThis situation is becoming unbearable, it’s almost unbearable. I think the debate has been a bit stagnant. I think in terms of commercial cinema over the last few years we’ve taken a step forward and two steps back sometimes.
Jamier says Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Mulan” and Netflix’s sudden cancellation of “Kim’s Convenience” are recent setbacks.
âI think things like ‘Mulan’ are excruciating and really behind in terms of advancement,â Jamier said. âIt’s good to have more Asian faces on screen, but you need cultural skills. “
With the Delta variant taking over as the dominant COVID virus in the United States, Jamier fears what could happen in a few weeks, but remains hopeful.
âWe’re right at this point where there could be another wave and it would be really bad planning to have this festival in person,â he says.