New York Asian Film Festival 2012 Wrap-up

Director Giddens Ko with actress Michelle Chen of You Are the Apple of My Eye! Photo by Kevin Koo

Having wrapped up its 11th year earlier this month, New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) once again delivered an exciting lineup of films and guests for audiences to enjoy over the course of two weeks.

This year’s Star Asia Award recipient, Donnie Yen, was in attendance to support his new movie Dragon (aka Wu Xia), a fast-paced martial arts epic that was one of the highlights of the festival. In an interview with AsianInNY, Yen described the action direction of the film as “back to basics”, referencing the Shaw brothers as an influence. However the film’s overall presentation is far from conventional, using well-placed time lapses and CG cut scenes to create a more modern and scientific storytelling approach. Yen credited the Discovery Channel as the inspiration for the analytical angles that the film took.

Donnie Yen. Photo by Vinh Luong

Two of Yen’s previous hits, Kill Zone and The Lost Bladesman were also featured at the festival. The action star was on hand at each screening to greet fans and answer questions. During the Q&A sessions, Yen noted Jet Li as his favorite on-screen fighting partner and was questioned more than once about the possibility of seeing him breakdance again (for reference, see 1985’s Mismatched Couples). Audience members at all of Yen’s films were surprised and excited to walk away with gifts that he had personally brought over from Hong Kong. For more AsianInNY coverage on Yen, Click Here.

Korean actor, Choi Min-Sik

Korean actor, Choi Min-Sik, was also in attendance for the screening of his most recent film Nameless Gangster. In it, he stars as a greedy, well-connected customs official who worms his way into the world of organized crime. Choi’s modern classics Oldboy, Failan, and Crying Fist were also screened for audiences (the single-take scene of a full boxing round in Crying Fist is just as stunning as it was in 2005). Following each of his films, Choi graciously signed autographs and snapped pictures until every fan had an opportunity to meet him.

Michelle Chen with Giddens Ko

Aside from the hard-hitting action dramas that have become staples of the festival, a number of romantic comedies stood out as well. All About My Wife tells of a desperate husband who hires a scene-stealing Casanova character to seduce his outspoken wife in the hope that she’ll seek a divorce. Hilarity naturally ensues. Another standout was the coming-of-age story You Are The Apple of My Eye, which delivers equally funny and heartwarming moments. Taiwanese director, Giddens Ko, was on hand to answer questions about the autobiographical film.

Director Wei of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale

Taiwanese cinema has had a growing presence at NYAFF in recent years. This year’s lineup featured seven Taiwanese films. Among them was a back-to-back screening of Seediq Bale parts 1 and 2. Often called the “Braveheart of Taiwan”, the production is the most expensive in Taiwanese history and tells the story of an aboriginal Taiwanese tribe’s struggle against Japanese soldiers. The film is a bloody and bruising experience and producer John Woo’s influence can be seen throughout.

NYAFF wouldn’t be complete without offerings more experimental in nature. Doomsday Book is an anthology of three short films shot by three different directors. Common themes of modern science fiction and man’s self-destruction are illustrated in stories that revolve around a zombie outbreak, a robot that achieves enlightenment, and a little girl who unwittingly sends a meteor to come hurtling towards Earth. With varying degrees of social commentary, high mindedness, and comedic absurdity, the stories wonderfully juxtapose the unique points of view of each director.

By presenting the best and most intriguing of Asian film culture, NYAFF consistently delivers a valuable cinema experience to the city each year. We at AsianInNY look forward to what Summer 2013 brings.

Director Pang Ho-Cheung

Linn Yen with amazing South Korean actor Choi Min-sik

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