Any fan of Asian cinema who lives anywhere near New York City probably already knows about the annual event that brings some of the biggest, best and often weirdest movies from all across Asia to packed houses of enthusiastic fans as the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) has grown from a small cult following that would attend the festival at the Anthology Film Archives to a major event held in partnership with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Japan Society’s annual Japan Cuts.
This year’s festival, celebrating its 13th year, runs from June 27 to July 14 with 60 feature films kicking off with the international premiere of Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s crime thriller Overheard 3 and including a number of North American and New York premieres. Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits, the documentary about Korean shaman Kim Keum-hwa by Park Chan-wook’s brother Park Chan-kyong will close the festival, while Umin Boya’s Taiwanese baseball movie Kano will be the festival’s centerpiece.
As in past years, Subway Cinema are bringing dozens of guests from around Asia to present and talk about their films including Taiwan’s Jimmy Wong Yu (The One-Armed Swordsman), who will receive the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. The Star Asia Award this year will go to Hong Kong comic actress Sandra Ng and Korea’s Sol Kyung-gu, while the new Celebrity Award goes to Park Joong-hoon and the Screen International Rising Star Award will go to Fumi Nikaido.
They will also be giving tribute to media mogul Sir Run Run Shaw, who passed away this year but whose Shaw Brothers Ltd. is responsible for some of the greatest martial arts and genre films out of Hong Kong going back to the late ’60s. They’re showing a slew of the studio’s films including The Chinese Boxer, Killer Constable, Killers and Wheels and others which have never been shown here.
Hong Kong will be getting even more of a spotlight in the festival’s “Hong Kong Forever!” program, while Lee Jung-Jae will be part of NYAFF’s Korean Actor in Focus with a number of his films including The Face Reader, New World and Il Mare.
The only negative thing I can say about the New York Asian Film Festival is that sadly, many of the movies shown there will never get distribution in the United States or even be available in DVD other than on import. On the other hand, that gives you even more reason to take some time off in late June and early July to see some great Asian films at the Walter Read and the Film Society’s other theaters.
You can see the full list of films at the Film Society Website.