The New York Asian Film Festival has long been the little festival that punches way above its weight.
New York City is home to many film festivals, from the venerable New York Film Festival, now in its 54th year, to the Tribeca Film Festival, founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff to help the Tribeca area recover following 9/11. One you may not have heard of, but should know about, is the New York Asian Film Festival, which will be celebrating its 15th year of existence with a varied slate of 51 films, screening from June 22 through July 9 at the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center (June 22 through July 5) and the School of the Visual Arts Theatre in Chelsea.
To those in the know, the New York Asian Film Festival has long been the little festival that punches way above its weight, screening an intriguing and unpredictable mix of lively genre flicks and prestige arthouse films including many gems that failed to get either a theatrical or VOD release in the United States. The mainstream film world is beginning to catch up: the Village Voice picked it as the best film festival of 2015, while The New York Times has called it “one of the city’s most valuable events.”
The festival will open on June 22 with the world premiere of Twisted Justice, a crime drama by Kazuya Shiraishi based on what many consider the worst scandal in Japanese police history. It’s based on the autobiography of Yoshiaki Inaba, a former police inspector in Hokkaido, whose 2003 trial uncovered a broad range of abuses in the department, from bogus investigations to yakuza connection. Go Ayano stars as Detective Moroboshi, a character based on Inaba, while Pierre Taki plays Murai, a senior policeman who shows Moroboshi the ropes.
The international premiere of the Taiwanese film The Tenants Downstairs, a darkly comic and sexually explicit film directed by Adam Tsuei, will close the festival on July 9. Simon Yam stars as a voyeuristic landlord presiding over of a building housing a motley crew of tenants, including a teacher with a history of domestic violence, a sexually frustrated father, an isolated college student, a closeted gay couple, a promiscuous office worker, and a mysterious, ghostly girl.
On July 4, screenings from noon to midnight will celebrate Hong Kong Cinema, concluding with a screening of 10 Years, which imagines a future in which Hong Kong is entirely under the control of the Chinese mainland and Cantonese has become a second-class language. A number of classic films will also be screened throughout the Festival, including Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Ironman and Michael Arias’ Tekkonkinkreet.
The 15th New York Asian Film Festival runs June 22 through July 9, with screenings at the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center (June 22 through July 5) and the School of the Visual Arts Theatre in Chelsea (July 6 through July 9). Tickets are $9 for members of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, $11 for students and senior citizens, and $14 for the general public, with several types of passes available. Further ticket information is available from the Film Society of Lincoln Center website, as is the festival schedule and synopses of the individual films. | Sarah Boslaugh