The 14th edition of the NYAFF has a diverse selection of films from East Asia and Japan makes a big impact with the programs “New Cinema from Japan” and “The Last Men in Japanese Film,” a joint tribute to the late actors Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara.
The 2015 New York Asian Film Festival line-up offers the latest in Japanese cinema with a range of stories and subjects and showcases Japanese cinema’s ability to portray complex tales featuring female characters in the lead. This is certainly true of the works of award-winning filmmaker Daihachi Yoshida (Funuke, Show Some Love You Losers!, Pale Moon , Permanent Nobara) which will be screened at the festival.
On the more extreme and wild side of things are the imaginative genre exercises delivered by Sion Sono with his hip-hop musical Tokyo Tribes, and SABU’s latest tale, the fantastical supernatural romance Chasuke’s Journey. There are many dramas, some released within the last few months like the two part crime mystery Solomon’s Perjury and Initiation Love both of which are based on best-selling novels. Ryuichi Hiroki showcases his latest ensemble drama Kabukicho Love Hotel, and Nobuhiro Yamashita brings New York a gritty tale of music and memories with La La La at Rock Bottom. Other films include the sci-fi/ESP drama Nowhere Girl and Taksu, a more down to earth exploration of a relationship between a terminally ill man and his girlfriend falling apart while they visit his sister in Bali.
Japanese film legends Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara, both of whom passed away last November, will be the subject of the first joint tribute outside of Japan. The two actors are credited with defining a new, hardboiled masculinity in postwar Japan. Some of the films in which they displayed their grit and cool will be screened including Abashiri Prison, Cops vs. Thugs, The Man Who Stole the Sun, Nihon Kyokakuden (Tales of Chivalry in Japan), and Wolves, Pigs and Men. This part of the programme will feature the brand new 2K remaster of Kinji Fukasaku’s 1973 classic Battles Without Honor and Humanity, screened for the first time in North America.
There are also many high-profile guests from Japan attending the festival with the actor Shota Sometani (Kabukicho Love Hotel, Himizu), mixing with veteran directors Daihachi Yoshida (Funuke Show Me Some Love You Losers!, Pale Moon, The Kirishima Thing), Ryuichi Hiroki (Yellow Elephant, Vibrator, Kabukicho Love Hotel), and SABU (Chasuke’s Journey, Postman Blues, Monday).
The 2015 New York Asian Film Festival takes place from June 26 to July 8 at the Film Society and July 9 to 11 at SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd Street).