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New York Asian Film Festival 2012 at the Lincoln Center in NY
New York Asian Film Festival 2012
Organized by Subway Cinema in close cooperation with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Japan Society from June 29 – July 15, The Asian Film Festival has become the most important showcase for films from Asia featuring this year 57 films including 3 programs with short films. For the New York Times critic the NYAFF has become one of the city’s most indispensable film events. The countries represented include Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the US. Most of these productions were provided by Hong Kong (17), Japan (16), South Korea (13), and Taiwan (7). A documentary from Cambodia premiered that country for the first time in the NYAFF program. 20 of the films had not been shown before in the United States. As in the previous two editions the festival’s venue was Lincoln Center’s Walter Read theatre, New York’s famed home of the New York Film Festival and other upscale artistically inclined film programs.
The program was organized with four centrals themes. WARRIORS AND ROMATICS showcased the new cinema from Taiwan reflecting the rapid rise and commercial success of Taiwan’s film industry over the last ten years. RETURN OF THE KING focused on movies from Hong Kong since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 15 years ago. CHOI MIN-SIK: MR. VENGEANCE paid homage to this Korean star screening his new and classic film performances. JAPAN CUTS offered a cross section of contemporary Japanese film productions of which 12 were co-presented with the NYAFF in their sixth year of collaboration. The remainder of JAPAN CUTS 39 features was screened through July 28 at the Japan Society. A review of the Japan Cuts program will follow.
When I first covered the festival numerous years ago at New York’s downtown Anthology Film Archives, I was a amazed about the organizers of the festival giving out screen prices like videos (now DVDs), posters and books to the audience. An enthusiastic crowd responded which was apparently most knowledgeable about the directors and principal characters of the films screened. To me it seemed like a cult following which I had not seen at any other festival before. Now the festival is held uptown at the well established Walter Reade theatre. It is part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center which normally caters to a high brow audience. As I noted in an earlier article, the invitation to move the festival at Lincoln Center was probably tied to the film society’s attempt to broaden its audience base and thematic range, yet what I observed at the Anthology still holds. The NYAFF program continues to show a superb selection of martial arts films, popular Asian films known for their commercial success, horror, blood and gore films as well as independent and underground productions. Thus we can enjoy extraordinary and risky film story telling. Fortunately the NYAFF has not lost the core audience it had at the Anthology, young film fans committed to Asian films. The NYAFF has grown and has now a larger program and a growing roster of Asian stars and directors at the festival, including this year the famed martial art expert Donie Yen. The NYAFF enjoys a deserved success which is apparently prompted by more efficient fundraising as enhanced by the prestige of the new venue at Lincoln Center. The joint venture with JAPAN CUTS festival is working out. The Japanese program allows for a distinct identity for the Japanese film festival, draws a full audience, and provides a sharp audacious edge to the NYAFF selections.
Among films of note are:
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