If you’re looking for an excuse to get out of Tokyo now the sun is out and the ski season is coming to an end, a trip south to Kansai could be in order. The Osaka Asian Film Festival (OAFF) is throwing open its doors for a 10th year, bringing the latest cinema from across the continent to the free-spirited city.
By Christopher O’Keeffe
Beginning life in 2005 as the Korea Entertainment Film Festival, the OAFF broadened its outlook in its sophomore year to cover all East Asian cinema, quickly rising to become Japan’s premier festival covering Asian film. Based in the city of Osaka, the lively, colorful location matches the diversity and richness on offer in the festival’s film program. While the latest works from established veterans like Japan’s Tsukamoto Shinya and Hong Kong native Johnnie To stand out on the bill there’s a fine selection of exciting offerings from emerging talents across the region to look forward to.
The festival kicks off on Thursday the 6th and runs until Sunday the 15th, spanning two weekends with most of the action taking place around the Osaka/Umeda station areas right in the center of town. Check out some of the highlights from the festival lineup below:
Director: Shingo Wakagi, Japan, World Premiere
The opening film comes From “Hoshikageno Waltz” and “Totemu: Song for Peace” director Wakagi Shingo and is based on a 1989 novel by cult writer Banana Yoshimoto. While the original book is a collection of three short stories, the film chooses the only final one to adapt for the screen. Terako spends her days contemplating the recent suicide of best friend Shiori while getting into a relationship with a man whose wife is in an irreversible coma. Falling into deeper and deeper sleeps, Terako deals with death, anxiety and loneliness as the line between the waking and dream world becomes increasingly blurred.
The film stars Ando Sakura fresh off an impressive, physical performance in “100 Yen Love” along with Kore’eda regular Iura Arata.
Fires On The Plain
Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan
Shinya Tsukamoto’s harrowing account of one soldier’s nightmarish fight for survival behind enemy lines at the back end of the Second World War has already played at several international festivals, including Japan’s own Tokyo FilmEx, but is well worth another look. Based on a novel by Ooka Shohei and drawn from his own wartime experiences the film stars the legendary Tetsuo, the Iron Man director himself as the private who falls into near madness in the face of the horrific reality he finds himself in.
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2
Johnnie To, Hong Kong, Japan Premiere
Johnnie To follows up his 2011 romance “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with this comedy sequel that brings the cast of the original back together while throwing new members into the mix. Shen Ran (Louis Koo) and Zixin (Gao Yuayuan) are the former lovers who find themselves drawn towards each other despite having moved on to new lives and lovers. To made his name with gripping tales of crime, corruption and cops with the likes of “Breaking News,” “Election” and “Drug War.” While the director’s stab at a screwball comedy isn’t quite as highly anticipated, To is always one to watch.
Pan Chih Yuan, Taiwan, World Premiere
Appearing in the Competition and the Taiwan: Movies on the Move categories, Sashimi involves a popular porn actress, Natsumi, who discovers she is HIV positive in the wake of the suicide of a male co-star who was similarly afflicted. After receiving mysterious postcards from Taiwan, the actress decides to make the journey abroad in order to discover the story behind the mail. The follow-up feature from the Golden Horse–nominated “The Touch of Fate” director Pan Chih Yuan.
Ode To My Father
Yun Je-gyun, Korea, Japan Premiere
Korean film “Ode To My Father” spans generations as it tells the story of a man’s life from the 1950s to the present day, encompassing major historical events that befell the country. Encountering war and other hardships—all depicted in epic, big-scale action set pieces—Hwang Jung-min stars as the ordinary Busan man forced to show extraordinary courage and resilience to protect his family in the face of history’s trials and tribulations. Yun Je-gyun directs for the first time since his 2009 hit, “Tidal Wave.”
Osaka Asian Film Festival 2015
More information: http://www.oaff.jp/2015/en/
How much: Door ¥1,500, Adv ¥1,300
Specific venues for the event can be found at the official site of the Osaka Asian Film Festival, and the map below.