[With just over a week until the Melbourne International Film Festival programme is launched, Julian considers how he would fill out the festival if he was given the opportunity.]
The Melbourne International Film Festival dedicates a section to the very best of the films being made in our region, titled Accent on Asia. Last year featured nineteen titles, with six coming from Japan and another six coming from South Korea. China had two, as did Thailand, while Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam had one. So while Japan and South Korea dominate two-thirds of the line-up, five other countries from the region had representation.
With that in mind, let’s start with what has already been announced. From the First Glance and Cannes titles announcements, festival favourites Takashi Miike (both Ace Attorney and For Love’s Sake), Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country) and Im Sang-soo (The Taste of Money) are certainties, alongside Hirokazu Kore-eda’s I Wish, Koji Wakamatsu’s 11:25 The Day Mishima Chose His Own Fate, Yuen Sang-ho’s The King of Pigs, and Edwin’s Postcards from the Zoo.
That already accounts for seven titles, with four from Japan, three from South Korea and one from Indonesia. Next up I looked at ones that played at the Sydney Film Festival: Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, Shunichiro Miki’s The Warped Forest, and Ann Hui’s A Simple Life. The latter is a viable candidate; the presence of Tony Leung, its heartfelt story, and its Hong Kong-based production make it an immediate selection.
Hara-Kiri, however, is not as attractive, as it would mean giving a third spot to Miike in an already limited category. Unless the festival wanted a “Focus on Miike” section so it could play with the director’s other films, I would consider Hara-Kiri a back-up title alongside The Warped Forest.
Following on from this, I looked at South East Asian cinema, which provided plenty of interesting features to choose from. I’ve selected three, all from different nations and all with very different styles. First up is Lost in Paradise, seemingly the first film from Vietnam to depict homosexuality in a positive – if incredibly saccharine – light. The second feature is Teddy Soeriaatmadja’s Lovely Man, following a devout Muslim girl who finally finds her father, who is plying his trade as a transvestite prostitute (Donny Damara in an award-winning performance). And the final film is P-047, a Thai production following two men as they break into apartments while their tenants are at work and borrow their lives.
So I now have films from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Where next? A trip to Taiwan reveals plenty of options but I settled on two titles: the historical action epic Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale and the romance film You Are the Apple of My Eye. Then onto China, where I find another historical action epic in 1942, as well as two strong arthouse flicks in Egg and Stone and Sentimental Animal.
And to round out the section, I have included Sion Sono’s Himizu and Shinya Tsukamoto’s Kotoko, as well as Korean courtroom drama The Client and Kim Ji-woon & Yim Pil-sung’s anthology feature Doomsday Book. And then there is the unlikely possibility of Mamoru Hosada’s (Summer Wars) next film The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, which hits Japanese cinemas on July 21.
So there you have it: five Japanese titles, five South Korean, three from China, two each from Taiwan and Indonesia, and one each from Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong, with another three Japanese films on standby and another an unlikely acquisition. Let’s take a look at my selections for the Accent on Asia section:
1942 | dir. Feng Xiaogang | CHN
Ace Attorney | dir. Takashi Miike | JPN
The Client | dir. Sohn Young-Sung | KOR
Doomsday Book | dir. Kim Ji-woon, Yim Pil-sung | KOR
Egg and Stone | dir. Huang Ji | CHN
For Love’s Sake | dir. Takashi Miike | JPN
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai | dir. Takashi Miike | JPN [Back-up Title]
Himizu | dir. Sion Sono | JPN [Back-up Title]
I Wish | dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda | JPN
In Another Country | dir. Hong Sang-soo | KOR
The King of Pigs | dir. Yuen Sang-ho | KOR
Kotoko | dir. Shinya Tsukamoto | JPN
Lost in Paradise | dir. Vu Ngoc Dang | VIE
Lovely Man | dir. Teddy Soeriaatmadja | IDN
P-047 | dir. Kongdej Jaturanrasamee | THA
Postcards from the Zoo | dir. Edwin | IDN/GER/HKG/CHN
Sentimental Animal | dir. Wu Quan | CHN
A Simple Life | dir. Ann Hui | HKG
The Taste of Money | dir. Im Sang-soo | KOR
The Warped Forest | dir. Shunichiro Miki | JPN [Back-up Title]
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale | dir. Te-Sheng Wei | TAI
The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki | dir. Mamoru Hosada | JPN [Unlikely]
You Are the Apple of My Eye | dir. Giddens Ko | TAI
Honourable mentions and wishful thinking: The End of Puberty, Song of Silence, Kazoku no kuni, Love, Starry Starry Night, Leaving Gracefully, Ruroni Kenshin, The Front Line.
So that’s what I would have in the programme for MIFF 2012. Have I missed anything? What would you want if you had free reign?