[After his piece on MIFF’s retrospective sections, Julian continues his picks for specific categories ahead of MIFF’s 2013 programme launch.]
The Melbourne International Film Festival dedicates a section every year to the very best films being made in our region, titled Accent on Asia. The section is made up of approximately twenty titles, with Japanese and South Korean films usually taking up around two-thirds of the line-up, while efforts from China, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam also regularly feature.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at my selections for the Accent on Asia section.
[Please note that my picks do not include films that were revealed in official MIFF announcements; mentioned in my three part feature series on titles for major Australian Film Festivals, or selected as part of this year’s Sydney Film Festival.]
36 | dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit | THA
Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s impressive debut took out both the main jury and FIPRESCI prizes at last year’s Busan International Film Festival, with the effort composed of 36 scenes following a location scout taking photographs of potential buildings for a future film. This minimalist and poetic debut has appeared at a number of festivals already, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it selected for MIFF.
Dear Dolphin | dir. Kang Ji-na | KOR
The feature debut of the acclaimed short filmmaker sees Kang expand on her previous explorations of loss and loneliness in a strongly directed work. Stylistically vibrant and featuring a deft performance from Lee Yeong-jin, this one should appear at either MIFF or KOFFIA.
Hardcore Comedy | dir. Henri Wong, Chong Siu Wing, Andy Lo | HKG
Inspired by last year’s Vulgaria, the craziness continues with this three-part omnibus film. Mashing genre and narratives in a raunchy and over-the-top manner, this looks like an apt continuation of last year’s left-field selections.
Kil | dir. Nik Amir Mustapha | MAS
One of a growing number of independent films being made in Malaysia, this dark romantic comedy comes from a University of Sydney and Metro Screen alumni. The film screened at this year’s Cannes Market, and is set for international screenings, so it would be great to see Kil play at an Australian festival.
Lesson of the Evil | dir. Takashi Miike | JPN
It’s a new Takashi Miike slasher film about an English teacher with severe antisocial personality disorder who systematically murders the students and parents of an elite high school. It’s MIFF. Need I say more?
Mystery | dir. Lou Ye | CHN
Despite an appearance at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Lou Ye’s latest work did not play at a local festival in 2012. Winner of Best Picture at this year’s Asian Film Awards, the beautiful but violent romantic melodrama of infidelity and revenge should warrant a screening in Melbourne.
Nobody’s Daughter Hae-Won | dir. Hong Sang-soo | KOR
Like Takashi Miike, Hong Sang-soo efforts are almost always a lock-in for the Melbourne International Film Festival.
See You Tomorrow, Everyone | dir. Yoshihiro Nakamura | JPN
Based on Takehiko Kubodera’s novel, the director of Fish Story takes a multi-layered look at life on a Japanese council estate. Featuring a strong central performance from Gaku Hamada, this is a thoughtful tale of a man who never wants to leave his danchi. An entertaining and creative film that builds to an evocative and intelligent climax, See You Tomorrow, Everyone is primed for an Australian festival screening.
Unbeatable | dir. Dante Lam | HKG
Unlikely to get selected at an international festival prior to its domestic theatrical release, Dante Lam’s newest character-driven MMA drama is a long-shot. Nevertheless, the film took out the Best Actor and Actress prizes at the recent Shanghai International Film Festival, and trailers show a strongly directed and performed effort. It may focus on the clichéd redemptive mentor-pupil relationship, but the talents of Lam and Nick Cheung should elevate the film to engrossing heights.
So that’s what I would add to the Accent on Asia section for MIFF 2013. Have I missed anything? What would you want if you had free reign?