- Deborah Chu
- 30 October 2018
Expect diverse offerings from 13 East Asian countries, from chilling horror flicks to North Korean rom-coms
The third annual London East Asia Film Festival returns to the capital with its largest, boldest and most varied programme yet. From Thu 25 October to Sun 4 November, cinemas across the city will screen 60 feature films from 13 different East Asian countries, including Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines.
With an eye on the ‘future’, the theme of the 2018 programme reflects upon what lies in store for both East Asia and London, with the films providing a useful platform for dialogue on issues such as youth, human interaction, development, cultural and social change.
Nine curated strands run through the festival, which a celebration of the career of Korean action and drama actor Kim Yoon Seok; a selection of films from the Nara International Film Festival; a showcase of Taiwanese cinema’s new wave; and the return of Stories of Women, a strand dedicated to films made by women, as well as those that highlight the voices and experiences of women. Though LEAFF has already begun, with such a wealth of incredible cinema to catch, there’s still plenty of incredible thought-provoking cinema to enjoy. Here are a few that we’re especially excited about.
Girls Always Happy, Vue Piccadilly, Wed October 31, 6.30pm (China)
Having scooped major accolades at the Hong Kong International Festival and the Shanghai International Film Festival, comedy-drama Girls Always Happy has been lauded for its piercing confrontation of contemporary city life and the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. Set in a Beijing hutong (narrow alleyways formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences), the film follows a single mother and her daughter, who are locked in a codependent relationship that swings from ferocious bickering to tender banter.
Comrade Kim Goes Flying, Vue Piccadilly, Thu November 1, 4pm (North Korea, Belgium, UK)
The totalitarian state of North Korea is a strange backdrop for a rom-com, and yet somehow Comrade Kim Goes Flying pulls it off with great aplomb. The chirpy film follows a young female coal miner who dreams of becoming a trapeze artist and, as the first Western-financed film made in North Korea, is notable for its emphasis on comedy rather than state propaganda, with the directors expressing the desire for it to be viewed and enjoyed on both sides of the Korean peninsula. The film will be followed by a Q&A with directors Nicholas Bonner and Anja Daelemans.
The Witch, Vue Piccadilly, Fri November 2, 7pm (South Korea)
Screened as part of LEAFF’s Horror Special, this latest offering from acclaimed director Park Hoon-jung sees a young, bright high school student enter a nationally televised audition program to support her struggling family, only for strange people from her shadowy past to begin appearing in her life. The Witch has already garnered big wins at the Grand Bell Awards and the Seoul Awards. A Q&A with the director and lead actor Kim Da-mi will take place following the screening.
The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful, Vue Piccadilly, Sat November 3, 9.45pm (Taiwan)
Celebrated actor Kara Hui helms this crime drama about a wealthy family whose glamorous lifestyle is violently disrupted by a murder, which spirals into a game of survival that unveils the dark politics and shrewd dealings that underpin their existence. The film won Best Feature, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Horse Awards.
Closing Gala: Ramen Shop, Vue Piccadilly, Sun November 4, 7pm (Singapore, Japan, France)
Selected as this year’s Closing Gala film, Ramen Shop follows young ramen chef Masato’s journey from Japan and Singapore to learn more about his familial roots after his father’s death. Expect plenty of glorious, mouthwatering shots of Singapore’s famed cuisine along this emotional journey.
London East Asia Film Festival, various venues, London, Thu 25 Oct–Sun 4 Nov. Tickets.