Sotaru lives in a Government-built estate in Japan. After a life-changing event in his early years, he develops an unassailable fear of leaving the housing estate. As he goes through school, puberty and work his friend’s leave, relationships come and go and yet he still cannot bring himself to leave.
Terracotta Film Festival
HAPPY TOGETHER is another classic that the festival gave me a chance to watch on the big screen (Note 1). Set in Buenos Aries, it’s the story of two lovers on a journey, a story of the city and a story of growing up. It is, I would expect, the only Hong Kong gay film set in South America. I could be wrong about this, of course, I am only a new student of Asian cinema.
LOVE ME NOT is a love story, which works its way through strict divisions of sexuality and barriers that society puts in place. Aggie and Dennis have been friends for years, and love together now, although each considers the other a friend only. Aggie is interested in girls, and Dennis is interested in boys – so how could anything more develop between them?
Looking for her long lost boyfriend, Fleur (Anita MUI) places an ad in a local paper, the twist being that she is now a ghost. The film jumps between her story in the 1930′s, and the hunt for her love in the 1980′s. In life she was an elegant courtesan who meets and is won over by CHAN Chen Pang (Leslie CHEUNG). They begin an intense relationship, and promise to meet one another again after death.
The film effectively uses the jumps in the story between past and (1980′s) present to tell the story in an intriguing fashion, and also to investigate the differences in society, relationships and attitudes to love over the years. There are also interesting questions raised about how far we would actually go for love, and how much is merely performance and drama. Colour and clever use of location really enhance much of this.
It is Anita MUI’s performance that really gripped me. Her sensuality and confidence, as well as her determination really carries the film forward, and ties together all of the various plot lines and themes.
As a relative newcomer to much of Asian cinema, including Hong Kong based films, it was a real pleasure to have a chance to see ROUGE for the first time and on the big screen. The story is one of love, and of facing hard emotions; which is something we can all relate to.
Terracotta Festival, in association with Cathay Pacific, present an exciting competition to win a trip to the vibrant city of Hong Kong.
Terracotta are partnering with Cathay Pacific to celebrate the launch of their 5th daily London Heathrow to Hong Kong flight. Accommodation is provided by the five star Design Hotels ™ member, The Mira Hong Kong.
To enter the competition, make and submit a short film on the theme: “Asia In London”. The film must last no more than 3 minutes in length.
Submissions are open from Tuesday 23 April and close at 12 noon 20 May.
A panel of judges including guest directors and actors attending Terracotta Festival 2013 will select the winning entry, and the winner notified by 30 May.
The winning entry will enjoy an Official World Premiere screening at Terracotta Festival and a prize presentation ceremony.
The prize consists of:
• 2 Cathay Pacific Economy class return flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong
• 3 nights stay at a Design Hotel The Mira Hong Kong including daily breakfast for two
• Winning entry to have an Official World Premiere screening at Terracotta Festival 2013
The competition is open to all UK residents aged 18 or over. Full terms and conditions apply.
I am a huge fan of the work that Terracotta and their partners do in bringing Asian cinema to the UK. Each year they host a film festival in Central London, which always includes some absolute ‘must-see’ films and events and are, frankly, great fun.
This year, the festival is expanding from the usual long weekend to a full ten days, and will run from 6 – 15 June.
There are four strands to the festival:
CURRENT ASIAN CINEMA
Showcasing the best current films, with Q&A’s, workshops and other great events.
IN MEMORY OF: Leslie Cheung & Anita Mui
Two prolific and well respected Hong Kong actors, Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, passed away unexpectedly, and in tragic circumstances, in 2003. Ten years later, their impression on film lovers around the world is still very strong. Terracotta Festival would like to take this opportunity to present some highlights of their screen legacy.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Indonesia
Taking place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), this section will showcase the exciting breadth of genres, directors and subject matters from this country.
Terror Cotta Horror All-Nighter
Great fun last year! A diverse selection of horror from the Far East – where some of the best in modern horror is born/created/escapes.
TomJupiter will keep you up-to-date on the festival, and I hope to see you there!
Kaori, Erika and Aki are three friends who have taken a vacation together, staying in a house by the sea. Early on they notice an awful smell, and are freaked out by a weird scuttling creature in the house.
The next day, they are attacked by a shark. Whilst at home.
The shark, you see, has sharp metal legs. It crashes around the house, injuring Erika. It seems that fish (amongst a myriad of other sea creatures) have somehow developed these legs, and are attacking Japan. What starts as a small isolated incident quickly escalates into a national emergency as thousands, if not millions, of fish, sharks, even whales make their way onto land.
Kaori travels to Tokyo, in an attempt to find her beloved, while Erika and Aki stay at the holiday home.
The characters are basically riffs on the standard horror victims, although the relationship between Erika and Aki develops in a darker way than I would have perhaps expected, and the film manages to avoid some of the tired cliches.
The animation is great, with what seems to be a mixture of basic cell animation (or a digital version thereof) and some more CGI heavy moments. It’s clear, good looking and has a great sense of scale at times.
Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack repeats many of the themes apparent in Japanese ‘creature features’ since Godzilla. Themes which are perhaps more relevant now than for many years. Monsters, death and destruction climbing out from the ocean. There are many scenes from high above, where the thousands of creatures look like a flood filling the streets, reminiscent of footage from the recent tsunami.
The potential for bad science (Which is even traced back to WWII, the same age as the atomic weapons that bred Godzilla) is also touched on.
The sense of danger, panic and emergency is tangible, and it is perhaps this that lifts the film from being a basic monster film. There does seem to be more going on in Japan than just the story we’re following with our protagonists.
The monstrous here, though, is the ease with which the humans are reverted to simple machines – moving, attacking, excreting. What makes it disgusting is the focus on bodily gas, orifices and so on, while the soul and mind of humans seems so casually discarded.
Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack is inventive, disturbing and thoroughly entertaining.
Trailers, a couple of features on the Terracotta Film Festival, an interview.
HK15, a festival of film celebrating the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China, kicks off tomorrow with a fantastic programme of 15 films. It’s tough to pick out highlights from such a strong line-up, but here are the three films I am most looking forward to seeing:
A Simple Life July 2nd | 7pm: Based on a true story, A Simple Life focusses on the relationship between Roger (Andy Lau), the master of a large, rich family, and Ah Tao (Deanie Ip), the family’s servant who raised Roger from childhood. As the ravages of old age start to take their toll on Ah Tao a role reversal takes place; Roger becomes the care-giver, trying his best to help the spirited and self-sufficient Ah Tao as her body begins to deteriorate.
I saw this film at last year’s London Film Festival and cannot wait to see it again. The performances by both actors are wonderful – Ip won the best actress award at Venice Film Festival – they bring such warmth and affection to their roles and the, perhaps unlikely, relationship between the characters is totally believable. The story is incredibly sweet but never becomes mawkish, there is plenty of humour, and if you’re not at least close to tears by the end you need to go and find your misplaced soul.
One-Armed Swordsman July 7th | 8.45: Produced by the Shaw Brothers, 1967’s One-Armed Swordsman is a seminal film of the wuxia genre. After his father, Fang Cheng, gives his life to defend the master of The Golden Sword School, Fang Kang – now orphaned – is taken in by the school’s master as an act of gratitude. In a conflict with his hostile fellow students, Fang Kang loses an arm and is forced to leave the school. Xiao Man, a peasant girl, nurses him back to health and helps him develop a new style of one-armed sword fighting. Through determination he hones his skills to a level at which he may be able to aid his former master in the face of a dangerous threat.
Considered by many critics to be a turning point within the wuxia genre – moving away from the dramatic, theatrical style to a grittier, bloodier aesthetic influenced by Japanese samurai films – One-Armed Swordsman is a must see on the big screen.
Big Blue Lake July 9th | 6.15: Jessey Tsang Tsui-Shan bases Big Blue Lake on her own experiences of returning home. Protagonist, Cheung left home to become an actress, after years away she returns to the childhood village in which she grew up. Finding that her mother has developed Alzheimers Disease, Cheung decides to stay on and take care of her. This decision sparks a personal journey on which Cheung rediscovers her former home and her own sense of self.
Shot in a cinema verite style, the film promises to be a quiet, understated study of personal discovery and human relationships. Very much looking forward to seeing it.
It’s not long until Terracotta’s Hong Kong 15 festival is underway, celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Hong Kong being handed back to China. This, of course, makes me feel a little old (Was it really fifteen years ago?).
Below is a list of the films playing, in date order and with the start times. I hope to be attending a few, so expect reviews for TomJupiter and Cinetalk to follow at some point.
The festival is taking place at the Odeon, Covent Garden from 3-14 July. I’m particularly excited to see A Simple Life, as I have been informed by someone I greatly respect that it is one of the best films she saw last year!
A SIMPLE LIFE
Monday 2 July, 7.00
Tuesday 3 July, 6.15
Wednesday 4 July, 6.15
THE DETECTIVE 2
Thursday 5 July, 6.15
MADE IN HONG KONG
Friday 6 July, 7.15
EAST MEETS WEST
Saturday 7 July, 2.15
THE 36th CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN
Saturday 7 July, 6.15
Saturday 7 July, 8.45
Sunday 8 July, 2.15
BIG BLUE LAKE
Monday 9 July, 6.15
WHEN BECKHAM MET OWEN
Tuesday 10 July, 6.15
Wednesday 11 July, 6.15
Thursday 12 July, 6.15
Friday 13 July, 8.45
LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE
Saturday 14 July, 6.30
A great line-up from Terracotta
Having thoroughly enjoyed the Terracotta Film Festival earlier this year, I’m very excited to get a second helping of quality Asian film with the Hong Kong 15 festival. The full line-up was announced on twitchfilm, and more details are slowly appearing on the official website.
The festival is running July 2 – 14. I’ll see you all there! (Except on the 3rd, when I’ll see you all at the Cinetalk & Genesis Cinema film quiz!)