Opening this year on 19th October at ODEON Leicester Square with Hwang Dong- hyuk’s historical drama The Fortress, as an international premiere, the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) will run for 11 days from 19th to 29th October. It will close with Takeshi Kitano’s latest yakuza film that completes the Outrage trilogy, Outrage Coda.
Building on the success of last year’s first edition, LEAFF 2017 will showcase enchanting stories, insightful discussions, and diverse filmic voices from South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Screenings, including 7 international premieres, 7 European premieres, 13 UK premieres, will take place at prominent venues around central London: including ODEON Leicester Square, Picturehouse Central, Regent Street Cinema, Empire Cinema Haymarket, ODEON Panton Street, and East London’s Rich Mix.
There will be seven strands that run throughout the festival: Official Selection, Hong Kong: Now and Then (1997-2017), Stories of Women, Festival Focus, Retrospective, Competition, and Special Highlights Screenings. These sections have been carefully curated and programmed by Festival Director Hyejung Jeon, with Festival Advisors Roger Garcia (Hong Kong International Film Festival) and Mark Adams (Artistic Director, Edinburgh International Film Festival); Programmers Jasper Sharp (Critic), Chanel Kong (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival) and Eunyoung Mo (Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival); and Programme Consultant Damon Wise (Critic).
The overarching theme of LEAFF 2017 is “time” and the perception of “time”. Opening with a period drama that is set in 1636, through the selection of films, different generations are shown through stories from East Asia. Through the Special Highlights Screenings, the audience are able to revisit animations from Japan that have never been shown on the big screen, celebrating the 100 years of Japanese anime. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, we look back at how Hong Kong cinema has shaped contemporary cinema over the twenty years. In all sections, social issues related to time is demonstrated, whether that is addressing historical events and hardships, or simply a relationship between a mother and a daughter.
In addition to our stellar Opening and Closing Galas, the LEAFF Official Selection will showcase the latest works from some of East Asia’s most distinguished filmmakers. These include Lee Joon-ik’s powerful Anarchist from Colony, Park Hoon-jung’s politically charged thriller VIP and time-loop sci-fi Reset by Chang. Highlighting the stylistic and cultural heterogeneity of the festival, this section will also feature Li Ruijun’s ruthlessly realistic, yet soft and empathetic Walking Past the Future and the Philippines’ Joel Lamangan’s indie hit Bhoy Intsik. Director Liu Jian’s Have A Nice Day employs animation to heighten a sense of societal transformation in contemporary China.
Hong Kong: Now and Then (1997-2017)
This year sees the 20th anniversary of the inception of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. To mark this historic occasion, LEAFF will celebrate twenty years of breathtaking Hong Kong cinema with a specially curated programme.
Highlights include Johnnie To’s madcap Triad caper Triad Election; Herman Yau’s latest explosive thriller Shock Wave; Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s venerated double-crossing police narrative Infernal Affairs, and Wong Kar Wai’s kaleidoscopic love letter to martial arts The Grandmaster shown in 3D for the first time in the UK. LEAFF looks back at how Hong Kong cinema has shaped not only contemporary Hong Kong cinema but the world cinema through advanced direction and filmmaking over the last twenty years.
Stories of Women
LEAFF 2017 sees the return of our lauded Stories of Women section. The strand offers cinematic prisms into the female experience, with narratives concerning the lives of women from across East Asia. Stories of Women is supported by PAWA, the Pan-Asian Womens’ Association that is a charity to help young girls in Asia receive education.
This year’s films include Cho Hyun-hoon’s ambitious debut Jane that addresses gender issues and how lonely one can feel as a girl even at an early age, Kim Jong-kwan’s single location indie drama The Table, Huang Hui- chen’s introspective documentary Small Talk, based on a conversation between the Director and her mother, and Jenny Lu’s critique of sexual exploitation in The Receptionist, filmed in London. With the two directors from Taiwan, Huang Hui- chen and Jenny Lu, a night to celebrate Taiwanese filmmaking will be organized in partnership with the Ministry of Culture Taiwan and Taipei Representative Office in the UK.
This strand celebrates the life and work of a luminary of East Asian Cinema. Following the success of the section last year with the Korean filmmaker, Park Chan-wook, this year, LEAFF will hold a retrospective to look back at Japanese cinema to celebrate much loved past works of Japan’s most revered contemporary filmmakers including Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Naomi Kawase.
The retrospective highlights the winner of the Jury Prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard competition: Japan’s own master of horror, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata, a dark family drama, as well as Naomi Kawase’s beautiful and thoughtful The Mourning Forest. This section revisits works of contemporary Japanese filmmakers who have internationally released their features this year and will have UK release in the coming months. LEAFF is delighted to show the latest work by Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Before We Vanish.
“Fantastic Film” Festival Focus
Each year, LEAFF collaborates with Asian film festivals to bridge the cultural gap between East and West. For this year’s Festival Focus, we are delighted to partner with Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN), which is known to screen the best thrillers and fantasy genre films from Korea and East Asia. Programmer Eunyoung Mo will attend to introduce the section. Features include a complex and dark animation I’ll Just Live In Bando directed by Lee Yong-sun, the provocative The End by award-winning Director Jeon Kyu-hwan, and a collection of fantastic shorts by Korean actors who turned directors.
The Competition Section endeavours to promote imaginative and original features from the next generation of East Asian filmmakers. Focusing on directors with three features or less, the competition will be judged by our panel of industry experts, including Helen De Witt (programmer, BFI) and Giovanna Fulvi (programmer, Toronto International Film Festival). The section includes poignant and surreal Vietnamese drama The Way Station (dir. Anh Hong), hilarious comedy Loser’s Adventure (dir. Ko Bong-soo), Japanese actor Takumi Saito’s debut as a director in Blank 13, terrifying Korean horror The Mimic (dir. Huh Jung) and hard-hitting social drama Shuttle Life (dir. Tan Seng Kiat), some of which have already received good results back home. All Competition films will be shown as UK or European premieres. The best filmmaker will be awarded the Phillips-Lee Award and a cash prize of £2000.
The Centenary of Japanese Animation
LEAFF 2017 will also present special screenings to surprise and delight all fans of East Asian Cinema. Titled “The Centenary of Japanese Animation”, this specially curated section by curator and specialist in Japanese cinema, Jasper Sharp, will celebrate a century of Japanese animation. This special section commemorates the centenary with premieres of two overlooked classics that have remained bizarrely little known and rarely screened in the United Kingdom, and a panel discussion exploring its rich and varied history: Maasaki Yuasa’s hallucinatory feature Mind Game, and Osamu Tezuka and Eiichi Yamamoto’s provocative Cleopatra.
Hyejung Jeon, Director of The London East Asia Film Festival commented: “Building on our incredibly successful first edition, I am delighted to bring LEAFF back to London in 2017. As a global hub, London represents the perfect Western gateway to show films from all over East Asia, appreciating the rich diversity of a region bubbling with creativity and renewal. We look forward to seeing you at the largest LEAFF yet!”
- ODEON Leicester Square, 24-26 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LQ.
- Picturehouse Central, Corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Great WindmillStreet, Piccadilly, London W1D 7DH
- Empire Cinema Haymarket, 63-65 Haymarket, St. James’s, London SW1Y 4RL
- Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent Street, London, W1B 2UW
- ODEON Panton Street, 11-18 Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DP
- The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, Soho, London W1D 3DH
- Rich Mix, 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA
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