20th New York Asian Film Festival Screens Several South Korean Films
The 20th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) takes place from August 6 to 22 with in-person programming at Film at Lincoln Center and SVA Theatre, as well as options to view some films virtually. Following a fully virtual 19th edition, NYAFF will present almost half of this year’s 60+ titles in person.
“It’s been tough all over, but after last year’s unprecedented all-virtual edition, we’re thrilled to be back in person,” said Samuel Jamier, executive director of NYAFF and president of the New York Asian Film Foundation.
NYAFF’s 2021 lineup will include several critically acclaimed films from South Korea, opening with a screening of Ryu Seung-won’s Escape From Mogadishu, which will premiere in Korean cinemas at the same time. The tense political thriller is based on a true story, focusing on the escape of North and South Korean embassy officials during Somalia’s civil war in the 1990s. It stars Kim Yeon-seok, Jo In-sung and Heo Joon-ho. The film’s planned 2020 release was postponed due to COVID-19.
The festival lineup includes Book of Fish, a historical black-and-white film directed by Lee Joon-ik. The film, starring Sol Kyung-gu and Byun Yo-han, is about an exiled Joseon-era scholar and a conservative fisherman who write a book together. The film won the Grand Prize at the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards in May 2021.
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Samjin Company English Class is a 2020 comedy-drama written and directed by Lee Jong-pil, starring Go Ah-sung, Esom and Park Hye-su. The actresses play company employees who take an English class in the hopes of getting promoted, but in the process discover their company’s involvement in illegal business. They decide to investigate. The film won Best Film this year at the 57th Baeksang Awards.
Three Sisters was written and directed by Lee Seung-won. The story follows three middle-aged sisters, played by Kim Sun-young, Moon So-ri and Jang Yoon-ju, as they stage a birthday party for their father. While the sisters have differing problems that hobble their progress in life, they can each trace the cause of their dysfunction to their upbringing. Three Sisters won a Best Supporting Actress award for Kim Sun-young at the 57th Baeksang Awards.
Fighter is a film about a female North Korean defector living in South Korea. She wants to become a professional boxer and faces discrimination while adjusting to life in the south. The film is directed by Jero Yun, who directed the film Beautiful Days, and stars Lim Seong-mi, Baek Seo-bin and Oh Kwang-rok.
Midnight is a 2021 South Korean thriller film, written and directed by Kwon Oh-seung. The film, starring Jin Ki-joo, Wi Ha-joon and Kim Hye-yoon, depicts the terrifying pursuit of a deaf woman by a psychopath. The film’s release was also set for 2020, but postponed due to the pandemic.
Also featured are I Don’t Fire Myself, a film about adjusting to a new workplace, directed by Lee Tae-gyeom; 10 Months, a story about a pregnant gamer, directed by Nam Koong-sun; and Snowball, a coming-of-age story directed by Lee Woo-jung.
The festival schedule is subject to change and more films may be added.
NYAFF was the first North American film festival to champion the films of Asian cinema. Since 2010 the festival has been produced in collaboration with Film at Lincoln Center. The New York Asian Film Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and appreciation of Asian film culture and to building bridges between Asia and America.