Asian Cinema at the Melbourne International Film Festival 2015

MIFF 2015

It’s a little over two weeks until the 2015 edition of MIFF kicks off, and I don’t have enough time this year, sadly, to do a full rundown of every film from Asia showing at the festival like I did for SFF. Nonetheless, it would be remiss of me not to post about a few highlights; here’s a short rundown from my perusal of the program.

It’s jam-packed, as usual: the Accent on Asia stream alone has twenty-two films listed, and there are quite a few more hiding out in other corners of the list.

Accent on Asia (here’s the full list) includes:

  • The Assassin — Hou Hsiao-hsien’s absolutely stunning Taiwanese wuxia picture in which Shu Qi strolls (and stabs) her way through quite the most beautiful vision of Tang dynasty China I’ve ever seen.
  • Cemetery of Splendour — festival favourite Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s first feature since taking Cannes’ Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.
  • Court — a courtroom drama and much more besides from India, the first feature from director Chaitanya Tamhane. I caught this at SFF and liked it very much.
  • Journey to the Shore — from prominent Japanese horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, this melancholy ghost story snared the Best Director prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes.
  • Mountains May Depart — an ambitious drama from Chinese director Jia Zhangke in three parts: the first two in China, in 1990 and the present, and the third set in Australia in 2025!
  • Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen — a comedy from Japanese auteur Takeshi Kitano, in which former Yakuza boss Ryuzo decides to return to the game with a team of elderly gangsters. Looks like fun! (here’s a trailer)

As well as the specialist program, there are a couple of items not to be missed amongst the other films on show:

  • Kinji Fukusaku’s 1973 yakuza classic, Battles Without Honour and Humanity the first film in his five-film series of street-level organised crime films (here’s a trailer). Digitally restored and screening in the Masters & Retrospectives stream, this one is definitely not to be missed. See Grady Hendrix’s Kaiju Shakedown piece on these films for why!
  • Also restored and screening in 4K, Japanese director Kon Ichikawa’s Tokyo Olympiad (1965), a nonfiction record of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
  • Night shift fans may get into this year’s Takeshi Miike contribution: Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld, which MIFF’s blurb calls “gloriously berserk” and involves vampire gangsters.

Tickets are on sale now, and you’ll find everything you need at the official MIFF site!

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