The selection at Busan this year was unusual, especially because there were no standout masterpieces from the usual sources of Korean and Japanese films. However, the industry seems to be recovering after the impact of Covid, with a significant number of high-quality films representing the progress of Asian cinema. The decision to highlight Indonesian cinema was a wise one, as it reflects the potential of the ASEAN countries in the future of Asian film. Additionally, the South Asian entries this year were particularly strong, further solidifying this trend. Interestingly, the short film selection was even more compelling than the feature films, a trend that has been growing in recent years.
Without any delay, here is a compilation of the New York Asian Film Festival’s coverage for this year.
1. Interview: Kazuo Hara
2. Film Review: Salli (2023) by Lien Chen-hung
Lien Chen-hung is the director of a film that is divided into three parts. The first part introduces Hui-jun’s current situation, portraying her as a woman meant for greater things but stuck in a rural village where she is constantly gossiped about for being single at her age. The director also takes a slightly humorous approach to the family dynamics, with Hui-jun’s brother taking on the role of “husband” and head of the household. This leads to some feelings of jealousy from Hui-jun towards her sister-in-law, while Xin-Ru plays the role of the daughter in a clever and entertaining twist.
3. Interviews: Esther Liu
Movie Critique: The Dream Hunter (2023) directed by Suman Ghosh.
The idea of electric vans is a reflection of the effects of modernization in the workplace, which is evident in the work of Birju and Shona. The concept of people making a living by collecting garbage from wealthy households also highlights inequality and the racism that accompanies it, shown in a memorable scene in the film. The couple’s reaction to discovering a deodorant and owning a mobile phone further emphasizes the stark differences between the rich and poor (or developed and underdeveloped countries). The fact that the family and others in the same job turn to dreams, imagination, and alcohol as a form of solace solidifies this observation. The film also suggests that even in these circumstances, the desire for intimacy remains, possibly commenting on human nature.
Suman Ghosh and Shardul Bhardwaj engage in an interview with Panos Kotzathanasis.
6. Film Review: The Moon (2023) by Yuya Ishii
It is evident from the start that Ishii had a multitude of ideas for “The Moon”. The individual stories of the two Yokos and Sato are intriguing in their own right, with the complex dynamics between the first and her husband, and the second and her family, serving as potential main themes for a standalone movie. Additionally, the theme of mismanagement within the mental institution is portrayed in a gothic and terrifying manner. Ishii also incorporates shock value through certain patients, with one in particular being particularly grotesque, possibly in an attempt to emphasize their point.
Interview with Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Nusrat Imrose Tisha
I must begin by asking you this question, Mostofa. This is your initial credit as an actor, what led you to make this choice?
Farooki: Acting can be a vulnerable experience. When you’re in front of the camera, you’re on your own, looking out for yourself. It’s a lonely feeling to expose your emotions to the whole world. This vulnerability was something I anticipated and felt when deciding whether or not to act. Despite co-writing the script with Tisha and knowing that we were the best fit for the roles, I was hesitant to make the decision. Tisha kept pushing me, reminding me that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that the outcome would be completely different with someone else playing the role. After some hesitation, I was convinced by Chorki’s CEO and Tisha’s persistence to say yes and take on the role.
“Paradise (2023) by Prasanna Vithanage: A Movie Review”
The film directed by Prasanna Vithanage is divided into two parts, with the robbery scene serving as a contrasting point. The first part serves as a visual tour of the country, beautifully captured by DP Rajeev Ravi and showcasing the stunning beauty of one of the most visually appealing countries in the world. However, as the narrative progresses, comments about the country start to appear, such as the differing views on the myths of Ramayana between Sri Lankans and Indians, the power dynamics between the couple and locals, and the lack of proper accommodations in the hotel highlighting the current state of the country.
9. Interviews: Prasanna Vithanage
10. Short Film Review: Everybody’s Gotta Love Sometimes (2023) by Sein Lyan Tun
Given that the movie is heavily based on personal experiences, it is particularly brave for the characters to openly discuss their desires. This is especially uncommon for a homosexual refugee, making it even more courageous for someone to share their story in such a vulnerable way. However, this is precisely what Sein Lyan Tun accomplishes through the character of Ko Latt, who effectively represents the director’s own thoughts and perspective in a truly captivating performance.
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