Saturday, September 27, 2008


Asian Focus at the 31st Mill Valley Film Festival

Asian cinema has been undeniably thriving in recently years, even the Hollywood begins to addict to remaking Asian films. I think the United Nations should pass an international law to ban such unethical remaking practice. Luckily, before the Hollywood messes up any Asian films, film lovers are fortunate to be able to enjoy them at various Bay area film festivals, such as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Frameline, and the Mill Valley Film Festival.

In fact, one of the four regional film focus at the 31st Mill Valley Film Festival is Asian Focus. The festival presents new works from Taiwan, South Korea, Laos and China.

  • The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

    Taking more than 23 years to complete, "The Betrayal" (Nerakhoon, USA/Laos 2008, 87 min.) tells an extraordinary story about refugees from Laos. After the Vietnam War, many Laos who helped the US became refugees. Phrasavath escaped Laos with his family and started a new life in the rough side of the Brooklyn, NY. His new journey is nothing close to a smooth sailing or safe heaven.

    The Betrayal

  • Hello, Stranger (처음 만난 사람들)

    Culture shock, language barrier, and human drama are all mixed together in a South Korean film "Hello, Stranger" (처음 만난 사람들, South Korea 2007, 113 min.). Jin-wook is a North Korean defector to the South. On the first night of his placement, he is lost and gets help from a cab driver who is also a fellow North Korean defector. Then on his way to meet his friends, Jin-wook helps out a Vietnamese illegal worker who does not speak Korean at all. The film makes gives these characters kind hearts like sticking price tags on goods at a supermarket. Despite the ludicrous writing, there are moments in the film that makes me want to go out my way to find a North Korean defector, and then bring him to Chinatown to help out those folks who speaks little English.

    Hello, Stranger

  • What on Earth Have I Done Wrong? (情非得已生存之道)

    Mockumentary "What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?" (情非得已生存之道, Taiwan 2007, 96 min.) is a comedy about the show business in Taiwan that blurs the line between fiction and reality. Director Doze Niu plays himself who raises money to make a, well, mockumentary. His sources seem quite diverse ranging from politicians to gangsters. Not surprisingly, he burns the money at all fronts as well, including hookers.

    What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?

  • Fujian Blue (金碧辉煌)

    Director Robin Weng's debut feature "Fujian Blue" (金碧辉煌, China 2007, 90 min.) tells stories set in Fujian province in China, where most the human trafficking are originated. It follows a group of gangsters who make money by blackmailing adulterers, including a gang member's own mother. Meanwhile, another gang member is trying to pay off the debt in order to send her sister overseas.

    Fujian Blue

  • God Man Dog (流浪神狗人)

    From the writer of "Spider Lilies" (刺青), Chen Singing's second feature "God Man Dog" (流浪神狗人, Taiwan 2008, 119 min.) blends three seemingly unrelated stories together through religion, fate, coincident, or even an accident. It involves many people from all walks of lives, such as a one leg truck driver saves money to fix his leg, an alcoholic couple trying to mend the relationship with their daughter, and a depressed mother dealing with the fragile marriage. None of them are happy. However, to connect the dots among these characters will require multiple viewings. So, let them be.

    God Man Dog

Still feel not enough Asian films? Come to the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival next March.


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