Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 AmérAsia Film Festival, March 1-11

The AmérAsia Film Festival is proud to announce the five principal subcategories – Asian Treasures, Animation Spotlight, WeDistribute, Québécois Special and AmerAsia (AA) Shorts – for this third edition of Montreal's premiere festival celebrating the latest Asian and Asian-Canadian cinema, taking place on the first two weekends of March.

Asian Treasure
The full line-up of blockbuster Asian films that will screen over the course of the festival has been chosen from the best of the continent's creative talent. Oscar-nominated Chinese blockbuster Aftershock, the international premiere of Kyung-soon's Red Maria, funny and moving major festival selection The Day He Arrives by director Hong Sangsoo, the Cannes award-winning Arirang by renowned Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk, Best Newcomer nominee at the 2012 Asian Film Awards I Wish, and Vietnamese director Cuong Ngo's captivating personal portraits in Pearls of the Far East will all feature.

Also included is 24th Tokyo International Film Festival selection Power of Two, a Japan/U.S. co-production about organ donation, and the directorial debut of Academy Award-nominated producer Marc Smolowitz (The Weather Underground), who will be attending the festival.

The festival opens with the Canadian premiere of Korean box office hit Leafie, a Hen into the Wild, based on the best-selling Korean children's novel, and to be distributed across Canada by 108 Media. It will pair alongside Muybridge's Strings, a Japanese-Canadian animation from Academy Award Nominee Koji Yamamura and current 2012 Genie Best Animated Short contender.

Animation Spotlight
Curated by internationally renowned animation writer and researcher Joon Yang Kim, who will guest appear throughout the festival, the Spotlight section showcases seven animated features. These family-oriented films shine a light on recent trends in Asian animation.

Of particular note is adventure film Yona Yona Penguin , the first fully 3D CGI film from famed Japanese anime studio Madhouse, and the story of a lost and lonely, penguin-suited street urchin who saves a mysterious subterranean town, and the North American premiere of Green Days (Korea), a hand-drawn feature animation awarded the jury special prize at the Seoul International Cartoon andAnimation Festival and nominated at Annecy in 2011. AmérAsia is also pleased to host the massively popular, twisted Romeo and Juliet animation story, Roadside Romeo (India), independent Israeli movie Lost in Tel-Aviv, featuring Asian animation, and spotlight viewings of 9 short films by Chinese animation artist Sun Xun.

This category is dedicated to Canadian film companies that distribute significant Asian art house films in Canada.

The category includes Korean film Poetry – the 2010 winner of Best Screenplay at Cannes – from director Lee Chang-Dong and distributor Metropole, and Chinese documentary film I Wish I Knew, byacclaimed director Jia Zhangke and distributed by filmswelike. Also from filmswelike is The Light Thief (about an electrician with far greater effect on the people around him than his job defines) by Kazakhstan director Aktan Arym Kubat. And of special interest to sushi lovers, E1 Entertainment's Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a Japanese doc about a famous sushi chef.

Quebecois Special
This section focuses on outstanding Asian-Quebeçois filmmaking and the distribution companies that support the work. Of particular significance is the feature-length The Vanishing Spring Light, winner atthe 24th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Shot in China by debuting director Yu Xun, The Vanishing Spring Light chronicles the candid conversations a Chinese grandmother has with the filmmaker about her health and children, conversations that turn out to have a tragic subtext. Canadian distributors EyeSteelFilm will receive an AmérAsia recognition award for supporting richAsian content.

Also on deck is short film House for Sale, from Montreal-born director Eisha Marjara as well as Our Subject is Hair (which blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction), by Quebec director Vincent Toi.

AA Shorts (AmerAsia Shorts)
This unique two-part category focuses on both documentaries and dramas representing the best of Asian or Asian-inspired short films from around the world.

The documentary component will feature a number of riveting works, including The Real M*A*S*H, inspired by the TV series M*A*S*H but filtered through the harsh realities of the Korean War, by Toronto-based director Min Sook Lee.

Coconut is the story of a struggling Indian college student in Pittsburgh who tries to get into the entertainment business. The Sugar Bowl is about the failure of the sugar industry in the Philippines, and mixed doc/drama Canopy Crossings tells the tale of the colourful Maeklong 'railway market' in Thailand.

The drama component leads off with the fun and Vancouver-set Square Dance Story by director Jason Karman, and is followed by Within our Darkness (an experimental film about young love in Korea), Young Ligaw (a young Winnipeg man fantasizes about wooing his love interest by performing anindigenous Philippine courtship dance) and Cheonggyecheon (experimental animation about a once-controversial stream flowing through central Seoul).

About the AmérAsia Film Festival
The third edition of the AmérAsia Film Festival takes place March 1-4 and 9-11 over two weekends at the SAT, CinéRobothèque (NFB), the Cinéma du Parc, Cinémathèque québécoise and Hotel Zero 1.

Tickets at $10, events at $15, available from all venues on 20 February. AmerAsia will be appearing on La Nuit Blanche (February 25) at La SAT with a show from its K-Pop Phoenix Dance Group.

The AmérAsia Film Festival is organized by Ciné-Asie, a non-profit organization based in Montreal which has worked for more than 16 years in the promotion of Asian and Asian-Canadian culture and cinema. The festival will also feature the Smartphone Film Challenge, a chance for filmmakers to make a 4-minute film entirely on a smartphone, as well as the 4th National Video Portrait Competition. A series of seminars on financing and the Asian diaspora on screen, as well as a K-Pop Dance and Fashion Show, will complete the festival.

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