The New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) screened films over the last two-and-a-half weeks, from 22 June to 9 July, opening at the Walter Reade Theatre at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and closing the festival at the SVA Theatre, both in New York. This year marked the festival’s 15th anniversary edition since its first installment in 2002. The festival is the flagship event of Subway Cinema, a nonprofit organisation in New York dedicated to Asian popular film culture, which presented the festival in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
The festival’s focus on innovative Asian cinema frequently makes for a selection of avant-garde films of many genres, emphasising art house, offbeat, and unconventional works coming out of Asia, and this year’s selection exemplified that tradition. Films screened at this year’s NYAFF were organised by categories of special focus in the world of contemporary Asian film: Hong Kong Panorama, South Korean Cinema, New Cinema from Japan, Southeast Asia in Motion, Taiwan Cinema Now, and a dedicated section for animated films and a special tribute to the founders of the festival for its 15th anniversary, Animated Features & Founding Fathers Tribute.
Named in 2015 by The Village Voice as New York City’s Best Film Festival, the NYAFF is one of the leading festivals of popular Asian cinema in the United States. This year’s festival opened with the world premiere of Kazuya Shiraishi’s Twisted Justice, a three-decade epic of police corruption in Japan centred on the story of Detective Moroboshi which offers a new perspective on classic Japanese organised crime genres. Special guests at this year’s festival were acclaimed filmmakers in the world of Asian film, including Japanese director Iwai Shunji, South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun, actress and singer Miriam Yeung of Hong Kong, Filipino actor John Lloyd Cruz, Chinese actress Jelly Lin — who made her acclaimed film début in Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid just this year — and many other Asian filmmakers. ■
Featured Image: ‘Lazy Hazy Crazy’, an unconventional coming-of-age film about three young women working as sex workers in Hong Kong, had its North American premiere at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival. Making Film.