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Asian Cinema On The Ascendant

 Hula GirlsHula Girls

Friday, July 14-------Three films from Asia that have made waves on the international film festival circuit are opening in New York this weekend, and will roll out to other cities in North America during the next few weeks. The widely different films point to the continued renaissance of Asian cinema as a world force and the ambitious and risk-taking aesthetic of a new generation of Asian directors.

Of the three filmmakers, the South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk is probably the best known in this country. His previous film SPRING, SUMMER, FALLL, WINTER AND SPRING (2003) received a major theatrical release via Sony Pictures Classics and his subsequent films SAMARITAN GIRL and THREE IRON brought him two Best Director Awards at the Berlin and Venice Film Festivals respectively. His latest film BREATH world premiered in the Competition section at this year's Cannes International Film Festival. His film prior to BREATH is making its US Premiere this weekend.

TIME, distributed by arthouse company Lifesize Entertainment, is a searing examination of modern culture’s obsession with youthful beauty and unattainable physical perfection. Attractive See-hee (Seong Hyeon-ah) is having problems with her boyfriend, Ji-woo (Ha Jung-woo). Their love has entered a period of discontent as the first flushes of romance fade into familiar routine. Though faithful, Ji-woo eyes other women and, in bed, seems to get excited only at the thought of making love to other partners. Unable to cope with jealousy, See-hee decides to dramatically change her looks - to become a new woman, with whom her boyfriend can fall in love all over again. Director Kim takes a fashionable issue to extremes in order to probe the jealous core of a relationship gone wrong while investigating the darker recesses of the human psyche. The film won special honors at the Chicago International Film Festival, as well as a Special Effects award at the Sitges Fantasy Film Festival.
 
A Korean director living and working in Japan, Lee Sang-Il combines two cinematic traditions in his highly entertaining HULA GIRLS, which is beginning its US release this weekend after world premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. In this colorful and fanciful story, the daughters of Japanese coal miners hula their way out of poverty and their dead-end lives in 1965 Japan. This docudrama is set in the dying industrial town of Iwaki, where the mine that has given generations their livelihood threatens to close and be replaced by a Hawaiian-themed resort. The girls face prejudice from their families as they try to adapt to changing social conditions and triumph with their new-found freedoms. The film has won top awards at the Japan Film Academy, including Best Picture, Most Popular Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay honors. HULA GIRLS is screening at Manhattan's ImaginAsian Theater, one of the only cinemas devoted to Asian film in this country before a national roll out in the coming weeks. Film website: http://www.hula-girl.jp

This weekend also sees the theatrical release of another Japanese film, the celebrated anime TEKKONKINKREET, directed by Michael Arias and Hiroaki Ando, with music by Plaid. The film is a dynamic tale of brotherhood, love lost, and the kindness of the human heart amidst the corruption of modern society.  The eye-popping visuals are a combination of imaginative fantasy and action elements of the best Japanimation with a dark and modern children's story. A hybrid of cutting-edge 3D CGI technology and traditional Japanese anime, TEKKONKINKREET creates its own unique visual style. Film website: http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/tekkonkinkreet

Sandy Mandelberger, Coming Attractions Editor

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About Coming Attractions

Sandy Mandelberger
(International Media Resources)

Previews of Upcoming Films, Videos and New Media Coming To Theaters, Festivals, DVD and the Internet.


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