The 13th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (November 1-9, 2012)

The line-up for the upcoming San Diego Asian Film Festival has been announced, and there are plenty of unreleased films that I’ll finally have the chance to see. I won an all-access pass to last year’s festival and discovered many gems, including Cold Fish which led to my obsession with Sion Sono, as well as other great titles such as The Day He Arrives and Ocean Heaven.

Even if you don’t live in San Diego, all of these movies are worth noting and tracking down in the future. Asian cinema is incredibly under-appreciated in the west, but the San Diego Asian Film Foundation does a fantastic job of spreading awareness of the most stimulating art in the world.

The Land of Hope (2012, Japan, dir. Sion Sono)
- One of my most anticipated films of the year is the latest from my favorite filmmaker in the world, Japanese auteur Sion Sono. My mind was blown after discovering Cold Fish last year and since then I’ve seen and fallen in love with all his recent films (Love Exposure, Guilty of Romance, Himizu, Noriko’s Dinner Table, etc). Like HimizuThe Land of Hope examines post-Tsunami Japan, by looking at two families suffering from the radioactive fallout of the disaster. It already debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the NETPAC award for Best Asian Film. It’s supposed to be more understated than his other films, but it should still retain his unmatchable cutthroat and beautifully poetic style. It also stars his jaw-droppingly gorgeous wife Megumi Kagurazaka, so for that reason alone it’ll be another Sono masterpiece.

The King of Pigs (2011, South Korea, dir. Yeun Sang-ho)
- No other market does drama-thrillers better than South Korea (Oldboy, The Chaser, I Saw the Devil, etc). I’ve been incredibly eager to see this film for a long time because it’s Korea’s best genre done in a whole new way, through animation. It looks super gritty and adult, which is unconventional for the medium. I’m really excited to see this because there hasn’t been many Korean anime in general, at least certainly none that deal with such heavy subject matter such as death and murder.

Seeking Asian Female (2012, USA, dir. Debbie Lum)
- An Asian-American documentary that follows a 60-year-old man who desperately searches the internet for an Asian bride. Beyond that, the film examines the stereotypes and perpetuation of “yellow fever” and love in the digital age. An incredibly relevant film to me, as I touched on this subject matter in my own short film The Otaku. This isn’t a mockumentary however, which should make it even more poignant. If they want to produce a sequel, sign me up.

There are other films at this festival, but as of now I’m only making trips to check out those three. I still plan on watching these once I have the time and when they’re available.

And because I can’t recommend this film enough, Moteki - Love Strikes is also playing at the festival. It’s one of the most charming and relevant romantic-comedies I’ve ever seen, a love story about a virgin otaku featuring a dance sequence with Perfume. It’s fantastic and I’m glad they’re screening it.