Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#Cannes2016 Wish List - Part Four Asian Directors

Some News First

As an introduction to this part let us review what has been happening mainly with US industry press, where "insiders" seem to be spilling the beans and let journalists all about the movies that are going to Cannes and the ones that are not. But let me share that also European press in different languages also are speculating about films that will not be ready for Cannes and films that "for sure" will be at the festival.

If we believe all the buzz that's been happening for the last 3 weeks then ladies and gentlemen we will have a very strange festival as almost all "sure thing" films are French or American! Honestly I wouldn't mind an almost 80% French festival; but surely wouldn't like fest to be an American fest as for that there is Toronto, Sundance, and many more American festivals.

As a summary let me share info about those films that seem are not ready for Cannes and probably will end-up in Venice or maybe wait for next year festivals. Zama by Lucrecia Martel seems is not ready as well as Derek Cianfrance's The Light Between Oceans; then Martin Scorsese's Silence, Terrence Malick's doc Voyage in Time, James Gray's Lost City Z and Oliver Stone's Snowden are not ready and most likely will end in an Autumn festival.

No matter if "insiders" information is accurate or not, truth is that there is quite a big anticipation about which films will be in competition, out of the competition, un certain regard and in any of the parallel sections. One thing I'm sure, as of today the only ones that know for sure are fest programmers as by now they have most selections ready after submission deadline closed recently.

So this is my Asian directors wish list, hope many make the Official Selection or any of the other sections.

Park Chan-wook with 아가씨 Agashi (The Handmaiden aka The Handmaid )

Let's go to the point: I'm "dying" to see this film that is the Korean modernized version of infamous lesbian iconic novel by Sarah Waters's Fingersmith. Besides the deep reason there is one more interesting, I met director with his 2007 Berlinale Alfred Bauer Award winner I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok; then came 2009 Cannes Jury Prize winner Thirst that absolutely blew my mind and became the second-best vampire movie I've seen (first is the awesome Swedish film).

So when I mix what I know about his previous films and the essence of the story he will tell, my imagination is set free and definitively like the possibilities, but will control them as hate to have too-much expectations, sigh.  Film is set in South Korea and Japan during the 1930's and most of us already know the story essence, don't we after reading book and watching 2005 Fingersmith.

I'm so glad he went back to his roots -after his 2013 incursion into the English-language film- with a film in Korean and do not doubt for a second that his films deserve to be premiere at any of the major film festivals, so Cannes is a big possibility IF film is ready.

Most interesting is that film has been already sold to 116 territories and USA rights belong to Amazon Studios, so distribution is assured since February's European Film Market at 2016 Berlinale.

Hirokazu Kore-eda with 海よりもまだ深く Umi yori mo mada fukaku (After the storm)

After recent outstanding films, 2013 Cannes Jury Prize winner Like Father, Like Son and 2015 Cannes in competition Our Little Sister, acclaimed contemporary Japanese director has a new film that surely will open in a festival and most likely has to be Cannes as his last 2 films premiered in fest but also three previous ones.

Film tells about an unpopular writer who now works as a private detective and one night that four people have to stay together as a typhoon passes-by. At his mother's apartment Ryota will spend the night with his ex-wife, his 11-years-old son and his mother. According to storyline film seems like another family-dissection intense story.

Film marketing suggest movie is ready as already has an official poster, some trailers in Korean, and one with English subtitles.

Johnnie To with 三人行 Saam Yan Hang (Three)

Director has a new movie and seems will have his very particular style that many, including me, love to watch as his films are a mixture of drama, thriller, crime and action dosed in the most exact way possible.

Wonder if film could make it to Cannes competition, he hasn't been in competition since 2009, but imagine film more out-of-competition special event or even with a midnight screening.

Storyline goes like this: Realizing that he will be defeated in no time during a police showdown, a thug shoots himself to force the cops to cease fire and take him to the hospital. In the hospital, he claims human rights to refuse immediate treatment in order to bide time for his underlings to rescue him. The detective in charge sees through his scheme but decides to play along so as to capture his whole gang once and for all.

Kôji Fukada with 小风琴 Harmonium

Not really familiar with director that has not yet arrive to any of the three top festivals, but he has paid his dues with films premiering in fests like Rotterdam Tallinn Black Nights and Tokyo IFF. Perhaps his better-known film is 2016 Rotterdam fest Sayônara, starring none other than Irène Jacob, a Japanese-French co production from 2015.

Now Fukada has another film that maybe is ready and buzz is that is time for him to make it to a major fest, perhaps in a collateral section. It's his 6th feature film and tells the story of the owner of a small workshop in a country village in Japan. MK2 aquired film rights to this French co production with Comme des Cinémas.

Pen-ek Ratanaruang with Samui Song

Some director's previous films have opened at Berlin and Cannes, so maybe film could make it to Cannes as have to say that story is quite puzzling, different/unusual for Asian cinema; perhaps is due to this is a Thailand, Germany and Norway co production. Story tells about a soap opera actress with husband's obsession with a cult-like religious sect and the opportunity to get rid of her problems -including husband- but at a very high price.

Boo Junfeng with Apprentice

Singapore's acclaimed young director -was the first Singaporean filmmaker to be invited to Cannes La Semaine de la Critique- has a new film that's a follow-up to his coming-of-age drama 2010 Sandcastle and tells about a young prison officer taken under the wing of a senior staff member who happens to be the chief executioner; as he's asked to apprentice, he has a crisis of conscience. Film looks/feels to have all the right credentials for a major film festival premiere.

Na Hon-Jin with 곡성 Goksung (The Wailing)

Director has been twice at Cannes and surely his better-known films is Hwanghae (The Yellow Sea) so there are high probabilities that film could make it to Cannes this year. Film is another mystery/thriller about a stranger going to a small village and mysterious sickness starting to spread; police thinks is wild-mushroom poisoning but the unknown man gets the blame. Suspect film will be visually stunning as The Yellow Sea was, check the trailer.

Just noticed two HUGE omissions in a previous post, so as they come from Asian countries, here are some of my favorite directors and their new films.

Asghar Farhadi with Forushande (The Salesman)

Know Farhadi became well-know with his acclaimed films A Separation and The Past but not to me as I met him with his outstanding 2006 Fireworks Wednesday and since then have seen all his feature films, including fabulous About Elly. So now has a new movie that I'm not sure will be ready for Cannes but since he has lately opened his films in Cannes or Berlin I wonder if film is not ready, will he go to Venice? or wait for 2017 Berlinale?

Let's hope film is ready as most likely will be in the Official Selection as is another strong family drama set in most unusual setting for an Persian film.

Joseph Cedar with Oppenheimer Strategies

A USA and Israel co production starring Charlote Gainsbourg, Richard Gere, Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens, and more, seems more a mainstream film than what he did with 2007 Berlinale Silver Bear Best Director winner Beaufort or 2011 Cannes Best Screenplay winner and Academy Award nominated fabulous Footnote.  But let's give the benefit of the doubt and perhaps film has the quality to be consider for Cannes, sigh.

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