Preview: New York Asian Film Festival Celebrates 15 Gonzo Years
Picture it: The early part of the 21st Century. Dial-up modems sing shrilly throughout our homes. Bush & Cheney plot and scheme like Batman villains. A young Canadian music and movie enthusiast starts a website to talk about the stuff he loves. Meanwhile, on the isle of Manhattan, the folks at Subway Cinema know they have something special on their hands when they became determined to get some of the coolest, weirdest and wildest contemporary Asian films to the Five Boroughs.
It took guts, gumption, a lot of pestering and some favors, but by golly, 15 years on and the New York Asian Film Festival is still going strong.
Running June 22 - July 9 at the SVA Theater & Film Society Of Lincoln Center, NYAFF has become an integral part of NYC's body cinematic. While we may be operating under a new name now, it has been our pleasure covering NYAFF for much of its run. And so... with that, Christopher Bourne and Dustin Chang, our featured critics and senior NYC writers, bring you a preview of what to expect over these next weeks. Rest assured, it's gonna be gonzo. It's gonna be gross. It's gonna pull at your heartstrings and kick you in the groin. Yes, it's gonna be NYAFF.
Kazuya Shiraishi's sprawling crime epic (based on a true story), having its world premiere as NYAFF's opening night film, is Sidney Lumet by way of Kinji Fukasaku, anchored by a sensational and appropriately outsized performance by the fest's Rising Star Award honoree Go Ayano.
Ayano plays Moroboshi, a detective who begins as a bowing and scraping rookie initially hired more for his judo skills than for any perceived aptitude as a cop. However, as he becomes initiated into the way things work in the Hokkaido PD of the 1970's, he becomes ever more corrupted, and the film charts his transformation through the following three decades. The line between cops and criminals is blurred to the point of nonexistence, and Moboroshi tragically becomes a convenient fall guy for the sins of the institution he joined. However, every tragic hero has a flaw, and Moboroshi's flaw us his eager embrace of moral corruption, and his gluttonous pursuit of the power, money, and women that come along with his deal with the devil. --Christopher Bourne