Non-profit pan-Asian film organization Sophia’s Choice today announces Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Nine, is the film series that cultivates American interest and understanding of Asian culture through movie storytelling while making Chicago a destination for international visitors.
Films have been thoughtfully curated to represent authentic voices of Asia in artful narrations by filmmakers; a majority of which will be Chicago premieres, never before shown on the big screen. Season Nine presents 17 new films and 15 special guests to Chicago from September 10 through October 10, 2019.
The five-week schedule highlights films made from the same geographic location per week. A majority of the screenings will be presented at the festival’s primary venue, AMC River East 21.
Select titles are screened at collaborative partners’ premises: Gene Siskel Film Center, Harold Washington Library Center, Alliance Française de Chicago, Chinese-American Museum, Illinois Institute of Technology, School of the Art Institute, and Midwest Buddhist Temple.
Among the highlights for Asian Pop-Up Cinema’s Season Nine include four films that are heavily influenced by Hollywood musicals: Japan’s Can’t Stop the Dancing, South Korea’s Swing Kids, Hong Kong’s Office and the Philippines’ Miss Granny. Special programming for Filipino American History Month in October includes two award-winning films Signal Rock and Miss Granny from the Philippines. Returning this season is the popular “Movie with Mooncakes” free screening showing with internationally known Zhang Yimou’s spectacular Shadow to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Season Nine will honor one of Hong Kong’s legendary stars, Kenneth Tsang Kong (The Attorney) with the Lifetime Achievement Award; and the notable Philippines actor Christian Bables (Signal Rock) with the Bright Star Award. Award ceremonies will take place on the same night of their screenings.
Film details, trailers and ticketing for each screening, plus information on special guests, are below and available at www.asianpopupcinema.org.
Below is full list of special guests scheduled to attend with their films:
· Lee Min-Jae (director) – The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale
· Hong Seung-Wan (director) – Juror 8
· Huo Meng (director) – Crossing the Border
· Song Wen (director) – The Enigma of The Arrival
· Gu Xuan (actress) – The Enigma of The Arrival
· Tanaka Seiji (director) – Melancholic
· Minagawa Yoji (producer/actor) – Melancholic
· Ping Lumpraploeng (director) – The Pool
· Christian Babies (actor) (Bright Star Recipient) – Signal Rock
· Christopher Sun (director) – Deception of the Novelist
· Justin Cheung – (producer/actor) – Deception of the Novelist – The Attorney
· Kenneth Tsang Kong (Lifetime Achievement Recipient) -The Attorney
· Cherrie Lau (Executive Producer) – The Attorney
· Frances To (scriptwriter) – The Attorney
All films are shown in their original language with English subtitles. Post-screenings discussion will be led by Ron Falzone, Associate Professor of Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago or by one of the following guest speakers/moderators:
- Darcy Paquet (South Korea) – Professor, Busan Asian Film School (AFiS), Artistic Director, Wildflower Film Awards Korea, and Programming Consultant, Udine Far East Film Festival
- Jennifer Dorothy Lee, PhD (U.S.) – Assistant Professor of Art History, Theory & Criticism at School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- Lane Alexander (U.S.) – Co-founder & director of Chicago Human Rhythm Project
Tickets for Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Nine are on sale now; individual tickets range from $8-$15, with discounts available for seniors and students at AMC; other non-AMC screenings are either admissions free or donation at $10 basis. A limited number of free tickets are available to students on a first-come, first-served basis. All tickets and events info are available at www.asianpopupcinema.org/tickets
ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA – SEASON NINE Full Schedule and Film Details
Tuesday, September 10, 7:00 PM @ AMC River East 21
Opening Night Film
THE ODD FAMILY: ZOMBIE ON SALE (기묘한 가족) | Chicago Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Director Lee Min-Jae
Guest Moderator: Darcy Packet
South Korea | 2019 | Comedy | 111 Minutes | In Korean w/English subtitles
Director: Lee Min-Jae | Starring: Jung Jae -Young, Kim Nam-Gil, Uhm Ji-Won, Lee Soo-Kyung, Jung Ga-Ram, Park In-Hwan
Human Bio, the biggest pharmaceutical company in Korea conducts illegal experiments on humans. One day, a test goes wrong and resulting in the creation of a zombie. Soon after, in the remote countryside, the oddball Park family makes their acquaintance with the zombie in question, Hyun-woo. Rather than afraid of this strange creature, Park’s family plots to make money out of him, especially after realizing the ’old’ father’s sudden restored virility from a bite of the zombie. Only the youngest daughter Hae-gul takes a liking to Hyun-woo, and nicknames him “Jongbie, the pet.” Will Jongbie make a home with his ‘weirder than zombie’ family?
“Director Lee Min-Jae’s action-packed and self-referential debut takes everything to task with uproarious abandon.” – NYAFF 18th edition
Thursday, September 12, 7:00PM @ AMC River East 21
JUROR 8 (배심원들) | Chicago Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Director Hong Seung-Wan
Guest Moderator: Darcy Paquet
South Korea | 2019 | Comedy/Drama/Law | 114 Minutes| In Korean w/English subtitles
Directors: Hong Seung-Wan
Starring: Moon So Ri, Park Hying Shik, Jo Soo Hyang, Jo Han Chul, Seo Jung Yeon, Kim Mi Kyung, Yoon Gyung Ho, Baek Soo Jang
Juror 8 is a story of South Korea’s first trial by jury in 2008. It follows the case of a son brutally murdering his mother, with all factors seeming to point to a guilty ruling. However, the trial does not go as smoothly as expected. The eighth juror, young entrepreneur Kwon Nam Woo questions the defendant’s self-declaration of guilt. As a result, Kim Joon Gyum the presiding judge, calls for a new debate to establish a guilty or not guilty verdict. The jury consists of 8 ordinary people with different ages and personality, but, after they become jurors, they seek out the truth of the case.
“…. a touching story that is both serious and fun” – M. Dang, soompi.com
Saturday, September 14, 2:00PM @ Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)
SWING KIDS ( 스윙키즈) | Free and Open to the Public
Guest Speaker: Lane Alexander
South Korea | 2018 | Drama/Period-1950/Dance | 133 Minutes | In English and Korean w/English subtitles
Director and Screenplay: Kang Hyeong-Chul | Starring: Do Kyung-Soo, Park Hye-Cu, Jared Grimes, Oh Jung-Se
Winner for Best Director at the 2019 Baeksang Arts Award, this swinging musical drama set during the Korean War when the soldiers at a POW camp plan a tap show to distract both themselves and the prisoners from the hardships of war. Led by a former Broadway dancer and a rebellious North Korean soldier, the band of prisoners find a new sense of freedom in dancing.
“Swing Kids is such a dizzying, anachronistic mash-up of genres and cultures — tap-dancing musical, violent war movie, social-justice drama, and slapstick comedy with music from David Bowie, The Beatles and swing king Louis Prima — that it deserves respect.” – Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle
Sunday, September 15, 10:30 AM @ IIT
SHADOW (影) – Free and Open To the Public
This is APUC’s 2nd annual “Movie with Mooncakes” event celebrating the Mid- Autumn Festival with mooncakes contributed by the Consulate General of People’s Republic of China.
China | 2018 | Action/War/Drama | 116 Minutes | In Mandarin w/English subtitles
Director: Zhang Yimou | Starring: Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Wang Qian-yuan
With Shadow, director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated. In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a “shadow”, a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.
“[The film]’s immaculate slow-build of training, tension and treachery shows the director has truly recaptured his mastery of the wuxia genre.” – James Marsh, South China Morning Post
Wednesday, September 18, 7:00PM @ AMC River East 21
CROSSING THE BORDER (过昭关) | North America Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Director Huo Meng
Guest Moderator: Jennifer Dorothy Lee, Phd
China | 2018 | Drama/Family | 94 Minutes | In Mandarin w/English subtitles
Director, Producer, Screenplay, Editor and Music: Huo Meng | Starring: Yang Taiyi, Li Yun-hu
During summer vacation, Ning Ning, a 7-year-old boy, was sent back to the countryside to be taken care of by his 70-year-old grandfather named Li Fu-chang. Li Fu-chang accidentally got an old friend’s contact information and learned that his old friend had suffered a stroke and was dying. He decided to ride a motorbike with his grandson to visit his old friend who lived thousands of miles away.
“Life is precarious but it is also a magnificent adventure, and everyone has to overcome their own existential “boundaries.” The story is helped by a dose of subtle, refined humor making the closing scene of the film particularly memorable.” – Maria Barbieri, Udine Far East Film Festival
Thursday, September 19, 7:00PM @ AMC River East 21
THE ENIGMA OF THE ARRIVAL (抵达之谜) | North America Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Director Song Wen and Actress Gu Xuan
Guest Moderator: Jennifer Dorothy Lee, PhD
China | 2018 | Drama | 112 Minutes | In Mandarin w/English subtitles
Director: Song Wen | Starring: Li Xian, Dong Borui, Gu Xuan
After many years, a group of college friends reunite. They have not seen each other since the disappearance of Dong-dong, a girl that they all secretly fancies. The circumstances of her disappearance caused the end of their friendship. A lot has remained unsaid. Until now.
“…. a subtle examination of media consumption, masculinity, and declining social trust in a rapidly changing China.” – Adam Keller, reelydope.com
Friday, September 20, 6:00PM @ School of the Art Institute
WUSHU ORPHAN (武林孤儿) | Chicago Premiere | Free and Open To the Public
Guest speaker: Jennifer Dorothy Lee, PhD
China | 2018 | Drama | 121 minutes | In Mandarin w/English subtitles
Director: Huang Huang | Starring: Jin Jingcheng, Hou Yunxiao, Liu Zhihan, Shi Zhi, Ma Zhongshan, Wang Shulin
“In the late 90’s, wet behind the ears, Lu Youhong takes a job teaching Chinese at a remote martial arts academy. His many students could care less for academics except for Zhang Cuishan, who excels at schoolwork but hates martial arts, and is bullied for it …. “Huang Huang’s evocative feature debut is a beautifully poetic paean to the bittersweet pangs of growing up at all stages of life.” NYAFF, 18th edition
“A charming, clever and fresh vision from a young filmmaker that will leave you grinning….” – Ryan Charland, easternkicks.com
Wednesday, September 25, 8:00PM @ Gene Siskel Film Center
MELANCHOLIC (メランコリック) | Chicago Premiere
Conversation with Director Seiji Tanaka and Producer/Lead Actor Yoji Minagawa
Moderator: Ron Falzone
Tanaka Seiji won Best Director Award at Japanese Cinema Splash for his first feature film Melancholic at the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival.
Japan | 2019 | Comedy/Romance/Crime/Thriller | 113 Minutes | In Japanese w/English & Chinese subtitles
Director and Writer: Tanaka Seiji| Starring: Minagawa Yoji, Yoshitomo Isozaki, Mebuki Yoshida, Stefanie Arianne, Yuta Okuba, Takanori Kamachi, Keiji Yamashita, Hiroko Shinkai, Makoto Hada, Masanobu Yada, Yasuyuki Hamaya
Kazuhiko isn’t enjoying his life, despite earning his degree from a top university. One day, he runs into a high-school classmate, Yuri, at a bathhouse and later starts working there. His discovery that the place is being used for nefarious after-hours activities is bad enough, but then Kazuhiko finds that his colleague Matsumoto is an assassin.
“Melancholic makes it darkly funny, viscerally thrilling and improbably heartwarming, all without departing far from the stark immediacy of its opening scenes.” – Mark Schilling, the Japan Times
Thursday, September 26, 7:00PM @ AMC River East 21
CAN’T STOP THE DANCING (ダンスウィズミー) | Chicago Premiere
Japan | 2019 | Comedy/Musical | 103 Minutes | In Japanese w/English subtitles
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi | Starring: Ayaka Miyoshi, Yuu Yashiro, Chay, Takahiro Miura, Tsuyoshi Muro, Akira Takarada
Suzuki Shizuka is an office lady at a large corporation who is treated by a hypnotist and left under the spell. Thereafter she cannot but sings and dances whenever she hears any melody whatsoever. Shizuka heads back to the hypnotist for relief, but he is nowhere to be found when he is needed the most.
“A funny, fast-paced and deliriously joyful update of classic musicals featuring a delightful lead performance from Ayaka Miyoshi.” – JCCC Canada
Friday, September 27, 7:00PM @ Midwest Buddhist Temple
BENTO HARASSMENT (今日も嫌がらせ弁当) | Chicago Premiere
Japan | 2019 | Family/Comedy/School/Drama | 106 Minutes | In Japanese w/English subtitles
Director and Screenwriter: Tsukamoto Renpei | Starring: Ryoko Shinohara, Kiyoko Yoshine, Rena Matsui, Kanta Sato, Ryuta Sato
Kaori raises her high school-age daughter Futaba as a single mother. Her daughter is in her rebellious phase and ignores her mother. Kaori decides to take measures to communicate with her daughter and also get some “revenge.” Kaori creates messages in her daughter’s bento meals.
“Based on a real-life blog by a real-life Kaori that rose to No. 1 on the Ameba hosting site, the opening scenes of Bento Harassment offer fresh twists on the perennial theme of inter-generational strife as well as on familiar foodie movie tropes.” – Mark Schilling, the Japan Times.
Wednesday, October 2, 7:00PM @ AMC River East 21
THE POOL ( นรก 6 เมตร ) | Chicago Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Director Ping Lumpraploeng
Moderator: Ron Falzone
Thailand | 2018 | Action/Drama/Horror | 91 Minutes | In Thai w/English subtitles
Director and Writer: Ping Lumpraploeng | Starring: Ken Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham
Being stuck in the desolated pool twenty feet (6 meters) deep without water, no ladder and no way out, a couple need to survive from this situation. Everything may be easier, if the unfriendly animal does not accidentally fall in.
The Pool is Ping Lumpraploeng’s (Loveaholic, Dreamaholic) 4th feature film. The film stars Thai superstar Ken Theeradeth Wonpuapan, who returns to big screen for the first time in nine years since GTH’s Bangkok Traffic Love Story.
Winner of Critic’s Prize at Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2019.
“A deep swimming pool. 2 trapped people. 1 hungry crocodile. No way of escape. The tensest movie I’ve seen in years…” – Andrew Daley, easternkicks.com
Thursday, October 3, 7:00PM @ the Alliance Française de Chicago
SIGNAL ROCK | Chicago Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Actor Christian Bables, Bright Star Award Recipient
Guest moderator: Louella Cabalona
Actor Christian Bables, already won Best Supporting Actor Award at multiple festivals for his trans woman character “Barbs” in the movie Die Beautiful was declared Best Leading Actor at the 5th Hanoi International Film Festival for his character “Intoy” in the movie Signal Rock.
The Philippines | 2018 | Drama | 127 Minutes | In Tagalog w/English subtitles
Director/Producer: Chito S. Roño | Starring: Christian Bables, Daria Ramirez, Nanding Josef, Mon Confiado, Elora Españo
“Signal Rock is the latest film by well-established director Chito S. Roño, shot again in his native Samar, on a small island, where he had shot Badil in 2013. A remote island, where women go far away to find a foreign husband, and where life is not so different of what it was decades ago. With his usual craft, Chito Roño tells the story of Intoy, a young boy trying to help his sister expatriated in Finland, to win a child custody battle. Signal Rock, or how to find the signal, is an amazing experience, beautifully shot by great cinematographer Neil Daza, and a comment on different ways of communication.” – Mex Tessier, Udine Far East Film Festival
“Signal Rock’s greatest strength, aside from Neil Daza’s crisp cinematography and a naturalistic, connective central performance by Bables, is its unapologetic emotion.” – Elizabeth Kerr, hollywoodreporter.com
Saturday, October 5, 2:00PM @ Chinese-American Museum
OFFICE (華麗上班族) | Free and Open To the Public
Hong Kong | 2015 | Musical/Comedy/Romance | 117 Minutes | In Cantonese and Mandarin w/English subtitles
Director and Producer: Johnnie To | Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Sylvia Chang, Eason Chan, Tang Wei
Based on the hit play ‘Design for Living’ by star and producer Sylvia Chang, Office is a musical spectacular revolving around corporate maneuvering and romantic intrigue. Hong Kong legend Johnnie To delivers a biting takedown of capitalism, detailing the financial crisis following the Lehman Brothers collapse and what one company has to do to fight to stay alive – all in a lavishly detailed, wholly original musical production.
The film won the Best Art Direction in the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards and the 52nd Golden Horse Awards. We are encoring this film to showcase a stylish musical rarely produced from Hong Kong.
Sunday, October 6, 2:00 PM @ IIT
LONG TIME NO SEA (只有大海知道) | Free and Open To the Public
Taiwan | 2018 | Drama/Musical | 97 Minutes | In Mandarin and Tatu w/English subtitles
Director and Editor: Heather Tsui | Starring: Shang He-huang, Zhong Jia-jun, Feng Ying-li
Manawei, a sweet, clever, and empathetic young boy, lives with his doting grandmother on Orchid Island, southeast of Taiwan, where the two search for ripe fruit in the trees. His mother has passed away, and his father works in Taiwan. Chung-hsun, meanwhile, is a 30-something teacher who comes from the city to work with the indigenous community, using dance to help them get in touch with their own potential as well as their traditions. As the two come together, perhaps they and their dance troupe can make it all the way to the National Aboriginal Dance Competition.
Long Time No Sea, based on the experiences of director Heather Tsui’s involvement with the Little Flying Fish Cultural Exhibition Dance Troupe and the children of the Yami people, is full of gentle humor and themes of cultural identity, the visual style capturing the island’s beauty as well as the energy of the children in tightly framed shots. And of course, there is a double meaning to the film’s title: a nod of appreciation to the surrounding sea as well as Manawei’s longing for his father’s attention.
Tuesday, October 8, 6:00 PM @ Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Lower Level of Harold Washington Library
MISS GRANNY | Chicago Premiere | Free and Open To the Public
The Philippines | 2018 | Drama/Song | 114 Minutes | In Tagalog, English w/English subtitles
Director: Joyce Bernal | Starring: Sarah Geronimo, Jaes Reid, Xiam Lim, Nova Villa and Buboy Garovillo
In this Filipino remake of South Korean film Miss Granny (2014), a stubborn old woman named Parn (Niranuch Patamasute) steps into a photo studio and magically emerges as her 20-year-old self (Davika Hoorne). She uses the chance to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a singer.
“Sarah Geronimo is simply magnetic, capable of turning the most uninspired of scenes tolerable by just her presence.” Film Critic, Oggs Cruz
The movie picked up the Movie Actress of the Year; Movie Musical Scorer of the Year from the 35th PMPC Star Awards for Movies as well as the Movie Supporting Actress of the Year from the 50th Box Office Entertainment Awards.
Wednesday, October 9, 7:00 PM @ AMC RIVER EAST 21
Closing Night Film
DECEPTION OF THE NOVELIST (作家的謊言-筆忠誘罪) | North America Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Director Christopher Sun and Producer/Lead Actor Justin Cheung
Moderator: Ron Falzone
Hong Kong| 2019 | Crime/Thriller | 90 Minutes | In Cantonese w/English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Christopher Sun | Starring: Justin Cheung, Jeana Ho, Linah Matsuoka
Tsui is renowned as an excellent healing author as well as a young successful man. His pieces are called “Chicken Soup for the Soul” for soothing many readers’ soul and spirit. The public image of Tsui is a kindhearted family man who loves his wife deeply, though, he has inherited his wealth from his father. Ever since a beautiful new tenant, Elaine, had moved to live in the upper floor flat of Tsui’s building, uncontrollable event disrupted Tsui’s calm life.
Thursday, October 10, 7:00 PM @ AMC River East 21
Season Nine Finale
Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony honoring Kenneth Tsang Kong
THE ATTORNEY (一級指控) | Chicago Premiere
Introduction and Q&A with Actor Kenneth Tsang Kong, Scriptwriter Frances To, and Executive Producer Cherrie Lau
Hong Kong | 2019 | Courtroom drama |102 Minutes | In Cantonese w/English subtitles
Director: Wong Kwok-fai |Starring: Alex Fong, Patrick Tam, Nina Paw Hee-ching, Kenneth Tsang Kong, Carlos Chan, Liu Kai Chi
Politics and the law, money and murder, all compellingly intertwined in this taut mystery/courtroom drama. Powerhouse attorney Lui has won 12 cases in a row, so it’s a bit bewildering when he agrees to take on the defense of a young kid who wakes up next to the murdered daughter of a billionaire businessman with no idea what happened the night before. What seems like an unwinnable defense, however, takes a surprising turn when it’s revealed that the young woman was involved with an up-and-coming shady politician.
“What makes this film works, while others have failed in the past, is the subtlety in the plot line and characters that we eventually cared about. In the days of lacking these kind of genre movies in Hong Kong cinema, The Attorney more than fills this void.” – Andrew Chan, neofilmshop.com