The Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival (BAPFF) is a 16-day international event screening more than 80 films from across the region. The new and exciting program includes multi-award winning features and documentaries, highlights from the festival circuit and a curated showcase of the best films from the Asia Pacific.
Opening the festival will be the Australian premiere of The Crow’s Egg, direct from the Toronto International Film Festival. It is a charming and authentic portrayal of contemporary Indian life through the eyes of two young brothers. Closing the festival will be Coming Home, the latest film from the Chinese Fifth Generation auteur Zhang Yimou. With virtuoso performances from the country’s leading actors Gong Li and Chen Daoming, Coming Home quietly addresses the aftermath of Cultural Revolution yet ultimately celebrates human bonding and enduring love.
Highlights from the programme (there are many!) and recommendations after the jump.
A Girl At My Door – Policewoman Young-nam (Cloud Atlas’ Doona Bae) has transferred from Seoul to a small coastal village in a bid to escape her past. Struggling to cope as the only female cop in an unfamiliar town, she ends up taking in confused 14-year-old Dohee, who is being abused by her politically powerful father. But then Young-nam’s erratic ex-girlfriend arrives unannounced, and the stage is set for a showdown that could destroy them all.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – On the lawless streets of Bad City, a mysterious hijab-clad woman can sometimes be seen late at night, prowling the suburbs on a skateboard. For Arash – brash, rebellious and debt-ridden – a chance encounter with this enigmatic woman pulls him out of his brooding ennui, but it seems there’s something decidedly otherworldly about his new object of affection. Shot in luminous black and white and spoken entirely in Farsi, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a sharp-eyed take on Iranian tradition and American suburbia alike, a giddily unique and unexpected genre mash-up – a surreal, impeccably stylised take on the contemporary vampire tale.
A Hard Day – Called into work from his own mother’s funeral, homicide detective Ko Gun-su manages to run over and kill a pedestrian. Half-drunk and panicky, he decides that the best thing to do is to load the body into the boot of his car and then dispose of it later that night – it’s a swift, steep descent from there, as he plunges headlong into a web of corruption, duplicity and revenge.
Black Coal, Thin Ice – Winner of both the Golden Bear for Best Film and the Silver Bear for Best Actor (Liao Fan) at this year’s Berlinale, Black Coal, Thin Ice is the most celebrated Chinese film of the year. Haunted by a botched murder investigation five years earlier, former policeman Zhang has retired to a distant mining town in an attempt to drink his career away. However when bodies start turning up in a strikingly familiar fashion, Zhang sees a chance to atone for the sins of his past.
Forma – In a cramped inner-city apartment, Ayako lives out an oppressive domestic existence, unemployed and single, and co-habiting with her recently divorced dad. Offered a menial office job by an old high school friend, Yukari, Ayako leaps at the opportunity to get out of the house. But there’s a darkness lurking beneath Ayako’s beaten-down exterior, and Yukari will soon discover what hell can be wrought by a forgotten woman. Six years in the making and painstakingly arranged, Forma is the multi-award-winning and monstrously ambitious debut feature from up-and-coming director Ayumi Sakamoto.
Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem – Viviane Amsalem wants a divorce – something that’s far from simple under Israeli law, where divorce cases are heard by rabbinical courts, and separation is only granted when the husband officially releases his wife from marriage via a divorce document known as a “gett”. So begins Viviane’s five-year odyssey through the Israeli justice system, a bewildering and darkly comic crash course in the enigmatic bindings of language, tradition and law.
Goodbye to Language 3D – Co-winner of the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, this latest work from Jean-Luc Godard, one of cinema’s most innovative and influential auteurs, is as visually audacious an experiment as he has ever made: an eye-boggling cinematic collage of split-screen images, historical clips, cryptic text and narration that takes the 3D form to entirely new frontiers.
Hard To Be A God – A legendary film maudit some 30 years in the creative making, the final film by the late Russian director Aleksei German – known as the living torch of Andrey Tarkovsky – is a medievalist sci-fi epic based on the revered novel by the Strugatsky Brothers (who famously inspired Tarkovsky’s Solaris). Set on the planet Arkanar, “identical to ours, but about 800 years behind”, a grotesque society is led by the hulking Don Rumata, popularly considered to be the son of a pagan god but actually one of 30 scientists sent from Earth on a mission to help the development of society towards a Renaissance/Enlightenment era.
Paper Planes – Featuring a cast of Australia’s best-loved actors, including Anthony LaPaglia, Deborah Mailman and David Wenham, Paper Planes is an enchanting new film from acclaimed writer-director Robert Connolly (Balibo, Three Dollars). Inspired by a true story, Paper Planes offers an uplifting and often hilarious testament to the fact that, in the end, it’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.
The Dead Lands – Hongi, a Maori chieftain’s teenage son, must avenge his father’s murder after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by a band of villains led by Wirepa, Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious “Warrior”, a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
The Infinite Man – Nerdy control freak Dean takes an almost scientific approach to the happiness of his girlfriend Lana, concocting the perfect schedule for their anniversary trip to the bush. He’s intent on recreating that experience – maybe a bit too intently – so after botching the romantic weekend in a major way, our luckless inventor attempts to put things right via his custom-made time-travel device. Instead, he initiates an inescapable circuit of events spawning a legion of romantic rivals. These misguided versions of himself are all stuck in an abandoned desert motel, trapped in an infinite loop of Dean’s making. Lana shows remarkable tolerance to all of this until her ex, Terry, shows up and Dean now has a real rival; or five.
Tokyo Tribe – Sion Sono, the enfant terrible of Japanese cinema, continues to amuse and shock, this time with a radical, tongue-in-cheek subversion of his country’s unique brand of hardcore gangster film, based on Santa Inoue’s legendary manga, which sold over 2.5 million copies and heavily influenced Japanese urban culture in the 1990s. A relentless post-apocalyptic battle royale that unfolds almost entirely in rap and breakdance, Tokyo Tribe stars a who’s who of the Japanese hip-hop scene, including rap superstar Young Dais as the idealistic, ass-kicking Kai.
Ukraine Is Not A Brothel – Australian director Kitty Green reveals the world of Femen, the Ukrainian feminist group famous for its topless protests, in this compelling documentary debut which won her a special mention at the 70th Venice Film Festival.After living with Femen members for 14 months in a crumbling Soviet apartment on the outskirts of Kiev, Green unfolds the story of how this neo-Situationist group came together, aiming initially to combat Ukraine’s image as the sex-trafficking and prostitution hub of Europe. She witnesses the often shocking consequences of their peaceful dissent, much like the fate of their sisters in protest, Pussy Riot. A darker twist threads through the film as she uncovers who really is at the helm of the organisation, contradicting the very ideologies that Femen stands for.
Winter Sleep – Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Palme d’Or winning Winter Sleep unfolds in a rural village in Cappadocia, central Anatolia, one of the world’s most spectacular and sparse landscapes. Here Aydin, a former actor runs a traditional cave hotel where he lives with his family and is something of a celebrity to the locals. As the winter snow begins to blanket the picturesque village for the quiet season, we witness the unfolding of seemingly everyday conversations and interactions between Aydin and those closest to him, only to find they are anything but.
Zero Motivation – The anarchic comedy of Office Space comes to the Israeli Defence Force in Zero Motivation, the slyly comic feature film debut from writer-director Talya Lavie, which swept the recent Israeli Film Academy Awards winning gongs including Best Actress, Director, Screenplay, and winner of Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival. A cutting broadside on bureaucracy and militarism delivered with a knowing wink, Lavie sidesteps the real battlefield to produce that rarest of things – a truly honest war film.
On Monday December 8 there will be a panel-led event with female film practitioners at the top of their game, exploring the roles of women in the business of filmmaking, both in front of and behind the camera. The panel discussion will be followed by a special screening of the much loved Lemon Tree by Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis and starring multi award-winning actress Hiam Abbass, who will be in attendance.
On Wednesday December 10 spend an evening with internationally renowned Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. The evening will include an ‘In Conversation’ with Farhadi, hosted by Anne Demy-Geroe, the director of Iranian Film Festival Australia and a screening of From Iran, A Separation – a documentary examining local Iranian reception of A Separation’s international acclaim – and the film itself. BAPFF also presents a retrospective of all of Farhadi’s six feature films.
Farhadi will attend BAPFF and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) as President of the APSA International Jury. Farhadi’s role as Jury President marks the first time an Iranian filmmaker has served as President.
Personal recommendations from An Online Universe: A Girl Walks Home Along At Night, A Separation, Coming Home, The Infinite Man, The Past, Winter Sleep and Zero Motivation.
For venues, ticketing and further information visit the official website: http://brisbaneasiapacificfilmfestival.com/