The weekly Asian Cinema Scene returns to share recent news and answer reader mail.
Breasts Spark Concern. An upcoming sports comedy is creating consternation in Japan. The movie's title, Oppai Bare (AKA Boobs Volleyball), reportedly has embarrassed both theater owners and potential moviegoers because of what "oppai" means, so theater marquees and movie tickets will display the title as O.P.V. Evidently everyone is OK with the premise, in which a high school teacher promises to show her breasts to her all-male volleyball team if they win the big game. The film, directed by Eiichiro Hasumi, releases on April 18. Twitch has the trailer; it looks like a pleasant, feel-good flick. [Cinema Today, via Toronto J-Film Pow Wow.]
Recent Releases. Derek Yee's Shinjuku Incident, starring Jackie Chan in a straight dramatic role (no kicking, no punching), opened the Hong Kong International Film Festival a couple of weeks ago and has now opened in Thailand, where Brian of Asian Cinema - While on the Road saw it: "It has to be said that Jacky is really not all that great a dramatic actor and I think this hurts the film overall." Still, he found the film to be "quite compelling." (Trailer can be viewed here.)
Takashi Miike's Crows Zero II has opened in Japan, and Mark Schilling of The Japan Times says: "As in the first film, the brawls are nearly nonstop ... the group battle scenes, with hundreds of punks whaling on each other, have a scale and impact reminiscent of the gaudier clashes in Braveheart ... Miike directs with an energy, velocity and cheeky bravado that are pure punk." Check out the trailer, embedded below.
After the jump: Nippon Connection opens this week. Plus, a reader asks, 'How do you find your own local Asian cinema scene?'
Festivals. The 9th Nippon Connection opens in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday and runs through the weekend. The festival showcases more than 150 features and short films from Japan, presenting an incredibly broad picture of current cinema ranging from avant-garde, experimental work to blockbusters with broad appeal. I've heard wondrous things about the fest from a friend who was lucky enough to attend. The official site is worth checking out to learn more about all the films that are screening.
Finding Your Own Local Scene. In response to my post on Asian films at SXSW, reader Amber P. asked for "any information as to other events, conventions, etc. where Asian Cinema is featured." As she noted, Asian cinema is sometimes featured at Comic-Con and similar conventions, but it's not always easy to discover some really cool events that may be taking place in your backyard. That's because so many festivals are underfunded, with little money available to widely advertise or market the events.
We'll try to note any and all Asian film festivals, either in Asian Cinema Scene (every Monday) or Indie Roundup (every Wednesday). But my best advice is to be pro-active. Soon after I first began delving into Asian films in earnest, I began visiting message boards, and that's how I heard about Subway Cinema's first event; eventually that group of knowledgeable fans organized the New York Asian Film Festival. A little more than a year later, when I began aching to see Asian films on the big screen in Dallas, I was lucky enough to come into contact with the folks organizing the first Asian Film Festival of Dallas. Both groups have undergone changes, but both are still going strong.
Local Asian cinema scenes in the US range from public libraries screening anime to Asian cultural centers showcasing older films to full-fledged Asian film festivals to regional film festivals screening a selection of Asian and Asian-American cinema. AsianAmericanFilm.com is a good place to start any search.
As to Florida, which Ms. Palmer asked about specifically, the Enzian Theater in Orlando hosted the South Asian Film Festival last September; the University of Florida in Gainesville hosted an Asian Studies film series from January through March; OCA-South Florida hosted an Asian Night in Fort Lauderdale last month; and Film in Florida lists many film festivals, with links, on its site. Not all will have Asian or Asian-American films, but it's another starting point.
We invite your suggestions and recommendations for finding local Asian cinema scenes.