Helsinki Cine Aasia 2016 programme: plenty of contemporary Korean films and female energy

Finland’s only Asian film festival Helsinki Cine Aasia proudly presensts the best of contemporary East and Southeast Asian films between 3-6 March, including films rarely shown elsewhere in Finland. The opening film of this year’s festival,  Johnnie To’s musical Office is kinetic, dazzling and thrilling – in other words exactly what you would expect from the master of Hong Kong action films. 

This year’s programme at Helsinki Cine Aasia includes more South Korean films than before. Shim Sung-bo’s directoral debute Haemoo is timely in a sombre way. Based on true events, it tells the story of illegal migrants who meet their fate on the way from China to Korea. The lighter and brighter side of contemporary Korean film scene is represented in Mun Je-yong’s Shoot Me in the Heart, a song of praise to youth, friendship and slight craziness. Hong Sang-soon’s drama Right Now, Wrong Then tells the same story twice using slightly different camera angles and dialogue, and thereby casts the entire a-man-meets-a-woman story in to a different light.

Asian female directors are also prominently featured in this year’s programme.  Korean July Jung’s first full-lenght film A Girl at My Door deals with domestic violence and patriarchy. Strong female leads hold the story together. The Actor, a take on a love story by one of the best contemporary Japanese female directors Satoko Yokohama turns out a dark comedy whereas Pimpaka Towira’s road movie The Island Funeral leads the audience on a journey to the magical other world that co-exists alongside the political turmoil of today’s Thailand.

Remton Zuasola from the Philippines has challenged the conventional camera work since his directoral debut and his one-shot feature film SWAP is guaranteed to hold the audience in its grip. For his fictional debut How to Win at Checkers (Every Time)Josh Kim draws from his earlier documentary on Thai transgender scene; questions about identity are also in focus in Pema Tseden’s artistic and ironic, black-and-white Tharlo. 

Japanese films have been the box office hits at the festival year on year. This year the programme includes not less than six films from Japan. Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s Three Stories of Love has been voted the best film of the year in Japan. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ghost story for the adults Journey to the Shore and cult director Shunji Iwai’s first animation, the delicate The Case of Hana and Alice, are likely to go down a treat among fans of Japanese genre-films. Shuichi Okita, festival’s favourite, returns this year with a comedy Ecotherapy Getaway HolidayTHE COCKPIT documents the birth of a rap song.

Possibly the most famous of the sixth generation of Chinese film-makers Jia Zhangke is the subject matter in another documentary seen at the festival, Walter Salles’s Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang. Jia Zhangke’s latest film, Mountains May Depart, will also be shown.

To read more about the programme, click through here.