Asian cinema attracts interest – Helsinki Cine Asia festival sets a new visitor record!

Helsinki Cine Asia achieved its highest-ever attendance in its 12th year. The growth was remarkable, with the total number of attendees increasing by approximately third compared to the previous year.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 years, audiences were first cautious in returning  to theaters. However, it is evident that people are once again eager for high-quality cultural experiences. Particularly delightful was the discovery of new attendees who found their way to the festival’s screenings over the weekend.

“We are pleased that our carefully curated program has found theatergoers. There is clearly an audience and demand for Asian cinema in our country,” rejoices the festival’s artistic director Eija Niskanen.

Seven sold out screenings over the four-day period

A quarter of all festival screenings were sold out. The highest attendance was seen at the opening film, the Chinese film Only the River Flows, and Ripples, the latest film by Japanese director Ogigami Naoko.

Among the festival’s lineup, Japanese and Chinese films were particularly popular. However, the sold-out screening of the Vietnamese art house film Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell demonstrated significant interest in contemporary Southeast Asian cinema as well. The festival’s free discussion sessions also drew large crowds to the event corner of Kinopalatsi.

One of the festival’s most popular films, the Japanese LGBTQ+ film Egoist, will be screened for free at Helsinki City Civic Center Vuotalo on Wednesday, March 27th, at 6:00 PM.

Take part in the customer survey and win a screening pass for the 2025 festival!

The customer survey for 2024 is also now available. By taking part in the survey you will give the organisers valuable input, and you get a chance to win a screening pass for next year! The survey can be found here.

The next Helsinki Cine Asia festival will be held in spring 2025.

Helsinki Cine Asia festival is supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) and the City of Helsinki.

Festival teams favourites for year 2024

Too many good movies and not enough time? What should I see at Helsinki Cine Aasia? Read the festival teams tips to make sure you don’t miss out!

The Movie Emperor is a comedic portrayal of the Chinese film industry and celebrity culture. Hong Kong star Andy Lau stars as a self-absorbed movie star trying to remain relevant.
– Eija, Artistic Director

I’m naturally excited about the extensive China section, especially since I haven’t seen all of its films yet! While I could recommend the entire program, let’s highlight the Korean films Work to Do ja Wild Roomer here. I haven’t seen the first one yet, but I expect a realistic and critical perspective on work-life structures, which is an intriguing topic globally. Wild Roomer, on the other hand, left an impression with its unhurried and slightly peculiar atmosphere.
– Jenni, Executive Director

The audience at the Tokyo International Film Festival, myself included, enjoyed A Long Shot with the full range of emotions. The action combined with subtle social criticism made a lasting impression on me. I personally look forward to seeing The Breaking Ice at this year’s HCA, as modern perspectives on the lives of young people in contemporary China are always mind-opening.
– Linda, Producer

Birth, which made an impact on me at the 2022 Busan festival, is an emotional, excellent depiction of a woman’s relationship with her body and external pressures during pregnancy. For more interesting female-centric storytelling, check out Solids by the Seashore, portraying friendship and love in a Thai beach town, a perfect film for March’s grayness!
– Muru, Publicist

It’s a rare treat to be able to see a South Korean indie production in Finland! Hail to Hell is not afraid to tackle some of the darker topics in South Korean society, such as bullying, suicide, and religious cults. However, the movie is far from a pity fest – the superb young protagonists are ready to stick it to their oppressors!
– Tuukka, Assistant Producer

As an avid cinephile, I can’t help but mention The Movie Emperor . My weakness lies in films about the film industry, especially satires, which this film by Ning Hao represents. Premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, it immediately caught my interest, and it’s fantastic that it’s now being shown on the big screen in Finland too.
– Joonas, Assistant Producer

I’m involved in graphic design for the festival, and  become familiar with the marketing images of films in the weeks leading up to the event. As a big nature lover and photographer, I was immediately drawn to the still from Snow Leopard; the image is inherently beautiful, and the subject matter also interests me a lot. I will definitely free up my schedule for this screening!
– Tiia, Graphic Designer

I joined the festival organization after the films were selected, so my knowledge of the program’s films is somewhat limited. However, films that have won prizes at Cannes are usually worth seeing. Therefore, I have high expectations for Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shellj and Only the River Flows. The latter’s neo-noir genre and the gradual revelation of the local community’s underlying secrets is right in my wheelhouse 🙂
– Tuomas, Website

The tickets are on sale now!

The online ticketing has now begun, continuing throughout the festival. During the festival tickets are also sold at the screening locations.

Single tickets are 12 € and a 5 ticket Screening Pass is 48,00 €.

You can purchase the tickets from here.

The entire festival program is out!

The films have been selected for the Helsinki Cine Asia program fresh from some of Asia’s most prominent film festivals, and many of the films have also been seen in the main sections of international festivals.

The festival aims to provide an overview of the most interesting new releases of East and Southeast Asian cinema, which have gained great popularity in recent years, as well as an insight into the current Asian film culture. 

Pema Tseden’s last film, the newest from Ogigami Naoko – and much more!

On Thursday, March 14th, at Cinema Orion, the opening film will be Wei Shujun’s intense and atmospheric neo-noir thriller Only the River Flows, which competed in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2023.

Additionally, the program features films from the Chinese cultural sphere, including The Movie Emperor starring Hong Kong legend Andy Lau. The program also includes the last film Snow Leopard by the Tibetan director Pema Tseden (1969-2023).

Among the Korean films, audiences will experience everything from unique girl power in Hail to Hell, to workplace challenges in Work to Do. The Japanese selection includes, among others, the black comedy Ripples which is the latest work from Ogigami Naoko, and Okiku and the World, chosen by Japanese critics as the best film of 2023.

Both the Thai film Solids by the Seashore and the Japanese film Egoist have an LGBT+ theme. The program also includes the visually stunning Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell from Vietnam, which has garnered attention from critics.

In addition to film screenings, the program includes free discussion events held at Kinopalatsi, addressing topics such as Japanese hospitality omotenashi with journalist and author Heikki Valkama

The entire program can be explored here! Ticket sales for the festival begin on the website on Thursday, February 29th, 2024. Tickets for festival screenings cost 12 euros each, and a five-ticket package is available for 48 euros. Admission to the discussion events is free. 

If you want Helsinki Cine Aasia festival to continue also in the future, remember to take part and come to the screenings 😊😘

The opening film of the year 2024 is Only the River Flows

The opening film of the 2024 Helsinki Cine Aasia is Wei Shujun’s Only the River Flows. This tense and atmospheric neo-noir thriller, which competed in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2023, follows a police chief’s murder mystery investigation. The rural China of the 1990s provides an excellent backdrop for unexpected twists in the chief’s deepening investigation.

The film is based on the short story “Mistakes by the River” by Yu Hua, one of the leading names in contemporary Chinese literature. Wei Shujun’s latest work, known from previous Helsinki Cine Asia festivals, creates a captivating cinematic experience that you won’t want to miss!

The full festival program will be announced on February 26th.


Volunteer recruitment period is over

Mainly the work focuses on tasks during the festival, but there are also some tasks available starting from early March. There is a diverse range of tasks available, from ticket sales to photography, so there is definitely something meaningful for everyone. All volunteers will have free access to watch movies during the festival.

The call for volunteers has already been closed.

Helsinki Cine Asia takes over the screens once again – the festival celebrates Asian cinema for the 12th time!

The festival program includes a wide selection of the latest Asian films, with Kinopalatsi and Cinema Orion serving as familiar screening venues. During the festival, attendees can immerse themselves in the works of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other Asian filmmakers, spanning from delightful comedies to inspiring dramas.

For more information about the program and ticket sales, the best way is to follow Helsinki Cine Asia Festival on social media and on our website – stay tuned and ensure you don’t miss out on the latest news. Get ready for a journey into the enchanting world of Asian cinema, see you in March!

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