East Asia

A Touch Of Zen (1971)
King Hu
Taiwan
179′
A lady fugitive on the run from corrupt government officials is joined in her endeavors by an unambitious painter and skilled Buddhist monks.
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Air Doll (2009)
Hirokazu KORE-EDA
Japan
111′
A story of love and frailty, Air Doll takes the essence of what it means to be human and distills it down to its purest form in this bittersweet love story that smoothly intertwines fantasy and reality. In a shabby, rundown apartment in an old part of Tokyo, a bright beacon of purity shines into being one day. Silent and motionless, the air doll that belongs to quiet and retiring middle-aged Hideo (Itsuji Itao) has never been anything out of the ordinary. Each evening after work, he chats with her over the dinner table, bathes her and makes love to her before turning in for the night. However, after he leaves the house one day, the air doll begins to twitch and move, miraculously coming to life. Like a newborn marvelling at the wonder of the world, she is awestruck at the beauty of everything around her. Tottering about in her tiny maid's uniform, she ventures outside the apartment with childlike curiosity. As she wanders through the city, the air doll is enthralled, talking to anyone she finds and trying to comprehend her own ephemeral existence. Though her life is only a few hours old, it changes forever when she walks into a video store and falls helplessly in love with the clerk, Junichi (Arata).
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Akasen Chitai - Street of Shame (1956)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
86′
Five fates of women from Tokyo's brothel district in the 1950s are the focus of Kenji Mizoguchi's last film, who devoted the majority of his works to the historical and social situation of Japanese women. The theme is shaped by socio-critical commitment, human sympathy and unspeculative openness.
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Banshun - Late Spring (1949)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
108′
Twenty-seven-year-old Noriko lives with her widowed father, a university professor, in a small house in the tranquil surroundings of northern Kamakura. He is completing a scientific manuscript, aided by his assistant, Hattori. Professor Sonomiya is concerned for his daughter s welfare, and one day suggests she marry Hattori. Noriko only laughs at his suggestion because she is quite happy with her life and knows that Hattori is already engaged. Her aunt Masa, the professor s sister, is the next person to try out her matchmaking skills, and she talks Noriko into meeting Mr Satake. Although Noriko quite likes him, she rejects all thoughts of marriage because she doesn t want to leave her father all alone. When she meets Professor Onodera, an old friend of her father s, in a museum one day and he tells her that he has just remarried, Noriko can hardly disguise her dismay. One of Ozu's favorite themes is the opposing desires of and friction between members of a family even though they feel deep affection and loyalty to each other. Inevitably, these interactions within a family, and particularly the problems which arise between parents and children, will result in some sort of separation. For Noriko it is the separation of marriage, in other Ozu stories it may mean being employed away from home or death. While Ozu is saddened by these events, he also recognizes that they are unavoidable. This awareness of the inherent transience and sadness of human existence is what the Japanese call mono no aware." Beverley Bare Buehrer
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Dersu Uzala (1975)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
136′
A military explorer meets and befriends a Goldi man in Russia’s unmapped forests. A deep and abiding bond evolves between the two men, one civilized in the usual sense, the other at home in the glacial Siberian woods. The film won the 1976 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the Golden Prize and the Prix FIPRESCI at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival and a number of other awards.
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Dragon Inn (1971)
King Hu
Taiwan
116′
After a successful intrigue, General Yu is executed by his political opponent eunuch Zhao and his children are banished from China. But the General's children are a thorn in Zhao's side and so he does everything to kill them on their way into exile. He sets an ambush at the lonely hostel at the dragon gate. But the faithful followers of the assassinated general rush to help the children. A fight for life and death unleashes itself.
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Drunken Angel (1948)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
98′
In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician. Set in and around the muddy swamps and back alleys of postwar Tokyo, Drunken Angel is an evocative, moody snapshot of a treacherous time and place, featuring one of the director’s most memorably violent climaxes.
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Fukushima - No Man's Zone (2012)
Toshi Fujiwara
Japan
105′
A man wanders through the 20-kilometre exclusion zone around the stricken nuclear reactors at Fukushima. The cherry trees are in bloom and the natural surroundings make an idyllic impression. Radiation is invisible, yet a gaping emptiness looms where the tsunami engulfed streets and houses. The man is wearing normal clothing, just like the people still toughing it out here, for the time being at least. He occa- sionally encounters white "ghosts" in protective clothing, performing strange tasks. As in Tarkovsky’s STALKER, the zone in Fujiwara Toshi’s NO MAN’S ZONE is both a place and a mental state. A gradual disintegration began long before the destruction and devastation, a process defied for the most part by the old people our "Stalker" encounters. A voice accom- panies the filmmaker’s wanderings, that of Armenian-Canadian actress Arsinée Khanjian, a voice from a place of exile, unfamiliar and sympathetic. NO MAN’S ZONE is a complex reflection on the relationship between images and fears, on being addicted to the apocalypse, on the ravaged relationship between man and nature. For the zone to be decontam- inated and returned to the people, nature itself will have to undergo an amputation.
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Hana (2006)
Hirokazu KORE-EDA
Japan
128′
The time is 1702. A young samurai, Aoki Sozaemon (Okada Junichi) has left his countryside hometown, and is now living in Edo (now Tokyo), in search of Kanazawa Jubei (Asano Tadanobu), the man who killed his father. He is living in a dilapidated tenement house, in the poor quarters of the city of Edo. His neighbors in the so-called "row houses" are all good, solid folk who can never even hope to rise out of the squalor of their surroundings. Sozaemon, the provincial samurai, becomes friends with a variety of characters including a habitual drunk, an unsuccessful would-be petty official, a ragman, a perky girl, a doctor, and a scrivener. As the relationships between the characters unfold we are led deeper in the blossoming love story of Sozaemon and the beautiful widow, Osae (Miyazawa Rie). Although he has never forgot his task to find his father's enemy and to succeed in his vengeance, being around Osae and her son, Sozaemon feels a warm feeling inside, which leads to doubts about the entire act of revenge. However, to walk away from the "revenge-act (ADAUCHI)", could actually bring his entire family down, not only without the reward from the Shogun, but also, as a samurai, to be unsuccessful on revenge would be an act of cowardice, and a disgrace to the entire family name. Sozaemon, still not being able to decide on if he should take the act of revenge, goes on with his everyday life, teaching the neighborhood children mathematics, reading and writing. He wonders whether he can ever enjoy life without the specter of revenge and swordplay. With the discovery of the rich meaningful life rather than the meaningless death of a warrior, Sozaemon, together with his strange friends at the tenement row house, decides to plot an act of the lifetime...
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In Her Eyes (2011)
Xiaolu Guo
China
109′
A successful screen adaptation of a novel by renown Chinese writer, Xiaolu Guo, UFO in her Eyes is a hyper-vivid portrait of chaotic contemporary Chinese society. Has a flying saucer come to disrupt life in a village or is it simply the fantasy of an illiterate, attractive single lady? Starring Udo Kier.
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Love And Honor (2007)
Yoji Yamada
Japan
122′
Shortly after assuming his post as food taster, Shinnojo loses his eyesight. The fish that was given to the head of the clan was poisoned. Prior to this, Shinnojo had held an inferior position in the ruler’s entourage. Realising that not only will he remain blind until the end of his days, but he must now relinquish his position and will need assistance for rest of his life, Shinnojo becomes dejected and melancholy. His wife, Kayo, is the only one able to prevent him from committing suicide: "I can’t imagine life without you. But, go ahead and kill yourself. If you do so, I will follow you immediately", is her response. Touched by her loyalty, Shinnojo gives up his plan to take his own life. Shortly afterwards, Shinnojo’s uncle advises him that, since he is no longer able to work, Shinnojo should ask Kayo to go to Shimada, the influential steward of the estate, and ask for his help. As time goes by, Shinnojo begins to get used to being blind. But then one day his aunt Ine tells him of a rumour she has heard about Kayo’s infidelity. Madly jealous, Shinnojo, who loves his wife and had always trusted her, orders his old servant, Tokuhei, to follow Kayo. Tokuhei discovers that the rumour is true. Having noticed that she was being watched, Kayo admits to having committed adultery with Shimada, explaining that the steward demanded her body in return for supporting Shinnojo. Throwing his wife out of the house, Shinnojo prepares himself for one last battle.
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Our Little Sister (2015)
Hirokazu KORE-EDA
Japan
127′
After his very touching Like Father, Like Son, Hirokazu Kore-eda tells once again the story of a complex family: The three sisters Sachi, Yoshino and Chika live together in Kamakura. They travel to the funeral of their father, who left the family 15 years ago, and meet their 13-year-old half-sister Suzu. With great sensitivity for each of the sisters, Kore-eda looks at family ties.
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Sansho Dayu - Sanshi the Bailiff (1954)
Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan
124′
Sansho Dayu is a film about a couple of children from a rich house at the end of the 12th century who fall into the hands of the bailiff. He owes his reputation as an exemplary feudal lord to the merciless exploitation of his slave army. Mizoguchi fluently tells this old legend of need and revenge in beautiful pictures.
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Shanghai, Shimen Road (2011)
Haolun Shu
China
84′
Xiaoli, a 16 year old Shanghainese boy, has recently turned 16, in the summer of 1988. His life revolves around his one-room apartment in a beautiful brick house in the picturesque Shikumen neighborhood of Da Zhongli which he shares with his grandfather. Xiaoli's grandfather was brought up in this neighborhood, and was one of original owners of the houses, built in the 1930s by British architects. The houses were confiscated from their original owners by the government during the Cultural Revolution and made to share with lower-income families. Xiaoli's father died in prison during the Cultural Revolution and his mother immigrated to the United States in the hope of obtaining a green card for her and her son. Xiaoli yearns to graduate from high school and open a photo shop as he is numbed by the routine of his life: his boring political education classes, his English study, the sternness of his grandfather and the lack of comforting parental figure. At the same time, he is wary of the idea of following in his mother's footsteps to America. His interest lies in his blossoming next door neighbor, a girl of twenty named Lanmi. Lanmi failed her college entrance exams and works in the Shanghai no. 2 Toothbrush Factory. She lives in the adjacent apartment with her mother and step-father. She comes from a lower class income family and was relocated in Da Zhongli with her father and mother, before her father was sent off to labor prison were he also eventually died. Lanmi does not get along with her mother and stepfather and new born sibling, and yearns to get out of Da Zhongli, if only she could afford it. She turns to Xiaoli for comfort, albeit of a different kind than Xiaoli is looking for. While Xiaoli looks at her for a mix of motherly figure and teenage lust, Lanmi plays with him. She flirts with him, arouses his senses, and yet has no interest in pursuing their relationship any further, thus giving false hopes to Xiaoli. She starts leading a double life, one which Xiaoli does not even know exists. One day, as she is delivering toothbrushes to a hotel, she is hired to work there for one of the 'sisters'. To Xiaoli, her job oddly consists of going to dances or accompanying foreign businessmen, as Shanghai progressively opens up to foreigners, foreign exchange notes and coca-cola. Xiaoli slowly becomes suspicious of Lanmi's new job yet gives her the benefit of the doubt. Until one day when Lanmi dispappears down south in search of a better life. In Lanmi's absence, Xiaoli turns to Lili who is more of his age but never looses interest in his deviant neighbor. When Lanmi comes back two weeks later, the student demonstrations start monopolizing everyone's life in the spring of 1989. They offer new opportunities to Xiaoli and Lanmi, depending on how each one looks at the events. Xiaoli becomes absorbed by the new developments and slowly looses his naivesness about the country he is living in and his interest in his next door neighbour's Lanmi turns to drugs and alcohol as an escape to her everyday life. When the situation gets so bad that Xiaoli's grandfather urges Xiaoli to leave for America, Xiaoli agrees to and flees.
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Shoplifters (2018)
Hirokazu KORE-EDA
Japan
116′
After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.
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Still the Water (2014)
Naomi Kawase
Japan
120′
On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami, traditions about nature remain eternal. During the full-moon night of traditional dances in August, 16-year-old Kaito discovers a dead body floating in the sea. His girlfriend Kyoko will attempt to help him understand this mysterious discovery. Together, Kaito and Kyoko will learn to become adults by experiencing the interwoven cycles of life, death and love.
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Stray Dog (1949)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
122′
He is still young, the actor who should become known around the world with masterpieces like "Rashomon" or "The Seven Samurai". Here, Akira Kurosawa has created a thriller against the background of the recent and completely unprocessed Japanese war past, of which many of the characters, whether woman or man, talk. "Stray Dog" plays during the sultry hot summer in Tokyo in 1949. The young and completely inexperienced inspector Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) gets his loaded service weapon stolen from his jacket pocket in an overcrowded bus. Murakami is beside himself. He fears the worst consequences for his still young career. Together with his older colleague Sato from the theft department, he sets out on a search for traces of the thief. While we roam about the Japanese post-war setting with him, he gains experiences and learns to keep calm from the old and experienced colleague Sato. Women who are involved in what is going on are also snarling at him as a greenhorn. An impressive milieu study by Akira Kurosawa, in which the master proves himself in the genre film and shows us what he is capable of in narrative, atmospheric and visual terms. Walter Ruggle
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Tokyo Family (2013)
Yoji Yamada
Japan
146′
In this film director Yoji Yamada bows down before his teacher and role model. Yamada was assistant director on Yazujiro Ozu’s «Tokyo monogatari», a moving family portrait set after the Second World War. In his remake, Yamada has made very few departures from Ozu’s masterpiece in order to update the story of ageing couple Shukichi and Tomiko to present day Japan. Once again, the pair decides to leave their quiet lives in the country to pay a visit to their children and grandchildren in Tokyo. Once there, they discover that neither their oldest son, a doctor named Koichi, nor their eldest daughter Shigeko - who runs a beauty parlour - has time for them: both are too busy attending to their everyday concerns. Even the youngest son went his own way. The old couple feel lonely and bewildered in the fast-paced metropolis. Adopting Ozu’s quiet observations of the family, Yamada’s version loses nothing of its topicality and, even sixty years after the original was filmed, the generation gap is still palpable. In fact, today’s young people are struggling to assert themselves in a far more confusing world, and this in a country where the scars of the 2011 tsunami still inform everyday life.
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Tokyo Story (1953)
Yasujiro OZU
Japan
137′
The Hirayamas travel from their hometown of Onomichi to Tokyo to visit their adult children. But the younger generation make them feel more in the way than welcome. It also emerges that their son’s career as a doctor and their daughter’s as a hairdresser are nowhere near as successful as the couple were led to believe from afar. The only one who really makes an effort to spend time with them is their daughter-in-law, Noriko, the widow of the Hirayama’s son who went missing in the war. On the journey home, mother Hirayama is taken seriously ill and the couple have to make an unscheduled stop in Osaka, where another of their adult children lives. In a succinct, objective and non-judgemental manner, Yasujirō Ozu uses images which are as simple as they are magnificent to tell the story of family estrangement and the isolation inherent in modern society. Ozu himself considered Tōky ō Monogatari his "masterpiece" and the 1963 Retrospective of the Berlin International Film Festival, the "film-historical screenings", was dedicated to him. This is the international premiere of the digitally restored version made by Japanese production company Shochiku.
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Yojimbo (1961)
Akira Kurosawa
Japan
110′
The unemployed samurai Sanjuro (stunning as usual: Toshiro Mifune) travels through 19th century Japan to a remote mountain village, where two hostile family clans fight for supremacy by all means. Sanjuro skillfully takes advantage of the rivalries, takes sides here and there and plays both groups against each other in his daring intrigue game.
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