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Festival news: the first edition of LEAFF announces its programme

LEAFF 2016 banner

The London East Asia Film Festival announced the full programme of its first full “edition” this week, and there is a very strong Korean selection. As already announced, there will be a retrospective of one of Korea’s best known directors, Park Chan-wook, along with a screening of his most recent movie. In addition, there are screenings of some of Korea’s most talked-about movies from this year: Kim Ji-woon’s Age of Shadows and Cho Jung-rae’s Spirit’s Homecoming. If you missed Kim Sang-Chan’s Karaoke Crazies at Frightfest at the end of August, or the brief UK theatrical release of Kim Sung-hoon’s Tunnel earlier this month, you have another chance to catch them. There’s an interesting departure from Kang Woo-suk, whose historical drama Gosanja (aka The Map Against The World) will be screening as part of the festival’s Official Selection, alongside Tunnel and Kim Tae-gon’s Goodbye Single (aka Familyhood). A collaboration with the Jeonju International Film Festival will bring Kim Soo-hyun’s Great Patrioteers, Ryu Hoon’s Curtain Call and Ko Hee-young’s Breathing Underwater, while Yoon Ga-eun’s The World of Us complements Spirit’s Homecoming in the Stories of Women strand.

With plenty of Q+As and personal appearances, it will be a busy ten days. Keep an eye on the official website, or their Facebook page; and if you want details of countries and directors of all the films listed in the full programme below, head over to Eastern Kicks where Andrew Heskins has done the hard work. I’ve highlighted the Korean films below in red.

UPDATE 13 October 2016. As inevitably happens with the frantic organisational challenge of putting together a film festival, times, dates and even movies change. The below list is therefore no longer completely accurate. Instead, look to these listing of the Korean films in the different strands:

… or check on the LEAFF website.

1st London East Asia Film Festival Announces 2016 Programme

London 20-30 October 2016

LEAFF 2016 poster

Opening this year on 20th October at ODEON Leicester Square with South Korea’s Academy Award submission Age of Shadows (UK premiere), the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) will run for 11 days from 20th to 30th October. It will close with Johnnie To’s Three at Ham Yard Hotel Cinema.

Building on the ‘0th edition’ of last year, this year’s ‘1st edition’ of LEAFF will bring London a much wider, eclectic and diverse programme of 40 films from South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. The screenings will take place at key venues around central London including the iconic Odeon Leicester Square, Curzon Soho, Picturehouse Central, ICA, BFI, Regent Street Cinema as well as local cinemas – Hackney Picturehouse and the Ritzy in Brixton.

In total, there will be five strands that run throughout the festival; Official Selection, Competition, Retrospective, Stories of Women, and Film Festival Focus. These sections have been carefully curated and programmed by Festival Director Hyejung Jeon, Festival Advisor Roger Garcia (Hong Kong International Film Festival), Ji-seok Kim (Busan International Film Festival) and Programme Consultant Chanel Kong (Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival).

Official Selection

In addition to our stellar opening and closing galas, the LEAFF Official Selection will include a strong line up of the very best films from East Asia. Kiyoshi Kurosawa will be back this year presenting his unnerving Creepy and attending the screening at Curzon Soho; Harmonium that won the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival will be screened as a UK premiere as part of this section. The screening of omnibus film Beautiful 2016 by Jia Zhangke, Stanley Kwan, Alec Su and Nakata Hideo exemplifies the cultural diversity behind LEAFF’s philosophy.


The Competition Section aims to nurture the new and emerging filmmaking talent of East Asia and provide a platform for their exposure within the UK film industry. One of the key criteria for participating directors is that they will have directed only three feature films or less, and their submission to LEAFF will be judged by our panel of industry experts. Within this section, competition highlights include Malaysian film Pekak (Kairul Azri Md Noor), Korean film Karaoke Crazies that received the best film award at Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and Filipino film Pamilya Ordinaryo (Eduardo Roy, Jr).


This strand aims to give reverence to Asian filmmaking auteurs who have greatly contributed to their field. A retrospective of Director Park Chan-wook’s work will be hosted in partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas. The retrospective opens on the 21st October at Picturehouse Central with Park’s erotic psychological thriller The Handmaiden. A Q&A with the director will follow this daring adaptation of Sarah Water’s book Fingersmith.

On the following night, Dir. Park will be introducing his Vengeance Trilogy also at Picturehouse Central. He will talk briefly about the films that brought him to fame and introduce the world premiere of the 4K restoration of Lady Vengeance. Park’s features and shorts will be shown at Hackney Picturehouse and the Ritzy throughout the week. He will also attend the Screenwriter’s Lecture Series at the BFI organised by the BAFTA.

Stories of Women

In partnership with Regent Street Cinema, LEAFF brings you ‘Stories of Women’. LEAFF is led by a female festival director and recognises the importance of showing narratives driven by a central female role. A selection of films from East Asia that tell the stories of women from different generations will be featured in the festival, opening with The World of Us directed by Yoon Ga-eun that was nominated for the Best First Feature Award at the Berlinale, followed by Hee by Japanese actress and director Kaori Momoi.

This selection is curated in association with the Pan Asian Women’s Association (PAWA), and features some of the best emerging and established filmmakers in East Asia today, including Cho Jung-rae, who directed Spirit’s Homecoming, a crowd-sourced South Korean film about ‘Comfort Women’ during the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1943. There will be a seminar regarding the film as well as the issue of ‘comfort women’ at SOAS. Also, the film will be screened again at Showroom Workstation in Sheffield to meet with more audience outside London.

Film Festival Focus

Running as an annual strand, LEAFF will collaborate with Asian film festivals with a view to bridging the cultural gap between East and West. This year, LEAFF is partnered with Jeonju International Film Festival, and its Programmer Lee Sang-yong will be attending LEAFF to introduce this section. Films include Breathing Underwater by Koh Heeyoung and Ryu Hoon’s thespian comedy Curtain Call, which raises surprising questions about the meaning of art.

Message from Festival Director

Hye-jung Jeon, Director of The London East Asia Film Festival commented, “The London East Asia Film Festival aims to introduce Asian films that direct the audience to really understand the culture. It will focus on the filmmakers’ perspectives through conversations instead of showing Asian cinema merely as a variation from European and American films. Also, this festival can achieve greater communication with the audience than festivals dedicated to a single country. I hope the people of London discover the distinction and individuality between different countries within East Asia.”


  • ODEON Leicester Square, 24-26 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LQ.
  • Curzon Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5DY
  • Picturehouse Central, Corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Great Windmill Street, Piccadilly, London W1D 7DH
  • Hackney Picturehouse, 270 Mare Street, London, E8 1HE
  • Ritzy Cinema, Brixton Oval, Brixton, SW2 1JG
  • Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent Street, London, W1B 2UW
  • Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH
  • Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London, W1D 7DT

For more information on LEAFF, please visit:

LEAFF 2016 Programme

Thursday 20th October

19:30 – AGE OF SHADOWS (ODEON Leicester Sq, sc1) | Q&A | Official Selection

Friday 21st October

18:30 – THE HANDMAIDEN (Picturehouse Central, sc1) | Q&A | PCW Retrospective

Saturday 22nd October

10:00 – GREAT PATRIOTEERS (ICA Cinema, sc1) | Film Festival Focus
13:30 – BAFTA talk w/ PCW & NIGHT FISHING (BFI, sc1) | Q&A | PCW Retrospective
15:30 – GOSANJA (The Map Against The World) (Curzon Soho, sc1) | Q&A | Official Selection | Book tickets
18:00 – SYMPATHY FOR MR VENGEANCE, OLD BOY, LADY VENGEANCE (Picturehouse Central, sc2) | INTRO | PCW Retrospective

Sunday 23rd October

10:00 – CURTAIN CALL (ICA Cinema, sc1) | Film Festival Focus
15:30 – TUNNEL (Curzon Soho, sc3) | Q&A | Official Selection
18:00 – GOODBYE SINGLE (Curzon Soho, sc3) | Q&A | Official Selection
20:30 – CREEPY (Curzon Soho, sc1) | Q&A | Official Selection

Monday 24th October

14:00 – NFTS seminar w/ PCW | PCW Retrospective
18:30 – BEAUTIFUL 2016 (Curzon Soho, sc1) | Official Selection
20:30 – HARMONIUM (Curzon Soho, sc3) | UK PREM | Official Selection

Tuesday 25th October

18:30 – A YELLOW BIRD (Curzon Soho, sc3) | Q&A | Competition
20:30 – MIDNIGHT DINER (Curzon Soho, sc3) | Q&A | Special Spotlight

Wednesday 26th October

18:30 – THE WORLD OF US (Regent Street Cinema) | Q&A | Competition | Stories of Women
18:30 – STOKER + DAY TRIP (Hackney Picturehouse, sc3) | PCW Retrospective
20:30 – BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK (Regent Street Cinema) | Stories of Women

Thursday 27th October

18:30 – HEE (Regent Street Cinema) | Q&A | Stories of Women
20:30 – SPIRIT’S HOMECOMING (Regent Street Cinema) | Q&A in association with PAWA | Stories of Women

Friday 28th October

15:30 – KARAOKE CRAZIES (Curzon Soho, sc1/3) | Q&A | Competition
18:30 – JOINT SECURITY AREA (Ritzy Picturehouse, sc2) | PCW Retrospective

Saturday 29th October

10:00 – BREATHING UNDERWATER (ICA Cinema, sc1) | Film Festival Focus
15:00 – NESSUN DORMA (Curzon Soho, sc3) | Offical Selection
15:30 – SPIRIT’S HOMECOMING (Sheffield Showroom) | Q&A | Stories of Women
18:30 – THIRST + JUDGEMENT (Ritzy Picturehouse, sc2) | PCW Retrospective

Sunday 30th October

10:00 – THE LAUNDRYMAN (ICA Cinema, sc1) | Competition
13:00 – PEKAK (Curzon Soho, sc3) | Offical Selection
15:30 – BANGKOK NITES (Curzon Soho, sc3) | Official Selection
18:30 – I’M A CYBORG + BITTER SWEET SEOUL (Hackney Picturehouse, sc3) | PCW Retrospective
19:00 – THREE (Ham Yard Hotel) | Q&A | Official Selection

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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