London East Asia Film Festival 2021 – the official press release

LEAFF today officially revealed its 2021 programme, with eight Korean movies in its schedule including Yoon Jae-keun’s 2021 thriller Spritwalker as the closing gala. Here’s the list of Korean films, with ticket links and screening times.

  • THE PRAYER (간호중, 2020) Dir. Min Kyu-dong (Official Selection | European Premiere)
    Fri Oct 22 18:30 @ The Cinema at Selfridges | Tickets
  • AREUM MARRIED (박강아름 결혼하다, 2019) Dir. Areum Parkkang (Documentary)
    Sat Oct 23 15:00 @ ODEON West End | Tickets
  • INTRODUCTION (인트로덕션, 2021) Dir. Hong Sang-soo (Official Selection | UK Premiere)
    Sat Oct 23 18:15 @ ODEON West End | Tickets
  • NOT OUT (낫아웃, 2020) Dir. Jung-gon Lee (Competition | UK Premiere)
    Sun Oct 24 15:00 @ ODEON West End | Tickets
  • THE SINGER (소리꾼, 2020) Dir. Cho Jung-rae (Official Selection | Director’s Cut, International Premiere)
    Sun Oct 24 17:00 @ ODEON West End | Tickets
  • JIKJI ROUTE; TERRA INCOGNITA (직지루트; 테라 인코그니타, 2021) Dir. Woo Kwang-hoon (Documentary | International Premiere)
    Tue Oct 26 18:30 @ The Chiswick Cinema | Tickets
  • WOMAN OF FIRE (화녀, 1971) Dir. Kim Ki-young (Retrospective | European Premiere)
    Fri Oct 29th 18:30 @ The Cinema at Selfridges | Tickets
  • SPIRITWALKER (유체이탈자, 2021) Dir. Yoon Jae-keun (Closing Gala | London Premiere)
    Sun Oct 31 18:30 @ The Cinema at Selfridges | Tickets

The full press release follows.

London East Asia Film Festival reveals full programme for its sixth edition

21 October – 31 October 2021

  • LEAFF brings 33 films from across East Asia to London between the 21st to 31st October 2021 as one of the only London film festivals to be operating exclusively in cinemas this year.
  • Opening Gala is beloved Director Benny Chan’s final feature, Raging Fire, in the ODEON Luxe Leicester Square as well as a range of new and established talent from across East Asia to cinemas in London.
  • Screens titles including 19 UK Premieres, 6 European Premieres, 5 London Premieres and 2 International Premieres from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and more at ODEON Luxe West End, The Cinema at Selfridges and The Chiswick Cinema.

LEAFF 2021

The London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) celebrates its sixth edition in 2021 with a commitment to diverse, culturally impactful cinema entertainment. After a year of shut cinema doors, LEAFF is returning home to London’s big screens with an expanded catalogue to help stimulate the renaissance of cinema and promote cultural empathy.

With cinematic offerings from eight regions – China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam – this year’s programme is an ode to the quiet and independent voices from East Asia. Two international premieres, five London premieres, six European premieres, and nineteen UK premieres will take place at our state-art-of-the art venues, ODEON Luxe Leicester Square, The Cinema at Selfridges and as well as the newly opened ODEON Luxe West End and The Chiswick Cinema. The festival is divided into five strands: Official Selection, Competition, Hong Kong Focus, Documentary, and Retrospective.

Opening Gala

The festival opens with a memorial to the late Benny Chan and old-school Hong Kong action films with the director’s final feature RAGING FIRE at ODEON Luxe Leicester Square on 21st October. Regional Crime Unit officer Cheung Sung-Bong (Donnie Yen, Ip Man) comes head to head with his former protégé, Yau Kong-Ng (Nicholas Tse, New Police Story) in an explosive plot with razor-sharp action sequences. No stranger to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, it is only a matter of time before one makes the wrong move. Upon its release, the film sustained its place at No. 1 at the China box-office for over a
month.

Official Selection

Box office hits as well as new works by prolific East Asian filmmakers make up the Official LEAFF Selection. We are excited to welcome titles from Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo’s cross-cultural drama INTRODUCTION, as well as Taiwanese auteur Chung Mong-Hong’s touching Covid-19 inspired familial drama THE FALLS.

LEAFF will bring to the UK some of the most hotly anticipated East Asian films including Chen Yu-Hsun’s Crystal Mulberry Award-winning fantasy rom-com MY MISSING VALENTINE, which won five Golden Horse awards, the collaborative directorial debut of Japanese actors, Takumi Saito, Naoto Takenaka, and Takayuki Yamada, ZOKKI and Cho Jung-rae’s historical musical about a wandering pansori singer, THE SINGER.

Competition

LEAFF’s Competition strand is devoted to spotlighting up-and-coming talent from the East Asia region, all of whom have made three features or less. This year, twelve films will compete for of the coveted LEAFF Awards in the categories of Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor. They will be judged by a panel of jury members comprised of the former Art Director of the Edinburgh Festival Hannah McGill, the established film critic Damon Wise, and former editor of the Sight and Sound magazine Nick James.

This year’s competitors include Kōbe-born Yujiro Harumoto’s dramatic sophomore feature A BALANCE which has already bagged several awards in Busan, Pingyao, and Singapore, Winner of the Junior Jury Award at Locarno International Film Festival WHETHER THE WEATHER IS FINE by Filipino filmmaker and editor Carlo Francisco Manatad, and Wan Chi-Man’s timely and touching story on Hong Kong par-athlete So Wa Wai, ZERO TO HERO.

Hong Kong Focus

From Udine to Chicago and now to London, LEAFF is joined by Hong Kong International Film Festival on their overseas touring program, Hong Kong New Talents (HKNT) to shine an international spotlight to a new wave of Hong Kong filmmakers. Three Hong Kong films from the Competition section are joined by the 4th winner of CreateHK’s First Feature Film Initiative Alan Fung’s ELISA’S DAY, Soi Cheang’s neo-noir crime-thriller LIMBO which won the Purple Mulberry Award at Udine, Kin Long Chan’s heart-warming triad film HAND ROLLED CIGARETTE which won White Mulberry Award Winner, and photographer-turned-director Sunny Lau’s zany comedy-horror SUGAR STREET STUDIO.

Documentary

From Lim Chung-Man’s KEEP ROLLING, a documentary on one of Hong Kong’s most influential directors, Ann Hui (who was awarded the Venezia’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement last year), to Ian Thomas Ash’s USHIKU, an exposé on Japanese immigration, our documentary strand features everything from staunch journalism to intimate portraits of its subjects.

Retrospective

Three classics from renowned auteurs are restored in our retrospective programme to form a cinematic triptych of East Asian, paying tribute to some of the world’s finest filmmaking. To commemorate the late Benny Chan, LEAFF is proud to present his bold first feature A MOMENT OF ROMANCE. Youn Yuh-jung’s ground-breaking Oscar and BAFTA win this year is celebrated through her breakthrough role in Kim Ki-young’s psychodrama WOMAN OF FIRE. To mark the 21st year of Edward Yang’s Best Director win at the Cannes Film Festival, LEAFF will show his New Wave classic TAIPEI STORY, which completes the Retrospective strand.

Closing Gala

The festival closes with the body-swapping horror-thriller, SPIRITWALKER, from Korean newcomer Yoon Jae-keun, on October 31st, Halloween night. When skilled combat-fighter Ian (Yoon Kye-sang, The Greatest Love) loses his memory, he finds himself caught in an eternal cycle of body swapping. With a premise that harkens back to the Western classic Momento and coupled with action-packed visuals, the film will surely be a smashing and shocking close to the festival.

Industry Talk

An Online Industry Talk with LEAFF Programme Advisor Roger Garcia will compliment the festival’s commitment to supporting exhibitors. This year also marks the inaugural year for LEAFF Young Critic’s Programme. The programme provides aspiring film critics between the ages of 18-24 the chance to have one of their reviews of our Competition published on LEAFF’s official website and promoted on social media. A mentoring session with Telegraph critic Tim Robey will also take place. Entries are submitted on Twitter to #LEAFFYoungCritic by October 10th.

Head Chef: Joo Won

We are delighted to offer a taste of East Asia this year with a special menu supported by Nongshim from our talented Head Chef, Joo Won, who served as the head chef at Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows. He will guide our audience on a special ‘Taste of Asia’ journey presenting a twist on classic Nongshim plates including stir fried beef Bulgogi Shin Ramyun and seasonal vegetables. Soju cocktails will be available to accompany Joo’s special dishes.

A Message from the Director

Festival Director, Hyejung Jeon, adds: “LEAFF’s mission has been to champion the vibrant creativity of East Asian cinema with our loyal audience. Navigating the pandemic, we are coming back stronger than ever with a vital and exciting lineup from directors new and established. After the past difficult year, our festival is a needed coming together for our diverse community and we are so excited to show such a moving, varied line programme for them to enjoy”.

We are grateful for the continuing support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Taipei Representative Office, Korea Tourism Organisation, Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, Create Hong Kong and Taiwan Tourism Bureau and our sponsors Nongshim, HiteJinro, Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation and City of Jeonju.

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