Questions: Contact -
Johnny Lim – Communications Coordinator, 815-651-0117, Johnlimact@gmail.com
Sophia Wong Boccio – Founder & Executive Director, 312-315-6393, firstname.lastname@example.org
ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA SERIES RETURNS FEBRUARY 17 WITH NEW SELECTION OF CONTEMPORARY ASIAN FILMS
• SERIES IS SIGNATURE PROGRAM OF CHICAGO NON-PROFIT, SOPHIA’S CHOICE
• CHICAGO PREMIER OF CHINESE ANIMATED CLASSIC THE MONKEY KING IN 3D –
OPENING NIGHT, FEB. 17
• TRIBUTE TO LEGENDARY HONG KONG DIRECTOR HERMAN YAU - CLOSING NIGHT, MAY 20
• POPULAR CINEMA SLAPDOWN HOST RON FALZONE TO MODERATE POST-FILM Q&A SESSIONS
(January 25, 2016) – As it enters its second year, the bi-annual film screening series, ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA, is on an ambitious trajectory to surpass the success of its first season by expanding on the dynamic range of cinematic treasures that pleased audiences and critics alike in the fall of 2015. The screenings, which will be taking place at the AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois Street (Chicago), and the Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Avenue (Wilmette), from February 17 – May 20, 2016, will bring an array of award-winning and star-studded Asian language films from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand, with majority to be shown theatrically in Chicago the first time.
The Opening Night of the series will commemorate the Chinese New Year of the Monkey with a 3D rendition and frame-by-frame restoration of the 1961 masterpiece of Chinese animation, The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven (dir. Wan Lai-ming). Other highlights are:
• Office, a dark musical-satire of the corporate world starring Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and actress/singer/writer Sylvia Chang (The Red Violin), and directed by Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To (best known for Triad Election);
• Zinnia Flower (Taiwan), a compassionate meditation on loss and the redemptive power of mourning, from director Tom Lin Shu-yu (Starry Strarry Night); and
• Three Stories of Love (Japan, dir. Ryōsuke Hashiguchi), one of the most highly anticipated and best reviewed Japanese films of 2015, which lucidly interweaves the stories of three heartbroken characters struggling quietly to assuage the affliction of living without love.
In addition to continuing a wide array of films in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean languages (with English subtitles), the second season of ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA will expand its geographical and cultural domain to include compelling examples of contemporary Thai and Vietnamese movie making, namely Pee Mak (dir. Banjong Pisanthanakun) a box-office breaking comedy horror film adapted from Thai folklore; and Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass, a coming of age story about brotherhood set in the Vietnamese countryside during the late 1980s.
As a capstone to these and other exciting events, the Closing Night festivities on May 20 will include a celebratory tribute to legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Herman Yau Lai-to’s prolific, nearly three-decade long career as a director, cinematographer, scriptwriter and producer.
ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA is the signature series of SOPHIA’S CHOICE, a not-for-profit arts organization under the direction of Chicago-based, Hong Kong-bred cultural entrepreneur Sophia Wong Boccio. SOPHIA’S CHOICE was founded with lofty cosmopolitan goals in mind, aiming to simultaneously cultivate the general public’s interest in Asian culture via film, foster connections between the Asian film industry and Chicago’s various local professional outlets for industrial and educational exchange, as well as promoting Chicago as a world-class destination for Asian film companies. All ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA screenings will be followed by question-and-answer sessions led by award-winning screenwriter, Columbia College Chicago Associate Professor in Cinema Art + Science, and host of the popular Cinema Slapdown series, Ron Falzone.
“Asian Pop-Up Cinema is intended for those culturally curious about the wide range of contemporary Asian films that are rarely theatrically released in America, as well as the rapidly growing Asian-American population here that wants to understand more about their heritage through current films. These films—by award-winning filmmakers and featuring Asian superstars—all tell stories that transcend the different languages,” said Wong Boccio.
ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA 2nd Season Schedule
Opening Night Film:
THE MONKEY KING: UPROAR IN HEAVEN 3D (大閙天宫) ** CHICAGO PREMIERE
Wednesday, February 17, 7:30 PM, at AMC River East 21
Directed by: Wan Lai-ming (万籁鸣) from China
3D Version directed by: Su Da and Chan Zhihong
China, 2011, 92 min, Mandarin w/English subtitles, DCP
Synopsis: A painstaking frame-for-frame restoration and 3D rendering of the classic 1961 Wan Lai-ming masterpiece, based on JOURNEY TO THE WEST, a classic of Chinese literature by Wu Cheng’en (famously translated as Monkey by Arthur Waley). Considered a national treasure and China's most celebrated work of animation, the film is composed of gorgeously flowing animation created by hand from over 130,000 ink drawings and an opulent soundtrack inspired by the Beijing Opera. THE MONKEY KING follows the adventures of the magical Monkey King of Flower Fruit Mountain, a quixotic and mischievous character who creates havoc by refusing to bow down to the authority of the Celestial Jade Emperor. The voice-over for the new rendition includes celebrity talents & artists from China, to name a few: Chen Kai-ge, Feng Xiao-gang, Chen Dao-ming, Liu Xiao-qi, Zhou Li-bo, Zhang Guo-li and Yao Cheng.
OFFICE (華麗上班族 )
Sunday, February 28, 2:00 PM, at the Wilmette Theatre
Directed by: Johnnie To (杜琪峯) from Hong Kong
Starring: Sylvia Chang, Chow Yun Fat, Wang Zi-yi and Lang Yue-ting
China-Hong Kong co-production, 2015, 117 min, Cantonese/Mandarin/English w/English & Chinese subtitles, DCP
Synopsis: A musical set in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, OFFICE jumps to the rhythms of the stock market, its vertiginous ups and downs, its soaring promises and crushing defeats as it follows the interpersonal relationships of several employees working for a Chinese corporation. Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To, who was famous for stylish noir thrillers such as PTU, EXILED, or TRIAD ELECTION, in which “his peerless technique, eye for beauty and grasp of darkness flow as fluidly as his prowling cameras,” continues in later years to show his versatility with a comedy filled with captivating music and featuring even a little dancing.
THE BEAUTY INSIDE
Wednesday, March 2, 7:30 PM, at AMC River East 21
Directed by: Baek Jong-yul (also known as Baik) (백종열)
Starring: Han Hyo-joo, Kim Dae-myeung, Do Ji-han, Bae Seong-woo, Park Shin-hye, Lee Bum-soo, Park Seo-jun, Kim Sang-ho, Chun Woo-hee, Ueno Juri, Lee Jae-joon, Kim Min-jae, Le Hyun-woo, Cho Dal-hwan, Lee Jin-uk, Hong Da-mi, Seo Kang-jun, Kim Hie-won, Lee Dong-wook, Ko Asung, Kim Joo-hyuk, Yoo Yeon-seok
S. Korea, 2015, 126 min, Korean w/English subtitles, Blu-ray
Synopsis: Every morning, Woo-jin wakes up to an identity crisis. That is to say, every day he wakes up in a different body. Though his age, gender, and nationality change, the one thing he’s determined to keep constant in his life is Yi-soo—the woman he loves. With every transformation, Woo-jin has to figure out how to live with his new body and reunite with Yi-soo. Their love is tested when she learns his secret. Boasting beautiful visuals and a unique concept, THE BEAUTY INSIDE swept major international awards at Cannes and CLIO.
STARRY STARRY NIGHT (星空 ) **CHICAGO PREMIERE
Sunday, March 6, 2:00 PM, at the Wilmette Theatre
Directed by: Tom Lin Shu-yu (林書宇 )
Cinematographer: Jack Pollack
Starring: Gwei Lun, Jiao Xiu, Harlem Yu and Rene Liu
Taiwan, 2012, 120 min., Mandarin w/English subtitles, DCP
Synopsis: 12-year-old Mei grew up with her grandparents in the mountains, spending her evenings in a field watching the sky, but now lives within the city with her parents, who constantly fight with each other and seem more concerned with their careers than her upbringing, leaving Mei to withdraw into her imagination. Soon Mei takes a liking to Lee, a transfer student who seems as just as withdrawn from the world as herself. Their friendship blossoms when she saves him from bullies. As Mei’s home life worsens and her parents announce their decision to divorce, Mei turns to Lee to help plan an escape.
ZINNIA FLOWER (百曰告别) ** CHICAGO PREMIERE
Wednesday, March 16, 7:30 PM at AMC River East 21
Directed by: Tom Lin Shu-yu (林書宇 )
Starring: Karena Lam Ka-yan, and Stone
Taiwan, 2015, 96 min, Mandarin w/English subtitles, DCP
Director Tom Lin Shu-Yu will be present for audience discussion.
Synopsis: ZINNIA FLOWER is inspired in part by the untimely death of director Tom Lin’s wife in 2012. The film opens to the aftermath of a multiple-car collision in Taipei in which Wei (Stone – lead guitarist of pop-rock band Mayday in Taiwan) lost his pregnant wife and Ming (Karena Lam Ka-yan, and winner Golden Horse Best Actress Award for this role) lost her finance. Adopting the 100-day timeline of a Buddhist mourning ritual, this intimate dual portrait alternates between the surviving spouses as they go on their own paths in search of closure.
PEE MAK (พี่มาก..พระโขนง) ** CHICAGO PREMIERE
Sunday, March 20, 2:00 PM, at the Wilmette Theatre
Directed by: Banjong Pisanthanaku
Starring: Mario Maurer, Davika Hoorne together with Pongsathorn Jongwilas, Nattapong Chartpong, Auttarut Kongrasri and Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasook
Thailand, 2013, 113 min. Thai w/English subtitles, DCP
Synopsis: The story is set in the mid-19th century, during the reign of King Mongkut, at the height of the Rattanakosin Dynasty when Siam was plagued with wars against neighboring kingdoms. Drafted to serve in a war against the foreign invasion, Mak is forced to leave his pregnant wife, Nak, alone in the small town of Phra Khanong, just outside of Central Bangkok. He is wounded during a battle and sent to a medical camp, where he befriends four fellow soldiers whom he invites to return home with him. Happy as they are to see Mak reunited with his wife and newborn child, they can’t help but notice that something strange is happening. When they learn that the entire village is convinced that Nak died in childbirth and is haunting the happy couple’s home, the four comrades become determined to discover the truth.
THREE STORIES OF LOVE (恋人たち) **CHICAGO PREMIERE
Wednesday, April 6, 7:30 PM at AMC River East 21
Sunday, April 10, 7:30 PM at the Wilmette Theatre
Directed by: Ryosuke Hashiguchi (橋口亮輔（はしぐち りょうすけ)
Starring: Atsushi Shinohara, Toko Narushima and Ryo Ikeda
Japan, 2015, 140 min, Japanese w/English subtitles, Blu-ray
Synopsis: The three leads in this film are relative unknowns chosen in auditions by director Ryosuke Hashiguchi, who then developed the script in a workshop setting, tailoring each character to the actor’s strengths—a process taking eight months. The final product is a meticulous depiction of the complex emotional contours involved in dealing with the tribulations of life. Atsushi lost his wife to a random killer on the street. Toko lives with her disinterested husband and uncongenial mother-in-law. Shinomiya is an elite lawyer and gay man. As change comes into their lives, they gradually become aware of the preciousness of their everyday existence.
YELLOW FLOWERS ON THE GREEN GRASS ** CHICAGO PREMIERE
Sunday, April 24, 2:00 PM at The Wilmette Theatre
Directed by: Victor Vu
Starring: Thinh Vinh and Trong Khang
Vietnam, 2015, 120 min, Vietnamese w/English subtitles, DCP
Synopsis: A coming of age story set in the Vietnamese countryside during the late 1980’s, as told through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy named Thieu. Thieu and his younger brother Tuong share and do everything together. Their days unfold like a whimsical and comical journey filled with innocence, wonder, confusion and curious adventures, but it takes an act of violence leaving Tuong paralyzed and bedridden for Thieu to come to terms with his own discovery of the true meaning of brotherhood.
I AM A MONK (ボクは坊さん) ** CHICAGO PREMIERE
Wednesday, May 4, 7:30 PM at AMC River East 21
Sunday, May 8, 2:00 PM at the Wilmette Theatre
Directed by: Yukinori Makabe (真壁幸紀 (まかべ ゆきのり)
Starring: Atsushi Shinohara, Toko Narushima and Ryo Ikeda
Japan, 2015, 99 min, Japanese w/English subtitles, DCP
Synopsis: Anxiety and doubt often comes into life. This is a story of a young man at 24 year-old becoming an abbot, and the journey thereafter of finding his way. A film adaptation of a book about the real life experiences of an abbot at Eifukuji Temple, we follow Koen quitting his job at a bookstore and goes to become a monk when his grandfather dies.
TICKETS for the individual screenings including post-film Q&A sessions are $15 (AMC River East 21) and $10 (Wilmette Theatre) with special discounts for students and seniors. (Opening Night tickets & Special presentations with directors in person are $20). To Buy Tickets: www.asianpopupcinema.org/tickets for AMC River East 21 screenings, and www.wilmettetheatre.org for screenings to be presented at the Wilmette Theatre. All programs are subject to change. All tickets sales are final, non-exchangeable and non-refundable. More info: asianpopupcinema.org.
About SOPHIA’S CHOICE founder Sophia Wong Boccio
Sophia Wong Boccio, 王曉菲, was born and raised in Hong Kong by parents who were part of Hong Kong’s film industry from the 1950’s through the 70’s. Her father (Wong Tsao-she, 王朝䂀) was an award-winning editor with the Motion Picture and General Investment Co. Ltd, (國際電影懋業有限公司, MP & GI/電懋 in short) later reorganized as Cathay Organization (HK) Ltd. (國泰機構(香港)(一九六五) 有限公司), and her mother (Yu Wan-fei, 余婉菲), an actress with Sil-Metropole Organization Ltd.
(銀都機構有限公司). Growing up “on the sets” of these film studios, Sophia became both interested in, and an advocate of, Asian film.
Wong Boccio’s business career first took her to China where she spent almost a decade working for Marc Rich & Co., a large Swiss multinational corporation. As Managing Director of its Hong Kong and Beijing offices, she was responsible for more than $400 million (US) in annual trading activity.
In the early 1990s, while working as the Beijing-based director of a U.S. agribusiness trade association, Sophia launched a Sophia’s Choice movie series in Beijing, setting the stage for this current endeavor. In collaboration with China Film Export & Import Corp., Sophia’s Choice brought Chinese film and cultural exchange with the films or films’ actors and directors to Beijing’s expatriate and diplomatic community. In the late-1990s, during a two-year residency in Sydney, Australia, Wong Boccio curated two independent retrospective Chinese and Hong Kong film festivals on behalf of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office and the People’s Republic of China Consulate in Sydney. In 1999, she also became the Hong Kong Consultant for Italy’s Udine Far East Film Festival’s (FEFF) and continues to support the festival as the official Cantonese (and also Mandarin) Chinese translator for the festival’s VIP guests.
In 2000, Wong Boccio relocated to Chicago with her husband Michael and they have made Chicago their permanent home. Inspired by Chicago’s diverse and vibrant culture, Wong Boccio applied her business acumen to supporting Chicago’s arts community as Managing Director of the Chicago International Film Festival (2000-2007), Executive Director of Fulcrum Point New Music Project (2007-2013) and Managing Director of Redmoon Theater (2013-2014). She is passionate about and committed to bringing Sophia’s Choice to Chicago, with the long-term goal of advancing Chicago as one of the world’s diversified arts and culture capital. For more information, please visit http://www.asianpopupcinema.org.
ASIAN POP-UP CINEMA Spring season is supported in part by the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, in New York, Cathay Pacific, AMC Independent, the Athena Design Group, Walton J. Newton & Co., The Wilmette Theatre and the generosity of individual supporters.