Season Nine directors & special guests profile in alphabetical order. Special guests scheduled to attended are marked with “***”!
Lane ALEXANDER (U.S)
is the co-founder and director of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the oldest, largest and most comprehensive presenter of American tap dance concerts, educational forums and outreach programs in the United States. He has performed Morton Gould's Tap Dance Concerto with some of the world's greatest orchestras including the London Philharmonic/Royal Festival Hall, the New York Pops/Carnegie Hall and the Chicago Sinfonietta/Symphony Center. Lane is the only tap artist to have received two Choreography Fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, an Emmy nomination, the Ruth Page Award, the Dance and Music Alliance Award as well as the CDF Lab Artist grant.
Christian BABLES (the Philippines)
is an award-winning actor. He was declared Best Leading Actor at the 5th Hanoi International Film Festival for his character “Intoy” in the movie Signal Rock. His great passion, hard work, and determination for acting, bore fruit and was showcased in the television screens (after years of taking Master's class on Star Magic workshop) since 2015. He embarked on series and movie projects including 'Die Beautiful' (2016 Indie Film) which gave him his biggest break in the acting industry as 'Barbs Cordero', a trans woman character, and made him a 3-time Best Supporting Actor from MMFF, Gawad Urian, and Luna Awards.
Joyce BERNAL (the Philippines)
started her career as an editor for Viva Films, then started directing in 1998, with I’m Sorry My Love. Since then, she never stopped directing films (mainly mainstream), with some of the biggest hits for Viva Films, like Mr Suave (2003), D’An-others (2005), Kimmy Dora (2009), the Temple of Kiyeme (2012), My Big Bossing’s Adventures (2014). She won numerous awards for her films, and also for best editing for Chito S. Roño’s La Vida Rosa (2001). She was awarded Best Director in Metro Manila Film Festival 2013 for her film 10,000 Hours.
Justin CHEUNG (Hong Kong)
is an actor and cinematographer, known for 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy (2011), Due West: Our Sex Journey (2012) and Dynasty Warriors (2018).
Ron FALZONE (U.S)
is an award-winning screenwriter and associate professor in Directing and Cinema Studies in Cinema and Televison Arts. The host of two screening series, Falzone is a twelve-time Artist in Residence at The Ragdale Foundation and a recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship in Screenwriting as well as IAC Finalist Awards for his screenplays Hope’s Dash and Unity in Love. Films he has written and/or co-produced have screened in festivals around the world including the Cannes Film Festival Short Films Corner, Chicago International Film Film Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, Friars Club Film Festival and LA Shorts Comedy Festival. Current projects include co-producing with Michael Caplan and writing the feature film Unity in Love, and working with Julian Grant on an animated version of his feature screenplay Coriander and a Penny's Worth of Lonesome. Prior to moving into film, Falzone spent 20 years in the theater where, among other positions, he served as artistic coordinator of the Organic Theater, producing director for City Lit Theater, and artistic director for both The Chamber and Open Circle Theater Company. Among his publications are monographs on the filmmakers Harold Ramis, Todd Solondz, Margarethe von Trotta and Patrice Chereau. Falzone holds an MFA in Directing from the School of Speech at Northwestern University and a BA in Film from Columbia College Chicago.
Jared GRIMES (U.S.)
Jared Grimes is a quadruple threat in the world of the arts where he is heavily making his mark in singing, dancing, acting, and choreographing. On numerous occasions, he has danced alongside legends such as Wynton Marsalis Gregory Hines, Ben Vereen, Jerry Lewis, Fayard Nicholas and also performed for Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy at the Kennedy Center.
Grimes has toured with Musical legend, Mariah Carey, under the choreography of Marty Kudelka, and danced for artists such as Common, Salt-n-Pepa, Envogue, Busta Rhymes and the Roots. Jared's theater credits include, "After Midnight on Broadway", directed by Warren Carlyle, "Twist", directed by Debbie Allen, "Babes in Arms" at the Goodspeed Opera House choreographed by Randy Skinner, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" directed by John Rando at (Encores) and Broadway Underground directed by himself.
Grimes has appeared in commercials for Coca-Cola, Subway, MTV and television shows such as CBS' "Star Search," "Showtime at the Apollo," ABC Family's "Dance Fever" and "The Jerry Lewis Telethon."
His television acting credits include Foxs' "Fringe" and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire".
Grimes made his choreography debut in Cirque Du Soleil's, Banana Shpeel off-broadway, choreographed commercials for Chilis and also assisted choreography with Kristin Denehy for Macy's popular Kids Bop commercial.
Recently he is a choreographer of "After Midnight on Broadway" and associate choreographer of "Holler If You Hear Me" the Tupac musical.
His feature film credits include, Paramount's, "The Marc Pease Experience", starring Ben Stiller, New Line Cinema's "Little Manhattan" and Elevation Filmwork's' "First Born," starring Elizabeth Shue. Jared was a lead in the Radio CIty Spring Spectacular produced by Harvey Weinstein and recently choreographed the feature film "Breaking Brooklyn" with director Paul Becker.
Currently, he is choreographing the musical Jellys Last Jam at the Signature Theater! (www.jaredmgrimes.com)
GU Xuan (China)
is a Chinese film actress started her career with feature film Once Upon a Time in 2017. Xuan is best known for her work in Once Upon a Time (2017) and Mojin: The Worm Valley (2018).
Heather TSUI (Taiwan)
has produced and written numerous TV series. Her work is noted for the lengthy observational research of its subjects and for the collecting of true stories covering literature and Taiwanese culture. Her documentary The Life Coach (2010) has been hailed as a Taiwanese Dead Poets Society (1989). Long Time No Sea is TSUI’s feature film debut.
HONG Seung-Wan (South Korea)
is a South Korean actor, costume designer, cinematographer, editor, director, and scriptwriter.
HUO Meng (China)
graduated from the Communication University of China, and now he is a writer, director, independent producer, and a shining light of the new generation of directors. The short film “Hongguang Holiday” won the Best Short Film of the Beijing College Students Film Festival, and he began to write independently in the recent years.
HUANG Huang (China)
is a director who questions traditional teaching methods and the meaning of right education in his directorial debut “Wushu Orphan”. The film premiered at the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival, where Huang Huang was awarded the Spirit of Asia Award, an award that is given to a promising newcomer director. His work is a part of the Tokyo International Film Festival Asian Future section.
KANG Hyeong-Cheol (South Korea)
is a South Korean film director and screenwriter. His first two films Scandal Makers (2008) and Sunny (2011) have been the highest grossing Korean films of their respective years, and both are among the highest grossing Korean films of all time. Kang won Best Director at the 48th Grand Bell Awards in 2011.
Cherrie LAU (Hong Kong)
graduated from the School of Communications of Hong Kong Baptist University, majoring in Cinema and Television, has taken different roles in many productions, including assistant director, production manager, executive producer and line producer.
LEE Min-Jae (South Korea)
worked as an editor for “Man of Vendetta”, “The Longest 24 Months”, “A Good Day to Have an Affair” and “Just For You”.
“The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale” is his directorial debut.
Jennifer Dorothy LEE (U.S)
is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Art in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University in East Asian Studies and modern Chinese literature. Recently she presented work at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China at the University of Hong Kong, and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research. Lee is editing a special issue of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, and is working on her first book manuscript, Anxiety Aesthetics: Maoism and Beyond.
Yogi MINAGAWA (Japan)
is a stage actor who befriended his director, Seiji Tanaka while working with him. It was Minagawa who had the idea to contact Tanaka with the idea of making a film together. Other than interpreting Melancholic’s main character Kazuhiko, Minagawa also produced the film.
Darcy PAQUET (South Korea)
is an American film critic, university lecturer, author and actor. In 2011, Paquet was awarded the Korea Film Reporters Association Award at the 15th Busan International Film Festival for his contributions in introducing Korean cinema to the world. In 2014, he created the Wildflower Film Awards to give recognition to Korean indie films.
Ping LUMPRAPLOENG (Thailand)
is a screenwriter, director and actor, best known as a writer and helmer of comedies, but his first foray into fear fare shows that he has a way with suspense. He is known for “Loveaholic”, “Dreamaholic”, “Sam Yan”, and “The Pool”.
Chito S. ROÑO (the Philippines)
also known as Sixto Kayko, is a Filipino writer, film producer and film director known for his expansive vision and special-effects-heavy films, most notably Yamashita: The Tiger's Treasure (2001) for which he won the Metro Manila Film Festival for best director. He is also known for his 1997 film Nasaan ang Puso which earned him his first MMFF for best director. He grew up in the province of Samar (Eastern Philippines), where he received early education before heading to the renowned University of Philippines in Manila. In Manila, he worked at the Experimental Cinema Division of the Philippines as a film programmer. In 1984, he was offered to direct his first film, “Private Show” (1985). He completed his film degree at the New School for Social Research in New York City. He is now one of the most respected senior directors in the Philippines.
SONG Wen (China)
is a film director, as well as the co-founder and president of FIRST International Film Festival (Xining,China), the most important independent film festival in China, with 12 years and jury presidents including Wong Kar Wai, Lou Ye, Jiang Wen, and a competitive section dedicated to Chinese first and second features. “The Enigma of the Arrival” is Song's first feature film. He is also known for Trouble Makers (2019) and Super Four (2018).
Christopher SUN (Hong Kong)
is a director whose works encompass a broad range of repertoire, recently covering adaptations of some popular web fictions. Examples include his latest direction in "Deception of the Novelist" (not yet released), direction & script co-writing in "Imprisoned: Survival Guide for Rich and Prodigal" (2015) produced "Due West 3D - Sex Journey" (2012) and "The Sinking City, Capsule Odyssey"(2017) . Sun, also a THX certified professional video engineer, took part in "Iceman 3D" (2014) as the visual effect producer.
It was not until 2011, however, that the erotic costume drama, "3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy", a box office champion of the year in spite of mixed reception, marked Sun's debut as a theatrical film director. The movie later won him "Manvention of the Year" in the Guys Choice Awards presented by Spike TV. Since then, Sun has been appointed the Executive Director of China 3D Entertainment Ltd. Among his versatile pursuits, he persists in serving as a part-time course tutor in the Film Academy of the Hong Kong Baptist University as he believes the young filmmakers hold the future for the local industry.
Seiji TANAKA (Japan)
is a director who studied theater at Nihon University College of Art, and went to college in California to study film. He writes and directs plays and movies, as well as work at a start-up company. He won Japanese Cinema Splash Best Director Award for his first feature film "Melancholic" in 31st Tokyo International Film Festival.
Frances TO (Hong Kong)
graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, majoring in Chinese Language and Literature. With more than 15 years of screenwriting experience, Frances has previously served as the Creative Director of Infinitus Entertainment Limited. Her screenwriting work is known for “The Moment” (2016), “Ghost Net” (2017), “The Trading Floor” (2018), and “The Attorney” (2019).
Johnnie TO (Hong Kong)
is a Hong Kong film director and producer. Popular in his native Hong Kong, To has also found acclaim overseas. Intensely prolific, To has made films in a variety of genres, though in the West he is best known for his action and crime movies, which have earned him critical respect and a cult following that includes Quentin Tarantino, who once said that he really loves to watch To's gangster films.
To's biggest international successes include Breaking News, Election, Election 2 (a.k.a. Triad Election), Exiled, Mad Detective and Drug War; these films have appeared in a number of international film festivals, been distributed theatrically in France and the United States, and been widely sold to foreign countries.
His films, often made in collaboration with the same group of actors, screenwriters and cinematographers, frequently explore themes of friendship, fate and the changing face of Hong Kong society. Sometimes described as "multifaceted and chameleonic" due to his ability to switch tones and genres between movies, To is nonetheless seen as having a consistent style, which involves mixing subdued realism and social observation with highly stylised visual and acting elements.To has cited King Hu as the director who has influenced his work the most.
Kenneth TSANG Kong (Hong Kong)
is a Hong Kong actor who won the Best Supporting Actor Award at the 34th Hong Kong Film Awards in 2015. Albeit his prolific career spanning 50 years, he started his career as an architect. Tsang returned to Hong Kong in the early 1960s as after earning his architecture degree at University of California, Berkeley, but was bored by the work. His younger sister, Jeanette Lin (林翠), was a film star then and provided Tsang with several connections in the industry that boosted his acting career. Till date, Tsang had played roles in mainly Hong Kong movies. His first Hollywood film was The Replacement Killers (1998), also the Hollywood debut of co-star Chow Yun-fat. Tsang appeared alongside Chow once again in Anna and the King as well as Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2. Tsang played General Moon in the James Bond film Die Another Day (2002), and he continues to appear in films from his native Hong Kong.
Tsang's film debut was in the movie The Feud (1955), when he was just 16, which was followed by a role in Who Isn't Romantic? (1956). In the mid-1960s, Tsang starred in detective films and classic kung fu movies with Hong Kong teen idols Connie Chan Po-chu and Josephine Siao. Tsang also appeared in a few Wong Fei-Hung movies in the late 1960s. In 1986, Tsang worked as taxi cab owner, Ken, in John Woo's A Better Tomorrow. Subsequent collaborations with Woo included the role of Ken in A Better Tomorrow 2 in 1987, police officer Danny Lee's murdered partner in The Killer in 1989, and the strict adoptive father of Chow Yun-fat, Leslie Cheung and Cherie Chung in Once a Thief in 1991. Tsang also filmed several Singaporean Chinese dramas during the 1990s, notably the 1995 epic The Teochew Family and The Unbeatables II in 1996.
Renpei TSUKAMOTO (Japan)
is a director, writer and producer. His latest movie, “Bento Harassment” is his third collaboration with star actress Ryogo Shinohara, on top of “At Home Dad” (2004, Kansai TV / Fuji TV) and “Mother & Lover” (2004, Kansai TV / Fuji TV) . Born in Gifu Prefecture, Japan in 1963, Tsukamoto’s illustrious directorial career includes works such as “One Missed Call 2” (Chakushin ari 2, 2004), “700 Days of Battle: Us vs. the Police” (Bokutachi to chuuzaisan no 700 nichi sensou, 2008), “Wig” (Kazura,, 2010), and “Reon” (2018). Tsukamoto also has extensive experience in television. A few of his credits include “Dragon Zakura” (2005, TBS), “Jikou keisatsu” (2006, TV Asahi), “Teinen joshi” (2017, NHK BS Premium), “Juuyou sankounin tantei” (2017, TV Asahi).
WONG Kwok Fai (Hong Kong)
has been the Director for Television Broadcast Limited (TVB) and Hong Kong Television Network Limited (HKTV). His works include “Tigercubs”, “The Drive of Live”, “The Hippocratic” and “Silver Spoon, Sterling Shackles” from TVB; and the widely acclaimed productions including “Election” and “Nightshift” from HKTV. Following the films, "The Way We Dance" and "Little Big Master", Wong’s debut feature film was “The Moment” in 2016, which was invited to participate in the 26th Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka in Japan.
WEN Muye (China)
graduated in 2004 from the Radio and Television Department of Northeast Normal University and in 2011 from the Beijing Film Academy. His first short film “Battle”, shot under the guidance of Tian Zhuangzhuang, a famous fish generation director, won the Special jury Prize at the 7th First International Film Festival in 2013. In 2014 he won the Grand Prix at the Asiana International Short Film Festival. “Dying to Survive” is his first feature debut.
Shinobu YAGUCHI (Japan)
is a Japanese film director and screenwriter. He specializes in feel-good "zero to hero" films, where a group of people take up an unlikely activity, face a number of obstacles, but finally succeed. His film Waterboys was particularly successful and led to a TV series which entered its third season in 2005. He was awarded Best Screenplay at the 2005 Yokohama Film Festival for his film “Swing Girls”.
ZHANG Yi Mou (China)
is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and former cinematographer. He is part of the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, having made his directorial debut in 1987 with Red Sorghum.
Zhang has won numerous awards and recognitions, with Best Foreign Film nominations for Ju Dou in 1990, Raise the Red Lantern in 1991, and Hero in 2003, Silver Lion and Golden Lion prizes at the Venice Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 1993, he was a member of the jury at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival. Zhang directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, which received considerable international acclaim.
One of Zhang's recurrent themes is the resilience of Chinese people in the face of hardship and adversity, a theme which has been explored in such films as “To Live” (1994) and “Not One Less” (1999). His films are particularly noted for their rich use of colour, as can be seen in some of his early films, like Raise the Red Lantern, and in his wuxia films like “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers”. His highest budgeted film to date is the 2016 monster film The Great Wall, set in Imperial China and starring Matt Damon.