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"ContemporAsian" Brings Asian Cinema to MoMa

NEW YORK - Asian cinema is fast becoming a cinema without borders.  ContemporAsian showcases films that get little exposure outside of their home countries or on the international festival circuit, but which engage the various styles, histories, and changes in Asian cinema. Presented in special weeklong engagements, the films in the series include recent independent gems by both new and established filmmakers whose work represents the rapidly transforming visual culture of the region.  ContemporAsian is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and William Phuan, independent curator. 

This season’s opening program features a rare selection of recent shorts made by four of Asian cinema’s most renowned directors, all of whom have received only limited visibility in the U.S., despite worldwide critical acclaim.  Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (2009, Thailand/Great Britain/Germany), Tsai Ming-Liang’s Madam Butterfly (2008, Italy/Taiwan/France), Jia Zhangke’s Heshang aiqing (Cry Me a River) (2008, China/Spain/France), and Lost in the Mountains (2009, South Korea), directed by Hong Sang-soo.  These short films distill the particular styles and personal expression of their directors’ feature films, while using the short form to exemplary effect.

 

SCREENING SCHEDULES

 

MoMA Presents: ContemporAsian

September 10–15, 2010

 

A Letter to Uncle Boonmee. 2009. Thailand/Great Britain/Germany. Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Made prior to the director’s 2010 Palme D’or–winning feature Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), this short evokes the phantom history of Nabua, a city in northeastern Thailand, via a letter to a beloved uncle. In Thai; English subtitles. 17 min.

 

Madam Butterfly. 2008. Italy/Taiwan/France. Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang. With Pearlly Chua. Created as part of the international Twenty Puccini Project, Tsai’s largely improvised piece follows Madam Butterfly into a chaotic Kuala Lumpur bus terminal. In Malay; English subtitles. 36 min.

 

Heshang aiqing (Cry Me a River). 2008. China/Spain/France. Directed by Jia Zhangke. With Zhao Tao, Hao Lei, Guo Xiaodong, Wang Hongwei.

This perfect gem, shot in the city of Suzhou, is Jia’s homage to the Chinese classic Springtime in a Small Town (1948). When four former classmates (two ex-couples) meet to celebrate an old professor’s birthday, youthful dreams and attractions are met by the reality of grown up responsibilities and tradition. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 19 min.

 

Lost in the Mountains. 2009. South Korea. Directed by Hong Sang-soo.

Hong rarely works in the short format, but this story of a writer visiting a friend and former lover is a treasure trove of the director’s trademark wry humor and brutal honesty. In Korean; English subtitles. 30 min. 



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