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Project Gutenberg wins top prizes at 38th Hong Kong Film Awards

  April 15, 2019  
Felix Chong's Project Gutenberg swept seven prizes at the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards on April 14. The crime thriller, which had led with 17 nominations, won Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costumer Make Up Design, Best Editing and Best Cinematography.

Still Human, a drama about the bond between a middle-aged wheelchair user and a domestic helper, followed with three wins. The film garnered Anthony Wong his third HKFA Best Actor prize, as well as Best New Director for Oliver Chan and Best New Actor for Crisel Consunji. Dante Lam's war action blockbuster Operation Red Sea also picked up three prizes in the Action Choreography, Sound Design and Visual Effects categories.

After her win at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, Three Husbands' Chloe Maayan won Best Actress again for her brave performance in the final installment of Fruit Chan's "Prostitute Trilogy." Transgender drama Tracey took both the Best Supporting Actor and Actress prizes for Ben Yuen and Kara Hui. Dragon boat racing drama Men on the Dragon won the music prizes, Best Original Film Score and Film Song. Wen Muye's blockbuster Dying to Survive was named the Best Film from Mainland and Taiwan.

Patrick Tse, one of Hong Kong's greatest stars of the 60s and 70s, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The 82-year-old actor, who is also the father of Nicholas Tse, boasts a filmography of over 300 works spanning over six decades. Veteran stunt actor Lau Wan was this year's recipient of the Professional Achievement Award.

Text / Sanwei

Shinkai Makoto and Radwimps collaborate for new film

  April 12, 2019  
Your Name director Shinkai Makoto collaborates again with rock band Radwimps for his highly anticipated new animated film Weathering With You. Radwimps previously created the best-selling soundtrack for Shinkai's 2016 box office smash. The band is again in charge of the music for Weathering With You, and snippets of songs were revealed in the film's recently released trailer.

Shinkai's first film since the staggering success of Your Name, Weathering With You is a love story about a boy and a girl whose destinies are connected and upturned in a time when the weather has gone awry. High school student Hodaka moves from a remote island to Tokyo, but life is lonely and difficult for the broke youth. He finds a job working for a strange occult magazine. Soon after, it begins to rain every day. One day, in a corner of the busy and crowded city, he meets a girl named Hina who has the mysterious ability to make the skies clear.

Weathering With You opens in Japan on July 19.

Text / Sanwei

Burning, Mr. Sunshine & SKY Castle lead 55th Baeksang Arts Awards nominations

  April 10, 2019  
Nominations for the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards were revealed on April 4 and 5. Popular dramas Mr. Sunshine and SKY Castle lead in the Television section with eight nominations each, while Lee Chang Dong's Burning garnered the most nominations in the Film Section.

Mr. Sunshine and SKY Castle will compete for Best Drama and Best Screenplay alongside My Mister, Dazzling and Children of Nobody. Lee Eung Bok (Mr. Sunshine) and Jo Hyun Tak (SKY Castle) are shortlisted in the Best Director category along with the directors of Dazzling, My Mister and Memories of the Alhambra.

Kim Tae Ri (Mr. Sunshine), who was nominated as Best Actress in the Film section last year, received her first Baeksang Best TV Actress nomination together with IU (My Mister). The two actresses will go head to head with veteran Kim Hye Ja (Dazzling) and SKY Castle's Kim Seo Hyung and Yeom Jung Ah. Nine years after winning Best TV Actor at the 46th Baeksang Arts Awards, Lee Byung Hun (Mr. Sunshine) is again up for the prize. The rest of the Best Actor contenders include Kim Nam Gil (The Fiery Priest), Yeo Jin Gu (The Crowned Clown), Lee Seon Gyun (My Mister) and Hyun Bin (Memories of the Alhambra).

Mr. Sunshine's Yoo Yeon Seok and Dazzling's Son Ho Jun are in the Best Supporting Actor race with SKY Castle breakout Kim Byung Chul, Bae Sung Woo (Live) and Kim Sang Kyung (The Crowned Clown). Nominations for Best Supporting Actress go to Kim Min Jung (Mr. Sunshine), Oh Nara (My Mister), Yoon Se Ah (SKY Castle), Lee Da Hee (The Beauty Inside) and Lee Jung Eun (Dazzling).

For rookie actors, Kwon Nara (My Mister), Kim Hye Yoon (SKY Castle), Lee Seol (Less Than Evil), Jang Ki Yong (Come and Hug Me), Wi Ha Joon (Romance is a Bonus Book), Son Seok Goo (Matrimonial Chaos) and Park Hoon (Memories of the Alhambra) are among the notable nominees in the Best New Actor and Best New Actress categories.

In the Film section, auteur Lee Chang Dong's Burning was nominated in six categories, while drama Miss Baek and spy thriller The Spy Gone North follow with five nominations each. The three frontrunners are all nominated for Best Film along with Svaha: The Sixth Finger and crime drama Dark Figure of Crime. Miss Baek, The Spy Gone North and Dark Figure of Crime are also in the running for Best Screenplay with Innocent Witness and blockbuster comedy Extreme Job.

Lee Chang Dong (Burning) and Yoon Jong Bin (The Spy Gone North) are joined by Kang Hyung Chul (Swing Kids), Lee Hae Young (Believer) and Jang Jae Hyun (Svaha: The Sixth Finger) in the Best Director competition. Lee Seok Geun (On Your Wedding Day), Lee Ji Won (Miss Baek), Lee Jong Eon (Birthday), Kim Eui Seok (After My Death) and Shin Dong Seok (Last Child) are shortlisted for Best New Director.

The stars of Extreme Job – Ryu Seung Ryong, Jin Seon Kyu, Honey Lee and Gong Myung – all received nominations. Ryu Seung Ryong is up against Yoo Ah In (Burning), Lee Sung Min (The Spy Gone North), Jung Woo Sung (Innocent Witness) and Ju Ji Hoon (Dark Figure of Crime) for Best Actor. Meanwhile, the Best Actress nominees are Kim Hye Su (Default), Kim Hee Ae (Herstory), Blue Dragon Best Actress winner Han Ji Min (Miss Baek), Kim Hyang Gi (Innocent Witness) and Ko Ah Sung (A Resistance).

Believer received dual nominations in the Best Supporting Actor race for Park Hae Joon and the late Kim Joo Hyuk, who will be pitted against Steven Yeun (Burning), Jo Woo Jin (The Drug King) and Jin Seon Kyu. Meanwhile, Honey Lee, Jin Seo Yeon (Believer), Jo Min Su (The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion), Yeom Hye Ran (Innocent Witness) and Kwon So Hyun (Miss Baek) will compete for the Best Supporting Actress trophy.

Besides being nominated in the TV section, Son Seok Gu (Hit-and-Run Squad) receives a second Best New Actor nod in Film alongside popular TV stars Gong Myung (Extreme Job), Kim Young Kwang (On Your Wedding Day) and Nam Joo Hyuk (The Great Battle) as well as Kim Min Ho (Swing Kids). Kim Da Mi from The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion, who has already won seven newcomer awards, will aim for her eighth Best New Actress trophy. The other contenders are Jeon Jong Seo (Burning), Lee Jae In (Svaha: The Sixth Finger), Lee Joo Young (Believer) and Jeon Yeo Bin (After My Death).

The 55th Baeksang Arts Awards will be held on May 1. The ceremony will be hosted by Park Bo Gum, Bae Suzy and Shin Dong Yup.

Text / Violet

Fan Chengcheng & Cheng Xiao star in Chinese period fantasy series

  April 10, 2019  
The period fantasy series Ling Yu starring idols Fan Chengcheng and Cheng Xiao began shooting in China in early April. Based on Ni Changtian's same-titled novel, the series is directed by Leung Kok Koon (Female Prime Minister) and Jones Ma (Lady and the Liar).

Ling Yu marks the acting debut of Fan Chengcheng, who is a member of the groups Nine Percent and NEX7 and the younger brother of Fan Bingbing. It is the second acting project for WJSN member Cheng Xiao after the as-yet-unaired period series Tian Xing Zhi Lu. Both signed to Yuehua Entertainment, the two previously appeared together on the competition program Idol Producer for which Fan Chengcheng was a contestant and Cheng Xiao a mentor.

Ni Changtian's popular online novel series begins its story 30,000 years ago when the self-proclaimed war gods of the Botian tribe invaded and defeated the other tribes of the land. For centuries, the enslaved tribes lived in the shadow of the cruel and war-mongering Botian until the day they grabbed the chance to fight back and expelled the Botian. 30,000 years later, when the story of Botian has long become just an old legend, an amnesiac youth with Botian blood appears, his powers waiting to be awakened. Fan Chengcheng plays the young hero Qin Lie who embarks on a journey of adventure and growth. Cheng Xiao plays Qin Lie's childhood sweetheart Ling Yushi, who is of the Yingmi tribe.

Text / Sanwei

IZ*ONE sets first-week sale records for girl groups

  April 9, 2019  
IZ*ONE set a new record for the highest first-week album sales among girl groups in Korea with HEART*IZ. The Produce 48 project group released their second mini-album HEART*IZ on April 1 and is now promoting title track Violeta.

According to Hanteo Chart, IZ*ONE sold a total of 132,109 copies of HEART*IZ in the first week, which surpassed the record formerly owned by Twice's 2017 release Twicetagram with sales of 129,691 copies. Twice's Yes or Yes follows with 118,280 copies sold in 2018.

Previously, IZ*ONE's first mini-album COLOR*IZ hit the highest first week sales for a girl group debut album in Korea. Their Japanese debut single, Suki to Iwasetai, also set first-day sales records on the Oricon chart among K-pop girl groups.

Text / Violet

My Fellow Citizens starring Choi Si Won and Lee Yoo Young airs in April

  March 27, 2019  
KBS's upcoming crime comedy My Fellow Citizens will air its first episode on April 1. A year and a half after Revolutionary Love, Choi Si Won makes his small-screen comeback in My Fellow Citizens alongside Lee Yoo Young (Your Honor) and Kim Min Jung (Mr. Sunshine).

Jugglers director Kim Jung Hyun collaborates with Squad 38 screenwriter Han Jeong Hoon for the first time to produce My Fellow Citizens. It follows a skilled conman who somehow marries a police detective. He accidentally gets immersed in a case that leads to him running for the National Assembly.

Choi Si Won plays the experienced swindler Yang Jung Guk who hails from a family of con artists. One day, while his victim is chasing him, he hits a thief by accident and suddenly becomes a national hero. Lee Yoo Young takes the role of Kim Mi Young, a police detective who all of a sudden becomes the wife of a politician because of Jung Guk. The two characters hide their real identities from each other until Mi Young reveals the truth on their wedding day. Kim Min Jung stars as Park Hoo Ja, the daughter of an infamous loan shark who is a victim of Jung Guk's fraud.

My Fellow Citizens is scheduled to air in the Monday-Tuesday timeslot after the end of My Lawyer, Mr. Jo 2: Crime and Punishment.

Text / Violet

Park Ji Hoon joins JTBC period drama Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency

  March 26, 2019  
Park Ji Hoon, who previously promoted in the idol project group Wanna One, is confirmed for a role in JTBC's upcoming drama Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency.

The singer formerly took part in the popular historical series Jumong, The King and I and Iljimae as a child actor, and will now make his first small screen appearance in 11 years. He will collaborate with actors Kim Min Jae (Tempted) and Seo Ji Hoon (Misty) in the period romantic series.

Based on a same-titled novel, Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency conveys the story of a King who seeks help from Joseon's best matchmaking agency "Flower Crew" in order to protect his first love. The King and the crew team up and risk their own lives to turn a lowborn lady into a noblewoman by trickery. Park Ji Hoon plays the "Flower Crew" member Go Young Soo, a well-known fashionista who has a prettier face than most women.

Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency is scheduled to air in September this year.

Text / Violet

mm2 Entertainment announces works by Jack Neo & makers of More than Blue

  March 22, 2019  
mm2 Entertainment presented their production slate for 2019 at a press conference on March 18 at Hong Kong Filmart. The Asian film company highlighted ten works including new films by Singapore director Jack Neo and the makers of More than Blue.

More than Blue, the Taiwan remake of the same-titled Korean tearjerker, has turned into a big box office hit across many regions in Asia. This year, director Gavin Lin and writer Hermes Lu will shoot the romantic comedy A Trip With Your Wife, which is about a terminally ill man who proposes a trip with his friend's wife whom he has long liked. Also in the popular Taiwan romance genre is a new film from Lai Meng Chieh starring Mason Lee as a lovelorn youth who gets perennially friend-zoned by his crush.

Jack Neo continues the blockbuster Long Long Time Ago series about the Singapore experience in a third installment. While the first two films traced the nation's growing pains from independence to a multi-cultural city-state, the third promises to be the most politically sensitive entry yet – the director quipped that he might not be able to come next year. Continuing the story of the representative Lim family, Not So Long Time Ago tackles the generation gap and different reactions to the policies implemented by the Singapore government from the eighties to the present day. Besides returning to star in Not So Long Time Ago, Mark Lee also directs the Hong Kong-set comedy Hell Bank Presents: Running Ghost starring Wong Yau Nam and Cecilia So.

Hong Kong singer and filmmaker Chiu Siu Hang, who found success with mm2's 2017 hit Vampire Cleanup Department, directs One Sec Champion starring singer Endy Chow as a struggling father who trains to be a professional boxer after acquiring the special ability to see one second into the future. Taiwan director Charles Sun will bring a Memory Eclipse series of five films inspired by Teresa Teng songs with a cast that includes Vivian Sung, Cheryl Yang, Kaiser Chuang, Esther Liu, JC Lin and Nikki Hsieh.

Malaysian filmmaker Teddy Chin has two new works: the music-themed family and romance drama In My Heart and the transgender-themed drama Miss Andy, which will star Ruby Lin as a Vietnamese migrant worker. Meanwhile, Malaysian director Kethsvin Chee's Hello Tapir follows a grieving young boy who goes into the forest in search of a mythical creature that eats nightmares, and Singapore director Sam Loh's horror mystery Hell Hole is about a mother and son who return as vengeful spirits.

See photos from the mm2 Entertainment Presentation on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

The White Storm 2: Drug Lords starring Andy Lau & Louis Koo opens in July

  March 21, 2019  
Universe Films has announced its action blockbuster The White Storm 2: Drug Lords starring Andy Lau and Louis Koo will premiere in Hong Kong in July. The cast attended a press conference on March 18 at the Hong Kong Filmart.

Directed by Herman Yau (Shock Wave), The White Storm 2: Drug Lords is a sequel to the 2013 crime thriller The White Storm starring Sean Lau, Louis Koo and Nick Cheung. The movie presents an entirely new storyline about the face-off between a drug dealer, a triad-turned-tycoon and a police superintendent. Andy Lau takes on the producer role and leads the film along with Louis Koo and Michael Miu (The Trough). The film also co-stars Karena Lam (Heaven in the Dark), Chrissie Chau (Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy), Kent Cheng (Chasing the Dragon), Carlos Chan (Happiness), Michelle Wai (77 Heartbreaks), Cherrie Ying (Poker King) and Cheung Kwok Keung (The Leakers).

During the press conference, the first official trailer of The White Storm 2: Drug Lords was revealed. A car chase scene with Andy Lau and Louis Koo inside a subway station is shown at the end of the trailer. Regarding this scene, Herman Yau explained that it sets up the two characters for a talk in a quiet place in the final scene.

Andy Lau plays tycoon Yu Shun Tin who publicly announces a $100 million bounty offer for a drug lord's head. When asked about the cast, Andy said it was a fresh combination to him. He last worked with Michael Miu, a fellow "Five Tiger" of 80s Hong Kong television, in the 2007 movie Brothers and with Louis Koo in Protégé, but the three actors have never all collaborated in the same movie before. He also shared that the team originally planned to shoot the car chase scene in a carpark, but the producers then suggested making it bigger, so they finally built a replica set of the Central MTR station.

Louis Koo takes the antagonist role of drug lord Dizang and Michael Miu plays the Chief Superintendent of the Narcotics Bureau Lam Ching Fung. Miu jokingly said that his character's job is to clean up the mess for the other two leads. Glad to reunite with Andy again and to work with Louis Koo for the first time, he humbly said that he learned a lot from the other two actors.

Karena Lam, who partners up with Andy Lau for the first time in the film, said that the actor's gentle personality made her feel very comfortable and secure. Meanwhile, Chrissie Chau confessed that she was quite scared during her first shooting for the film since it was also her first time working with Andy Lau, and the scene involved a clash between their characters.

Carlos Chan and Michelle Wai both play subordinates under Michael Miu. Chan stated that he learned a lot from Michael's experienced pistol shooting skills, while Wai thanked Miu for his warm reminders throughout the whole shoot, especially before every explosion scene.

See photos from the press conference of The White Storm 2: Drug Lords on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Violet

13th Asian Film Awards Winners

  March 19, 2019  
The 13th Asian Film Awards were held in Hong Kong on March 17. Kore-eda Hirokazu's Shoplifters, which swept the Japan Academy Prize earlier in the month, won Best Film and Best Music. Lee Chang Dong won his third AFA Best Director prize for the Murakami Haruki-based mystery drama Burning. The Korean auteur was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Zhang Yimou's martial arts epic Shadow went home with the most prizes: four, in the categories of Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design and Sound.

Also fresh off a Japan Academy Prize win, Yakusho Koji won another Best Actor trophy for his performance in Shiraishi Kazuya's crime drama The Blood of Wolves. The Japanese actor was also the recipient of this year's Excellence in Asian Cinema award. Cannes winner Samal Yeslyamova was crowned Best Actress for her tour de force performance in Sergey Dvortsevoy's Ayka.

AFA regular Kara Hui won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Hong Kong transgender drama Tracey. This is her second win in the category after 2010's At the End of Daybreak. Meanwhile, Dying to Survive's Zhang Yu triumphed in the Best Supporting Actor race. Best New Director went to Hong Kong filmmaker Oliver Chan for Still Human, and Best Newcomer to Operation Red Sea's Johnny Huang, who served as a Youth Ambassador for this year's AFA. Dante Lam's war blockbuster was also the Top-Grossing Asian Film of the Year.

Jia Zhangke took Best Screenplay for his jiang hu saga Ash is Purest White and Tsukamoto Shinya, Best Editing for his samurai drama Killing. Hong Kong crime blockbuster Project Gutenberg was recognized for Best Visual Effects.

Two special awards were given to Korean actor Park Seo Joon and actor-singer Kim Jae Joong. The former received the Rising Star Award and the latter received the Next Generation Award.

Text / Sanwei

Media Asia announces new films with Aaron Kwok, Sammi Cheng & Han Geng

  March 19, 2019  
Hong Kong production company Media Asia Film announced their lineup for 2019 in a star-studded presentation held at Filmart on March 18. Many actors and filmmakers were on hand to introduce their new works.

Nick Cheung and Richie Jen reunite 15 years after Breaking News in Bodies at Rest, the opening film of the 2019 Hong Kong International Film Festival. Helmed by Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin, the crime thriller depicts the psychological game between a forensics expert, played by Cheung, and masked criminals who suddenly appear in his laboratory. Besides Jen as the leader of the intruders, the film co-stars Carlos Chan, Ron Ng, Roger Kwok and mainland Chinese actress Yang Zi from Ashes of Love.

Richie Jen is also reuniting with Summer Holiday and Marry a Rich Man partner Sammi Cheng in Fagara. The Taiwan singer-actor makes a special appearance in the Amy Cheung novel-based drama directed by Heiward Mak. Sammi Cheng stars in the film alongside Taiwan actress Megan Lai and mainland Chinese actress Li Xiaofeng, and the three even took a selfie onstage during the press conference.

Singer-actor Han Geng headlines two films for Media Asia, playing a father in one and a son in the other. In Roy Chow and Christine To's Knockout, he portrays a former boxing champion and ex-convict who returns to the ring to give strength to his ill daughter. Chow commented that he had wanted to make this film for over ten years, and finally found the right actor who could take on the boxing scenes for real. The director revealed that Han Geng received over 1,000 punches during the shooting of the film.

In Oscar-winning Japanese director Takita Yojiro's Silence of Smoke, Han Geng plays the son of Zhang Guoli. Though working with a Chinese cast for the first time, Takita felt that the topic of a father-son relationship was universal, and Zhang Guoli spoke effusively about how polite and respectful the director and crew were.

Patrick Kong's The Calling of a Bus Driver and up-and-coming filmmaker Wong Hing Fan's I'm Livin' It both take on local Hong Kong topics but with starkly different tones. Kong's comedy is about a woman who becomes a double-decker bus driver after a bad breakup. Leading actress Ivana Wong used nine months' time to get her bus driver license for the film which co-stars Philip Keung and Edmond Leung.

Produced by Soi Cheang, I'm Livin' It is about the plight of "McRefugees," people who stay overnight at 24-hour McDonald's restaurants. Shining a light on the economically displaced, the drama depicts people of different backgrounds who find a shared refuge in a fast-food restaurant. I'm Livin' It gathers the award-winning cast of Aaron Kwok, Miriam Yeung and Nina Paw as well as Alex Man, Cheung Tat Min, Cya Liu and Zeno Koo.

See photos from the Media Asia Film Presentation on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Louis Koo and Raymond Lam go to prison in P Storm

  March 19, 2019  
Following Z Storm, S Storm and L Storm, David Lam's hit Hong Kong anti-corruption crime film series progresses to its fourth letter in the upcoming P Storm. Production company Er Dong Pictures revealed more details about this installment in a presentation held on March 19 at Hong Kong's Filmart.

Having already tackled issues like sports betting and financial corruption in previous entries, the fourth installment takes on another hot news topic by exploring corruption in the correctional system. Series stalwart Louis Koo returns as William Luk, an intrepid investigator of the watchdog agency ICAC, whose latest case sends him to prison undercover.

Luk's investigation target in prison is Raymond Lam in his first antagonist role. Louis Koo and Raymond Lam famously co-starred in the Hong Kong TVB classic A Step into the Past back in 2001. In a passing of the baton, the series was Koo's final TV drama and Lam's breakout vehicle. P Storm marks their first onscreen collaboration in 18 years.

Kevin Cheng, who played an investigator in the ICAC's internal monitoring unit in L Storm, reprises his character in P Storm. Other cast members include Chrissie Chau as the whistleblower, Patrick Tam as a prison warden, and Gordon Lam as a former police superintendent who was put away by Luk.

Besides P Storm, Er Dong also announced a follow-up to Wong Jing's 2009 ICAC-themed crime drama I Corrupt All Cops, tentatively titled I Corrupt All Cops 2: The Four Inspectors in Chinese. Wong, who will write, direct and produce, assured that the film will have a far larger budget than its predecessor and feature a big-name cast. More information about the film will be announced in early April.

See photos from the Er Dong Pictures Presentation on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Kurosawa Kiyoshi's Uzbekistan-set film opens in June

  March 15, 2019  
Japanese auteur Kurosawa Kiyoshi's new film To the Ends of the Earth, which was shot in Uzbekistan, will open in Japan on June 14. Featuring an original script by the writer-director, the Japan-Uzbekistan co-production was produced to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The film stars Maeda Atsuko, who appeared in Kurosawa's Before We Vanish and Seventh Code.

To the Ends of the Earth follows TV program reporter Hako who goes to Uzbekistan to search for a "legendary monster fish." The TV crew visits different places in the country, and in the process, Hako opens her eyes to a new world and experiences personal growth. Maeda, who started her career as a singer and member of AKB48, takes on the challenge of performing Edith Piaf's Hymn to Love for the film, including singing the song a cappella at a mountain summit in a climactic scene.

Besides Maeda, To the Ends of the Earth co-stars Sometani Shota (Foreboding), Emoto Tokio (Side Job), Kase Ryo (Outrage) and Uzbek actor Adiz Rajabov, who plays the role of local interpreter and coordinator Temur.

Text / Sanwei

Kim Yoon Seok makes directorial debut with Another Child

  March 14, 2019  
Award-winning Korean actor Kim Yoon Seok, who has starred in films like The Fortress, 1987: When the Day Comes and Dark Figure of Crime, debuts as a film director with Another Child. The veteran actor co-wrote the film with rookie screenwriter Lee Bo Ram.

Besides writing and directing, Kim Yoon Seok also plays a role in Another Child. The cast of Another Child includes Yeom Jung Ah (The Mimic), Kim So Jin (The Spy Gone North), Kim Hye Jun (After Spring) and Park Se Jin.

Another Child follows two ordinary families that are shaken by marital infidelity, and how the young daughters deal with the family crisis. Yeom Jung Ah and Kim Yoon Seok portray the parents of Juri, played by Kim Hye Jun, who discovers her father's secret affair. Her father's cheating partner Mi Hee (Kim So Jin) is the mother of her classmate Yoon Ah (Park Se Jin). The two teens fight against each other, and then come together to handle the family issue.

RedPeter Films, the production company of Train to Busan, is in charge of Another Child's production. The movie is slated to open next month in South Korea.

Text / Violet

Kore-eda Hirokazu's Shoplifters sweeps 42nd Japan Academy Prize

  March 4, 2019  
The 42nd Japan Academy Prize was held on March 1 in Tokyo. Kore-eda Hirokazu's Palme d'Or-winning human drama Shoplifters, which had led the race with 13 nominations, swept Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress for Ando Sakura, Best Supporting Actress for late veteran Kiki Kirin, Best Cinematography, Best Lighting and Best Music. This marks Kore-eda's second consecutive year sweeping the top prizes following last year's win with The Third Murder.

Shiraishi Kazuya's crime drama The Blood of Wolves snagged acting prizes for leading actor Yakusho Koji and supporting actor Matsuzaka Tori, as well as technical prizes for Art Direction and Sound Recording. Ueda Shinichiro's indie zombie comedy One Cut of the Dead, which famously opens with a 37-minute long take, won Best Editing.

Hosoda Mamoru's Oscar-nominated fantasy drama Mirai won Animation of the Year while Bohemian Rhapsody was named the Best Foreign Language Film of the year.

Text / Sanwei

Thriller series Kill It starring Jang Ki Yong & Nana premieres in mid-March

  February 27, 2019  
Three years after The Good Wife, Nana makes her small-screen return in her first leading role in OCN's upcoming series Kill It. She teams up with Jang Ki Yong, who previously starred in My Mister and Come and Hug Me, in the crime action thriller.

Produced by director Nam Sung Woo (100 Days My Prince) and rookie screenwriters Son Hyun Soo and Choi Myung Jin, Kill It tells the thrilling story of a skilled killer and the detective that chases after him. Jang Ki Yong plays elite hitman Kim Soo Hyun who is an expert in all kinds of weapons. Calm and decisive, he disappears right after eliminating a target according to his master plan. He chose this path in order to find his long-lost family.

Nana takes the role of police detective Do Hyun Jin. Though she looks arrogant and cold-hearted on the outside, she actually shows compassion for those in pain and gently accepts white lies. To avenge her past lover, she starts to trace the culprit of a serial murder case.

The cast of Kill It also includes Roh Jeong Eui (Witch at Court), Ji Il Joo (Mistress), Lee Jae Won (Two Cops) and Robin Deiana (Sunny Again Tomorrow). The drama is scheduled to air its first episode on March 16 after the end of Trap.

Text / Violet

Seol Hyun, Yang Se Jong & Woo Do Hwan in new period action drama My Country

  February 20, 2019  
Almost four years after fantasy romantic drama Orange Marmalade, AOA's Kim Seol Hyun is confirmed to make a small screen comeback in JTBC's historical action drama My Country alongside rising actors Yang Se Jong and Woo Do Hwan. Yang Se Jong previously led Still 17 and Temperature of Love, while Woo Do Hwan took his first leading role in Tempted last year.

The Innocent Man director Kim Jin Won partners up with screenwriter Chae Seung Dae (The Master of Revenge) to produce My Country. Set in the late Goryeo and early Joseon dynasty, the period action series delves into the power and desires of two friends who have different beliefs over the meaning of "my country."

Yang Se Jong plays bright, righteous and uncompromising warrior Seo Hwi. Woo Do Hwan takes the role of Nam Sun Ho, who wishes to get rid of the constraints of his family and social class. Though he comes from a prestigious family, he is not accepted as a son because of his mother's background. The two characters get immersed in a misunderstanding that breaks their friendship.

Seol Hyun has been cast for the role of the smart and progressive Han Hee Jae, who foresees the fall of Goryeo dynasty. She skillfully solves problems by collecting information from various parties, even in emergency situations.

My Country is scheduled to air in the second half of 2019 after the end of 18 Moments.

Text / Violet

Sadako returns in new film by Ring director Hideo Nakata

  February 20, 2019  
Japan's most famous long-haired ghost Sadako is set to haunt theaters again in 2019 in a new namesake film. While the terrifying character has recently appeared in Hanabusa Tsutomu's Sadako 3D series and Shiraishi Koji's Sadako vs Kayako, the 2019 Sadako is helmed by Hideo Nakata, the director of the original 1998 Ring.

The new Sadako is based on Suzuki Koji's 2013 novel Tide which depicts the origin of the evil spirit. Ikeda Elaiza plays Akikawa Mayu, a psychology counselor in charge of treating a mysterious girl (newcomer Himejima Himeka) under protection who has lost her memory. Tsukamoto Takashi co-stars as Ishida Yusuke who gets involved in an incident with Mayu. Shimizu Hiroya plays Mayu's brother Kazuma, a YouTuber who invokes Sadako's curse, while Kiriyama Ren plays Mayu's hospital colleague and Tomosaka Rie, the mother of the mysterious girl.

Sadako features a screenplay by Sugihara Noriaki who also worked on Sadako 3D 2.The film opens in Japan on May 24.

Text / Sanwei

The Wandering Earth becomes 2nd biggest Chinese film of all time

  February 18, 2019  
Sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth has become China's second biggest film of all time with box office receipts of 3.79 billion yuan as of February 17.

Directed by Frant Gwo (My Old Classmate), The Wandering Earth was released on February 5, Chinese New Year's Day, and faced stiff competition from Ning Hao's Crazy Alien, Stephen Chow's New King of Comedy and Han Han's Pegasus on opening day. Carried by strong reviews, the interstellar epic came from behind to emerge as the winner of the 2019 Chinese New Year box office. The Wandering Earth reached the 3 billion yuan benchmark in a record ten days, and passed Operation Red Sea's 3.65 billion yuan take on its 13th day of release.

Based on the same-titled award-winning novel by Liu Cixin, The Wandering Earth is set in a near future in which Earth must confront the perilous reality of a dying sun. To save the future of humanity, a united world government launches a massive project to gradually migrate the Earth out of the solar system, a journey that will take 2,500 years. Wu Jing, who is also an investor of the film, plays a Chinese astronaut aboard the space station that acts as the navigator for the journey. New-generation actor Qu Chuxiao (Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace) plays his rebellious son Liu Qi, who is part of the surviving Earth population that has been moved underground. When something goes wrong with the planetary thrusters, it's up to Liu Qi and a small group of soldiers and scientists to save Earth.

The Wandering Earth now trails only Wu Jing's 2017 action film Wolf Warrior 2, which grossed 5.68 billion yuan, in China's all-time box office records.

Text / Sanwei

Wang Xiaoshuai's So Long, My Son wins two Silver Bears

  February 18, 2019  
Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai's So Long, My Son won Best Actor and Best Actress for Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, which came to a close on February 17. The Sixth Generation filmmaker's drama spans three decades in the lives of two families linked by friendship, loss, remorse and the social and economic changes of contemporary China.

A regular of the Berlin Film Festival, Wang previously won the Grand Jury Prize in 2001 for Beijing Bicycle and Best Screenplay in 2008 for In Love We Trust. In So Long, My Son, Wang Jingchun and Yong Mei play married couple Yaojun and Liyun who lose their son to a drowning accident partially caused by their friends' son. Clocking in at over three hours, the film also co-stars Qi Xi, Du Jiang and TFBoys member Roy Wang who plays the protagonists' rebellious adopted son.

Aside from So Long, My Son, Israeli director Nadav Lapid's Synonyms won the Golden Bear for Best Film, and Germany's Angela Schanelec won Best Director for I Was at Home, But. The Grand Jury Prize went to Francois Ozon’s By The Grace of God, the Alfred Bauer Prize to Nora Fingscheidt's System Crasher, Best Screenplay to Claudio Giovannesi's Piranhas, and Outstanding Artistic Contribution to Out Stealing Horses cinematographer Rasmus Videbaek. For Short Films, Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell's Umbra took the Golden Bear and Manuel Abramovich's Blue Boy was awarded the Jury Prize. Mehmet Akif Büyükatalay's Oray received the Best First Feature Award.

Japanese director Hikari's 37 Seconds about a young woman with cerebral palsy and her coming-of-age experiences won the Panorama Audience Award (Fiction Film). Suhaib Gasmelbari's Talking About Trees received the Panorama Audience Award (Documentary) and the Glashutte Original Documentary Award.

Text / Sanwei

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