Thailand’s Bad Genius won the Best Feature award in the Main Competition of the 16th New York Asian Film Festival. The international premiere of the high-school thriller opened the 17-day festival on June 30. Director Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya attended the awards ceremony onSaturday, June 15. The festival concluded July 16 with the U.S. Premiere of The Villainess.
Bad Genius was among seven feature films nominated in the festival’s newly launched Main Competition, which was restricted to films by first- and second-time directors; all seven films received their North American Premiere at the festival. The 17-day event is co-presented by Subway Cinema and Film Society of Lincoln Center.
The inaugural three-person jury was comprised of maverick indie actress Jennifer Kim, video-on-demand acquisitions executive George Schmaltz, and festival super fan Kristina Winters. (The profiles of the three-jury members are below.)
Winters said that the winning film Bad Genius “re-envisions the heist movie with grades instead of gold and proves that commercial films can still be innovative and remind us why we love movies. With a complex plot, relentless pacing, driven editing, and strong performances, it makes test-taking exciting and had us on the edge of our seats.”
Kim presented the competition’s Special Mention award, which went to Yoshiyuki Kishi’s A Double Lifefrom Japan. She described it as “a first effort that we can feel can stand alongside the work of veteran Japanese filmmakers. A well-constructed, pensive mood piece that explores identity through surveillance culture.”
An Honorable Mention for Most Promising Director went to Le Binh Giang for Vietnam’s Kfc. George Schmaltz said, “We’re calling this the Brass Balls Award. We really appreciated that he just went for it – his camera set ups and movements, his playing with timelines and wrap-around storytelling, the viscerality of his images. We’re sure he’s destined for great things and cannot wait to see what he does next!”
Guests who attended the screening of Bad Genius in New York included director Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, and actors Chutimon “Aokbab” Chuengcharoensukying and Chanon “Non” Santinatornkul. Poonpiriya also attended the awards ceremony on Saturday night to receive his award before a surprise 25th anniversary screening of Clarence Fok’s Naked Killer on 35mm, featuring a Q&A with actress Carrie Ng.
The four other films competing in the seven-film competition were Mikhail Red’s Birdshot from the Philippines, Chen Mei-juin’s The Gangster’s Daughter from Taiwan, Cho Hyun-hoon’s Jane from South Korea, and Andrew Wong Kwok-kuen’s With Prisoners from Hong Kong. Red and Chen were among more than 30 directors, actors, producers and screenwriters who attended the festival.
Samuel Jamier, the festival’s executive director said, “The seven films represent the breadth of our lineup. Each title explores pressing ethical issues with protagonists who push back against a staid or corrupt status quo. We hope that the films’ ambition, confidence and bravura can inspire other filmmakers and festival programmers.”
Naoko Ogigami’s transgender drama Close-Knit (Japan) won the audience award. Second- and third placed in the audience vote are Shinobu Yaguchi’s post apocalyptic comedy Survival Family (Japan) and Thai thriller Bad Genius.
The festival is curated by Jamier, deputy director Stephen Cremin, and programmers Claire Marty and David Wilentz.
Jennifer Kim studied acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts at the Stella Adler Studio as well as London’s Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts and can be seen in both major film and television roles as well as notable independent productions from Mozard in the Jungle to (her eponymous role in) Female Pervert.
Since moving to New York George Schmalz has worked for both Oscilloscope Laboratories and Kino Lorber before moving to Kickstarter, where he helped hundreds of film projects come to life. Schmalz currently works as the Curator for AMC’s video on demand platform Sundance Now.
Audience member Kristina Winters travels to New York every year to attend NYAFF: “In Texas we have a saying, that ‘I wasn’t born here, but I got here as fast as I could!’ I say the same thing about NYAFF. My first fest wasn’t until 2014. I’ve been to every NYAFF since and I’ve seen almost every NYAFF film.”
NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (NYAFF)
Now in its 16th year, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) is North America’s leading festival of popular Asian cinema, which The Village Voice has called “the best film festival in New York,” and TheNew York Times has called “one of the city’s most valuable events.” Launched in 2002 by Subway Cinema, the festival selects only the best, strangest, and most entertaining movies to screen for New York audiences, ranging from mainstream blockbusters and art-house eccentricities to genre and cult classics. It was the first North American film festival to champion the works of Johnnie To, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike, and other auteurs of contemporary Asian cinema. Since 2010, it has been produced in collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is devoted to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema. The only branch of the world-renowned arts complex Lincoln Center to shine a light on the everlasting yet evolving importance of the moving image, this nonprofit organization was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international film. Via year-round programming and discussions; its annual New York Film Festival; and its publications, including Film Comment, the U.S.’s premier magazine about films and film culture, the Film Society endeavors to make the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broader audience, as well as to ensure that it will remain an essential art form for years to come.
The Film Society receives generous, year-round support fromThe New York Times, Shutterstock,Variety, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. American Airlines is the Official Airline of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.org and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.
ABOUT SUBWAY CINEMA
Subway Cinema is America’s leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and appreciation of Asian popular film culture in all forms, building bridges between Asia and the West. With year-round festivals and programs, the organization aims to bring wide audience and critical attention to contemporary and classic Asian cinema in the U.S. In 2002, Subway Cinema launched its flagship event, the annual New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which is North America’s leading festival of popular Asian cinema. Subway cinema’s other events and initiatives include Old School Kung Fu Fest (OSKFF).
For more information, visit www.subwaycinema.com, www.facebook.com/NYAFF, and follow @subwaycinema on Twitter (#nyaff16).
Subway Cinema receives generous, year-round support from the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation and sponsorships from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, Korean Cultural Center New York, Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, China Institute, Manhattan Portage, Tsingtao Beer, Japan Foundation New York, Maven Wine, Bruce R. Watts, and thanks their media partners: Screen International, Asian Crush, China Film Insider, Chopsticks NY.
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