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Asian films premiere this week at Magnolia

The 11th Annual Asian Film Festival runs through Thursday, July 19th at the Magnolia Theatre in West Village.

Hari Kiri tells the story of an aging samurai who seeks a place to commit the act of hari kiri. Screening Wednesday, July 18th at 1:45 p.m.

The Great Magician is a light-hearted, fun film with romance and intrigue. Showing this Thursday, July 19th at noon.

Death of a Cemetery: this documentary details the people of Manila North cemetery in the Philippines. Showing Tuesday, July 17th at 4:00 p.m.

This week's showings are at the Magnolia Theatre.

The 11th Annual Asian Film Festival kicked off July 12th and runs through Thursday of this week.

Originally founded by Mye Hoang and Steve Carlton, the pair created the festival because they felt like Dallas audiences were missing too many great Asian films.

It's a truly unique event featuring a variety of genres and countries from which they come.

From student shorts to 50th anniversary screenings, there's something for everyone.

Sanjuro, one of the anniversary films, showed on Sunday but you can still catch Kuroneko and Hari Kiri on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kuroneko is an atmospheric horror-fantasy which deals with a young warrior sent to sort out alleged ghosts and demons who are killing samurais in gruesome ways. This film will be shown on a brand new 35mm print made from the master. It will be like watching the film for the first time. You can catch it Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.

Hari Kiri tells the story of an aging samurai who seeks a place to commit the act of hari kiri, but soon learns the sad and cruel fate of a young samurai, which leads to a tense showdown with a feudal lord. It's showing this Wednesday at 1:45 p.m.

Ace Attorney opened the festival last week, and is based on a series of popular Japanese video games. The film clocks in at 135 minutes, which is a little long. It would work much better at about 90 minutes.

Set sometime the future, Japanese justice has become a world of three-day trials where witnesses and evidence don't hold much value.

The lead, Phoenix Wright, is an attorney who gets drawn into a case with personal ramifications. If you played the games, you know what happens next. If not, it is a jerky ride of twist and turns with a bad guy you can't help but see coming. The film plays again on Thursday, July 19th at 9:30 p.m.

By contrast, The Great Magician is a light-hearted, fun film with romance and intrigue.

Tony Leung, one of Hong Kong's most famous actors, stars as the Great Magician Chang Hsien in the early 1900's when the Japanese are encroaching.

He appears in town astounding locals and degrading his rivals with his spectacular magic shows. But Hsien has other plans outside of being the best magician in town. He wants to kidnap the warlord Bully Lei, who lives up to his name, taxing locals and acts as if he is in charge. Enter the romance.

Bully Lei has taken a young beautiful acrobat with the hopes of making her his seventh wife. She's not as pleased. Goals change. Kidnapping and trickery feature heavily, and spectacular magic tricks become the key to big dreams.

The tricks are amazing and beautiful, and the story is a lot of fun. Be prepared for a lot of slapstick. The scenes with the six wives are great fun.

The Great Magician is out on DVD, but you can see it on the big screen this Thursday at noon.

From Director Hitoshi, Saya-Zamurai feels less bizarre and more touching than his earlier films. The film shows a masterful mix of melancholy, hope and kindness.

Surprisingly delicate and beautifully shot, Kanjun Nomi is a disgraced samurai who carries only an empty scabbard. Traveling the countryside with his daughter, he is eventually caught and sentenced to death for his previous crimes.

The clan leader gives Nomi one chance to save himself: if in 30 days he can succeed in making one man's grief stricken son laugh, he will be set free. This is obviously a harder task that it seems.

This film will be shown again on Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

Additional Films to Consider

Yes or No
Monday, July 16th at 8:45 p.m.
Thai with English Subtitles
102 minutes
Special Event Ticket

When girly Pie and tomboyish Kim first become roommates, they don't get along. But eventually, they create a friendship that becomes something more. A tale of true love, Yes or No takes the romantic comedy formula and makes it something delicate and sweet.

Death of a Cemetery
Tuesday, July 17th at 4:00 p.m.
Tagalong with English Subtitles
75 minutes
(Documentary)

The dead are not the only residents at the prominent Manila North Cemetery; caretakers and their families, along with many vendors and craftsmen, call Manila North home.

They live in multi-level mausoleums and beside grave sites. In spite of the morose surroundings, a community as strong as any other has developed. Even with the city's eviction attempts, intruders and health issues threaten to dislodge the living from the place of the dead.

Viette
Wednesday, July 18th at 8:45 p.m.
English with some Vietnamese
90 minutes

From AFFD founder Mye Hoang, this semi-autobiographical debut is a coming of age and beyond story. Viette tries to balance her involvement with an older man and her strict parents' beliefs while hoping to attend film school. It is a powerful tale of a person caught between the wants of others and her own.

Doomsday Book
Thursday, July 19th at 7:00 p.m.

The closing night's film is a science fiction epic from South Korea, a country not well known for that genre. The film is a multi-chaptered take on three different genres of apocalyptic tales, handled masterfully by two of the country's hottest directors, Kim Ji Woon and Yim Pil-sing.

A single piece of trash summons up the end of humanity via that old standby: zombies. Men must examine the philosophical implications of a robot that attains awareness in a very unique way, as a young girl brings about the end of the earth through an act of kindness.

While the first tale is more visceral and straightforward, drama trumps action, and intelligence and emotion are worth more than in the latter two episodes. Throughout, hilariously dead-on satire of media coverage is repeatedly examined. It goes without saying, the end of the world will be worth watching.



The 11th Annual Asian Film Festival runs through Thursday, July 19th at the Magnolia Theatre in West Village.

Tickets for the festival are $10; $7 for students and seniors.

Student shorts are $5 and special events are $12.50, which includes a screening and a post-film reception.



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