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After its successful 27th annual Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival in April and Polish Film Festival in August, MN Film Arts is now unveiling another themed film festival—In Search of Asia: The Minneapolis/St. Paul Asian Film Festival. For the ten-day festival running through Saturday, November 13 at St. Anthony Main, MN Film Arts will bring in 30+ films from over 13 different countries including India, South Korea, Japan, and Cambodia, as well as showing Asian-American filmmakers' work.
With the success of Asian films rising year after year worldwide now, it makes sense to bring in some of the most talked-about documentaries, festival favorites, and some good ol' kung fu films to town, as these films might not be available for next year's MSPIFF. Beside the films, there will be plenty of parties (opening and closing parties will be at the popular restaurant/club Honey), panel discussions with filmmakers and university professors, and many special guests attending the festival.
But back to the films: Having seen a few of them already, the best of the bunch is the Chinese comedy crime caper Crazy Racer (a.k.a. Silver Medalist), which flies by with crazy hijinks, dimwitted gangsters, and a cyclist looking to redeem himself. While the film has been compared to director Guy Ritchie's stylized violence, corrupt gangsters, and protagonists without a clue, Crazy Racer, is better than any film Guy Ritchie has ever made. Director Hao Ning (Mongolian Ping Pong) juggles multiple narratives, boasts dazzling cinematography, and brings his the film up to a level of absurdity that any cynic will appreciate. You'll forgive Crazy Racer for its logic flaws, and will leave smiling.
As for other films worth seeing, there are a half dozen or so that I'm looking forward to and should be sought out based on the talent behind them, some of the best in cinema today. From South Korea, Chang-dong Lee (director of Secret Sunshine, which still hasn't been screened in town) has a new film, Poetry, which won Lee a prze for Best Screenplay at this year's Cannes Film Festival and has been getting accolades since its premiere. It promises to be a moving drama about a mother who deals with troubled times by writing poetry. I Wish I Knew, by veteran Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke (Still Life, The World), presents a new documentary on Shanghai, interviewing 18 people on how their lives have been effected living in Shanghai from the 1930s to the present day. The locally produced documentary film Open Season is sure to pique the interest of anyone who remembers the 2005 case of Hmong immigrant Chai Vang, who was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting six deer hunters in northern Wisconsin; and there are two new animated films, Redline and Summer Wars, that are sure to please hard-core comic book, fantasy, and anime fans.
Image: Crazy Racer, courtesy MN Film Arts.