Monday, December 6, 2010

VIZ Cinema Wraps Up 2010 with Films from China and Japan

More Than 20 Films Present Engaging Documentaries, Anime, Romantic Comedies, A Special New Year’s Samurai Celebration, And A Free Screening For Seniors
VIZ Cinema wraps up 2010 with a December roster of screenings that introduce various ways to look at reality. Trailers, screening times and tickets are available at VIZ Cinema is located inside NEW PEOPLE at 1746 Post Street in San Francisco’s Japantown.

December offers more than twenty films, featuring new titles as well as encore presentations of some of the most popular movies to play at the theatre this year. Included will be a pair of unique film festivals - the 8x8x8 Film Festival presented by The Hub, and also China Underground, which offers a range of documentaries that focus on a variety of controversial topics such as homosexuality, the role of women in society, the forced relocation of citizens which preceded the 2008 Beijing Olympics, drug use, and the inner workings of Chinese law enforcement, are examined in unflinching detail in 7 documentaries. Also scheduled for December is Mifune x Kurosawa, a mini-festival offering 8 films directed by the great Akira Kurosawa and starring the incomparable Toshiro Mifune. Included will be a special New Year’s screening of the classic Seven Samurai.

Anime is always a favorite and VIZ Cinema is proud to offer encore screenings of the fast-paced, futuristic racing film, Redline, as well as a live-action adaptation of the popular The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Also not to be missed is the romantic comedy Cast Me If You Can, which was featured as “Japan’s answer to Woody Allen” in Metropolis magazine. Director Atsushi Ogata’s globetrotting comedy combines wit, humor, romance and family relations. Finally, VIZ Cinema welcomes San Francisco’s senior community for a special free showing of Ping Pong, a charming comedy built around the sport of table tennis.

8x8x8 Film Festival Presented By The Hub; Thursday, 12/2 at 7:00pm, San Francisco Premiere!
The Hub presents the 8 x 8 x 8 Film Festival screening 8 short films, supported by Schmaltz Brew Company and Dynamo Donuts. Films are curated by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Reception / Food: 7:00 pm • Screening: 8:00 pm • Tickets: $12.00

China Underground; Friday, 12/3 – Sunday, 12/5, San Francisco Premiere!
This series focuses on a new vanguard of Chinese independent filmmakers, whose innovative uses of digital filmmaking deliver provocative insights into the world’s largest nation. All of the documentary films to be shown at the festival were made outside the official Chinese film system – unauthorized, uncensored, and totally independent. These groundbreaking films introduce a new generation of filmmakers who represent the future of Chinese cinema, using new technology to present a vision of China as never seen before.

Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China, Friday, 12/3 at 7:15pm
(Directed by Cui Zi’en, China, 2008, 60min, Mandarin with English subtitles)

China’s most prolific queer filmmaker opens the festival with a comprehensive historical account of the queer movement in modern China. Unlike any before, this film explores the historical milestones and ongoing advocacy efforts of the Chinese LGBT community. Preceded by a screening of Digital Underground in the People’s Republic (18 mins, Dir: Rachel Tejada), a look at the Chinese independent film scene as documented firsthand by dGenerate Films. The screening will include a Q&A session with several guest speakers and an after-party that will immediately follow. Tickets are $15.00.

Super, Girls! Saturday, 12/4 at 1:00pm
(Directed by Jian Yi, China, 2007, Documentary, 73min. Mandarin with English subtitles)

SUPER, GIRLS! follows ten teenagers on their quest to become superstars on China’s biggest tv show. Through candid interviews and footage of nail-biting auditions, SUPER, GIRLS! offers a fascinating look inside what the Chinese media have dubbed “the Lost Generation.” Tickets are $10.00.

Meishi Street, Saturday, 12/4 at 2:45pm
(Directed by Ou Ning, China, 2006, Documentary, 85min, Mandarin with English subtitles)

MEISHI STREET shows ordinary citizens taking a stand against the planned destruction of their homes for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Acclaimed at over two dozen museums and galleries around the world, Meishi Street, by renowned visual artist Ou Ning, works as both art and activism, calling worldwide attention to lives being demolished in the name of progress.

Tickets are $10.00.

Using, Saturday, 12/4 at 4:45pm
(Directed by Zhou Hao, China, 2008, Documentary, 105min, Mandarin with English subtitles)

A twisted relationship develops between an urban Chinese couple struggling with heroin and a filmmaker chronicling their addiction, in this provocative documentary on drug abuse, filmmaking and friendship. Zhou’s unflinching depiction of his friends’ repeated attempts to quit blurs the line between filmmaker and subject, and raises provocative questions about the ways in which each uses the other. Tickets are $10.00.

Ghost Town, Saturday, 12/4 at 7:15pm
(Directed by Zhao Dayong, China, 2008, Documentary, 169min, Mandarin, Nu, & Lisu dialects with English subtitles)

Zhiziluo is a town barely clinging to life. Tucked away in a rugged corner of Southwest China, the village is haunted by traces of China’s cultural past while its residents piece together a day-by-day existence. “Directed with scrupulous attention to detail” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times), Ghost Town, which debuted at the New York Film Festival, “is one of the most important films to have emerged from the booming (but still unexplored) field of Chinese independent documentaries (Dennis Lim, Moving Image Source).Tickets are $10.00.

1428 Sunday, 12/5 at 1:00pm
(Directed by Du Haibin, China, 2009, Documentary, 117min. Mandarin and Sichuan dialects w/ English subtitles)

Du Haibin’s award-winning documentary of the earthquake that devastated China’s Sichuan province in 2008 explores how victims, citizens and government respond to a national tragedy. Du depicts a world in chaos, both material and moral. “Without judgment but with a deep compassion for their subjects, the filmmakers of 1428 bring us a myriad of individual stories of absurdity, confusion and grief.”(Cherise Fong, CNN). Tickets are $10.00.

Crime and Punishment, Sunday, 12/5 at 3:30pm
(Directed by Zhao Liang, China, 2007, Documentary, 122min, Mandarin with English subtitles)

“Zhao’s artistry is instantly apparent.” (Robert Koehler, Variety)

A prime example of how independent documentaries are on the vanguard of Chinese cinema, Crime and Punishment is an unprecedented look at the everyday workings of law enforcement in the world’s largest authoritarian society. With penetrating camerawork, Zhao Liang (Petition, 2009 Cannes Film Festival) patiently reveals the methods police use to interrogate and coerce suspects to confess crimes – and the consequences when such techniques backfire.

Tickets are $10.00.

Before the Flood, Sunday, 12/5 at 5:45pm
(Directed by Li Yifan and Yan Yu, China, 2005, Documentary, 147min. Mandarin and Sichuan dialects with English subtitles)

A landmark documentary following the residents of the historic city of Fengjie as they clash with officials forcing them to evacuate their homes to make way for the world’s largest dam. Shot over two years, Before the Flood is a breathtaking achievement in verité-style documentary filmmaking. This profound film shows the human effects of one of history’s grandest social engineering projects, reflecting on the loss of both home and heritage. Tickets are $10.00.

Redline, Monday, 12/6 – Thursday 12/9
(Directed by Takeshi Koike, 2010, 100 min, Digital, English Subtitles)

Redline is a racing film created by studio Madhouse (Paprika, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars). The toughest and the most destructive underground car race in the universe, REDLINE, has just begun! JP is a reckless driver oblivious to speed limits, and Sonoshee, one of his competitors with whom JP is secretly in love with, is a hot girl determined to do whatever it takes to stand on the winner’s podium. They’re up against the craziest drivers with their heavily armed and awesome road-tearing vehicles. On top of that, during the race, they have to avoid military crackdown by the government because the race is actually prohibited in Roboworld. The only help JP wants is the engine obtained and custom tuned by his long time buddies, Frisbee the mechanic and Mogura Oyaji the junk shop. While cars crash and burn into flames, the race course becomes a merciless hell and JP whips his ride into a dead heat. Who will survive to win in this mass-destruction race? Tickets are $10.00.

Cast Me If You Can, Friday, 12/10 – Sunday, 12/19
(Directed by Atsushi Ogata, 2010, 97min, Digital, Japanese with English subtitles)

A sold-out film at Mill Valley Film Festival and a charming romantic comedy written and directed by Atsushi Ogata, Cast Me If You Can comes to VIZ Cinema for a special Bay Area limited theatrical release, following its popular recent theatrical run in Japan.

Featured as “Japan’s answer to Woody Allen” in Metropolis magazine, globetrotting comedy director Atsushi Ogata combines wit, humor, romance and family relations, in collaboration with veteran Japanese star actors and an international crew, to present a romantic comedy which transcends national and cultural borders. Cast Me If You Can is Ogata’s feature film debut.

Premiering at the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival in June, Cast Me If You Can also screened at festivals in California, New York, Indiana, Korea and India, won prizes for “Best Title Sequence” and “Best Original Score” in Los Angeles, and has also been adapted into a novel and published in Japan by Takeshobo Co. Ltd. Tickets are $10.00.

The Disappearance Of Haruhi Suzumiya, Friday, 12/17 at 7:15pm
(Directed by Jun-ichi Mori, 2010, 163min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Don’t miss the special encore screening of mega hit anime movie “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” in association with Bandai Entertainment! Ten days before Christmas, Haruhi came up with another one of her crazy ideas to hold a Christmas party in the club room. The next day, however, Kyon woke up to a world in which Haruhi didn’t exist and no one besides him had any memory of her. How can someone like Haruhi Suzumiya who’s supposed to be the center of the universe just vanish? Tickets are $10.00.

Mifune x Kurosawa, Saturday, 12/18 – Thursday 1/6

Toshiro Mifune graced Japanese cinema with his good looks, fierceness, and charisma. VIZ Cinema brings you Akira Kurosawa’s films featuring Mifune at his finest moments. Tickets are $10.00.

Red Beard, Saturday, 12/18 – Sunday, 12/26
(1965, 185 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Red Beard (Akahige) chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director. Toshiro Mifune, in his last role for Kurosawa, gives a powerhouse performance as the dignified yet empathic director who guides his pupil to maturity.

The Idiot, Saturday, 12/18 – Thursday, 12/23
(1965, 185 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

The Idiot, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s nineteenth-century masterpiece about a wayward, pure soul’s reintegration into society—updated by Kurosawa to capture Japan’s postwar aimlessness—was a victim of studio interference and, finally, public indifference.

The Lower Depths, Sunday, 12/19 – Monday, 12/27
(1957, 125 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Mifune and Kurosawa transform Maxim Gorky’s classic proletariat play The Lower Depths in their own way firmly situated in the postwar world. Remaining faithful to the original with its focus on the conflict between illusion and reality, their film making styles converge to create unique masterpieces.

High And Low, Monday, 12/27 – Thursday, 1/6
(1957, 125 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa’s highly influential High and Low, a compelling race-against-time thriller and a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society.

Stray Dog, Tuesday, 12/28 – Thursday, 1/6
(1949, 122min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

When a pickpocket steals a rookie detective’s gun on a hot crowded bus, the cop goes undercover in a desperate attempt to right the wrong. Kurosawa’s thrilling noir probes the squalid world of postwar Japan and the nature of the criminal mind.

Drunken Angel, Wednesday, 12/29 – Wednesday, 1/5
(1948, 98min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician.

Seven Samurai, Sunday, 1/2 at 1:30pm
(1954, 207 minutes, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Kick-off 2011 with one of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, Seven Samurai! This three-hour ride featuring Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire eponymous warriors to protect them from the invading bandits. Screening will include a special New Year’s reception party.

VIZ Cinema’s last SENIOR FREE MOVIE DAY of the year is our all-time-favorite film Ping Pong!

Ping Pong ; Wednesday, 12/22 at 1:30pm
(Directed by SORI, 2002, 114min, Digital, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Best friends Peco and Smile have been playing ping pong since they were little kids. While the unique and brazen Peco plays to win and loves the sport, the quiet and introverted Smile thinks of it as just a way to kill time with friends, but plays only because he looks up to Peco as his hero. And though Smile is the more talented player, he frequently and intentionally loses to Peco out of a misguided sense of friendship

VIZ Cinema is the nation’s only movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system.

NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan and is the creative vision of the J-Pop Center Project and VIZ Pictures, a distributor and producer of Japanese live action film. Located at 1746 Post Street, the 20,000 square foot structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass façade that frames a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination into the 21st Century. A dedicated web site is also now available at:

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