Author Rowena Santos Aquino

Film lecturer at CSULB. Transnational, multilingual, migratory cinephilia.

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 10.53.16 AM
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A film by Adachi Masao is arguably a category all its own, in keeping with his entire body of work. The Artist of Fasting may be only his second film in the twenty-first century, but it continues his commitment to a cinema of radical politics that stretches back to the mid-twentieth century. This …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 8.13.39 PM
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Tsubota Yoshifumi’s film is based on a short story of the same name, written by Anthony Doerr and published in 2002 in his debut collection of tales. The story revolves around the titular character who remains nameless and is simply referred to as the ‘Professor’ (Lily Franky). Though his past of working …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 8.48.13 PM
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As a very young filmmaking voice (he is aged twenty-three), and still in the process of studying film at Tokyo Zokei University, Sugimoto Daichi’s debut and title could not be more apt. His first film work is an exploration of himself as an actual filmmaker, an onscreen character, a young man finally realising …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 12.25.22 PM
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The Whispering Star is Sono Sion’s most important film yet, born from a project that he wrote in the 1990s. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic future in which humans are now outnumbered by machines, particularly AI robots, following ‘devastating’ human mistakes. But the film is not filled with …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 12.16.27 PM
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What initially looks like an ordinary, even banal making-of documentary of Sono’s latest film The Whispering Star (2016) becomes a bit of a shape-shifting creature much like Sono himself. Rather apt, then, that the documentary is directed by Oshima Arata, son of the late Oshima Nagisa, a cinematic …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 8.46.35 AM
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Lowlife Love’s opening scene, in some sense, encapsulates its portrait of the (highly sexualised) challenges and sacrifices endemic to filmmaking and the idea of ‘getting ahead’: in the context of a morning after, a woman gets dressed while the man still sleeps; he wakes up, and when she has …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 6.38.57 PM
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The opening film of the tenth edition of Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Film is writer-director Okita Shuichi’s latest feature. Matsuda Ryuhei plays a thrash metal vocalist, and the film opens with a close-up of his face while from his throat emanate rough, growling sounds that may or may not be …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 9.40.24 AM
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E J-yong’s latest film addresses quite possibly every other marginalised community/identity and taboo yet pressing social issues that exist in contemporary South Korea. He accesses these identities and issues through a frank portrait of a woman in her mid-sixties, So-yeong, who is a prostitute; the only …

Film Festival Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.50.13 PM
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Hong Kong International Film Festival’s omnibus ‘Beautiful’ series consists of four short films directed by four different filmmakers. This year’s series was helmed by (following the order of their films’ appearances) Nakata Hideo, Alec Su, Stanley Kwan, and Jia Zhangke. As with any omnibus film, the entire work runs the risk of being inconsistent …

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