Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 16 News List

FILM REVIEW:Sports cinema under the spotlight

Along with a heavy emphasis on manga-influenced Japanese films, this year’s Kaohsiung Film
Festival also features a new sports film category to greet the upcoming World Games 2009



After last year focusing on art-house genre movies, the Kaohsiung Film Festival (KFF, 高雄電影節) returns today with a popular lineup of flicks about music, manga, fantasy, science fiction, action and a new addition, sports, which was included to welcome the World Games 2009 that are scheduled to begin on July 16 of next year in the country’s second city.

The festival’s Action Zone — Athletic Fighters segment, one of eight thematic sections, focuses on dreams, passion and athletic courage and will premiere Running the Sahara, which follows Taiwan’s ultra-marathon star Kevin Lin’s (林義傑) collaboration with Canadian runner Ray Zahab and Charlie Engle of the US on a 6,920km-long expedition that took them through six countries and across the Sahara Desert.

Slick, fast-paced and packed with pretty-faced leads, Bollywood sports movie Chak De! India tracks a group of female athletes’ quests for self-fulfillment and was made with production values on a par with those of Hollywood.

Gachi Boy: Wrestling With a Memory, one of the festival’s opening films, is about manga-style wrestling. The story follows the amnesiac bookworm Lgarashi who turns to wrestling to remember the past and deal with the present, to seek respect and uncover the meaning of life. Director Norihiro Koizum is scheduled to hold a question-and-answer session after the screening.

For table tennis enthusiasts, documentary filmmaker and Oscar-winner Jessica Yu’s debut feature, Ping Pong Playa, blends elements of comedy, hip-hop, sports and manga to explore ethnic issues in the US.

More genre-bending flicks are to be found in the World Fantastic Cinema category. Adept at making horror, action and erotic films, Japanese director Miike Takashi turned his hand to westerns with Sukiyaki Western Django, which features a cast of Japan’s A-list stars in a story that follows the trials and tribulations of two rival samurai clans.


WHAT: Kaohsiung Film Festival 2008


WHEN:Today through Nov. 6

Where: Kaohsiung Film Archive (高雄電影圖書館) and Kaohsiung Vieshow Cinemas


TICKETS: NT$120 per screening, available through NTCH ticket outlets or at


Takashi’s Zebraman is a campy rendition of the superhero tradition, which centers on Shinichi, a cuckolded elementary school teacher whose daughter sells sex and whose son is bullied in school. The film’s protagonist seeks comforts by dressing up as Zebraman, his black-and-white costumed alter-ego.

The virtual and the non-virtual realms are interchangeable in French director Nic Balthazar’s Ben X in which an autistic teenage boy only feels alive through his online gaming obsession.

The cosplay subculture finds a Western translation in Mister Lonely, which centers on a Michael Jackson impersonator who is led by a Marilyn Monroe look-alike to a hippie commune inhabited by impersonators who include a priest played by German director Werner Herzog.

Best known for co-directing Delicatessen (1991) and The City of Lost Children (1995) with Jean-Pierre Jeunet, French director Marc Caro flies solo in Dante 01. The sci-fi flick puts the ugliness of humanity in the spotlight when a mutiny breaks out aboard a prison ship.

To attract younger audiences, festival organizers have accorded a pronounced presence in this year’s lineup to manga-influenced Japanese films, often hilarious and led by big-name stars. Examples can be found in the cinematic world of Satoshi Miki, one of two directors that take center stage at this year’s festival, who finds humor in the most trivial and odd situations.

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