Extraordinary Cinema from Asia

In addition to this year’s 25th annual Asian American International Film Festival back in March, opening today in The City is another major film fest, Extraordinary Cinema from Asia.

The event, a commingling of the 10th annual San Francisco Asian Film Festival and the fifth San Francisco Korean American Film Festival, runs through Nov. 18 at the 4-Star, Castro, and San Francisco State University’s August Coppola theaters. It features seven classic works and 33 recent films from Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Frank Lee of the 4-Star Theatre started the festival there a decade ago; it’s continued growing, until this year’s presentation of a wide variety of genres and topics, from thrillers to musicals, and historical epics to bold love stories. Lee is programmer for SFAFF, Adam Hartzell for the Korean festival.

The gala opening event, beginning at 6 p.m. today with a party at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., features the 8 p.m. U.S. premiere of a current super-hit in Japan, Shinichiro Sawai’s “Genghis Khan: to the Ends of Earth and Sea.” The Mongolian co-production is about that nation’s best-known historical figure; the story begins in 1162, the year of the birth of Temujin, the future Genghis Khan.

The closing-day marathon lineup, on Nov. 18 also at the Castro, will feature Xiaogang Feng’s “The Banquet,” a historical Chinese adaptation of “Hamlet” (with a touch of “Macbeth”), featuring Ziyi Zhang. Also on the program are Benny Chan’s Hong Kong action film “Invisible Target”; Quanan Wang’s just-released “Tuya’s Marriage,” set in Mongolia, and the winner of a Berlin Film Festival award; U.S. premieres of Wilson Yip’s “Flash Point”; and Wai-keung Lau’s crime drama “Confession of Pain.”

“Grain in the Ear” and “Perhaps Love” are repeated from previous local festivals. FromThailand come two new horror movies: Pakphum Wonjinda’s “Video Clip” and Piraphan Laoyont’s “Sick Nurses.”

Leave the children at home for Kim Ki-young’s “Iodo,” a 30-year-old film that still carries the warning: “For mature audiences only,” and Tajiri Yuji’s 2005 “The Strange Saga of Hiroshi the Freeloading Sex Machine” (in which fighting crickets have a leading role).

IF YOU GO

Extraordinary Cinema from Asia Where: Most screenings at 4-Star, 2200 Clement St. (at 23rd Avenue), San Francisco

When: Today through Nov. 18

Tickets: $9-$10 general; $8 seniors; $6 matinees; $40 for five-film pass; more for special events

Contact: http://www.eastraordinary-cinema.com/welcome.htm

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