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What to See at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

The best festival of movies that are not otherwise coming to a theater near you.
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The Asian Film Festival of Dallas is the only chance many North Texas moviegoers will have to see some of the best new films to come out of Japan, China, Indonesia, Korea, Hong Kong, and other countries on the world’s biggest continent. (In its 15th year, the festival will screen its first Iranian film.) Most of the movies at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas are not otherwise coming to a theater near you, and that alone should make it a treat.

The all-volunteer festival also has a wonderful repertory program, compelling movies from Asian-American filmmakers, and a stunningly diverse schedule of films spanning a continent and every conceivable genre. And it’s 100 degrees outside with a heat index that would scramble eggs on concrete. What better excuse do you need to disappear into a dark theater?

The festival begins Thursday night at the Angelika Film Center and continues through July 22. All movies are at the Angelika, except for a bonus July 22 screening of Boiling Point at the Texas Theatre. Go here for more information, tickets, and a full schedule. Here are a few films we’ve sized up ahead of the start of the festival:

Mountain Cry | July 17 at 7 pm & July 21 at noon

In a small, isolated town in the Chinese countryside, the young Han Chong accepts responsibility for the accidental death of a man killed by an exploding badger trap. Han Chong begins caring for the man’s children and his mute widow, first out of duty, then out of love, but a narrow-minded mob mentality seeps into the village and threatens to tear the new family apart. This poignant and emotionally resonant melodrama, which debuted as the closing film at one of Korea’s biggest film festivals, is making its North American premiere.


The Wailing | July 21, 7 pm

Reviews of this Korean horror film have used words and phrases like “gore-drenched,” “blood-soaked,” and “excruciating.” The New York Times called it “the hard stuff.” The trailer features a child warning that “he will suck your blood dry.” Faint of heart moviegoers may want to approach with caution for this one, which follows an investigation into a series of seemingly unconnected killings perpetrated by people suffering from the same strange, spreading illness. No demonic possession movie is ever cheerful, but this may be bleaker and more indelibly unsettling than most.


Spa Night July 19 at 10:15 pm

A coming-of-age and coming-out story that explores Korean-American spa culture in Los Angeles as well as the dynamics between first-generation immigrants and their children.


Fallen Angels | July 15 at 2:45 pm

The hyper-stylish 1995 film unfolds as a montage of after-hour vignettes in Hong Kong. Assassins, prostitutes, and escaped prisoners collide and spin off into the night in this could be-classic from director Wong Kar-wai.


The Brick and the Mirror | July 17 at 3 pm

A 1965 gem that could retroactively be called part of the Iranian New Wave, Ebrahim Golestan’s feature debut will be the first Iranian movie screened at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. Hashem is a cab driver whose night takes a turn when a passenger leaves her infant child in the back of the car.


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