The 2nd London East Asian Film Festival

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My first impression when approaching the Odeon in Leicester Square last night was just how much bigger the London East Asian Film Festival has gotten since its beginnings a couple of years ago. I watched SPL 2 at the 0th incarnation of the festival alongside a 3/4-full cinema. It didn’t feel like much of an event – but then again, it wasn’t. It was a fledgling idea, surrounded by hopes that maybe this could be an annual deal.

 

The following year I went to the Opening Gala of the 1st LEAFF, and there was a lot of buzz and excitement around Kim Jee-woon’s film The Age of Shadows, and the subsequent Q&A. I also attended The Handmaiden, as part of their Park Chan-wook Retrospective, in a cinema crammed full of eager fans waiting to hear what the auteur had to say about his latest oeuvre.

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This year, the organisers promise once again a wide selection of films old and new – even more than last year, with roughly 50 events over 11 days – as well as more moments with the cast, crew and people behind these films. There are countless Q&As, receptions and a breakfast with several actors which I unfortunately had to miss. LEAFF is really expanding, and the reaction from last night is hopefully proof that that it will keep getting bigger and bigger.

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The Opening Gala showed us the intense, claustrophobic, Fortress by Hwang Dong-hyuk, and the Closing Gala will be of Takeshi Kitano’s latest in the Outrage series, Coda. I’ll be attending as much as I can over these next 11 days, and if the atmosphere from last night is something to go by, this year’s LEAFF is set to be another great year.

 

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