Transcending national boundaries,
the Japan Foundation Asia Center carries out
cultural exchange programs to build up heart-to-heart
relationships between people and enrich the future of Asia.


Enjoy the Incredible Variety of Asian Cinema at the 34th Tokyo International Film Festival


The Japan Foundation Asia Center is co-organizing a packed lineup of Asian cinema at the 34th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), which takes place from Saturday, October 30 to Monday, November 8, 2021. In addition to co-presenting the "Asian Future" section with TIFF, the Japan Foundation Asia Center introduces the rich variety of Asian cinema at the festival through screenings of ten remarkable films in the Competition, Gala Selection, World Focus, and other sections.

In the Competition section, screenings include Payback (2021), directed by the giant of Philippine cinema Brillante Ma Mendoza, and Arisaka (2021), directed by Mikhail Red from the Philippines, who won the Best Asian Future Film Award with Birdshot in "Asian Future" section in 2016.

The Gala Selection section has screenings of the Japanese-Filipino co-production GENSAN PUNCH (2021), also directed by Brillante Ma Mendoza, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Memoria (2021), which won the Jury Prize at the 74th Cannes Film Festival.

The World Focus section includes Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, which won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival this year and is the latest from Indonesian director Edwin, who previously made one of the films in Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2018: Journey, the omnibus film co-produced by the Japan Foundation Asia Center and TIFF.

The Conversation Series at Asia Lounge is also held during TIFF and features talks with Brillante Ma Mendoza, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, as well as Bahman Ghobadi, whose film The Four Walls is in the Competition section. Streamed live online, these talks superbly complement the screenings at the festival.

Don't miss this opportunity to experience the incredible cinema of Asia!

Films co-presented by the Japan Foundation Asia Center and TIFF

Competition section

2021 / The Philippines / 90min
Director: Mikhail Red
Cast: Maja Salvador, Mon Confiado

A still of the movie

A witness under police escort is attacked. A policewoman, the only one who survives, is sheltered by indigenous people, but assailants hunt her down... An action thriller set in Bataan.

The Dawning of the Day
2021 / Sri Lanka / 108min
Director: Asoka Handagama
Cast: Luis J Romero, Anne-Solene Hatte, Rithika Kodithuwakku

A still of the movie
©Asoka Handagama

1929. Pablo Neruda arrives in British Ceylon as Chilean consul. He lives quietly by the sea, healing emotions damaged in his previous post. An ambitious film set in colonial-era Sri Lanka.

2021 / The Philippines / 105min
Director: Brillante Ma Mendoza
Cast: Vince Rillon, Nash Aguas, Jay Manalo

A still of the movie
©Cignal TV, Inc.

Chased by police, bike thief Isaac asks his boss for help but gets the cold shoulder. He then plans vengeance against the boss... Payback depicts a man caught in a slum's crime ring.

Return to the Lineup

Asian Future section

American Girl
2021 / Taiwan, Hong Kong, China / 101min
Director: Feng-i Fiona Roan
Cast: Karena Lam, Kaiser Chuang, Caitlin Fang

A still of the movie

During the SARS outbreak of 2003, 13-year-old Fen returns to Taiwan. Depicts the director's experiences: her mother's illness, a feud with classmates. Karena Lam plays Fen's mother.

2021 / Sri Lanka / 97min
Director: Sanjeewa Pushpakumara
Cast: Udari Warnakulasooriya, Shyam Fernando, Dinara Punchihewa

A still of the movie

Happily pregnant Nelum is diagnosed with cancer. After her baby boy is born safely, she approaches death. Third feature by Tokyo FILMeX 2017 Jury Award winner (Burning Bird).

The Brittle Thread
2021 / India / 97min
Director: Ritesh Sharma
Cast: Megha Mathur, Muzaffar Khan, Sivan Spector

A still of the movie
©Hardhyaan Films

In the ancient city of Varanasi, which embraces an intricate history of Hinduism and Islam, a sari weaver and an orchestral dancer live their respective lives, until an incident occurs...

The Brokers
2021 / The Philippines / 106min
Director: Daniel R. Palacio
Cast: JC De Vera, Maxine Eigenmann, Joel Torre

A still of the movie
©Center Stage Productions (CSP) Co.

Real estate agent Mike clashes with local residents over land development. This tense and topical drama is the second film by the up-and-coming director of Underground (TIFF2017).

The Coffin Painter
2021 / China / 95min
Director: Da Fei
Cast: Luosangqunpei, Zhang Zimu, Liu Lu

A still of the movie
©Shenzhen Moon Pictures Co., Ltd.

An old coffin painter, whose son was murdered, waits for the killer to leave prison. A mother and her daughter move to his neighborhood, which changes him. Will he still want vengeance?

The Last Birds of Passage
2021 / Turkey / 98min
Director: Iffet Eren Danisman Boz
Cast: Sennur Nogaylar, Necmettin Cobanoglu, Timur Olkebas

A still of the movie
©IEDB Film

A nomad family migrates with their camels and goats when summer and winter turn. Balanced between traditional and modern lifestyles, migration season comes. What do they see ahead?

When Pomegranates Howl
2021 / Afghanistan, Australia, The Netherlands, Iran / 83min
Director: Granaz Moussavi
Cast: Arafat Faiz, Elham Ahmad Ayazi, Saeeda Sadat

A still of the movie

In wartime, a boy, his family's breadwinner, meets an Australian journalist, and hopes to make his dream to be an actor come true... Iranian director portrays children in Afghanistan.

World, Northern Hemisphere
2021 / Iran / 84min
Director: Hossein Tehrani
Cast: Reza Shohani, Mehran Atashzay, Saideh Albaji

A still of the movie

14-year-old Ahmad is the breadwinner for his fatherless family. At his mother's request, they rent a farm, but human bones are found, disturbing their plan. A challenging debut feature.

Return to the Lineup

Gala Selection section

2021 / India / 115min
Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Cast: Vinay Fort, Chemban Vinod Jose, Joju George

A still of the movie
©Movie Monastery

The latest film by the director of Jallikattu. Two cops undercover trailing a fugitive find themselves trapped in a perpetual labyrinth of a mountain village called Churuli.

2021 / The Philippines, Japan / 110min
Director: Brillante Ma. Mendoza
Cast: Shogen, Ronnie Lazaro, MINAMI Kaho

A still of the movie
©2021 GENSAN PUNCH Production Committee

From award-winning director, GENSAN PUNCH is inspired by a true story of TSUCHIYAMA Nao, a disabled athlete who refuses to let his articifical leg hinder his dream to become a professional boxer.

2021 / Colombia, Thailand, France, Germany, Mexico, Qatar / 136min
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Elkin Díaz, Jeanne Balibar

A still of the movie
©Kick the Machine Films, Burning, Anna Sanders Films, Match Factory Productions, ZDF/Arte and Piano, 2021.

Apichatpong's latest film shot entirely in Colombia. Tilda Swinton plays a woman who travels from Bogotá to a small town in the mountains after being disturbed by a loud 'bang' during sleep.

Return to the Lineup

World Focus section

2021 / Taiwan / 127min
Director: Ho Wi Ding
Cast: Austin Lin Bo-hong, Moon Lee, Annie Chen

A still of the movie

When tragedy happens, no one is outsider. A public slashing incident connects a group of young lost souls in Taipei city.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
2021 / Indonesia, Singapore, Germany / 114min
Director: Edwin
Cast: Marthino Lio, Ladya Cheryl

A still of the movie
©Palari Films

Ajo Kawir is a fighter who fears nothing, not even death. His raging urge to fight is driven by a secret―his impotence. Tokyo Gap-Financing Market 2020 Selected Project.

Return to the Lineup

TIFF Series section

Folklore 2: The Excursion
2021 / Singapore / 48min
Director: Nicole Midori Woodford
Cast: Mindee Ong, Darren Lim, Ethan Ng Kai En

A still of the movie
©2021 HBO Pacific Partners, v.o.f Folklore is a service mark of HBO Pacific Partners, v.o.f. All rights reserved.

A troubled mother brings her son on an excursion to the beach after their family tragically unravels. At the edge of the sea, a horrifying truth awaits.

Folklore 2: The Day the Wind Blew
2021 / Japan / 55min
Director: MATSUDA Seiko

A still of the movie
©2021 HBO Pacific Partners, v.o.f Folklore is a service mark of HBO Pacific Partners, v.o.f. All rights reserved.

Matsuda Seiko's directorial debut. A tale of a schoolgirl who meets the man of her dreams―her idol. But something seems amiss and her fairy tale is destined for a hellish end.

Fragrance of the First Flower
2021 / Taiwan / 102min
Director: Angel I-Han Teng
Cast: ZaiZai Lin, Lyan Chen, Lee Yi

A still of the movie
©Portico Media Co., Ltd

Fragrance of the First Flower reveals the love and lust between two women, the conflicts between gay family and tradiditional stereotypes. It finds back the forgotten love with a romantic touch.

Return to the Lineup

Outline of the 34th Tokyo International Film Festival

Dates Saturday, October 30 to Monday, November 8, 2021
Venues Hibiya-Yurakucho-Ginza area and other venues in Tokyo
Hosted by UNIJAPAN (34th Tokyo International Film Festival Executive Committee)
Co-Hosted by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry / The Japan Foundation Asia Center (Film Culture Exchange Projects between Japan and Asian countries) / Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Competition section and Youth section)
Official site 34th Tokyo International Film Festival