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Sunday, June 17, 2012

10 great Father's Day films that you might not have seen

Today is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day, dad. Dad is going to be at a TV shoot today, accompanied by Mom and my sister, it's going to be a good one. (my dad is a judge in a AMERICAN IDOL-like Chinese singing show, however, unlike idol, the contestants are restricted to 45 and above. Quite a popular show that recently turned my dad into a celebrity of sorts)

Since my lifelong love for cinema was influenced by Dad, and I would never been a filmmaker if he were indifferent towards films, I think it's fitting that I try to commemorate this day by listing out a number of great Father's Day films that you might not have seen (I know I haven't).

To make things simpler for me, I'm restricting this list to only Asian films. (I'll do another list if this goes well, haha)

I will kick this list off with a highly recommended film. It's an award-winning melancholic tale of a father and son, where the son finds his own fate increasingly similar to his own father's when it comes to matters of romance.

It's a Malaysian film.

I produced and edited it.

1) WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER 遗情 (2009) by Woo Ming Jin

To watch the entire film, you can find it somewhere... online.

Um, now I'm done with the shameless plug, let's move on to the rest of the list.

All these are films recommended to me by friends when I asked for help on Twitter and Facebook last night.

Yasujiro Ozu's films were actually mentioned a few times. Aside from his classic, TOKYO STORY, I have to admit that I haven't seen any of his other films before! A crime, really.

So, from Samantha Culp via Twitter:

2) LATE SPRING 晩春 (1947) by Yasujiro Ozu

Producer Kousuke Ono (he's also the executive producer of my short film EXHALATION) recommended two Ozu films. They are:

3) THERE WAS A FATHER 父ありき (1942) by Yasujiro Ozu

4) THE ONLY SON ひとり息子 (1936) by Ozu

This is the first ever sound film by Ozu, and reading about it, I realized it sounded more like a Mother-Son story, but then, the "son" himself is a father, and many of his actions were seemingly prompted due to his responsibilities as a father, so I'll leave this film in as well.

After that, Roger Garcia, director of Hong Kong International Film Festival, recommended these three Hong Kong films:

5) FATHER AND SON 父子情 (1981) by Allen Fong

I wanted to just find a clip on Youtube, but I couldn't. The entire film is available though (Cantonese only).

(Mandarin version here)

6) THE IMP 兇榜 (1981) by Dennis Yu

From what I read about this supernatural horror/ thriller, it seems that it can be interpreted as a film about a man's anxiety about fatherhood... (kinda like David Lynch's ERASERHEAD.) Here's the entire film, Cantonese only though.

7) MAD MONKEY KUNG FU (1979) by Lau Kar Leung

Not all films are about fathers and sons related by blood. Surrogate fathers are allowed too. In martial arts or wuxia films, the relationship between a "sifu" (master) and his (usually orphaned) disciple is similar to a father-son relationship, sometimes, it's even stronger.

Here's a training montage from the film. I love old-school training montages in kung fu films.

Niklas Kullstrom (cinematographer of my rare and utterly underrated experimental short film THE WHITE FLOWER) recommended a Japanese film about surrogate fathers as well:

8) KIKUJIRO (1999) by Takeshi Kitano

Haven't seen it. But the Joe Hisaishi music is totally familiar.

Miho Matsugu recommended an Oscar-nominated Japanese film:

9) TWILIGHT SAMURAI (2002) by Yoji Yamada

I will round off the list with a film that I have actually seen.

When searching for Father's Day films, I am so used to looking for Father-Son films that I end up forgetting that Father-Daughter films count too.

So here's my favourite Chinese-language film by Ang Lee:


I almost forgot about him until New Zealand-based Chinese filmmaker Beyond Wen suggested WEDDING BANQUET on Facebook!

(A quasi-sequel of the film called EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN: JOYFUL REUNION, or just JOYFUL REUNION, came out this year and premiered at the Berlin Film Fest. It's by the same producer. I'm a little intrigued.)

How about you folks? Are there any Father's Day films that you really love or recommend?