Asian Pop-Up Cinema returns to Chicago September 12

Features seventeen films from
across the Asian continents,
presents premieres including
Japanese zombie comedy “One
Cut of the Dead” as Closing
Night — tickets on sale now

(Chicago — 13 August 2018) — Non-profit pan-Asian film organization Sophia’s Choice today announces Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Seven, the fall film series presenting seventeen films from across Asia, from September 12 through November 14, 2018. The series includes eight films screened at AMC River East 21, including special guests and post-film discussions; an additional nine films will be presented free in conjunction with cultural and community partners. A complete list of films, screening dates and ticket information is below and available at

Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Seven opens on Wednesday, September 12 with the North American premiere of Adulthood, a Korean film from first-time director Kim In-seon. The film follows a plucky fourteen-year-old girl (Lee Jae-in) who conspires with her con-man uncle to scam innocent people out of their money. Kim and Lee will be in attendance at Opening Night, with Lee slated to receive the ADG Bright Star Award that evening.



Following Opening Night, the season presents seven more new films over the next two months, including: Smaller & Smaller Circles​ (Philippines) on September 19; Sad Beauty​ (Thailand), a New York Asian Film Festival official selection, on September 26; Concerto of the Bully ​and When Sun Meets Moon (both Hong Kong) in a double-feature Centerpiece presentation sponsored by HKETO NY on October 2 and 3, respectively; Walking Past the Future (China) on October 24; and Dear Ex ​(Taiwan) on Thursday, November 8.

Closing Night on Wednesday, November 14 features the Chicago premiere of the acclaimed new movie One Cut of the Dead​, the Japanese film written and directed by Shinichiro Ueda that Indiewire has called “the best zombie comedy since Shaun of the Dead.” Film details, trailers and ticketing for each screening, plus information on special guests, are available at

Alongside this series of the most acclaimed new Asian cinema, the organization presents eight free community screenings in partnership with select cultural organizations across the city.

These include Namiya​ (China), presented with Chicago DCASE and the Chicago Film office on September 25; Singing with Angry Bird (South Korea/India) on September 28; Any Way the Wind Blows​ (Japan) on October 6; Ritoma (Hong Kong) on October 26; Made in Vietnam​ (Canada/Vietnam) on October 27; and a special presentation of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s sweeping, five-hour relationship drama Happy Hour​ (Japan) on November 11. All community screenings are free and open to the public; advanced RSVP requested on the film festival website.

Additionally, in conjunction with the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Japan Foundation Asia Center, Asian Pop-Up Cinema presents the North American premiere of ​Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections​, a program of three featurettes that present a diverse yet cohesive exploration of Asian cinema by three globally acclaimed directors from the Philippines, Japan and Cambodia.

All told, Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Seven will present seventeen films from every corner of the Asian continent, many of them making their Chicago debut and all of them exceptional examples of international filmmaking and diverse programming, from comedy and romance to drama and documentary.

From Sophia Wong Boccio, founder and executive-artistic director of Asian Pop-Up Cinema: “Since our inaugural season in the fall of 2015, and after 100 plus screenings, we are excited to present another diverse and entertaining program that reflects contemporary society and cinema across Asia.

Season Seven will include four North American premieres, four U.S. premieres and six Midwest/Chicago premieres. For the first time, the lineup includes three exceptional documentaries, respectively set in remote villages on the Tibetan plateau, in India and in Vietnam. Thanks to our generous sponsors, co-presenters and cultural partners, nine of the 17 films this season are presented free and open to the public.

“This season also sees our largest lineup yet of special guests attending with their films. Their in-person discussions are certain to help attendees better understand traditional and contemporary Asian culture and the issues, challenges, hopes and aspirations in their respective countries.”

Special guests scheduled to attend this year include (visit for an up-to-date list of special guests):

Kim In-seon ​and Lee Jae-in, ​director and star (respectively) of Adulthood

Lee Jae-in will be honored with the ADG Bright Star Award for achievement in acting
Raya Martin​, director of Smaller and Smaller Circles

Bongkod Bencharongkul​, director of Sad Beauty

Fung Chih-Chiang​ and Chet Chan​, director and art director (respectively) of Concerto of the Bully

Lee Rui-jin​ and Zhang Min​, director and producer (respectively) of Walking Past the Future

Hsu Chih-yen​, director of Dear Ex

Takayuki Hamatsu​, star of One Cut of the Dead

Tickets for Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Seven are on sale now; individual tickets range from $13-$15, with discounts available for seniors and students. A limited number of free tickets are available to students on a first-come, first-served basis; for these and all free community screenings, advanced online RSVP is required at


Wednesday, September 12, 7:00 PM ​@ AMC River East 21 | Opening Night​ | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Adulthood ​(어른도감​)
South Korea | 2017 | Korean w/ English subtitles
Directed by: Kim In-seon | Starring: Um Tae-goo, Lee Jae-in, Seo Jeong-yeon
Special Guests: Kim In-seon, Lee Jae-in
This is the story of Kyung-un, a strong, plucky fourteen-year-old, and her never-really-grown-up uncle. At her father’s funeral, Kyung-un meets her uncle Jae-min for the first time. Jae-min, a sweet-talker living off of older ladies’ money, manages to con his niece out of her father’s insurance money. To get her money back, Kyung-un agrees to play Jae-min’s daughter so he can earn the trust of his next victim, a lonely pharmacist. As the scheme thickens, the relationships among these three characters changes in unexpected ways.

Wednesday, September 19, 7:00 PM ​@ AMC River East 21 | U.S. PREMIERE
Smaller and Smaller Circles
Philippines | 2017 | English and Tagalog w/ English subtitles
Director: Raya Martin | Starring: Nonie Buencamino, Sid Lucero, Bembol Roco, Carla Humphries
Special Guest: Raya Martin
On the first Saturday of every month, a serial-killer kidnaps and mutilates street children in the slums of Manila. But in a city of millions of people, nobody cares about a victim who’s just one more nameless kid. With the help of journalist Joanna Bonifacio, Father Gus and his colleague Father Jerome investigate the murders. Adapted from the award-winning, bestselling novel of the same name by Filipino author F.H. Batacan, director Martin tells the story of Smaller and Smaller Circles in a “rigorous and precise manner…illustrating the best and worst of human nature.” The film highlights “almost all of the contradictions of the Filipino society, divided in casts and ruled by everlasting hypocrisy….” (Excerpt from screenwriter Ria Limjap and film critic/historian Max Tessier)

Tuesday, September 25, 6:30 PM ​@ Chicago Cultural Center – Claudia Cassidy Theatre
Namiya​ ( 解忧杂货铺​ ) | Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is required.
China | 2017 | Mandarin w/English subtitles
Director: Han Jie | Starring: Jackie Chan, Zijian Dong, Dilraba Dilmurat and Karry Wang
Based on Keigo Higashino’s international bestseller The Miracles of the Namiya General Store, the film follows three orphans on the run who take refuge in a derelict corner store where they find a mysterious letter. Led by Hong Kong megastar Jackie Chan as the store owner, and starring three up-and-coming young stars from China (Dilraba Dilmurat, Dong Zijian and Karry Wong), we follow the trio on an adventure in time, finding unexpected connections with their own past along the way.

Wednesday, September 26, 7:00 PM​ @ AMC River East 21 | MIDWEST PREMIERE
Sad Beauty (​เพอืนฉนั …​ฝนั สลาย)
Thailand | 2018 | Thai w/ English subtitles
Director: Bongkod Bencharongkul | Starring: Florence Faivre, Pakkawadee Pengsuwan
Special Guest: Bongkod Bencharongkul
“Part road movie, part thriller and part drug-fueled psychodrama, Sad Beauty is a brave and unexpectedly personal film about two women’s friendship directed by actress Bongkod Bencharongkul. Florence Faivre stars as a spoiled, insecure supermodel who leans on her put-upon best friend, while simultaneously taking her for granted. After a bloody encounter with a violent stepfather, the two friends experience a harrowing journey into the heart of darkness.” (Excerpt from NYAFF 2018 catalogue)

Friday, September 28​ @ ​Illinois Institute of Technology
Singing with Angry Bird | Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is required.
South Korea/India | 2018 | Documentary | English and Hindi w/ English subtitles
Director: Hye-won Jee
Jae-Chang Kim runs a children’s choir in Pune, India. Although his quick temper earned him the nickname “Angry Bird,” he has made significant changes in the lives of the choir children. But skeptical of the practical value of music education, their parents are reluctant to let them sing. In order to convince them, Angry Bird decides to train the parents with their children for a joint concert, showing them the power of music in bringing families closer together.

Tuesday, October 2, 7:00 PM ​@ AMC River East 21 | CHICAGO PREMIERE
Concerto of the Bully (大樂師.為愛配樂​)
Hong Kong | 2018 | Cantonese w/ English subtitles
Director: Fung Chih-chiang | Art Director: Chet Chan | Starring: Roland Cheng, Cherry Ngan, Philip Keung
Special Guests: Fung Chih-chiang and Chet Chan
Internet songwriter Chow is gifted with an extraordinary retentive memory; she never forgets anything
she’s heard. One day, she’s kidnapped and held on a remote fishing raft, waiting for her pop-singer
boyfriend to pay the ransom. Hoping to use her unique gift to help her flee her captors, Chow offers to
give spiritual music therapy to the maniacal kidnapper…

Wednesday, October 3, 7:00 PM ​@ ​AMC River East 21 | CHICAGO PREMIERE
When Sun Meets Moon​ (​某日某月​)
Hong Kong | 2017 | Cantonese w/ English subtitles
Director: Benny Lau | Starring: Kathy Yuen, Daichi Harashima
In 1992, a heavy rainstorm caused a massive power outage in Hong Kong. On that night, two young astrology enthusiasts, Moon and Sun, met under the starry sky by the seaside. As their affection for each other grows, Sun is admitted to boarding school and soon moves to another country, all according to his father’s plan. Like the sun and moon in the sky, the couple hardly see each other, but their love endures.

Saturday, October 6 ​@ Illinois Institute of Technology | U.S. PREMIERE
Any Way the Wind Blows (東京ウィンドオーケストラ) | Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is required.
Japan | 2016 | Japanese w/ English subtitles
Director: Yuichiro Sakashita
Starring: Miho Nakanishi, Shiori Higuchi, Mantaro Koichi, Kazuya Tachibana, Daisuke Matsuki, Shohei Tanabe
Instead of a famous orchestra, a town hall employee mistakenly invites the lesser-known Tokyo Wind Orchestra to Yakushima island. The ensemble members attempt to leave the island, but the employee is desperate to cover up her error, convincing them to pretend they’re the real deal. This film is the third original film production from Shochiku Broadcasting, which also produced Three Stories of Love by award-winning director Ryōsuke Hashiguchi. Through comedy skits and plenty of wit, first-time film director Sakashita depicts the chaos of the amateur group in the most enjoyable manner.

Please note, Asian Pop-Up Cinema will go dark in mid-October so as not to detract from Chicago International Film Festival programming at AMC River East 21.

Wednesday, October 24, 7:00 PM ​@ AMC River East 21 | MIDWEST PREMIERE
Walking Past the Future (​路過未來​)
China | 2017 | Gansu dialect and Mandarin w/English subtitles
Writer/Director: Lee Rui-jin | Producer: Zhang Min, Lin Jin | Starring: Yang Zi-shan, Yin Fang, Li Qin-qin
Special Guests: Lee Rui-jin and Zhang Min
Yang Yao-ting’s family returns to their village in Gansu after both of her parents are laid off from their jobs in Shenzhen, only to find that life has drastically changed in the village they left 25 years earlier. Hoping to provide her family with a home in the city, Yao-ting returns to Shenzhen to take part in high-risk medical tests at a hospital. The only Chinese film screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Walking Past the Future “a bleak exposé on how the country’s land shortage and economic downturn impacts more than just one generation.” (Maggie Lee, Variety)

Friday, October 26, 7:00 PM ​@ F​ lashpoint Chicago | MIDWEST PREMIERE
Ritoma | Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is required.
Hong Kong/Tibet | 2018 | Documentary | English or Tibetan w/English subtitles
Director: Ruby Yang | Main Characters: Willard (Bill) Johnson, Jampa Dhundup, Dechen Yeshi
On any given day on the vast Tibetan Plateau, nomads herd their yaks and sheep, and monks recite their mantras. Locals also play one of their favorite sports — basketball. The game is so popular, makeshift courts are found in nearly every village. Next to traditional horseback riding, basketball has become a way for young men to work off their aggression and channel their energy. With the introduction of televised NBA games, the nomads of Ritoma have a new strategy for their court game. And when a proper coach arrives from the United States, “slam-dunk” becomes their new mantra. Before long, a new tournament is announced, the first in their region. Can they put together a team that’s good enough to compete? Might they even be able to win?

Saturday, October 27, 2:00 PM​ @ Chinese-American Museum of Chicago | U.S. PREMIERE
Made in Vietnam | Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is required.
Canada/Vietnam | 2017 | Documentary
Director/Cast/Executive Producer: Thi Vo | Cast/3rd Cameraman/Music Producer: Kaleb Tekeste
Thi Vo was a refugee who escaped from Vietnam with his mother when he was only a baby, escaping war and poverty. After fleeing to Hong Kong, they later immigrated to Canada when Thi Vo was just four years old. Thirty years later, he decides to not only find his extended family, but also to locate his father and uncover the mysteries of his past. In this emotional, heartfelt feature documentary, Thi Vo and his friends navigate Vietnam as they search for clues about their backgrounds and connect with people who help them along their way.

Saturday, November 3​ @ Illinois Institute of Technology | NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections | Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is required.
The Asian Three-Fold Mirror project, co-produced between the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Japan Foundation Asia Center, aims to deepen mutual understanding within Asia by showcasing Asian films in Japan, Japanese films in Asia, and by bringing Asian talent to the world through TIFF. Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections is the inaugural series that brings together three globally acclaimed directors to co-create omnibus films with a common theme that reflects on the history and culture of the chosen countries and generates new points of light. Thanks to our co-presenter the Japan Foundation of New York, this is the premiere screening of this acclaimed program outside of Asia.

Thursday, November 8, 7:00 pm​ @ AMC River East 21 | U.S. PREMIERE
Dear Ex (誰先愛上他}​Taiwan | 2018 | Mandarin w/ English subtitles
Directors: Mag Hsu and Hsu Chih-yen | Starring: Roy Chiu and Ying-xuan Hsieh
Special Guest: Hsu Chih-yen (Made possible by Michigan State University)
When her husband dies, a woman and her son discover that the beneficiary of his life insurance policy is actually his male lover. Understandably, the woman reacts with anger and the son with confusion. Gradually, they begin to close in on the man, discovering the life their late husband and father had hidden from them. Triumphant at the 2018 Taipei Film Awards, Dear Ex was awarded best narrative feature, best actress and best actor. Co-directors Mag Hsu and Hsu Chih-yen also won the Press Award for their vision of Taipei from a different perspective.

Note: There is an educational outreach screening of Dear Ex at MSU on Wednesday, November 7. Visit to learn more and RSVP.

Sunday, November 11, 1:00 PM​ @ The Screening Room at the Ambassador Hotel
Happy Hour (​ハッピーアワー​) | Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is required.
Japan | 2016 | Japanese w/ English subtitles | Screened with one intermission
Writer/Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi | Starring: Sachie Tanaka, Hazuki Kikuchi, Maiko Mihara, Rira Kawamura
A powerful affirmation of the immersive potential of cinema, Happy Hour is a slow-burning epic chronicling the emotional journey of four thirty-something women in the misty seaside city of Kobe. As they navigate the unsteady currents of their work, home, and romantic lives, a sudden, unexpected rift opens between them that propels each to a new, richer understanding of life and love. Filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s wise, precisely observed, compulsively watchable drama of friendship and midlife awakening runs over five hours. Yet the leisurely pace is not an indulgence, but a strategy to create a novelistic space for everyday moments to become charged with a possibility that yields a subtle emotional intensity rarely possible in a standard-length film. Happy Hour is far more than just an ordinary melodrama. It is a spectacularly complex and fiercely poetic rendering of the details of daily life in which ideas and feelings are swayed by the unseen forces of friendship and love, and buffeted by the weight of deception, loyalty and tradition.

Wednesday, November 14, 7:00 PM​ @ AMC River East 21 | Closing Night​ | MIDWEST PREMIERE
One Cut of the Dead (​カメラを止めるな​)
Japan | 2018 | 96 Minutes | In Japanese w/ English subtitles
Director: Shinichiro Ueda | Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Harumi Shuhama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Mao
Special Guest: Takayuki Hamatsu
A low-budget film crew about to shoot a zombie movie at a desolate warehouse is suddenly attacked by real zombies. The cruelly uncompromising director forces his resilient producer, faithful male lead, and feisty ingénue to confront the living dead head-on for the sake of capturing it all in one shot, with no consideration for their lives. Purposely built on clichés, One Cut of the Dead is one of the most original genre-bending exploits in years; it’s an exuberant homage that exudes pure passion for filmmaking. Young director Shinichiro Ueda and his cast of non-professionals have created something fresh and entertaining which has become both a massive hit, not just in Japan, but around the world.

About Sophia’s Choice / Asian Pop-Up Cinema
Asian Pop-Up Cinema, a semi-annual Asian Film Festival, is the brainchild of Sophia Wong Boccio, founder of SOPHIA’S CHOICE, Chicago-based 501 C (3) not-for-profit incorporated in the fall of 2015 with the multi-pronged mission of cultivating an interest in and understanding of Asian cultures via a diverse offering of Asian films; connecting the Asian film industry with local Chicago film professionals, educators and students; and promoting Chicago as a destination for international visitors.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Seven Sponsors & Partners
Ambassador Hotel; AMC Independent; Athena Design Group in Chicago; BMO Harris Bank; Century 21 (SGR); Chicago Film Office; Choose Chicago; Consulate General of Canada in Chicago; Consulate General of People’s Republic of China in Chicago; Consulate General of Philippines; Consulate General of Japan in Chicago; Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chicago; Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events of Chicago; Flashpoint Chicago; Hainan Airlines; Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in New York; Hing Kee Restaurant; Illinois Institute of Chicago (Office of Community Affairs); Japan Foundation New York; Japan Information Center of Consulate General of Japan in Chicago; Michigan State University (Asian Studies Center); Ministry of Education (R.O.C. Taiwan); Korea Foundation; Thai-American Association of Illinois; Thai Trade Center Chicago and the Whitehall Hotel.