Asian Pop-up Cinema season 13 celebrates best Asian-centric cinema

Asian Pop-Up Cinema: Season 13 will present 30 films at an in-person and drive-in festival, with select titles available for online streaming. The festival opens September 15 through October 12, at AMC River East 21, The Davis Theater and ChiTown Drive-In.

The programming celebrates the best Asian-centric cinema, with new work made by filmmakers from China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the U.S. and Canada. This season will highlight women in film, stories with humanitarian themes and action thrillers, including four restored martial arts classics.

Season 13 opens with Jessica Kingdon’s ASCENSION, a documentary observing China’s growing class divide through labor, consumerism, and wealth. Structured in three parts, the film ascends through the levels of the capitalist structure and examines how the contemporary “Chinese Dream” remains an elusive fantasy for most.Centerpiece film THE FABLE: THE KILLER WHO DOESN’T KILL is Japanese director Kan Eguchi’s action/comedy follow-up to THE FABLE, a story about an assassin with a double life. Based on the Manga series by Katsuhisa Minami, the film on action direction duties are star Junichi Okada himself working as stunt coordinator, and action director Makoto Yokoyama (best known for POWER RANGERS and TOKYO GHOUL) at the helm.  For folks who missed the original FABLE (2019) that outclassed most action films in the same year with its fight choreography by French stunt master Alain Figlarz (best known for THE BORNE IDENTITY, TAKEN 2) and Jackie Chen’s action stunt team, it will be available to watch online as part of Season 13’s virtual program.   

Closing Night will take viewers to Soi Cheang’s striking dystopian vision of Hong Kong in LIMBO, which had its world premiere at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival in March this year.  The film stars this season’s Career Achievement Award recipient Lam Ka Tung. An award-winning versatile actor best known for FIRESTORM (2013), and TRIVISA (2016), Lam will also appear in the festival screening of HAND ROLLED CIGARETTE, a neo-noir crime drama from first-time director Chan Kin Long.  Lam is also the producer of TIME, a surprisingly pleasant black comedy about the loneliness of the elderly, that reunited Hong Kong 1960’s stars Patrick Tse and Petrina Fung.  

Female-directed features include Natsuki Seta’s coming-of-age story GEORAMA BOY, PANORAMA GIRL, an unconventional take on teen love in contemporary Japan. From South Korea, Kim Mi-Jo’s GULL tells the story of a 60-year-old’s sexual assault, a moving drama about women in a male-dominated society. ANIMA, the impressive directorial debut from China’s Cao Jinling, explores the intrinsic link between Mother Earth and man. Lastly, Hong Kong writer, Erica Li, longtime collaborator with directors like Herman Yau and Stephen Chow for scripts from comedy to action, is debuting as the director with JUST 1 DAY adapted from her own novel.  

The festival will spotlight films with humanitarian themes, including Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang’s timely documentary on the beginnings of the coronavirus. WUHAN WUHAN goes beyond the statistics, telling personal stories about the early days of the mysterious, silent killer that sparked a global pandemic. Life and death are also at the forefront in Hiroshi Kurosaki’s WWII-set GIFT OF FIRE, based on a true story of a young researcher’s internal battles as he helps develop Japan’s atomic bomb starring Yuya Yagira and the late Haruma Miura and music by American composer Nico Muhly. From China’s master director Jia Zhang-ke comes a vital document of Chinese society since 1949 in the documentary SWIMMING OUT TILL THE SUN TURNS BLUE.  

This season will celebrate masterful cinema by Kung Hu with four restored classics DRAGON INN, LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN, RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN and A TOUCH OF ZEN, with the most impactful DRAGON INNshowing on the big screen at the Drive-in.  

Last, but not the least, the festival is proud to present the world premiere of Hong Kong’s THE DISHWASHER SQUAD, a heart-warming comedy that guarantees to be uplifting and crowd-pleasing.    

“Keeping up with our eclectic programming, I truly believe that we have another season with a diverse mix of films for people to choose and enjoy,” said Sophia Wong Boccio, festival director of Asian Pop-Up Cinema.  Also, the festival is going hybrid for good. “This coming season people can watch our films in the cinema, at our cultural partners’ screening rooms, at a drive-in – that also allows walk-ups with their own folding chairs – and virtually online.  Going online in 2020 was an opportunity to lay the groundwork for the future “APUC On Tour” accompanied by the filmmakers visiting from Asia. But showing films physically in a cinema or at a drive-in for people to meet and watch films on the big screen will always be the heart of the festival!”


Full Schedule and Film Details


Opening Night of Season 13
Wednesday, September 15, 7:00 PM at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)
ASCENSION (Jessica Kingdon, 2021) – US/China

Thursday, September 16, 7:00 PM at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)
GIFT OF FIRE (Kurosaki Hiroshi, 2020) U.S. Premiere – Japan

Tuesday, September 21, 7:00 PM at Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave)
ANIMA (Cao Jinling, 2021) – China

Wednesday, September 22, 7:00 PM at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)
ESCAPE FROM MOGADISHU (Ryoo Seung-wan, 2021) – South Korea

Thursday, September 23, 7:00 PM at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)
THREE (Pak Rusian, 2020) N. American Premiere – Kazakhstan/South Korea/ Uzbekistan

Friday, September 24, 11:00 AM at Korean Culture Center of Chicago (9930 Capital Drive, Wheeling, IL)
GO BACK (SEO Eun-young, 2020) South Korea – Free Admission

Saturday, September 25, 2:00 PM at Tower Auditorium of Illinois Institute of Technology (10 W. 35th Street)

Centerpiece for Season 13

Thursday, September 30, 7:00 PM at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)

Thursday, October 7, 7:00 PM at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois)
YOU ARE NOT NORMAL, EITHER (Koji Maeda, 2021) N. American Premiere – Japan

Saturday, October 9, 2:00 PM at Chinese American Museum (328 W. 23rd Street)
WUHAN WUHAN (Yung Chang, 2021) – Canada/China

ChiTown Movies (2343 S. Throop) at sunset (8:00 – 8:30PM) 
Kicking off with 6 films screenings at the Drive-In

Monday, September 27 – World Premiere
THE DISHWASHER SQUAD (Shum Sek-Yin, 2021) – Hong Kong

Tuesday, September 28
DRAGON INN (King Hu, 1967) – Taiwan

Wednesday, September 29
JUST 1 DAY (Erica Li, 2021) U.S. Premiere – Hong Kong

Tuesday, October 5
TIME (Ricky Ko, 2020) – Hong Kong

Wednesday, October 6
HAND ROLLED CIGARETTE (Chan Kin Long, 2020) – Hong Kong

Closing Night for Season 13

Tuesday, October 12
LIMBO (Soi Cheong, 2021) – Hong Kong


Wednesday, September 15 – Tuesday, September 21

WHERE IS PINKI (Prithvi Konanur, 2020) – India

DRIFTING (Jun Li, 2021) – Hong Kong

GULL (Kim Mi-jo, 2021) – South Korea

NEVER STOP (Bowen Han, 2021) – China

Wednesday, September 22 – Tuesday, September 28 
Martial Arts Restored Classics

A TOUCH OF ZEN (King Hu, 1971) – Taiwan

DRAGON INN (King Hu, 1967) – Taiwan

RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN (King Hu, 1979) – Taiwan

LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN (King Hu, 1979) – Taiwan

Wednesday, September 29 – Tuesday, October 5

BEAUTY WATER (Cho Kyung-hun, 2020) – South Korea

THE WAY WE KEEP DANCING (Adam Wong, 2020) – Hong Kong

THE FABLE (Kan Eguchi, 2019) – Japan

LOVE, LIFE AND GOLDFISH (Yukinori Makabe, 2021) U.S. Premiere – Japan

Wednesday, October 6 – Tuesday, October 12 

WUHAN WUHAN (Yung Chang, 2021) – Canada/China

ITO (ITOMICHI) (Yokohama Satoko, 2021) – Japan

THE REUNIONS (Da Peng, 2020) U.S. Premiere – China

GEORAMA BOY, PANORAMA GIRL (Natsuki Seta, 2020) – Japan

Tickets for Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season 13 

In Cinema:  $15/Adults/$12/Seniors/$10/students or FREE

Email with proof to pick up your promo codes)

Drive-in:  $25/vehicle or $15 walk-ups/own folding chairs

APUC13 Virtual: $10 per rental

Buy tickets online by clicking to the film pages on