Asian Pop-Up Cinema unveils full schedule for 10th season

Asian Pop-Up Cinema is thrilled to announce the full line-up for its 10th Season by celebrating with 16 new films from Asia.

Many of these will feature the top actors and directors who are scheduled to visit our city as guests of the non-profit pan-Asian film organization, Sophia’s Choice.

Season Ten runs for five-weeks from March 10 through April 9, 2020. Each week will be dedicated to highlighting films from the same geographic location with one film shown on different days each week.

A majority of the screenings will be presented at the festival’s primary venue, AMC River East 21. Select titles are screened at collaborative partners’ premises: Chicago Filmmakers, Alliance Française de Chicago, and the Chinese American Museum.

Asian Pop-Up Cinema’s Season Ten opens by honoring Hong Kong filmmaking with two North American Premieres starting with i’m livin’ it on March 10.

Nominated for ten awards from the 39th Hong Kong Film Awards, i’m livin’ it, tells the story of a man who was once a star in his finance firm (Aaron Kwok), but now spends his life in a 24-hour fast-food joint living with other homeless roommates striving to encourage each other. Best new director nominee Wong Hing Fan and actress Kathy Wu will attend the premiere.

The 2nd North American Premiere on March 11, A Witness Out of The Blue, nominated for 6 Awards, is a classic whodunit where a detective relies on a not-so-human witness to catch the killer.

Actor Philip Keung, nominee for the Best Supporting Actor, will receive Asian Pop-Up Cinema’s Bright Star Award. Director Fung Chih-chiang will be receiving the award on his behalf.

Programming from Hong Kong continues with two comedies making their Chicago Premieres. First Night Nerves, which Variety describes as an “a homage to drama-queen actresses plays like a cross between Crazy Rich Asians and Feud,” was directed by Stanley Kwan, one of the few directors in Asia renown for making films about gender roles and sexuality.

First Night Nerves will be followed by Men on the Dragon, portraying four middle-aged men each dealing with their personal crisis while training in a dragon boat race.

Leading this season’s mainland Chinese production is helmed by 5th generation director Liu Miaomiao’s Red Flowers and Green Leaves on March 18, a tender love story that takes place in China’s northwestern region where Chinese Muslims live. Next are two indie films made by young filmmakers that have earned European festival nods: 3 Adventures of Brooke, a Venice Film Festival selection, and Vanishing Days, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival Forum.

Included in the mix is a cross-continental production of A Touch of Spring (Quebec/China), with Chinese-Canadian director He Xiaodan is scheduled to attend.

The Centerpiece film on March 25 is in honor of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi.

We Are Champions, from Taiwan, portrays two teenage brothers with nothing but each other, hope to change their fate through their love of basketball – yet they cross paths on their way to ultimate basketball glory — the HBL championship.

Both actors Fandy Fan and Berant Zhu will receive the Bright Star Award from Asian Pop Up Cinema.

The second Taiwanese film, Detention, is a psychological horror film set in 1960s Taiwan under martial law, “represents a significant milestone in Taiwan’s reckoning with its authoritarian past.” (Cinema Escapist 12/2/2019)

Season Ten then segues to honor South Korea, with a Chicago Premiere of Vertigo on April 1, about a unique romance between a female graphic designer suffering from vertigo and a male skyscraper window cleaner.

The U.S. Premiere of Paper Flower, the story of an old funeral director who helps the homeless set up a memorial service of a local noodle shop owner against City Hall’s rules, follows on on April 2.

Both Directors will be at their screenings.

One of the country’s most respected actors, credited in more than 130 films during his career of over 60 years, Ahn Sung-Ki of Paper Flower will accept festival’s Career Achievement Award before the feature presentation.

Next up is Japan’ indie film, Life Finds A Way on April 4 at Chicago Filmmakers. A director struggles with every artist’s creative crisis: what should his next film be about? Chicago’s independent filmmaking community will hear first-hand from the director and screenwriter Hirobumi Watanabe about this relatable film.

The historical drama, Samurai Marathon 1855, premieres in Chicago on April 8. Directed by Britain’s Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved), with producer Jeremy Thomas and composer Philip Glass, the film takes place during the feudal era and is inspired by a historical race said to have been the origin of marathons in Japan.

Closing Night April 9 features the U.S. Premiere of Shape of Red with director Yukiko Mishima in attendance.

Based on the novel Red, by female author Rio Shimamoto, a married woman has a love affair with an old boyfriend and has to make a difficult choice.

Japan Senior Film Critic at The Japan Times, Mark Schilling, returns this season to moderate the Q&A discussion with the directors for the last three movies at the festival.

“2020 is our first 5th anniversary,” says Founder and Executive Director of Asian Pop-Up Cinema, Sophia Wong Boccio. “Together with our peers around the world championing foreign language films, we are super excited with South Korea’s Parasite, first non-English film to ever win Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards. We look forward to attracting wider American audiences to our specially curated program that promises to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.”

Film details, trailers and ticketing for each screening, plus information on special guests, are below and available at

Confirmed guests

Hong Kong
   Wong Hing Fan (director) i’m livin’ it
   Kathy Wu (actress) i’m livin’ it
   Fung Chih-chiang (director) A Witness Out of the Blue

   Xiaodan He (director) A Touch of Spring

   Rachel Chen (producer) We Are Champions
   Berant Zhu (actor) We Are Champions and Recipient of Bright Star Award
   Lee Yuan-yuan (Assistant to Zhu) We are Champions

South Korea
   Gye-soo Jeon, (director) Vertigo
   Koh Hoon, (director) Paper Flower
   Ahn Sung Ki (actor) Paper Flower and Recipient of Career Achievement Award

   Hirobumi Watanabe (writer/director/actor) Life Finds A Way
   Yukiko Mishima (director) Shape of Red


All films are shown in their original language with English subtitles. Post-screenings discussion will be led by Ron Falzone, Associate Professor of Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia College Chicago or by Mark Schilling, senior film critic of Japan Times or Sophia Wong Boccio, Asian Pop-Up Cinema Founder and Executive Director.

Tickets for Asian Pop-Up Cinema – Season Ten are on sale now; individual tickets are $10. A limited number of free tickets are available to students on a first-come, first-served basis. All Season Passes (AMC River East 21 screenings only) are available at a discounted rate of $100 with reserved seating for the entire season.

For tickets and additional info click here.