Preview Feature: Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season Eight

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CHICAGO – One of the most successful ongoing film festivals is Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC). Facilitated by founder and veteran film programmer Sophia Wong Bocchio, the fest anticipates Season Eight with another amazing line-up of films from Japan, Mongolia, Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Indonesia and South Korea.

The format for the Spring 2019 APUC is going through a change … instead of spreading films out to once a week, there will be multiple films each week, equalling a shorter calendar season. Many of the weeks will focus on one country, and as always there will be opportunities to meet the filmmakers and participate in post screening discussions (Patrick McDonald of is on board to host Q&As March 27th and 28th). And besides the Chicago screenings taking place at AMC River East 21, the Heritage Museum of Asian Art, the Alliance Francaise de Chicago, the Joffrey Ballet studio and the suburban Wilmette Theater will also screen films.

APUC Opening Night Film for Season Eight is ‘Fly Me to the Saitama’
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The following are Season Eight, Spring 2019 Highlights…

StarOPENING NIGHT: Fly Me to the Saitama (Japan)

The APUC opener is an adaptation of a 1980s manga about an alternative-universe rebellion by the natives of the capital’s much mocked suburb. The film is packed with in-jokes targeting the title location, and the filmmaker also nimbly crosses cultural barriers, this time with hick-versus-city-slicker comedy that anyone who has ever been either can understand. North American Premiere. March 12th (7pm) AMC River East … Q&A with director Hideki Takeuchi.

StarFunan (Cambodia)

This Chicago Premiere is a co-presentation of APUC and the Festival de la Francophonie 2019. Written and directed by Denis Do, this animated film is set in 1975, during the Khmer Rouge revolution. A young Cambodian mother named Chou is fighting for her own survival and is looking for her 4-year-old son, who was taken away from her by the regime. March 21st (6:30pm) Alliance Francaise de Chicago … Guest speaker is Cambodian-born filmmaker Kai-Doc Luong.

StarSen Sen (Taiwan)

When Sen’s older brother passes away, he copes with the loss by sifting through what his brother left behind … a mobile phone. Sen discovers that his brother had a unique hobby of following a live stream of an elderly cab driver known simply as Granny. She has three months to live, and she will live by live-streaming those final days. Sen and Granny develop an unexpected online bond as they both face the reality of death. U.S. Premiere! March 27th (7pm) AMC River East … Patrick McDonald will moderate a Q&A with director Bon An and actress Nina Paw Hee-ching (who is being honored by APUC and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in New York City).

APUC Season Eight & Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office Honors Actress Nina Paw Hee-ching
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StarFour Springs (China)

Filmed in the remote town of Dushan in southwest China over the course of four years, “Four Springs” captures the flow of life and everyday routines of the director’s own parents. We follow the rhythm of their daily chores, hobbies, walks in nature, family and friends visits, reunions and departures. Their optimism, good humor, resilience and acceptance shine through, even in the face of irretrievable loss. Chicago Premiere. April 7th (2pm & 5pm) Heritage Museum of Asian Art … Q&A with director Lu-Qing-yi.

StarThe Pension (South Korea)

Four dramatic and moving stories take place at a hotel called the Pension: parents coping with their daughter’s death; a husband and wife hoping to rekindle their marriage; a woman who insists on staying in a particular room; and the substitute manager of the Pension inviting his girlfriend over for the evening. U.S. Premiere! April 16th (7pm) AMC River East … Q&A with director Jeonghuh Deok-jae (who directs the last story).

StarCLOSING NIGHT FILM: Tracey (Hong Kong)

Tung is a middle-aged married man and father who works in a modest eyewear store he owns. A phone call about an old high-school friend’s death triggers Tung to look back on his past, and a painful wish for a different past … that may change his future. Chicago Premiere. April 24th (7pm) AMC River East … Q&A with director Jun Li.

Season Eight of the Asian Pop-Up Cinema opens with “Fly Me to the Saitama.” on March 12th, 2019 (7pm), at the AMC River East 21, 322 East Illinois Street, Chicago. Director Hideki Takeuchi will make an appearance on behalf of the film. For a complete overview on Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season Eight, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald,

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