A visual feast of film and cinema in London

Shinjuku, Tokyo © Matt Kieffer for LEAFF film

The London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) 2017 runs from 19-29 October and is a showcase for enchanting stories, insightful discussions and diverse voices from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

The festival will open with Hwang Dong-hyuk’s historical drama The Fortress and will close with Takeshi Kitano’s latest yakuza film Outrage Coda.


The festival is divided into seven main categories: Official Selection; Hong Kong: Now and Then (1997-2017); Stories of Women; Festival Focus; Retrospective; Competition; and Special Highlights.

The over-arching theme, which brings together these diverse categories is ‘time’ and the perception of ‘time’.

Notable anniversaries, which are celebrated at this year’s festival, include the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, and 100 years of Japanese anime.


The film screenings take place at a range of venues, large and small, across London, including Odeon Leicester Square; Picturehouse Central; Empire Haymarket; Regent Street Cinema; Odeon Panton Street; The Soho Hotel; and Rich Mix.


A full programme of the film screenings, dates, times and venues is available online.

The entire festival sees the screening of more than 40 films over eleven days, not to mention various table-talks and Q&As with directors and actors, and even the most ardent movie-goer will be hard-pushed to see every film on offer, but the Official LEAFF Selection is a good starting-point, since it aims to showcase the latest works from some of East Asia’s most distinguished filmmakers.

The Official Selection includes: Anarchist from Colony, directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk; Walking Past the Future, directed by Li Ruijun; Battleship Island, directed by Ryoo Seung-wan; Reset, produced by Jackie Chan and directed by Chang; One Day, directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun; Have a Nice Day, directed by Liu Jian; VIP, directed by Park Hoon-jung; Bhoy Intsik, directed by Joel Lamangan; and Love Off the Cuff, directed by Pang Ho-cheung.

Recommended viewing

Dr Ming-yeh Rawnsley, lecturer at the Centre of Taiwan Studies, SOAS University of London has studied media and cinema in Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China and the UK.  She gives her recommendations from the festival programme:

“I would recommend Small Talk and The Receptionist.  Both films are from Taiwan.  They demonstrate how new talents in Taiwan are able to use limited resources to tackle difficult social issues in their cinematic output.”

Small Talk is screened at the Regent Street Cinema at 6PM on 24 October, and is followed by a Q&A with director Huang Hui-chen.  In a double-bill, the film is followed at the same venue by The Receptionist, which starts at 8:45PM.

For aficionados of film and cinema, the Guardian has recently published a list of non-western films that every student should see, as recommended by university lecturers.

In the Guardian list, Dr Lindiwe Dovey, Reader in Screen Arts and Industries at SOAS recommends Black Girl, directed by Ousmane Sembene, one of the first films made in sub-Saharan Africa by an African director, and which has a story every bit as relevant today as when it was first produced in 1966.

Want to learn more?

SOAS University of London offers a wide range of modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level on film and cinema.  These include:

Find out more



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