4 Must-See Narrative Features at CAAMFest 2015

CAAMFest opens today with a showing of Seoul Searching, a coming-of-age comedy that premiered to positive reviews at this year’s Sundance in January. Much to my disappointment, I won’t be able to attend tonight’s viewing, though I hope some of you will get to. But I do have recommendations for four other narrative features you should make sure to catch this festival!

(Movie descriptions from the CAAMFest website)

0.5 mm

Still from the movie 0.5 mm0.5 mm follows the journey of Sawa (Ando Sakura) a caregiver for the elderly, as she survives by way of enigmatic relationships with old men who test her moral standards. Constantly being subjected to blatant sexism and patriarchy, her astute resiliency eventually leads her full circle.

0.5 mm is part of the festival’s CinemAsia category, which features movies from the international Asian scene. This Japanese drama was perhaps the most well-made film of the ones I previewed this year, and my clear favorite. It is both grave and funny, and Ando Sakura gives an excellent performance. Also, at over three hours long, 0.5 mm is good bang for the buck. Unfortunately, the movie is showing only once at the festival, so if you’re not able to make it to Sundance Kabuki Cinemas on March 15 at 5:10 pm, you’ll have to find this film elsewhere.

Partners in Crime

Still from the movie Partners in Crime

The inadvertent discovery of a schoolmate’s body entwines the otherwise disparate lives of three teenagers as they search for clues of the alleged suicide. A dark tale of adolescent friendship, personal secrets and public tragedies in the second feature of TOUCH OF THE LIGHT’s (CAAMFest ’13) director Chang Jung-chi.

The Taiwanese film Partners in Crime is also part of CAAMFest’s CinemAsia category. From the moment it began, I didn’t want to stop watching this gripping high school thriller. More than simply suspenseful, the movie also probes the nature of loneliness, friendship, and public “knowledge.” You have two chances to see Partners in Crime, but hurry–one of those opportunities is tomorrow, March 13, at 9:40 pm. The other is Monday, March 16, at 9:20 pm. Both showings are at Sundance Kabuki.

Man Up

Still from the movie Man UpTwo young deadbeats are forced to grow up quickly and have their friendship tested when unemployed and unschooled 19-year-old Martin (Kevin Wu) finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. This comedic and eccentric film marks the directorial feature film debut of co-star Justin Chon, who plays Martin’s overeager best friend, Randall.

Man Up is competing in the festival’s Comcast Narrative Competition, where a panel of jurors determine the competition winner. I didn’t expect to like this film at first, but the unique cinematography and irresistible humor won me over. Inheritors of Dumb and Dumber and Dude, Where’s My Car?, Man Up is a fresh buddy comedy that will have you snorting in your seat. Catch it tomorrow, March 13, at 9:45 pm or Sunday, March 15, at 12:10 pm. Both San Francisco showings are at New People Cinema. Alternatively, if you live in the East Bay, you can watch it at the New Parkway Theater on Saturday, March 21, at 5:30 pm.


Still from the movie Cicada

As a schoolteacher, Jumpei is surrounded by kids and adults who haven’t quite grown up. When Jumpei finds out he’s infertile, he’s given an opportunity to deepen his relationships with the big and little kids that already surround him every day.

Another competition movie, Cicada seems to me a quintessentially Japanese film. It is quirky and philosophical, melancholy and humorous, awkward and graceful. It also has a lesson to teach, but it might not be the one you expect. There are two San Francisco showings–one at New People tomorrow, March 13, at 5:10 pm, and one at Sundance Kabuki on Wednesday, March 18, at 6:30 pm. East Bay audiences can watch Cicada at Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive on Saturday, March 14, at 8:15 pm.