EXCLUSIVE: The New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) has announced a special focus on two Japanese film legends, Ken Takakura (Black Rain) and Bunta Sugawara (Battles Without Honor), who both passed away last November. 

“Both made a career of playing tough yakuza characters, and have been referred to as Japanese equivalents to Clint Eastwood. This will be the first retrospective/tribute outside Japan since they passed away,” NYAFF co-director Samuel Jamier told ScreenDaily.

“With this programme, the festival wants to salute the end of an era, when two superstar actors could be successful both within and outside the studio system.”

The fest will also have a focus on Japanese director Daihachi Yoshida (The Kirishima Thing), as “one of the most vivid, original storytellers from Asia”.

Yoshida will be in New York for the North American premiere of his crime drama Pale Moon, which was in Competition at the Tokyo film festival last October.

In Korean programming this year, NYAFF is planning to put more emphasis on films dealing with social justice issues such as Boo Ji-young’s Cart – with the director in attendance - and Yim Soon-rye’s The Whistleblower.

The fest will also highlight women behind the camera.

NYAFF will have the world premiere of Robbery from Love In Time director Fire Lee, starring Derek Tsang, J. Arie, Lam Suet and Feng Tsui Fan and Philip Keung.

The fest runs June 26-July 11.

NYAFF and Screen International will for the second year present the Screen Rising Star Asia Award. The recipient will be announced next month.