Illinois State University will celebrate its rich cultural diversity with the 2017 Asian Film Festival co-organized by AsiaConnect and the College of Fine Arts on Wednesday, April 12, and Saturday, April 15, at the Normal Theater.

All showings are free and open to the public, courtesy of an Illinois Prairie Community Foundation grant and sponsorship from the College of Fine Arts. This year’s theme is “Coming of Age.”

Celebrating Asian-American Heritage Month, the group will showcase four globally lauded movies from Iran, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam.

April 12
6 p.m.
The Color of Paradise (1999, Iran).

The film portrays the compassionate story of a blind boy, Mohammed, who loves his life in the village. He values the simple things in life and despite his conditions, lives life to the fullest. While Mohammed is away spending his summer break with his grandparents, his father decides to re-marry and considers abandoning Mohammed. Director Majid Majidi, brilliantly presents this work of art that depicts the underlying tension between the father-son duo and shows the heartwarming journey of Mohammed.

8 p.m.
How to Win at Checkers Every Time (2016, Thailand)
Based on the bestselling book Sightseeing, the film revolves around two young boys, Oat and his older brother. After losing both their parents at a young age, both kids move in with their aunt. When his brother is compelled to submit to Thailand’s annual military draft lottery, Oat tries to prevent his brother from being recruited. This gives rise to unexpected consequences. Set against the backdrop of contemporary Thailand, it shows the extraordinary journey of the two boys.

April 15
1 p.m.
The Boy and the Beast (2016, Japan)
This fantasy anime is the story about a young boy named Kyuta. Orphaned after his mother’s death, Kyuta finds himself on the streets of Shibhuya in Tokyo. As fate would have it, Kyuta is being taken by Kumatetsu, a grumpy and lazy warrior beast as an apprentice to learn Kendu, a Japanese martial art. During the eight years of this training, they slowly form a bond as surrogate father and son. The bond between this unlikely pair will be put to the test when a dark secret threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into turmoil. A masterpiece by award-winning director Mamoru Hosoda.

7 p.m.
Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass (2015, Vietnam)
Set in Vietnam in 1989, the film explores the relationship between two brothers as they seek to uncover the truth about the myth of the princess of the enchanted forest and the man-eating tiger that guards her. It was the Vietnamese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

Find out more about Asia Connect.