The 28th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival


LAAPFF unrolls May 10 – 20, 2012 at the Director’s Guild of America (DGA), CGV Cinemas (in Koreatown), and for the first time, the Art Theater in Long Beach.

LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, offering a slate of 188 films by both Asian Pacific American and Asian international directors from over 20 countries. 46 feature films and 142 shorts will be showcased throughout the 10-day fest.  Over the past 28 years, the Festival has presented over 3,500 films and shorts. This year’s Festival will feature many returning filmmakers and producers who continue to make films holding true to their own voices.

Curated programs WHAT,  special presentations and sneak previews of upcoming commercial releases as well as the launch of two new programs for the production of new Asian American content.

LAAPFF”S opening night film, SHANGHAI CALLING is the Los Angeles premier of a film by Daniel Hsia, a 2003 alumnus of Visual Communications’ Armed With A Camera Fellowship. Starring international hearthrob Daniel Henney ((X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE; THREE RIVERS) SHANGHAI CALLING is a romantic comedy about modern-day immigrants living in an unfamiliar land. When an ambitious New York attorney (Daniel Henney) is sent to Shanghai on assignment, he immediately stumbles into a legal mess that could spell the end of his career. But with help from a beautiful relocation specialist, a well-connected foreign businessman, a clever but unassuming journalist, and a street-smart assistant, he might just save his job, discover romance, and finally learn to appreciate the many wonders of Shanghai. This is Hsia’s feature-length directorial debut, and co-stars Eliza Coupe (HAPPY ENDINGS) and Bill Paxton (BIG LOVE, HAYWIRE). Filmmaker, cast and crew to attend screening.

“We are excited to present Hsia’s film as our opening night, says David Magdael, Festival Co-Producer. “As one of one of our talented alums, we are proud to watch him grow as a filmmaker.”

SUNSET STORIES, directed by Silas Howard and Ernesto M. Foronda, will be the festival’s Centerpiece Presentation. Foronda is also a Visual Communications’ Armed With A Camera fellow, and the writer/producer of the 2002 hit, BETTER LUCK TOMORROW. This is Foronda’s feature-length directorial debut. SUNSET STORIES, starring Sung Kang (FAST FIVE; NINJA ASSASSIN) and Monique Curnen (CONTAGION; THE DARK KNIGHT), takes you on a ride of a uniquely L.A. story of love and control. The ensemble dark-comedy follows the night long adventures of nurse May (Curnen) and her missing human tissue donation. SUNSET STORIES had its world premiere at the South By Southwest Film Festival in mid-March.

The festival’s International Centerpiece is the Sundance award-winning VALLEY OF SAINTS, directed by Musa Syeed and produced by Nicholas Bruckman. The film is an India/USA production bringing to the screen the beautiful landscape of Kashmir. Syeed’s lyrical drama (featuring non-pro actors) features an ecological back story and a slice of life look at  politically turbulent Kashmir.

The story follows a young tourist boatman and his best friend, as they try to run away from the provincial life in their lake village. A military curfew and political uprising derail their plans, and the two young men must wait it, along with a houseboat guest, a female scientist, while devising oa new plan. VALLEY OF SAINTS won two major awards at Sundance – World Cinema Grand Prize and the Alfred P. Sloan Award.

The Saturday Night Gala slot, reserved for a crowd-pleasing film every year, featues the sex comedy YES, WE’RE OPEN from Bay Area screenwriter H.P. Mendoza and director Richard Wong (COLMA,THE MUSICAL) A contemporary spin on a classic predicament, YES, WE’RE OPEN takes an intimate look at liberal San Francisco lifestyles over dinner and drinks with a side of infidelity. Parry Shen & Lynn Chen star as a couple exploring the notion of an open relationship,

Award-winning director Tsao Jui-Yuan’s JOYFUL REUNION will screen as the festival closing night presentation.  A follow up to Ang Lee’s EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, JOYFUL REUNION introduces us to familial bonds that surround a vegetarian restaurant. It is definitely a ‘foodie’ film about relationships, family ties and showcases Taiwanese and Chinese regional cuisines that will leave your mouth watering.

This year”s festival features a seven slate showcase of films from TaIwan.
“The inclusion of three U.S. Premiere screenings of features that speak to a broad range of experiences, heritage, and perspectives really excites me.  We’re thrilled to have Film Festival veteran director Emily Liu return to Los Angeles to present GREAT WALL, MY LOVE, and equally thrilled that features 10+10 and JOYFUL REUNION announces Taiwan’s sustained profile as a leading producer of world-class cinema.” said Festival Artistic Director Anderson Le. 

Liu’s engaging road movie romance GREAT WALL, MY LOVE travels through  Shanxi, Gansu, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia and sports a charming comic perf by Taiwanese Cherrie Ying. China’s TONG Dawei also scores as the PI who falls for his quirky client, who need help on the mainland tracking down her family roots.

The Film Festival will also present a quartet of shorts showcasing upcoming talents who will contribute vitality of Taiwanese cinema. Included are Jay Chern’s masterful THIEF (winner of the 2011 Taipei Golden Horse Award for Best Short Film) a drama set in the vivid, crowded night market stalls of Taipei, follows one woman’s pursuit of the thief who’s stolen her cell phone and PRETENDING CONVERSATION by New York-based Taiwanese artist Tzeng Yi-Hsin, a unique video installation crossing Taiwanese and Australian subjects. Inspired by the connection between the Maori culture and her own background, she designed a special conversation between two people. The artist spoke only in Mandarin and the other girl responding only in Maori. Without script, rehearsal or translation, they talk about nothing and everything, generating misunderstanding and assumption but accidentally revealing stereotype, contrast and truth through small talk that is funny, absurd and insistent.

The Festival’s ever-popular “Cinema Musica!” music video program on Friday, May 11 at the CGV Cinemas will include the kinetic SECOND ROUND by TaIwanese director Gong Dazhong. Kao Yu-Chuan’s delightful animation FIREFLY will play as part of its “Itsy Bitsy Shorts” children’s cinema program.

10+10 (Shi Jia Shi) is a collaborative omnibus feature commissioned by the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, marshalling the talents of twenty directors — ten veterans and ten relative newcomers — to produce a collection of works that articulate the uniqueness of their country. The stellar grouping of Taiwanese directors who participated in the making of 10+10 include Wang Toon, Shen Ko-Shang, Chu Yen-Ping, Ho Wi-Ding, Yang Ya-Che, Wu Nieh-Jen, Wang Shaudi, Chen Juo-Fu, Hou Chi-Jan, Hsiao Ya-Chuan, Wei Te-Sheng, Chen Yu-Hsun, Chang Tso-Chi, Leon Dai, Arvin Chen, Cheng Wen-Tang, Sylvia Chang, Cheng Yu-Chieh, Chung Mong-Hung, and Hou Hsiao-Hsien. The film made its international debut at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and will be making its U.S. Premiere at the Film Festival. (Monday, May 14, 6:45 PM, CGV Cinemas)

GREAT WALL, MY LOVE by Emily Yiming Liu is a romantic comedy/drama in which a mismatched pair travelling across China. Chun Yang, 28, a Taiwanese graphic artist, goes on a journey to China to search for a woman, Xiu Qian, who was her recently deceased father’s first love. Her father had promised Xiu Qian 60 years ago that he’d come back to marry her, but he was never able to fulfill his promise. Chun’s mother hires a Chinese guide, Fang, 32, to protect Chun during her trip. But then, conflict ensues. Director Liu, whose KANGAROO MAN (1995) and WOMAN SOUP (2000) screened to great acclaim at the Film Festival, is slated to appear in-person to introduce her latest feature effort. (Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 PM, CGV Cinemas)

JOYFUL REUNION (Yin Shi Nan Nu: Hao Yuan You Hao Jin) by Tsao Jui-Yuan, is the “official” follow-up to director Ang Lee’s award-winning EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, and shares with that earlier work its producer, Hsu Li Kong. Noted character actor Kenneth Tsang is the longtime proprietor of a well-known vegetarian restaurant in Hangzhou. Eldest daughter Wa’er (Huo Siyan) is the manager of a luxurious health resort nearby, while kid sister Xiao Lan leads a decidedly carefree life. Into this picture drops Apple (Gua Ah Leh, who appeared as Madame Liang in EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN), the outwardly obnoxious and equally free-spirited auntie of Zhang Quan (Lan Zheng-Long), Wa’er’s nerdy boyfriend. JOYFUL REUNION, also a U.S. Premiere, is the Film Festival’s Closing Night attraction. (Thursday, May 17, 7:00 PM, CGV Cinemas)

Documentaries include CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT the newest film by Yung Chang (‘Up the Yangtze’ ) The film about a charismatic coach (Qi Moxiang) and the poor rural teenagers he is training to become Western-style boxing champions will be released this summer by Zetgeist Films. (Zetgeist distibuted fest favorites “Up the Yangtze”and Lixin Fan’s “Last Train Home” as well as the 2011 BO smash “Bill Cunningham New York.”

Set in the remote villages of northwest China Carol Liu’s RESTORING THE LIGHT follows a woman doctor and two disabled families, marginalized by China’s apid economic development fighting for hope and and transformation. Sasha Freidlander’s WHERE HEAVEN MEETS HELL follows on the sulfur miners of the hellish sulfur mine set in the beautiful volcanoes of Java. Editor turned director Debbie Lum’s wry doc SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE follows the eccentric love story of Steven,an aging white man with “yellow fever” who is obsessed with marrying any Asian woman, and the young Chinese bride Sandy he finds online.

“This year we’re honored to host the world premieres of 2 great docs,” says David Magdael, Festival Co-Producer. “I am looking forward to Choi Jin-sung’s I.AM –SM TOWN LIVE WORLD TOUR, a vibrant film that brings the world of K-Pop to the big screen, and Kane Diep’s UPLOADED: THE ASIAN AMERICAN MOVEMENT,which explores the increasing visibility of Asian Americans in popular culture since the advent of YouTube and social media.

Native Hawaiian director Na’alehu Anthony’s PAPA MAU: THE WAYFINDER is a portrait of Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug, who revived the art of traditional voyaging and reawakened cultural pride throughout Polynesia by   teaching Hawaiians the dying art of traditional voyaging without the aid of instruments. Brian March”s THERE ONCE WAS AN ISLAND details the crisis of a Pacific Island community on Takuu atoll in Papua New Guinea struggling to maintain their 1200 year-old culture and survive the rising sea levels caused by Climate warming.  South Korean director Yi Seung-jun’s delicate, nuanced PLANET OF SNAIL follows the love story of isolated deaf and blind Young-Chan
(who dreams of being a writer) and empathetic Soon-Ho, herself compromised by a spinal disability. Winner of the top jury prize  the  prestigious International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam.

Michael Collins’s GIVE UP TOMORROW exposes the brutal rape murder of  the Chiong sisters (Marijoy and Jacqueline) part of the Phillipines’ traditionally oppressed Chinese-Malay majority, and young Paco Larranaga  ( and 6 others) falsely convicted of the crimes. The patently corrupt trial in which defense witnesses were muzzled testify and Larranaga’s defense lawyers were jailed for contempt set off a firestorm. S. Leo Chiang’s MR. CAO GOES TO WASHINGTON portrays the uneasy politiical journey of  Vietnamese -American Republican Congressman Joseph Cao, set against the post Katrina racial and partisan politics of New Orleans.

Davy Chou’s GOLDEN SLUMBERS (LE SOMMEIL D’OR) is a cinematic search for the remnants of the films of Cambodia’s  Golden Age. Of the nearly 400 films  made in Phnom Penh between 1960 and 1975, only 30 survive today. The Khmer Rouge burnt them or allowed them to decay along with the country’s studios and cinemas. The elegiac essay by the grandson of one of the most important film producers of Cambodian cinema, ends with footage from some of the lost Cambodian films projected on a brick wall. It premiered and Busan and played in competition at the Forum at the Berlinale 2011,

This year’s competition of Asian American feature films reflect a varied group of compelling story tellers from both documentary and narrative genres.

Narrative features in competition include: Akira Boch’s THE CRUMBLES,  a slice of life look at the 20-something indie rock scene. Filmed In SilverLake and Echo Park in 14 days, the story of two woman musicians features an original pop/rock soundtrack by Quetzal Flores. 

In Ryan Kawamoto’s HANG LOOSE High school graduate (Kevin Wu flies to Hawaii for his older sister’s wedding. A adventure with his future brother-in-law (Dante Basco) and  friends (accidently offending drug dealers) risks his life and changes it forever. 

H.P. Mendoza’s supernatural  AM A GHOST is a torrid journey through memory and history. Michael Kang’s kooky love story KNOTS follows a many married matriarch (Illeana Douglas) and her three daughter , each by another father, who are sick of her  poor choices in men. Lily Mariye’s MODEL MINORITY portrays Kayla, an underprivileged Japanese American 16 year old, who endangers her promising future as an artist when she becomes involved with a drug dealer.  James Sereno’s PARADISE BROKEN, also follows two young drug addicts in the dangerous world of the Waikiki underground.

Co-directors Hiram Chan, Jeff Mizushima, and Emily Yoshida’s SALAD DAYS follows a twenty something love triangle forged in the blog-o-sphere.David Boyle’s sequel SURROGATE VALENTINE 2: DAYLIGHT SAVINGS is a hip low- key look at some Socal indie rock wannabees. Bill Otto’s desert cinematography and Goh Nakamura’s offbeat perf are two pluses in this 2nd part of a proposed trilogy.

Greg Cahill’s TWO SHADOWS follow Cambodian-American Sovanna’s Sophea Pel) search for missing family members in Cambodia. First time director Mye Hoang’s VIETTE explores the coming of age conflicts of Vietnamese Americans 1.5 generation teens, caught between the high expectations of the families and their own ambitions and romantic dreams. (Mye Hoang helped create the Asian Film Festival of Dallas and served as Associate Director of the San Diego Asian Film Festival.)

“We are honored to present these award winning and culturally diverse films that represent the broad, global spectrum of Asian American cinema,” says Anderson Le, Festival Artistic Director. “In a banner year for Asian American and Asian cinema, these gala presentations present strong voices, global settings and stories with universal appeal.”

LAAPFF”S INternational Showcase features:
ABOUT THE PINK SKY (Momoiro Sora o) :kelichi Kobayashi’s black and white film follows a student who charitable act changes her life.

ARISAN 2: Nia diNAta’s drama is set in Indonesia’s rural Gili Islands.

BLOOD LETTER (Thien Menh anh hung): Victor Hu’s period Vietnamese martial arts film is the first of it’s kind in Vietnam’s growing film industry.

CHOKED (Ga-shu): Kim Joong-hyun’s drama won the 2011 Busan International Film Festival New Current’s Award.

HEADSHOT: Pen-ek Ratanarung’s Thai thriller has a metaphysical subtext.

IN THE FAMILY: Patrick Wang’s sensitive drama follows the struggles of
An Asian American gay dad. When Joey’s partner Corey dies in a car accident Joey fights to keep their young son.

KA ORYANG: Sari Lluch Dalena’s drama takes place in the resistancel movement fighting the Marcos regime. Pregnant rebel Oryang is captured during a medical mission.

Yang Jung-ho’s eery memory story MIRAGE (Mirwoldo Ganeun Gil).

Tusi Tamases’s exquisite THE ORATOR (o le Tulafele) was New Zealand’s 2011 Foreign Oscar submission

RENT A CAT (Rentaneko): Naoko Ogigami’s whimsical film is the story of Sayoku, a young girl who rents cats from her hand cart to alleviate the loneliness of other alienated solitary people.

SECRET OBJECTS (Samul-eui Bimal) : Director S. Lee Young-mi drama details a secret love between a sociologist and her younger student.

SIONE’S 2: UNFINISHED BUSINESS (Simon Bennet’s comic sequel to Samoan Wedding.)

SONGLAP: Effendee Mazian and Farixa Azlina Isahek’s drama follows two brothers in the bay trafficking syndicate of Kuala Lumper. 

Special Presentations include a SNEAK PEEK at Universal’s  Sci-Fi actioner
BATTLESHIP, and Tanu Chopra’s  book-club chick flick NICE GIRLS CREW.

Special Screenings:
Takashi Shimizu’s fantasy horror film 3D TORMENTED (Rabitto Hora 3D) and  DRAGON (Wu Xia)-Ptere Ho-sun Chan’s period Martial-Arts thriller set in a small Yunnan Village (to be released by Weinstein) and Davy Chou’s film homage GOLDEN SLUMBERS ( Le Sommeil D’or.)

This year, for the first time, the LAAPFF expands to Long Beach during the Closing weekend, where Film Festival award-winners and a showcase of Pacific Islander works will be presented at the historic Art Theater of Long Beach. The oustanding films kick off with Venice and Sundance favorite THE ORATOR (O le Tulafele), directed by Tusi Tamasese and closes with SIONE’S 2: UNFINISHED BUSINESS (sequel to SAMOAN WEDDING) directed by Simon Bennet. Other highlights include Hawaiian documentary PAPA MAU: THE WAY FINDER, directed by Na’alehu Anthony; Eco-awareness documentary THERE ONCE WAS AN ISLAND (Te Henua e Nnoho), directed by Briar March; Cambodian American feature TWO SHADOWS directed by Greg Cahill; Festival favorite GOLDEN SLUMBERS directed by Cambodian French director Davy Chou about about the golden and lost era of Cambodian cinema, which was eventually destroyed by the Khmer Rouge regime.

“As Southern California’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, we see the Festival’s expansion to Long Beach as a great opportunity to reach new audiences,” states Shinae Yoon, Festival Executive Producer. “This is part of a bigger picture to expand Visual Communications’ footprint into the South Bay, and eventually, Orange County.”

Through the LAAPFF, VC will also launch two major programs that will expand the organization’s artist services in a major way:

First, the C3 Project Market, a first-of-its-kind program, is a unique opportunity for filmmakers of Asian descent to showcase their narrative feature project to Financiers, Producers, Production Companies, Agents, Managers and Industry Executives enabling them with the contacts, information and confidence they need to make their film. On May 12-13, Industry participants will have the ability to discover new talent and voices, including winning a cash prize of $5000 for the best project pitch.

In addition, the VC Film Development Fund, underwritten by Comcast, was created to nurture established filmmakers with their next film project. The Fund is a multi-year program, wherein VC will select six filmmakers and will serve as Executive Producers to develop narrative feature-length projects, as well as financing up to $100,000 of the budget. The six filmmakers chosen for the Fund will be announced at the Opening Night of the Festival.

 “The C3 Project Market and the VC Film Development Fund continues Visual Communications’ mission to nurture and incubate filmmakers from our community,” states ShinaeYoon. “We’re delighted to launch these new and sustainable initiatives for emerging and established filmmakers and providing opportunities to cultivate and grow Asian American cinema.”

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival presented by Visual Communications is the Southland’s premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific cinema.

Visual Communications (VC), the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, was established in 1970. The organization has established a lengthy track record of pioneering achievements in producing, presenting, and preserving more honest and accurate representations of Asian and Pacific Islander communities in America. Visual Communications is also recognized as an incubator of emerging Asian Pacific American cinematic talent. The organization’s works have been exhibited in numerous venues and broadcast outlets around the world.  The mission of Visual Communications is to promote intercultural understanding through the creation, presentation, preservation and support of media works by and about Asian Pacific Americans.

For program information, a complete listing of sponsors and partners, and to purchase tickets, log on to or contact Visual Communications at (213) 680-4462 x59.

The Festival is honored to partner with the Directors Guild of America as the main screening venue during the Festival’s Opening Weekend.  This state of the art theater is where the Festival will screen its Opening Night Film as well as the Centerpiece Presentations.

The Festival will also screen at CGV Cinemas – 621 S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA  90005; situated north of Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown. Festival screenings will begin on Friday May 11, through the Closing Night Gala on May 17.

This year, the festival will extend to Long Beach, screening at the historic Art Theater  at 2025 E. 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814. Programs will run on Friday May 18 through Sunday May 20.


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

Leave A Reply