Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, May 2-13, 2013


Visual Communications (VC), the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its program of outstanding films for the upcoming 29th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) beginning May 2, 2013 at the Director’s Guild of America (DGA), CGV Cinemas located in Koreatown, the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at NCPD in Little Tokyo, and the historic Art Theatre of Long Beach.

Southern California’s Largest Asian Pacific Film Festival Runs May 2 – 12, 2013. Presenting the best films from over 20 countries featuring World Premieres, Sneak Previews; Showcasing Documentaries and Narratives focusing on the voices of Asian Pacific Americans and Asian peoples from around the world.

LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 140 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international directors from over 20 countries. This year, 33 feature films and 108 shorts will be showcased throughout the 10-day fest.

Festival Opening Night Selection LINSANITY, directed by Evan Jackson Leong, a longtime music video director, non-fiction filmmaker and Visual Communications/LAAPFF alum. Featuring NBA All Star: Jeremy Lin.

The highly anticipated documentary, which received its World Premiere at Sundance 2013, casts a trained eye on Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin starting from his humble beginnings in Palo Alto High School to his Harvard college basketball days and through his magical run in the NBA with the New York Knicks in February 2012, chronicling Lin’s from the time when Lin was still struggling to find a place in a league that didn’t want him while never wavering in his faith and hope for an opportunity LINSANITY is produced by Christopher C. Chen (LOOPER; YEAR OF THE YAO; EVERY LITTLE STEP), actor Brian Yang (HAWAII FIVE-0; THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS), and Allen Lu. Daniel Dae Kim (HAWAII FIVE-O; LOST) narrates the film.

“We are excited to host the L.A. premiere of LINSANITY,” says David Magdael, Festival Co-Producer. “Celebrating opening night with this film, with Evan and his production team, is definitely a proud moment for our Asian American film community.”

Centerpiece Presentations Include:  JAKE SHIMABUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS,
Directed By Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker Tadashi Nakaumra; and 2013 Berlin Film Festival Hit WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW
Directed by Festival Alum Arvin Chen.

The U.S. Centerpiece Presentation features the first feature film by award-winning documentary filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura (YELLOW BROTHERHOOD; PILGRIMAGE; A SONG FOR OURSELVES). JAKE SHIMABUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS offers a compelling portrait of Honolulu-based musician Jake Shimabukuro, an inventive artist whose virtuoso skills on the ukulele transformed the instrument’s understood potential and whose YouTube videos catapulted him into stardom. Screens on Saturday, May 4 at the DGA.

The LAAPFF welcomes back director Arvin Chen (AU REVOIR TAIPEI, Festival 2010 Opening Night) with his new feature film, WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW?, as the Film Festival’s International Centerpiece Fresentation.  Fresh from its hit world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, this romantic comedy reveals Chen’s growth in filmmaking, and confirms his place as one of Taiwan’s next generation of talented new filmmakers.  WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? tells the story of Weichung, a 39-year-old husband and father, who lives an idyllic life, with a doting wife and adorable young son.  As he approaches his 40th birthday, he realizes that he has lost all recollection of the younger gay man that he used to be.  It will screen on Sunday, May 5 at the DGA.

 “Films like LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS and WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? reflect the diverse talent across the broad, global spectrum of Asian American cinema,” says Anderson Le, Festival Artistic Director. “This is what we strive to bring our audiences every year, and we are proud to showcase these works in Los Angeles.”

The Festival’s closing night gala presentation is Japanese director Kenji Uchida’s award winning screwball comedy KEY OF LIFE.  A satirical take on identity theft and finding one’s true self, the film stars Japan’s award winning Masato Sakai as a failed actor who contemplates suicide after being dumped by his girlfriend. But before committing suicide Sakurai heads off to a public bathhouse. At the bathhouse, he then witnesses a man named Kondo (Teruyuki Kagawa) slip on a bar of soap and knocked out, right in front of Sakurai. On a sudden whim, Sakurai switches locker keys with Kondo and takes his identity. Kondo, on the other hand, is whisked to the hospital where he suffers amnesia. He is then given the contents in Sakurai’s locker and soon embodies his strange, new life. Unbeknownst to Sakurai, he soon realizes that his new identity has yakuza ties. The film received its World Premiere at the 2012 Shanghai International Film Festival and will be released in U.S. cinemas in June.

This year, the LAAPFF will present a number of outstanding award winning films from some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. This year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary World Cinema, A RIVER CHANGES COURSE by San Francisco-based director Kalyanee Mam will have its Los Angeles premiere on May 4 at the DGA.  Her beautiful and important first feature film covers the lives of three young Cambodians struggling to overcome the crushing effects of deforestation, overfishing and overwhelming debt working and living on the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia.  Mam was the director photography for the Oscar® winning film INSIDE JOB.

Other global festival favorites include: JISEUL by O Muel (winner, World Cinema Narrative Grand Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival); FALLEN CITY by Zhao Qi (2013 Sundance Film Festival); ABIGAIL HARM by Lee Isaac Chung (2012 Busan International Film Festival) starring Amanda Plummer; WHEN I WALK by Jason DaSilva (2013 Sundance Film Festival); THE PLAYBACK SINGER by Suju Vijayan (New Visions Award Winner, 2013 CineQuest Film Festival); SAKE-BOMB by Junya Sakino (2013 SXSW Film Festival); and COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING by Anja Daelemans, Nick Bonner and Kim Gwang Hun (Toronto International Film Festival/Busan International Film Festival/Pyongyang International Film Festival).

“The LAAPFF has become one of the main stops on the festival circuit for these major award winning festival films,” states Abraham Ferrer, LAAPFF Senior Programmer.  “We are honored to showcase these important voices from our filmmakers from around the world bringing their films to Southern California.”

In addition to features, documentaries and short films, the Festival also presents content from the burgeoning New Media space. Two productions, made especially for online distribution, are highlighted in this year’s program –- NICE GIRLS CREW, from award-winning director Tanuj Chopra (PUNCHING AT THE SUN) and creator-producer Christine Kwon, returns to the Festival with a second season of comedy between three frenemies (played with zeal and zaniness by Asian American actresses Michelle Krusiec, Lynn Chen and Sheetal Sheth), who bond, fight, and cry together in their own solitary book club. For this new season, the cast has grown to accommodate the talents of Leonardo Nam (THE PERFECT SCORE, SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS) and Parvesh Cheena (OUTSOURCED).

The second web-based project presented at this year’s Festival is an adaptation of award-winning play and produced by Justin Lin’s YOMYOMF Network on YouTube. YELLOW FACE is about DHH (Ryun Yu), an Asian American playwright who casts Marcus (Christopher Gorham), a Caucasian actor, in his new show after mistakenly believing Marcus is part Asian. An entertaining mix of fact and fiction that defies any easy categorization, Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang’s play — a planned YouTube adaptation — features a distinguished cast including a mix of veterans and newbies from film, TV, theater and YouTube. This “work-in-progress” presentation will be followed by a panel discussion led by Bing Chen, Global Creator Development & Management Lead at YouTube, Philip W. Chung, creative director of the YOMYOMF Network, Jeff Liu, the director of this project, and members of the cast.

“New media is a sector that Asian American content creators have thrived through innovation and capturing dedicated audiences. With the likes of Ryan Higa, KevJumba, Freddie Wong, and Wongfu Productions who have huge followings and have managed to monetize their content on YouTube, online media is where its at,” says Anderson Le, the Festival’s Artistic Director. “The YOMYOMF Network is doing innovative things by becoming a defacto entertainment network that can do a plethora of content, from reality competition shows, to music videos, to broad comedies. YELLOWFACE and NICE GIRLS CREW are two examples of now trying to carve specific niches within the broad world of Asian American online consumers, who are looking for diversified and prestige content.”

As independent film continues to change at a rapid pace so do the available resources for filmmakers.  Once again, Visual Communications, through the LAAPFF, hosts PROJECT CATALYST, a film and TV project development initiative designed to help usher new projects into production and distribution.  PROJECT CATALYST serves as a launch pad for filmmakers of Asian descent to showcase their narrative feature and TV spec projects to financiers, producers, production companies, artists, agents, managers and industry executives.  At last year’s Project Catalyst (previously known as Project Market), filmmakers, combined, had over 140 meetings and numerous networking engagements, enabling them with contacts, information and the confidence they need to make their film. This year, nine narrative projects have been chosen to participate in this unique opportunity.  In addition to participating in the panels, a pitch session with the Jury and one-on-one industry meetings, a cash prize will be awarded.  This juried award will be announced at the closing ceremonies of the Festival.

“At Visual Communications, it is our goal to ensure that our stories are being told by our artists,” states Executive Director and Festival Executive Producer Shinae Yoon.  “PROJECT CATALYST is a unique opportunity to provide resources and access to help incubate our Asian Pacific American talent.  We are looking forward to the scripts and potential projects that our filmmakers will present this year with the hope of discovering new talent and new stories.”

With over 60 women directors showcased this year, the LAAPFF celebrates the voices of women filmmakers.  Festival-goers will be able to interact with the WOMEN GOT THE POWER! panel on Sunday, May 5 at the DGA which focuses on female producing talent who have put their stamp on the current landscape by claiming their own voice in a very male-dominated industry. A new generation of Asian Pacific American women producing talent will be featured including Soojin Chung; Vera Miao; and Suju Vijayan and others to be confirmed.

The LAAPFF 29th Edition will mark the 10th Anniversary of the passing of Visual Communications’ visionary Executive Director, Linda Mabalot with the special program HOWZIT! A VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS TRIBUTE TO LINDA MABALOT.  The program will be dedicated to her policy of nurturing the next generation of Asian Pacific American filmmakers.  The program will include a screening of select past recipients of the LINDA MABALOT NEW DIRECTORS/NEW VISIONS AWARD, a LAAPFF juried award recognizing innovative use of cinematic language; and will culminate with the inaugral presentation of the LINDA MABALOT LEGACY FUND SCHOLARSHIP to a woman filmmaker whose work reflects Mabalot’s deep commitment to community justice and social issue documentary filmmaking.  This will take place on May 5 at the DGA.

PERFECTION (United States, 2004) Dir./Scr.: Karen Lin
Actress Ming-Na Wen stars as a career woman who finds her life and career spiraling out of control, unlike the children’s board game she used to excel at as a little child. 35mm, 6 minutes, black & white, experimental narrative

NEW YEAR (United States, 2006) Dir./Scr.: Susan Tuan
UCLA-LLC alum Randall Park takes a rare dramatic turn as a Chinese immigrant attempting to commiserate with a gas station attendant on a rainy New Year’s Eve in mid-1960s Mississippi. Betacam SP (originated on 16mm), 13 minutes, black & white, narrative

TELEVISNU (United States, 2010) Dir. Scr.: Prithi Gowda
An explosion of saturated color highlights this fantastical tale of a call-center worker whose attempts to fix her faulty computer reveal a web of memories, secrets, and hidden desires. Digital, 15 minutes, color, animation
• A tribute documentary to Linda Mabalot, compiled and edited by Walt Louie.
• Presentation of a production by the recipient of the first Linda Mabalot Legacy Fund Scholarship.

Continuing last year’s success, the LAAPFF expands to the South Bay during the Closing weekend. On Saturday May 11, select works will be presented at the historic Art Theatre of Long Beach including encore presentations of Film Festival award-winners and curated films from Pacific Islander, Taiwanese, Filipino and Native Hawaiian communities.  This Festival extension will showcase TONGUES OF HEAVEN by Anita Chang; TO WEAVE A NAME (E Haku Inoa) by Christen Marquez; THE HAUMANA by Keo Woolford; and HARANA by Benito Bautista.

This year’s competition of Asian American feature films reflects a varied group of compelling story tellers.

The 2013 documentary competition line-up includes:
•    A RIVER CHANGES COURSE – Kalyanee Mam (Cambodia/United States)
•    HARANA – Benito Bautista (Philippines/United States)
•    JAKE SHIMAUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS – Tadashi Nakamura (United States)
•    LINSANITY  – Evan Jackson Leong (United States)
•    RASKAL LOVE – Byron Q (United States)
•    STATELESS – Duc Nguyen (United States)
•    TO WEAVE A NAME (E Haku Inoa) – Christen Marquez (United States)
•    TONGUES OF HEAVEN – Anita Chang (United States / Taiwan)
•    WHEN I WALK – Jason DaSilva (United States/Canada)
•    XMAS WITHOUT CHINA – Alicia Dwyer (United States)

Doc highlights include: A RIVER CHANGES COURSE. Kalyanee Mam’s details the baleful effect of globalization and urban-centric neo-colonialism on the rural poor of Cambodia. Three families are profiled: The Samourn family faces an uncertain future as the jungle around there home are clearcut. Overfishing on the Tonle Sap River threatens the Math family’s dependence upon fishing and Khieu Mok leaves her mother and seeka work in an urban factory to pay off their debts. Mam’s classic observational style (reminiscent of Wiseman) garnered The Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at this year’s Sundance.

Byron Q’s RASKAL LOVE is  a portrait of Vanna Fut, a survivor of both the killing fields of Cambodia, and, as an 11-year old member of Seattle’s Cambodian gang TRG (Tiny Raskal Gang) of violent gang wars. The inspiring story follows homeless Vanna aka “Lazy” to his later success as a pioneering b-boy in the 90’s Seattle Hip Hop scene, and an actor in the 2011 cult gangster-genre film, BANG BANG.

Benito Bautista’s HARANA: After his father’s death, a classically trained guitarist Florante Aguilar, returns to the Philippines after 12 years of absence. There he rediscovers the nearly lost traditional serenade form, Harana. TRaveling to remote corners of the country, he gathers three remaining master of the form, brings them on the road with him to play and record, with surprising personal consequences for all.

Jason DaSilva’s WHEN I WALK chronicles his struggles with multiple sclerosis, which struck him on a family vacation in 2006, when he was 25.  DaSilva’s spirit of optimism fuels his story, filmed over six years. His amazing mother and girlfriend, Alice Cook, whose mother has MS give support and help of all kinds. Alice edited the film when DaSilva’s hands failed. A hit at Sundance.

The 2013 narrative competition line-up includes:
•    ABIGAIL HARM – Lee Isaac Chung (United States)
•    BEST FRIENDS FOREVER – Brea Grant (United States)
•    CHINK – Stanley Yung (United States)
•    THE HAUMANA – Keo Woolford (United States)
•    THE PLAYBACK SINGER – Suju Vijayan (United States)
•    SAKE-BOMB – Junya Sakino (United States)
•    SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW – Nadine Truong (United States)

CRITIC’S NOTE: Narrative highlights include:
Keo Woolford’s THE HAUMANA will have its World Premiere. Award-winning Hawaiian-born actor, playwright and filmmaker follows up his successful short LUNCHTIME, which garnered over sixteen Festival awards world-wide, with a first feature.

Junya Sakino’s comic road movie SAKE-BOMB trails self deprecating Asian-American Sebastian and his Japanese cousin sake maker Naoto, along the California Coast on the trail of Naoto’s ex-girlfriend. Japanese born Sakino, who came to the US at 19 to pursue a film career, captures the nuances of both characters, which mirror his own experiences.

The 2013 international showcase line-up includes:
•    COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING – Kim Gwang-hun, Nicholas Bonner, Anja Daelemans (North Korea/Belgium/United Kingdom)
•    DREAMS FOR SALE (Yume Uru Futari) – Miwa Nishikawa (Japan)
•    FALLEN CITY – Zaho Qi (People’s Republic of China)
•    JISEUL – O Muel (South Korea)
•    KEY OF LIFE (Kagi Dorobo no Mesotdo) – Uchida Kenji (Japan)
•    THE SOUND OF CRICKETS AT NIGHT (Ainikien Jidjid ilo Boñ) – Jack Niedenthal, Suzanne Chutaro (Marshall Islands)
•    TOKYO BOY – Sato Yoshinori (Japan)
•    TOUCH OF THE LIGHT – Chang Jung-Chi (Taiwan, ROC)
•    WHAT ISN’T THERE (Ang Nawawalang) – Marie Jamora (Philippines)
•    WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? – Arvin Chen (Taiwan, ROC)

CRITIC’S NOTE: International Showcase highlights include:

COMRADE KIM GOES FLYING (North Korea/Belgium/United Kingdom). A multinational trio of directors (Kim Gwang-hun, Nicholas Bonner and Anja Daelemans) have crafted a feel good comedy about North Korean whose dreams come true. Young Mi (Han Jong Sim) has ambitions to become a star acrobat. Young Mi’s stern father expects her to become a coal miner, like everyone in her town. She runs off to the big city (Pyongyang) and manages to crash an audition for a government acrobatic troupe. The troupe’s top acrobat, good-looking Chung Guk (Pak Jang Pil) sees’ her as a potential partner on and off stage but she flubs the audition. The film, a cheery blend of romance and melodramatic can do, and the triumph of the proletariat. The slick propaganda piece has charmed festival audiences at Rotterdam and the Pyongyang International Film Festival

Marie Jamora’s coming-of-age tale WHAT ISN’T THERE (Ang Nawawalang), set in the alternative Philippine music scene, follows Non-speaking Gibson (Dominic Roco) home for the holidays after 10 years in the States. Traumatized by the death of his twin brother, he finds a release in the language of music. Jamora brings another Manila to screen, the visually rich night world of Vinyl shops, Indie clubs, the places where upper middle class hipsters congregate.

Special presentations include:
•    DEAD DAD – Ken J. Adachi (United States)
•    HAFU: THE MIXED RACE EXPERIENCE IN JAPAN – Lara Perez Takagi, Megumi Nishikura (Japan)
•    NICE GIRLS CREW: SEASON 2 – Tanuj Chopra (United States)
•    YELLOWFACE – Jeff Liu (United States)
•    “Secret Screening Presentation” – (United States, South Korea)

Shorts Nominees
The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is pleased to announce finalists for the 2013 Golden Reel Award for Short Films, to be presented at the Festival Closing Night on Thursday, May 9, 2013 to an Asian Pacific filmmaker whose work, presented in this year’s Festival, displays both a high degree of excellence and promise of continued creative activity. The Award, presented annually at the Festival, also serves to promote and perpetuate the creative endeavors of Asian Pacific American cinema artists. Let’s meet the directors of this year’s nominees for the Festival Golden Reel Award:
• ADVANTAGEOUS (Dir.: Jennifer Phang)
• THE DOUBLE (Dir.: Weng Yu-Tong)
• EVERY DEATH HAS A STORY (Dir.: Joseph Mangat)
• HERE AND AWAY (Dir.: Meena Nanji)
• HOW I LEARNED TO TELL A LIE (Dir.: Guo Shang-Sing)
• IF YOU’RE SERIOUS (Dir.: Zhi Li)
• ORIOLE (Dir.: Kaynipa Polnikorn)
• PAULINA (Dir.: Caylee So)
• REQUIEM FOR ROMANCE (Dir.: Jonathan Ng)
• VOICES (Dir.: Hussain Al-Riffaei)

CRITIC’S NOTE: Recommended shorts in and out of competition: Gregory Bonsignore’s hilarious story pitch comedy …OR DIE, and cLisa Takeba’s oddball comic WANDERING DETECTIVE ALIEN ROBIN, dramatic shorts Men Hoi Wong’s DOLL, Justin Chandra’s stylish outsider romance PYRO & KLEPTO, Zhi Li’s stylized, quirky IF YOU’RE SERIOUS, Caylee So’s taut gambling drama PAULINA, Erin Li ‘s immigration family drama TO THE BONE, Yu-Tong Wong’s period film THE DOUBLE, set in Japanese-colonial era Taiwan, Kaynipa Polnikorn’s ORIOLE, Eric K. Yue’s documentary mediation on aging and loneliness MONDAY MONDAY and Sao Sopheak’s documentary about two, elderly Cambodian women who have been lovers for decades and an invaluable source of family support in their village community. Animations include Diana Ling’s jazzy THE SHOPGIRL, David Nguyen INSERT CREDIT, which uses 1980s Nintendo video game structure to detail growing up gay,  David Chai’s hand-pulled A KNOCK ON MY DOOR and  Jonathan Ng’s REQUIEM FOR ROMANCE

The Festival is honored to partner once again with the Directors Guild of America as its 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 its Centerpiece Presentations.

The Festival will also screen at CGV Cinemas, situated in the heart of Los Angeles Koreatown. Festival screenings will begin on Friday May 3, through the Closing Night Gala and wrap on May 12. Screenings in Long Beach will be held at the historic Art Theatre on Saturday, May 11.

For information about Parties and Afterhours, and to read programmers’ recommendations as well as program information, a complete listing of sponsors and partners, and to purchase tickets, log on to www.vconline.org/festival or contact Visual Communications at (213) 680-4462 x59.  Tickets go on sale on April 5, 2013.


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.

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