SAN DIEGO — Pacific Arts Movement celebrates its 15th San Diego Asian Film Festival, the region’s largest film festival, from Nov. 6 to 15 with expanded programming and a record number of venues.
This year, SDAFF will premiere more than 140 films from 21 countries, including the Martin Scorsese-produced gangster drama “Revenge of the Green Dragons.” This year’s programming will also include the world premiere of the pilot episode of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat,” the first Asian American sitcom on network television in 20 years, and MOVEfest, SDAFF’s first live dance event celebrating Asian Americans in dance and cinematography.
The 10-day festival will be at nine different venues, including the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, UCSD, La Jolla’s Sherwood Auditorium, and the historic La Paloma in Encinitas, in addition to the festival’s home base at Ultrastar Mission Valley, where a majority of the films will screen.
Program highlights include:
• Opening Night Film: “Revenge of the Green Dragons” (San Diego premiere), Thursday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15. An action-packed crime drama set in 1980s New York following two brothers who are pulled into the world of organized crime with a Chinatown gang. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, co-directed by Andrew Lau Wai-Keung (“Infernal Affairs”) and Andrew Loo. Starring Justin Chon (“21 & Over,” “Twilight”), Kevin Wu (YouTube star Kevjumba), and Ray Liotta. Director Loo and leads Chon and Wu are scheduled to attend.
• Centerpiece Event: ABC pilot episode of “Fresh Off the Boat” (world premiere), Saturday, Nov. 8, at 1:30 p.m. at USD Shiley Theatre. Based on the memoir of celebrity chef and TV personality Eddie Huang “Fresh Off the Boat” is a sitcom about an Asian American family from Washington, D.C. that relocates to Orlando, Fla. in the 1990s. It is the first Asian American sitcom on network television since Margaret Cho’s “All-American Girl” in 1994. Starring Randall Park (“Veep,” “The Mindy Project,” “Larry Crowne”), Constance Wu, Ian Chen, and Hudson Yang. Live Q&A with executive producers Nahnatchka Kahn and Melvin Mar.
• Closing Night Film: “Meet the Patels,” Friday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sherwood Auditorium. This heartwarming documentary is a real-life romantic comedy about Ravi Patel, an almost-30-year-old Indian American man who enters a love triangle between the woman of his dreams … and his parents. Filmed by Ravi’s sister in what started as a family vacation video, this hilarious film reveals how love is a family affair. Directed by Geeta Patel and Ravi Patel, who are expected to attend along with their parents.
• MOVEfest: Sunday, Nov. 9, at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. at San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts. An inaugural dance program showcasing live hip-hop and contemporary dance by API performers and dance cinematographers, presented in partnership with Outreach Through Dance and SCPA. Special performances by Galen Hooks and Filharmonic (from NBC’s “The Sing-Off”).
• Expanded LGBT Programming and LGBT Dignity Pass: This year’s festival includes expanded LGBT programming with 10 international films, the annual LGBT short film program (“Shorts: Gay of Thrones”), a landmark retrospective on queer images in Korean cinema at UC San Diego, and the LGBT Dignity Pass, which provides access to all LGBT programming. LGBT Dignity Pass is presented in partnership with the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation.
One of the LGBT-themed films is David Au’s “Eat with Me,” in which a woman, out of luck in marriage, moves in with her chef son, who has romantic woes of his own. (Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. at UCSD Calit2 Atkinson Hall Auditorium)
• “Remembering Queer Korea”: Nov. 13-15, UC San Diego Visual Arts Presentation Lab. A landmark retrospective on the history of queer images in Korean cinema – the first of its kind outside of South Korea. The retrospective is part of an international symposium that includes an art exhibition and academic conference, all taking place at UCSD’s new Structural and Materials Engineering Building. In partnership with the UCSD Program in Transnational Korean Studies.
• Film Awards: Saturday, Nov. 8, at Town & Country Hotel in Mission Valley. More than 700 celebrities, community and business leaders will attend as the festival announces film award winners. Proceeds will benefit Pac-Arts’ Reel Voices, a documentary filmmaking program for high school students in the San Diego area, and other year-round programs. Scheduled to emcee are actor Leonardo Nam and CBS 8 anchor Angie Lee.
West Coast Premieres
• “Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” Mami Sunada’s documentary following beloved animation director Hayao Miyazaki as he completes his final Studio Ghibli film. (Nov. 8 and 11)
• “Yasmine,” the first feature film produced in Brunei, a sweet comedy about a high school student who brings her school’s ragtag team of misfits to a martial arts competition. (Nov. 11 and 15)
• “Kano” and “Vancouver Asahi” are inspirational baseball films based on true stories of overcoming adversity. “Kano” (Nov. 7 and 12) follows a Taiwanese baseball team under Japanese rule; “Vancouver Asahi” (Nov. 7 and 9) follows a World War II-era Japanese Canadian team.
• The latest films from acclaimed director Tsai Ming-liang include experimental film “Stray Dog” (Nov. 9 and 13) and the latest in The Walker series, “Journey to the West” (Nov. 10).
• “From What Is Before,” a 5-hour, 38-minute epic from prolific Filipino director Lav Diaz about a coastal town at the dawn of martial law. (Nov. 9 and 11)
• “The Songs of Rice,” a beautiful documentary about the life and rituals of farmers in rural Thailand. (Nov. 7)
• “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2,” a Hong Kong romantic comedy of errors and the sequel to director Johnny To’s 2011 hit. (Nov. 12)
• “My Life in China,” a documentary about a man retracing his steps back to China after being disillusioned by the American Dream. (Nov. 9 and 12)
Programs with Japanese/JA Themes
• “A Conversation with Anna Akana.” The YouTube star talks about her videos, her digital presence, and what it means to be an Asian American woman storyteller. Friday, Nov. 7, at 4:30 p.m. at UCSD Calit2 Atkinson Hall Auditorium.
• “6 Weddings and a Dress” (USA, 2014, 8 minutes), directed by Steven Nagano. The travels of a wedding dress first worn during the internment of Japanese Americans. (Precedes “Limited Partnership” on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 12:50 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.)
• “Uzumasa Limelight” (Japan/USA, 2014, 103 minutes), directed by Ken Ochiai. Kamiyama is famed for dying in samurai films. A spunky new protégé gives his career renewed life. Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7:25 p.m. at La Polama Theatre.
• “The Round Table” (Japan, 2014, 113 minutes), directed by Isao Yukisada. An 8-year-old daydreamer gets close to some bunnies, scribbles in her notebook, and makes new friends. Friday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 13, at 6:05 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.
• “Man from Reno” (Japan/USA, 2014, 111 minutes), directed by Dave Boyle. A writer from Japan stumbles onto a real-life murder mystery. Sunday, Nov. 9, at 4:45 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.
• “Cicada” (Japan/USA, 2014, 100 minute), directed by Dean Yamada. Jumpei can’t have kids and Ryota’s bullied at school. Fine time for a birthday party. Monday, Nov. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.
• “Ken Miura: Unheard of” (USA, 2014, 5 minutes), directed by Raymond C. Lai. A portrait of the USC film professor who taught sound design to legends like George Lucas. (Precedes “Cicada.”)
• “Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats” (Germany/Italy/Japan/Taiwan/U.K., 2014, 110 minutes), directed by Yosuke Fujita. What could a beautiful photographer possibly want from an ordinary painter like Fuku-chan? Saturday, Nov. 8, at 8:10 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley and Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 8 p.m. at ArcLight Cinemas La Jolla.
• “Hello! Junichi” (Japan, 2014, 90 minutes), directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Kanoko Kawaguchi, Atushi Yoshioka. A rag-tag gaggle of kids form a rock band for a birthday party.
• “Love’s Whirlpool” (Japan, 2014, 123 minutes), directed by Daisuke Miura. Four women. Four men. Five hours of awkward, anonymous sex. Friday, Nov. 7, at 9:25 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 13, at 9 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.
• “Our Family” (Japan, 2014, 117 minutes), directed by Yuya Ishii. When Mother becomes sick, buried secrets surface and the family reins fall onto the children. Monday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.
• “Blue Bustamante” (Philippines, 2013, 89 minutes), directed by Miko Livelo. A Filipino worker in Japan makes some extra cash as an extra on a “Power Rangers” knock-off show. Saturday, Nov. 8, at 2:45 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 5:35 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.
• “Bella Vista” (USA, 2014, 83 minutes), directed by Vera Brunner-Sung. A Montana town is the scene of foreign students, itinerant workers, and displaced Americans. Sunday, Nov. 9, at 5:25 p.m. at UltraStar Mission Valley.
Tickets are available online for all shows. Tickets can also be purchased on-site at specific screenings one hour before showtime. For all screenings at Ultrastar, tickets can be purchased at the Ultrastar Mission Valley box office ($9 for members, $12 general) starting Oct. 31. Student/military/senior and group discounts are available at the door.
Major sponsors of the San Diego Asian Film Festival include Barona, Wells Fargo, Harrah’s Resort, McGregor and Associates, Sharp Health Plan, PROVEN Staffing, and University of San Diego.
Pacific Arts Movement (Pac-Arts) is one of the largest media arts organizations in North America that focuses on pan-Asian cinema. Pac-Arts programs include the annual San Diego Asian Film Festival, Spring Showcase, and Reel Voices. For more information about Pacific Arts Movement, visit www.pac-arts.org.