Visual Communications (VC), the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its program of outstanding films and events for the upcoming 33rd edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), running April 27 to May 4.
VC celebrates 33 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind. This year’s slate features over 180 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. The festival has presented close to 4,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian international talent. This year, a record 45 feature films and 139 shorts from over 750 submissions will be showcased throughout the eight-day fest.
The following special presentations include discussions, films, performance art, and media installations that will provide dialogue, reflection, inspiration and encouragement.
• “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.” From acclaimed director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters,” “Life Itself”), this acclaimed film tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
• “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower,” directed by Joe Piscatella. When the Chinese Communist Party alters its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong – handed back to the Chinese government from British rule in 1997 – teenager Joshua Wong decides to fight for his homeland. Rallying thousands, Joshua becomes an unlikely leader in Hong Kong. A remarkable portrait of courage, resilience and the power of youthful idealism, “Joshua” is a chronicle of one young man risking his own future for a greater good. Winner of the Audience Award, World Cinema Documentary, 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
• “Relocation: Arkansas — Aftermath of Incarceration,” directed by Vivienne Schiffer. A look at the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese Americans in the Deep South, the harsh reality of prejudice, and the cruel irony of identity, told through the words of one survivor, one rebel, and one woman mayor.
• “Re:Orientations,” directed by Richard Fung. A look into the lives and thoughts of seven queer pan-Asian Canadians as they look back on the groundbreaking 1984 documentary in which they were featured. How have they changed? And how has the world around them evolved and changed?
• “Three Sassy Sisters,” directed by Nia Dinata. Gendis (32), Ella (28), and Bebe (19) are very passionate about running their family boutique hotel by the beach in the eastern part of Indonesia’s archipelago. Their grandmother, however, is frustrated because she is unable to find the ideal matches for her granddaughters. Grandma doesn’t give up. Her ultimate goal in life is to find three suitable men.
• “Yellow,” directed by Chris Chan Lee. A normal evening turns into a wild and desperate scavenger hunt for eight high school friends in this coming-of-age dramedy. When the group rallies to help a friend who was robbed, the lines between adolescent and adult are blurred in this 1997 classic.
Grand Jury, Short Film Awards
This year’s 33rd LAAPFF competition line-up for Grand Jury Awards for North American feature films is rich with stories and insights from important and nuanced perspectives from creative talent across the spectrum.
Competition narratives — “Cardinal X” (Angie Wang), “Chee and T” (Tanuj Chopra), “Columbus” (Kogonada), “Gook” (Justin Chon), “I Can I Will I Did” (Nadine Truong), “The Lockpicker” (Randall Okita), “Norman Jones” (Mike Sakamoto), “Wexford Plaza” (Joyce Wong), “Window Horses” (Ann Marie Fleming)
Competition documentaries — “95 and 6 to Go” (Kimi Takesue), “A Time to Swim” (Ashley Duong), “Finding Kukan” (Robin Lung), “Ghost Magnet Roach Motel” (Shinpei Takeda), “Mele Murals” (Tadashi Nakamura), “Mixed Match” (Jeff Chiba Stearns), “Resistance at Tule Lake” (Konrad Aderer). “Save My Seoul” (Jason Y. Lee), “Unbroken Glass” (Dinesh Sabu), “Who Is Arthur Chu?” (Yu Gu and Scott Drucker)
LAAPFF was approved by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences late last year with this 33rd edition being the first where recipients of the film festival’s qualifying awards will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live-Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards without standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with Academy rules. The winner of the Golden Reel Award will be eligible to enter the Academy short film competition.
Contenders include: “And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool” (Makoto Nagahisa), “Coin Boy” (Li Chuan-Yang), “Deer God” (Tomorrow Mingtian), “Hold On” (Christine Turner), “I Am Jupiter I Am the Biggest Planet” (Matthew Victor Pastor), “Pria” (Yudho Aditya), “Hold Me/Ca Caw Ca Caw” (Renee Zhan), “Lola Loleng” (Cheryl Tagyamon), “Remember” (Shunsaku Hayashi)
“We’re very excited and honored for our festival to be a short film Academy qualifying fest,” said VC Executive Director Francis Cullado. “In our continued effort to support our filmmakers, we hope this designation opens new avenues of recognition for them.”
Additionally, the LAAPFF establishes this year the Golden Reel Award for Excellence in Documentary Short Films.
This stellar inaugural class includes: “Forever, Chinatown” (James Q. Chan), “Occasionally, I Saw Glimpses of Hawai’i” (Christopher Makoto Yogi), “Please Come Again” (Alisa Yang), “Tough” (Jennifer Zheng), “Under the Same Sky” (Yoyo Li)
After Closing Night on May 4 in Los Angeles, the LAAPFF will continue with a Festival Encore Program May 5 through 11 in Buena Park at the brand new CGV Buena Park 8 with encore screenings of select films and a special slate of works by award-winning Vietnamese filmmakers.
“It’s our firm belief that the wonderful offerings of Festival Week 2017 should be seen by as wide an audience as possible, and what better way to accomplish that than by partnering up with our longtime partners CGV Cinemas to expand our footprint into Orange County, in their brand-new CGV Cinemas at The Source in Buena Park,” said Abraham Ferrer, festival co-director and senior programmer. “In addition to presenting encore screenings of select festival faves, we’re excited to team with CGV and the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association to offer the best of new Vietnamese cinema.”
For program information and to purchase tickets, visit festival.vconline.org.
Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood), 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles
Aratani Theatre @ JACCC (Little Tokyo), 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles
Art Share LA (Arts District), 801 E. 4th Pl., Los Angeles
Tateuchi Democracy Forum @ Japanese American National Museum (Little Tokyo), 111 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles
Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St. (between Third and Second streets), Los Angeles
CGV Cinemas (Koreatown), 621 Western Ave. (between Sixth Street and Wilshire Boulevard), Los Angeles
CGV Buena Park 8 Cinemas (Orange County), 6988 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
The Great Company (Downtown), 1917 Bay St. (between Wilson and Mateo streets), Los Angeles
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (Little Tokyo), 152 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles
Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd. (at Hayworth), West Hollywood