March 29, 2013 – LOS ANGELES 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- 12, 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.
As Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind, the 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. Over the past 29 years, the Festival has presented more than 3,600 films and shorts by Asian American and Asian international artists. This year, 33 feature films and 108 shorts will be showcased throughout the 10-day fest.
The Festival will feature many returning filmmakers and producers who continue to make films and still hold true to their own voices as exemplified by amazing curated programs, special presentations and sneak previews of upcoming commercial releases, and the launch of two new programs for the production of new Asian American content. In addition, this year also offers an array of celebrated films from prestigious global film festivals including Sundance, Berlin, Toronto and Cannes Film Festival.
The LAAPFF 29th Edition kicks off with the Los Angeles premiere of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival hit LINSANITY, directed by Evan Jackson Leong, a longtime music video director, non-fiction filmmaker and Visual Communications/LAAPFF alum. This 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. Director Leong chronicles Jeremy Lin’s inspirational story long before that fateful month and at a 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.”
The U.S. Centerpiece Presentation features the insightful JAKE SHIMABUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS by award-winning documentary filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura (YELLOW BROTHERHOOD; PILGRIMAGE; A SONG FOR OURSELVES). Nakamura’s first feature film 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. LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS, which reveals the cultural and personal influences that have shaped the man and the musician, screens on Saturday, May 4 at the DGA.
The LAAPFF is pleased to welcome 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 grow and change at a rapid pace with respect to funding and getting productions off the ground, so do the available resources for filmmakers. Once again, Visual Communications, through the LAAPFF, will also host PROJECT CATALYST, a film and TV project development initiative specifically designed to help usher in new stories and ideas into production and distribution. PROJECT CATALYST serves as a launchpad 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 the contacts, information and confidence they need to make their film. This year, in an effort to find unique and visionary stories 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 award will be determined by an esteemed panel of jurors and 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 nurture and 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 focusses 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.
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 reflect 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)
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)
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)
The 2013 line-up of special presentations includes:
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)
For 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.
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.
The screenings in Long Beach will be held at the historic Art Theatre on Saturday, May 11.
ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL
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. Since 1983, the Film Festival has presented over 3,400 films and videos by Asian international and Asian American artists, and additionally features seminars and panels, in-person guest appearances, and filmmaker awards.
ABOUT VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS
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.
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Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.
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