Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Multimedia: AAIFF 09 Opening Night Screening of Claustrophobia

It was standing room only last night at the New York premiere of Ivy Ho’s Claustrophobia, starring Karena Lam, Ekin Cheng, Felix Lok, Derek Tsang, Chucky Woo, Eric Tsang and Andy Hui, which kicked off the 32nd Asian American International Film Festival, presented by Asian CineVison, at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas.

The screening was followed by a brief Q & A with screenwriter and director Ivy Ho, moderated by Asia Society’s La Frances Hu, Senior Program Officer of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts at the Asia Society. Ms. Hui will conduct a One-on-One with director Ivy Ho on Saturday, July 25 at 3pm @ MOCA. One-on-One with Ivy Ho

After the Q&A, opening night attendees were shuttled in Toyotas to BLVD on the Lower East Side for the afterparty.

This year’s slate includes 14 feature films, 50 short films, panels, workshops and film receptions. The films will be screened at three locations: Clearview Chelsea Cinemas, 260 West 23rd St, across the street at the brand new School of Visual Arts Theater, and the new Museum of Chinese in America building, 215 Centre St. (between Howard and Grand Sts.), one block north of Canal St.

The Centerpiece Presentation on Saturday, July 25, will showcase a festival circuit favorite, Children of Invention, directed by Tze Chun. Concluding the festival will be the Closing Night Presentation, the New York Premiere of Fruit Fly, a musical comedy directed by H.P. Mendoza.

The 32nd Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) runs through July 26, 2009.

Friday 7.24.09
5pm @ MOCA Home Is Where the Heart Is, Canada, South Korea, USA
Immigration is more than a series of border crossings. Whether in New York, San Francisco, or Taiwan, the immigrants in these shorts must reconcile their places in the new world with their foundations in the old. Their lives, by choice or by force, plot a new course for the meaning of “home.”

Included shorts:
The Veiled Commodity, dir. Dickson Chow, Vinh Chung
A Green Mountain in the Drawer, dir. Hwa Jun Lee
20 30 40, dir. Mei-Yu Lee
Here to Stay, dir. ManSee Kong
Lower East Side: An Endangered Place, dir. MA Shumin

Ngawang Choephel's Tibet in Song

Ngawang Choephel's Tibet in Song

6pm @ Clearview Chelsea Tibet In Song, USA
Dir: Ngawang Choephel
Ethnomusicologist Ngawang Choephel travels across Tibet to record and study the rich diversity of traditional folk songs but is arrested by the Chinese government for suspected espionage.

Director Ngawang Choephel will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

Sarba Das' Karma Calling

Sarba Das' Karma Calling

6:15pm @ SVA Karma Calling, USA
Dir: Sarba Das
Cast: Darshan Jariwala, Sulekha Das, Gargi Mukherjee, Samrat Chakrabarti, Kavi Ladnier
The Raj family is definitely not a household comprised of your stereotypical Asian model minorities living the American Dream. On top of the family’s troubled finances, the family hosts a recently widowed relative, Mausi, a fount of comic disasters.

Director Sarba Das, Co-writer/Producer Sarthak Das, Producer Rita Parikh, Kavi Ladnier, Gargi Mukerjee, and Samrat Chakrabarti will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

7pm @ Tribeca Cinemas
Work-In-Progress Workshop
Anna May Wong: In Her Own WordsIndependent film producer Karin Chien leads our annual WORK IN PROGRESS program, which guides filmmakers through the process of molding an unfinished work into the final cut. This event was organized as part of the Media Coalition for Artists of Color Networking Salon. Admission is free for all members of Media Coalition organizations.

Anna May Wong was the first Asian American actress to achieve critical acclaim in Hollywood, ultimately becoming a fashion icon and international starlet. Her success in the face of overt racism and discrimination has fascinated historians and filmmakers alike. This new documentary is staged from the dressing room of her one woman cabaret show in Europe during the late 1930s. Relying on primary source material from the actress herself, filmmaker Yunah Hong interweaves reenactments of the show with archive footage and interview clips to finally tell the story of Wong’s life in her own words.

Space is limited, so please RSVP in advance if you wish to attend this program by clicking the “Purchase Tickets” link above or by emailing

Director Yunah Hong will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.
7:15pm @ MOCA 72 Hour Shootout
View the top 10 films from the Asian American Film Lab’s 6th annual 72 Hour Shootout, a competition in which teams have 72 grueling hours to write, shoot, and edit a short film on a surprise theme. This year’s surprise theme is TIME’S UP.

This program is presented by the AAFilmlab, a collaborative of New York based Asian American filmmakers who meet regularly to hone their craft and to share resources. Please visit for more information.

Hubad by Mark Gary and Denisa Reyes

Hubad by Mark Gary and Denisa Reyes

8:45pm @ Clearview Chelsea Hubad, Phillipines
Dir: Mark Gary and Denisa Reyes
Cast: Peque Gallaga, Irma Adlawan, Nonie Buencamino
In a conservative atmosphere, theater director Andre tries to break new ground with a hyper sexual play. He faces obstacles in funding his project and working with his actors, but passion ignites between the two middle aged leads as theater and life becomes intertwined.

Directors Mark Gary and Denisa Reyes will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

Adam Kane's Formosa Betrayed

Adam Kane's Formosa Betrayed

8:45pm @ SVA Formosa Betrayed, USA
Dir: Adam Kane
Cast: James Van Der Beek, Wendy Crewson, Will Tiao, Kenneth Tsang
FBI agent Jake Kelly’s investigation of a loved professor’s murder leads him to Taiwan, where he finds that the killers are part of a terrible web of politics that he only starts to cut through when he finds a friend in a local activist.

Director/Producer Adam Kane, Producer/Writer/Actor Will Tiao, and Actor Tzi Ma will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.
10pm @ SLATE AAIFF SoundMiX
The AAIFF SoundMiX showcases an eclectic range of music videos from up and coming artists. With live performances by Big Phony, P.I.C., and Guest DJ set by Ahmed Hashim!

54 West 21st St.
New York, NY 10010

10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. (Doors open at 9:00 p.m.)
Free for guests with same day festival ticket. Must present stub at the door.
$5 General admission for the entire night.

Music videos being screened include:

Dir. Yasmine Gomez
Trt. 4 min.

Dir. Yohei Ito, Shingo Igata
Trt. 2:20 min.

Masia One
Dir. Cazhmere
Trt. 3:31 min.

Thao With the Get Down Stay Down
Dir. Norman Foreman
Trt. 3:02 min.

Big Phony
Dir. Chris Chan Lee
Trt. 5:00 min.

Far East Movement
Dir. Wong Fu Productions
Trt. 5:00 min.

Saturday 7.25.09
12pm @ MOCA
Youth Shorts Program
Through the medium of film, these young artists who are all under the age of 21 document the issues surrounding them. They provide fresh perspectives on subjects that might ordinarily be overlooked by their seniors.

Included shorts:
Vote for Change, dir. Clin Xu
America’s Next Top Immigrant, dir. Daichka Danastar, Theodore Duleh, Frantzsis Casimir, Caleale Goodridge, Natacha Jean, Tatiana Lam Lo, Corina Leu, Jean Tejada, Sarah Singh, Godwina Titus
Free Matt Wong, dir. Akio Mitsunaga
That Ain’t Right, dir. Rayhan Islam and Ericka Vasquez
Ayi’s Story, dir. Iemi Hernandez-Kim
Ladies in Armor, dir. Masami Kubo
Dick, Dick & Jane: The Modern American Family, dir. Mari Jacobson
Beautify Our Town, dir. Bingie Huang
Splinters, dir. Nancy Huang
12pm @ Clearview Chelsea Karma Calling, USA
Dir: Sarba Das
Cast: Darshan Jariwala, Sulekha Das, Gargi Mukherjee, Samrat Chakrabarti, Kavi Ladnier
The Raj family is definitely not a household comprised of your stereotypical Asian model minorities living the American Dream. On top of the family’s troubled finances, the family hosts a recently widowed relative, Mausi, a fount of comic disasters.

Director Sarba Das, Co-writer/Producer Sarthak Das, Producer Rita Parikh, Kavi Ladnier, Gargi Mukerjee, and Samrat Chakrabarti will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

Preceded by Incongruent Body.
2:15pm @ MOCA Love, Lust, & Desire, Taiwan, Australia, USA, Singapore, Brazil, South Korea
(this is a short films program)
total running time: 1hr 26m
Love, be it between father and daughter or husband and wife, often comes with a price. Things are not always what they seem; sometimes love leads you to very dark places. This series of shorts dares viewers to journey into the hearts and minds of women who must challenge gender roles in the face of familial dictatorship, loneliness, sexuality and jealousy.

Included shorts:
The Eighteenth Birthday Party, dir. Ching-Shen Chuang
Aquarium, dir. Motoko Shimizu
The Perfect Woman, dir. Anthony Ma
Laura, dir. Jon Maxwell
Like Crazy (à la folie), dir. Sanif Olek
26, Best Korean Girl (Om Tchin A), dir. Paula Un Mi Kim

One on one with Ivy Ho

One on one with Ivy Ho

3pm @ MOCA One-on-One with Ivy Ho
One of Hong Kong’s most celebrated film writers, Ivy Ho makes her directorial debut with 2009’s CLAUSTROPHOBIA. Born in Hong Kong, Ivy began writing screenplays when she was nineteen years old. As a young woman, she wrote numerous scripts for television on a freelance basis while tending to a full-time career in public relations and advertising. Her career breakthrough was the 1996 success of COMRADES: ALMOST A LOVE STORY, which was directed by Peter Chan.

Ivy continued to write screenplays to critical and popular acclaim, winning awards for her contributions to Ann Hui’s JULY RHAPSODY in 2001 and Benny Chan’s DIVERGENCE in 2005. Her work has covered a wide range of genres, from romantic love stories to suspenseful crime thrillers. In this rare chance to meet Ivy in person, the esteemed filmmaker will discuss her creative process as a screenwriter as well as the challenges and discoveries that come with her new role as a director.

Moderated by La Frances Hui, Senior Program Officer of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts at the Asia Society.

Jeff Adachi's You Don't Know Jack

Jeff Adachi's You Don't Know Jack

3:30pm @ Clearview Chelsea You Don’t Know Jack, USA
Dir: Jeff Adachi
Way before Harold and Kumar’s search for sliders, before we learned about Drifting in Tokyo’s parking structures, and before the All-American Girl Margaret Cho’s foray into network television, there was Jack Soo.

You Don’t Know Jack, reveals the inspiring story of Jack Soo, who grew up in Oakland as Goro Suzuki. Soo, a six-foot-tall man who was turned down for hundreds of roles because he was too tall for an Asian, is an extraordinary example of someone who followed his dreams to be an actor, but refused to play stereotypical roles. An intimate look at comedy, community, and ethnic identity, the film features rare photographs of Soo’s life and career and fond recollections by his daughter, fellow cast members, high-school friends, and fans. Filmmaker Jeff Adachi has created a film that demands not only that we know Soo and his legacy, but also that we learn from his spirit, which was alive and unyielding, in spite of the discrimination of his time.

Director Jeff Adachi will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.
4:30pm @ MOCA Life On The Edge, USA, Singapore
this is a short films program)
total running time: 1hr 08m
This series of documentaries highlights the lives of those who, in their pursuit of an ideal, cannot afford to take anything for granted. Standing up for the displaced, the marginalized, and the silenced, the figures in these films aren’t larger than life. This, in fact, is what makes their stories so vital.

Included shorts:
Crossing Midnight, dir. Kim Snyder
A Song for Ourselves, dir. Tadashi Nakamura
Story of a Businesswoman, dir. Mikiko Sasaki
No Joke Burma, dir. Li-Anne Huang
4:45pm @ SVA White on Rice, USA
Dir: David Boyle
Cast: Hiroshi Watanabe
Hung up over his divorce and sharing a room with his 10 year-old nephew, Jimmy can’t even keep a job without help from brother-in-law, Tak. When Jimmy falls for Tak’s niece, Ramona, it seems like he may be heading for trouble, but all is not yet lost in this quest for love.

Director David Boyle and Actor Hiroshi Watanabe will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.
6pm @ Clearview Chelsea Whatever It Takes, USA
The first year of the Bronx Center of Science and Mathematics is documented in this film. With a stated mission of patching the cracks in the education system, it’s clear that the odds are stacked against it.

Director Christopher Wong and Edward Tom, Principal of Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

Preceded by The Call Center.
6:45pm @ MOCA Here…Look At Me, USA, South Korea, Japan, Canada
(this is a short films program)
total running time: 1hr 31m
Identity is more than the sum of innate qualities—when born out of minority status, it can emerge as a form of personal creation. Here, we witness stories of individuals and communities whose identities reveal as much about their environments as they do about themselves.

Included shorts:
Fragmented Identities, dir. Stevan Mraovitch
Witness to Hiroshima, dir. Kathy Sloane
Incongruent Body, dir. Jian Lee
Beautiful Sisters, dir. Connie Chung
Red, Yellow, & Blue, dir. Changhee Chun
You Can Call Me Nikkie, dir. Irene Herrera
I Want to be a Desi 2, dir. Allan Tong
State of Yo, dir. Jason Karman
Waiting for a Train, dir. Oscar Bucher

Tze Chun's Children of Invention

Tze Chun's Children of Invention

7:45pm @ SVA Centerpiece Presentation: Children of Invention, USA
Dir: Tze Chun
Cast: Cindy Cheung, Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu, Stephen Gevedon
When their home is foreclosed on, the Cheng family moves into a unit in an unfinished apartment building, pushing mother and children to look for ways to pull in some extra income.

Director Tze Chun and actors Cindy Cheung and Crystal Chiu will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

To be followed by a reception at 310 Lounge.

9pm @ Clearview Chelsea Li Tong, China
Dir: Nian Liu
Cast: ZhIcun Zhao
Li Tong, a restless young girl, loses her bus pass one day after school. Her meandering trip home is the thread of this poignant “day in the life” tale, which wends its way through the various homes, personae and urban landscapes of contemporary Beijing.

Director Nian Liu and Producer Grady Granros will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

Preceded by Tatang.

Curtis Choy's Manilatown is in the Heart

Curtis Choy's Manilatown is in the Heart

Sunday 7.26.09
12pm @ Clearview Chelsea
Manilatown is in the HeartUSA
Dir: Curtis Choy
A documentary about the Manongs in San Francisco’s Manilatown and a look into the life of the late poet Al Robles, Manilatown Is In the Heart is a touching eulogy to an activist/historian who was outlived by the vanishing subject that he strived to preserve.

Preceded by A Song for Ourselves.
12pm @ MOCA Family Matters, Philippines, China, USA, France, Taiwan
(this is a short films program)
total running time: 1hr 28m
Family is taken to be a foundation, but in reality is a process: sometimes graceful, sometimes turbulent. This series of films exposes family members in moments of change and explores the motions of their growth as well as their dissolution.
Included shorts:
Tatang, dir. Jean Paolo (Nico) Hernandez
I Love Lakers, dir. Ying Liang
Arithmetic Lesson, dir. Wenhwa Ts’ao
Tiger, dir. Wing-Yee Wu
Family Viewing (Sèance Familiale), dir. Cheng-Chui Kuo
1pm @ MOCA Screenplay Reading: The Emperor has Arrived
Dir: Jay Paramsothy
“The Emperor Has Arrived” is a fish-out-of-water tale that centers on Raj Selvam, a cynical young Indian-American architect whose estranged father suddenly dies. Raj and his sister, Kavita, fly from New York City to Malaysia, where he must unexpectedly perform his father’s Hindu funeral ceremonies. Against a vibrant Malaysian backdrop, Raj performs an often-comical assortment of funeral rites, from washing his father’s body with coconut oil to bathing in the local river, all under the watchful eyes of his gregarious – and often bossy – Indian relatives. Meanwhile, Raj grows increasingly suspicious of his Uncle Siva, the family patriarch, whom he suspects of stealing his father’s will. As his father’s mysterious past slowly comes to light, Raj eventually discovers a long-hidden secret, one which has the power to change him, and the entire family, forever.

“The Emperor Has Arrived” was written by Jay Paramsothy and Catherine Torphy.

Admission to the Screenplay Reading is free, and complimentary tickets will be available at the venue beforehand on a first come, first serve basis.
2:15pm @ MOCA Fun & Fantasy, USA, Canada, Taiwan
this is a short films program)
total running time: 1hr 33m
Ranging from boisterous humor to out-of-body experiences, this set of shorts takes as much pleasure in bending reality as it does in making light of it. These films capture the whimsical, the supernatural, and the unexpected with a variety of takes on life.
Included shorts:
Civilian, dir. Seaton Lin
The Call Center, dir. Rumana Huq
Fate Scores, dir. Albert M. Chan
The Humberville Poetry Slam, dir. Daniel De Lorenzo, Emily Chang
Take Out, dir. Gerry Kim
I Don’t Sleep I Dream, dir. J.P. Chan
Walking While Sleeping, dir. Han Lee
Once…, dir. YuYing Chien
My Four Inch Precious, dir. Sou Yun Sim

2:45pm @ Clearview Chelsea Pastry, Hong Kong
Dir: Risky Liu
The youngest in a long line of daughters traces the story of her life through the weddings of her sisters. As each member of the family comes to terms with her own womanhood, a simple egg tart becomes the anchor of their experiences and emotions.

Director Risky Liu will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

Preceded by The Eighteenth Birthday Party.
3:30pm @ MOCA Copyright Panel
As technology evolves, the area that copyright laws govern has become more and more grey, spawning much debate on ownership and sharing. Join the discussion on this relevant topic for artists in a new era of media.
4:30pm @ MOCA CUNY Shorts Program
In collaboration with Asian American/ Asian Research Institute at the City University of New York, AAIFF showcases the best short films by CUNY student filmmakers. Covering a whole spectrum of genres including narrative, documentary and experimental films, these eight shorts demonstrate the vibrant energy from students testing the water in film media.
Included shorts:
Conflict Resolution, dir. Pyeunghun Baik
High or Low, dir. Kosuke Ikeda
The Edge of Heaven, dir. Juoak Kim
Julya, dir. Jon-Carlos Evans
Waste: Not in My Back Yard, dir. Youg-Hyun (Brad) Cho
Fantastic Glass Portrait, dir. Munjon Kim
Mama’s Heart, dir. Ben (Siu Pan) Ng

H.P. Mendoza's Fruitfly

H.P. Mendoza's Fruitfly

6pm @ Clearview Chelsea Closing Presentation: Fruit Fly
Dir: H. P. Mendoza
Cast: L.A. Renigen, Mike Curtis, Theresa Navarro, Aaron Zaragoza, E. S. Park
A naughty, fast-paced, punchy romp of a musical, Fruit Fly follows young performance artist Bethesda on her soul-searching journey to find a place for herself while trying her luck in the art scene.

To be followed by a reception at Velour.
AAIFF Website

Asian CineVision, Inc. is a not-for-profit national media arts organization dedicated to the development, promotion and preservation of film and video arts by and about people of Asian descent. Founded in 1976 by Hong Kong cinema legend Tsui Hark, Oscar-nominated director Christine Choy, Danny Yung, and Peter Chow, ACV began as a media activism organization. The organization continues to serve the Asian American community by promoting the works of Asian and Asian American filmmakers, and providing a window to the diverse experiences and livelihoods of the Asian diaspora. For more information on ACV, please visit

AAIFF is the first and longest running festival in the country devoted to showcasing films created by media artists of Asian descent and about the Asian community. Founded in 1978, AAIFF continues to be a leading showcase for Asian American film and video. For more information on AAIFF ’09, please visit

Tickets for programs can only be purchased at their respective venues.
Prices & Packages
Regular Screenings
12.50 General
11 Seniors/Students
10 ACV Members

Opening Presentation
50 Screening+Gala (General)
40 Screening+Gala (ACV Members)
30 Screening Only
30 Gala Only

Centerpiece Presentation (+Reception)
15 General
10 ACV Members

Closing Presentation
25 Screening+Gala (General)
20 Screening+Gala (ACV Members)
20 Screening Only
15 Gala Only

Three-for-two tickets valid for three regular screenings
25 General
22 Seniors & Students
20 ACV Members

Three-for-two ticket passes are only available for purchase over the phone & in-person.

All panels and workshops are 10 dollars except for Youth Workshop and Screenplay Reading which are free.

Related Articles:
Related Articles:
AAIFF 09 Closing Night Awards and H.P. Mendoza’s Fruit Fly
AAIFF Karma Calling, You Don’t Know Jack and Children of Invention
Jeff Adachi’s You Don’t Know Jack and Tzi Chun’s Children of Invention Screen at AAIFF 09
Multimedia: AAIFF 09 Opening Night Screening of Claustrophobia
Schedule at a Glance: Asian American International Film Festival AAIFF 2009
BD Wong Stars in La Jolla Production of Herringbone 8/1-8/30
Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story Screens at Rhode Island International Film Festival on 8/8
Japan Cuts Festival of New Japanese Film
Asian American International Film Festival 09 runs 7/23-7/26
In Arthur Dong’s Hollywood Chinese, Chinese Tinseltown Tales told by Asian Silver Screen Icons
Wat Misaka, First Person of Color Drafted in NBA
Review: HBO’s China’s Unnatural Disaster the Tears of Sichuan Province
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