Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

April 23-30: The 31st Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) Lineup includes EVERYTHING BEFORE US, KTOWN COWBOYS, Shonali Bose’s MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW, Jennifer Phang’s ADVANTAGEOUS, Arthur Dong’s FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. and THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR

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Visual Communications (VC), the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its lineup of films for the upcoming 31st edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running April 23-30, 2015. This annual film celebration will be presented across Los Angeles from Little Tokyo to the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles to Koreatown and to West Hollywood featuring 134 films from over 20 countries. 

VC proudly celebrates 31 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind.  The LAAPFF launches the pre-celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 130 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international directors from over 20 countries.  For over three decades, the Festival has presented more than 3,700 films and shorts by Asian American and Asian international artists.  This year, a total of 134 films comprised of 32 feature films and 102 shorts will be showcased throughout the eight-day fest.

VC_MINI_PHOTOS_2The 31st edition of the Film Festival kicks off with the World Premiere of Wong Fu Productions’ first feature film EVERYTHING BEFORE US from directors Wesley Chan, Ted Fu and Philip Wang starring Aaron Yoo (“DISTURBIA;” “21”), Brandon Soo Hoo (“ENDERS GAME;” “TROPIC THUNDER”), Brittany Ishibashi (“REVENGE OF THE BRIDESMAIDS;” “EAGLE EYE”) and introducing Victoria Park.  The film is the first feature film production to be developed and produced through the VC Film Development Fund in collaboration with Comcast.

EVERYTHING BEFORE US screens Opening Night April 23 at 7PM at the Aratani Theatre at the JACCC in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles.

“We are excited and proud to be opening with EVERYTHING BEFORE US,” states VC Interim Executive Director Francis Cullado.  “It is imperative for our organization to support our filmmakers and content creators by producing feature films. Through the VC Film Development Fund, we are able to work together with talented and groundbreaking creative artists such as Wong Fu Productions, one of the first successful filmmaking teams of the YouTube generation, with over 2.4 million subscribers. Funding their first feature gave us the opportunity to truly to nurture Wong Fu’s evolution to narrative feature filmmaking. This is a milestone.”

The Festival Centerpiece Presentation of the West Coast premiere of KTOWN COWBOYS from the talented Daniel Park takes us back to Los Angeles’ K-Town, home of designer hotels, noraebangs, Korean BBQ joints and more.  Park’s award winning web series by the same name is now a full length feature, and reunites that fun loving crew of young bucks trolling the bars and cafes and hangouts of LA’s Koreatown including Jason (Shane Yoon), Sunny (Sunn Wee), Peter (Peter Jae), Danny (Danny Cho) and Robby (Bobby Choy) back together again. KTOWN COWBOYS will screen Saturday, April 25 at 8PM at the Aratani Theatre at the JACCC in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles.

VC_MINI_PHOTOS_3The Festival Centerpiece documentary presentation is the West Coast premiere of the award winning TWINSTERS from Samantha Futerman and Ryan Miyamoto.  TWINSTERS is the real-life story of actress Samantha Futerman and budding fashion designer Anaïs Bordier – twin sisters separated shortly after birth and respectively adopted by American and French families. Discovering their existence for the first time via social media, their unique experiences are documented through a series of video blogs, Skype conversations and real-time footage.  Every intimate moment is captured from their first meeting to the DNA test results, home visits and their first visit back to Seoul. The film explores the idea of family, adoption, nature vs, nurture, and the power of social media, ultimately redefining conventional definitions of “family.”  TWINSTERS screens Saturday April 25 at 5PM at the Aratani Theatre at the JACCC in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles.

Closing out this year’s celebration is the Los Angeles premiere of the acclaimed MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW from director Shonali Bose. Based loosely on the experiences of the director’s own sister, MARGARITA is a winning film with vitality and heart. Kalki Koechlin stars as Laila, a Delhi University student and aspiring writer who crafts lyrics and electronic sounds for an indie band. A wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, Laila is an adventurous soul who doesn’t let much get in the way of her life. When Laila is admitted to New York University and leaves India with her mother (Revathy) for Manhattan, she meets a fiery activist, Khanum (Sayani Gupta), who challenges her beliefs, sparks her creativity, and, eventually seduces her. Thus, she embarks on a journey of sexual discovery that threatens the relationships between her family and friends, yet offers a way to gain a measure of independence and self-worth.

“Our lineup this year of the number of Asian American filmmakers and Asian American stories is impressive,” states Festival Co-Director David Magdael.  “Our Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night films all represent stories and directors based here in the U.S.  Asian Pacific American filmmakers make up over half of our feature film lineup and we are very excited that our own filmmakers are raising the bar in terms of creating and producing feature films that add to the American cinematic experience and to our ever growing Asian American Cinema.”

Arthur Dong's Forbidden City U.S.A.  Choreographer Walt Biggerstaff with the chorus of Andy Wong's Chinese Skyroom, the first Chinatown nightclub in the world (San Francisco, 1937)! Photo courtesy of the Andy Wong Collection.

Arthur Dong’s Forbidden City U.S.A.
Choreographer Walt Biggerstaff with the chorus of Andy Wong’s Chinese Skyroom, the first Chinatown nightclub in the world (San Francisco, 1937)! Photo courtesy of the Andy Wong Collection.

This year’s Film Festival casts its Artist Spotlight on the award winning documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong.  Dong will present a re-mastered version of his classic FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A., from original film elements by the UCLA Film & Television Archive on Sunday, April 26, 2015. 

GRANT AVENUE FOLLIES will be performing at the LA screening of Forbidden City, U.S.A. on April 26. Members include veterans dancers from San Francisco's golden era of Chinatown nightclubs. Photo courtesy of Arthur Dong/Facebook

GRANT AVENUE FOLLIES will be performing at the LA screening of Forbidden City, U.S.A. on April 26. Members include veterans dancers from San Francisco’s golden era of Chinatown nightclubs. Photo courtesy of Arthur Dong/Facebook

The presentation includes live performances by San Francisco favorites, the Grant Avenue Follies, starring original dancers from the Chinatown nightclub era: Ivy Tam, Cynthia Yee, and Pat Chin. Dong will also give a presentation highlighting his critically acclaimed book, “Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs 1936-1970.” A reception and book signing follows.

forbidden city usaDong will also present the Southern California premiere of his latest film THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR which tells the dramatic story about the most recognizable survivor of the Cambodian genocide – a man who became a world ambassador justice in his homeland, only be murdered in a LA Chinatown alley – a case still muddled with conspiracy theories. This special Spotlight program takes place on Sunday, April 26 beginning at 4:30PM with FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. and then at 7:30PM with THE KILLING FIELDS OF DR. HAING S. NGOR at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum @ Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles. Click here  for more information and to purchase tickets to the screenings. 

PHOTO: Dr. Haing S. Ngor on location for “The Killing Fields.” Courtesy the Dr. Haing S. Ngor Archive

PHOTO: Dr. Haing S. Ngor on location for “The Killing Fields.” Courtesy the Dr. Haing S. Ngor Archive

“Arthur Dong is one of our most prolific filmmakers of our time and our community,” says longtime Visual Communications staff member Abraham Ferrer. “We are proud to have Arthur bring back the classic FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A. and then present his latest film and discussion around the controversial case of the murder of Academy Award® winning actor Dr. Haing S. Ngor.  This will be a very exciting and eye opening session at the Festival.”

Filmmaker Arthur Dong and cinematographer Stephen Lighthill. Photo by Zand Gee

Filmmaker Arthur Dong and cinematographer Stephen Lighthill. Photo by Zand Gee

Arthur Dong is an  Oscar®-nominated and three-time Sundance award winning filmmaker. A San Francisco native who has earned a multitude of prestigious awards for not only his work in film, but also for his public service, Arthur Dong is an inspiration for Asian American filmmakers worldwide. With over three decades of championing equality through telling Asian American and LGBTQIA stories, Dong’s films have been theatrically distributed throughout the United States, broadcast internationally, and continue to be featured at film festivals worldwide. Known for his prowess utilizing the art of film as a means to investigate social issues and examine undisclosed parts of Asian American and LGBT history and identity, Dong’s voice has spread much further than film alone. As a film student at San Francisco State University, Arthur Dong produced Sewing Woman, his Academy Award nominated short documentary in 1984. The film focused on his mother’s immigration to America from China. Instead of finding an outside distributer for the film, Dong then started his own company, DeepFocus Productions, and serves as its producer, director and writer. Dong has produced, directed, written, edited, and filmed independent films on social issues such as gay rights and the Chinese American experience. He has gone on to produce many other highly praised films including Coming Out Under Fire, winner of the Peabody Award in 1995. A two-time Rockefeller Media Arts Fellow as well as a Guggenheim Fellow in Film, Dong has served on the boards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Film Independent, OutFest, and the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress. In addition to the 1995 Peabody Award for  his highly praised film Coming Out Under Fire, the honors include three Sundance Film Festival awards, an Oscar nomination, the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award, Taipei’s Golden Horse Award, a GLAAD Media Award, and five Emmy nominations. Dong has taught documentary film around the world and his impact on the film industry is undeniable. CAAMFest 2015 Honors Filmmaker Arthur Dong with World Premiere Screenings of Forbidden City, USA (3/14), The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor (3/15) & In Conversation with B. Ruby Rich (3/20)

VC_MINI_PHOTOS_4The LAAPFF is again ecstatic to present at the Festival two programs with a long and historic significance to Visual Communications: The Armed With a Camera Fellowship and Digital Histories. The Armed With a Camera Fellowship nurtures the next generation of Asian Pacific American media artists to capture their world, surrounding, and outlook on life. Past fellows have gone on to premiere award-winning feature films as well as building a career in television. These short films will be a part of the crowd-pleasing program DIGITAL POSSE on Wednesday, April 29 at 8PM at the Aratani Theatre at the JACCC in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles.

Since 2003, Digital Histories has provided a professional and artistic work environment for underserved, ethnic-minority seniors in the LA-based Asian Pacific American community. Digital Histories will screen on Sunday, April 26 at 2:30PM at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum, JANM – Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles

The LAAPFF will also feature this year’s edition of C3 – the Conference For Creative Content where creative and Hollywood industry leaders join together to create a dialogue with the community discussing important issues and trends taking place in the entertainment arena.  This year’s C3 marks the fifth edition of this important gathering of creatives and decision makers both in front and behind the camera and in film, network TV, cable TV, and new media. The C3 theme this year is “Celebrating Normalcy.”

“As showrunner and creator Shonda Rhimes spoke in March, telling stories involving women, people of color and LGBTQ characters should not be considered rare and ‘diverse’. It’s a reflection of our world, and in this case ‘normalizing’,” states Milton Liu, VC’s Director of Programs and Artist Services. “Partnering with the industry guilds such as Writers Guild of America (WGA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), the SAG–Producers Industry Advancement Cooperation Fund, and the Motion Picture Editors Guild, this year’s C3 will be dissecting ways in which normalizing continues to be a constant battle in Hollywood.” 

C3 takes place over the weekend of April 25 and 26 in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum, JANM – Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles.

Every year, the LAAPFF International Showcase of new works from Asian highlights films and filmmakers from throughout the continent.  This year is no different as the Festival boasts acclaimed features from Vietnam, the Peoples Republic of China, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong.

VC_MINI_PHOTOS_5“Our International Showcase is one of the strongest ever,” states Festival Co-Director Anderson Le. “We have some amazing films from all over Asia including award winning documentaries, romantic comedies, thrillers and outstanding dramatic stories.  This year, we have something for everyone.”

INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE

  • 2030 (NUOC) (Vietnam) (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo
  • CAT FUNERAL (South Korea) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Lee Jong-hoon
  • THE CHINESE MAYOR (PRC) (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Hao Zhou
  • HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS (EVERY TIME) (Thailand/South Korea/United States) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Josh Kim
  • IN THE ABSENCE OF THE SUN (Indonesia) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Lucky Kuswandi
  • KUNG FU KILLER (Hong Kong) (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Teddy Chen
  • THE LAST REEL (Cambodia) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Kulikar Sotho
  • RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS (Malaysia) (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Edmund Yeo
  • (SEX) APPEAL (Taiwan) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Wang Wei-ming
  • THAT THING CALLED MEANT-TO-BE (Philippines) (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Antoinette Jadeone
  • THE VANCOUVER ASAHI (Japan) (L.A. Premiere) Dir.; Yuya Ishii
  • WE ARE MOLUCCANS (Indonesia) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.; Angga Dwimas Sasongko
  • WHERE I AM KING (Philippines) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Carlos Siguion-Reyna
  • THE WORLD OF KANAKO (Japan) (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Nakashima Tetsuya

In addition, the LAAPFF is proud to present the following special presentations:

EAST OF MAIN STREET – Dir.: Jonathan Yi Conceived as a project to demonstrate the breadth of Asian Pacific American voices and stories, EAST OF MAIN STREET is a multi-part series created for HBO by independent producer Jonathan Yi of eyepatch Productions. Episodes exploring those who have pursued non-traditional careers, observed significant life milestones, and sounded off on what makes them happy or angry are part of the wide spectrum that comprise the series.  A special episode will be screened and a discussion will follow.  Friday, April 24, 5PM, Tateuchi Democracy Forum, JANM – Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles

HIMALAYA SONG – A multimedia presentation by Gingger Shankar, Mridu Chandra and Dave Liang from The Shanghai Restoration ProjectHIMALAYA SONG merges film, live music, and narration in a critically acclaimed multimedia presentation conceptualized, produced, and performed by a trio of internationally renowned artists. Gingger Shankar is an extraordinarily gifted singer, virtuoso violinist, composer, songwriter, and only woman to play the double violin — a unique instrument that covers the entire orchestra range. Mridu Chandra has produced award-winning documentaries and narrative films that have premiered at Sundance and other prestigious festivals. Accomplished classical and jazz pianist, Dave Liang, is producer of The Shanghai Restoration Project, a group that blends Chinese instruments and culture with hip-hop and electronica. Today’s music blends with traditional instruments on a cinematic journey through past, present, and future — myth and reality.  This performance will include an exclusive work-in-progress preview of the trio’s upcoming production, NARI.  Saturday, April 25, 7:30PM, Tateuchi Democracy Forum, JANM – Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles

UNBROKEN BLOSSOMS – Staged reading of New Play by Philip W. Chung; Directed by Jeff Liu  After accusations of racism dogged the release of his masterpiece THE BIRTH OF A NATION, director D.W. Griffith vowed to prove that he was not a bigot. So in 1919, Griffith directed and produced BROKEN BLOSSOMS — Hollywood’s first interracial love story featuring a Chinese man and a Caucasian woman.  And to make sure his film was “authentic”, he hired two Chinese American consultants: one an aspiring filmmaker and the other a devoted family man. UNBROKEN BLOSSOMS is the story of those two men, the making of a classic movie, and how even the best of intentions can go terribly awry.  Philip W. Chung is the co-founder/co-Artistic Director of the acclaimed Asian American theater company, Lodestone Theatre Ensemble.  He currently oversees the creative content for YOMYOMF, the digital media company founded by director Justin Lin (the FAST & FURIOUS franchise) and is a writer/producer on the upcoming Lin-produced feature HOLLYWOOD ADVENTURES.  Monday, April 27, 7PM, Tateuchi Democracy Forum, JANM – Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles

TOP 8 – The #WeOwnthe8th Short Film Program Held at the creativity-inducing venue The Great Company, #WeOwnthe8th stems from the grassroots movement spearheaded by actor/artist Dante Basco (THE DEBUT, HOOK) and showcases its nationwide API filmmaking talent. Conceived as a response to the API community’s current role within the creative industries, this movement seeks to foster creation of opportunities while providing a platform for supportive and positive mutual growth. Tuesday, April 28, 7:30PM, The Great Company – the Arts District – Downtown Los Angeles

CRANE-KICK COMMENTARY: THE KARATE KID, PART II – A Film Screening and Live Commentary with Phil Yu and Friends Inspired by “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and local improv groups such as Cold Tofu, noted blogger Phil Yu (aka Angry Asian Man) leads an impromptu panel in a real-time commentary of THE KARATE KID, PART II — director John Avildsen’s follow-up to the 1984 blockbuster. Phil and friends re-visit what happens when Danny (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) travels to Okinawa to visit Miyagi’s dying father -— reuniting with the old sweetheart (Nobu McCarthy); meeting the winsome niece (Tamlyn Tomita); and encountering the local bully Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). And let’s not forget the famous “drum” technique. Tuesday, April 28, 7PM, Tateuchi Democracy Forum, JANM – Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles.

VC_MINI_PHOTOS_1The 31ST LAAPFF competition film line-up is as follows: 

  COMPETITION NARRATIVES

  • ADVANTAGEOUS (West Coast Premiere) Dir.: Jennifer Phang
  • EVERYTHING BEFORE US (World Premiere) Dirs.: Wesley Chan, Philip Wang
  • KTOWN COWBOYS (West Coast Premiere) Dir.: Daniel Park
  • LOVE ARCADIA (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Lawrence Gan
  • MAN UP (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Justin Chon
  • MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Shonali Bose; Co-Dir.: Nilesh Maniyar
  • MISS INDIA AMERICA Dir.: Ravi Kapoor
  • THERE IS A NEW WORLD SOMEWHERE (World Premiere) Dir.: Li Lu

    COMPETITION DOCUMENTARIES 

  • CHANGING SEASON (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Jim Choi
  • EVERYTHING WILL BE (U.S. Premiere) Dir.: Julia Kwan
  • I HAVE SEEN MY LAST BORN (World Premiere) Dirs.: Samuel Gray Anderson, Lee Isaac Chung
  • JUNE BRIDE: REDEMPTION OF A YAKUZA (World Premiere) Dir.: Derek Shimoda
  • TOP SPIN (L.A. Premiere) Dirs.: Mina T. Son, Sara Newens
  • TWINSTERS (West Coast Premiere) Dirs.; Samantha Futerman, Ryan Miyamoto
  • VISIONS IN THE DARK: THE LIFE OF PINKY THOMPSON (West Coast Premiere) Dir.: Ty Sanga
  • WINNING GIRL (L.A. Premiere) Dir.: Kimberlee Bassford

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 are on sale now. 

The Festival is honored to return home to Little Tokyo this year and is proud to be partnering with our following screening venues across Los Angeles:

  • Aratani Theatre @ Japanese American Cultural & Community Center – Little Tokyo – 244 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA  90012
  • Tateuchi Democracy Forum @ Japanese American National Museum – Little Tokyo – 111 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
  • Downtown Independent – Downtown LA (DTLA)  – 251 S. Main Street, (between 3rd and 2nd Streets), Los Angeles, CA  90012
  • CGV Cinemas – Koreatown – Mid-Wilshire  – 621 Western Avenue (between 6th Street and Wilshire Blvd.), Los Angeles, CA 90005
  • The Great Company – Downtown LA (DTLA)  – 1917 Bay Street (between Wilson and Mateo Streets), Los Angeles, CA  90021
  • Directors Guild of America – West Hollywood  – 7920 Sunset Blvd. (at Hayworth), West Hollywood, CA  90046

 The 2015 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is sponsored by:

PLATINUM: Comcast NBC Universal; Sony Pictures Entertainment; GOLD: Directors Guild of America; Nielsen; SILVER: HBO; BRONZE: FilmLA; Creative DCP; SAG Indie; STAR: Modern VideoFilm; Motion Picture Editors Guild; SAG-AFTRA; Union Bank; Writers Guild of America/West; Yu & Co.; VENUE SPONSORS: Aratani Theatre/Japanese American Cultural & Community Center; Directors Guild of America; Japanese American National Museum; Downtown Independent; CGV Cinemas; The Great Company; MEDIA SPONSORS: AngryAsianMan.com; KPFK – FM; LA-18 KSCI; LA Weekly; MYX TV; Yelp; GOVERNMENT: National Endowment for the Arts; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; California Arts Council; Cal Humanities; FOUNDATION: Aratani Foundation; James Irvine Foundation; Weingart Foundation; Parsons Foundation; SAG-P IACF; Asian Pacific Community Fund; Sony Pictures Entertainment;  RECEPTION: Asahi; Kirin; LA-18 KSCI; Stella Artois; Ketel One; MYXTV; IN KIND: Telepath Corporation; IKON Office Supplies; Meiji; LA18; HBO; Red Giant.

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington and Roscoe Orman. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

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Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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This entry was posted on March 31, 2015 by in Asian American Artists, Asian American Issues, Entertainment, Film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .