By Lia Chang
The 38th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), presented by Asian CineVision, will run from July 23 – August 1, 2015 at various venues in Manhattan and Queens. As the nation’s first and longest running Asian American film festival, AAIFF 2015 celebrates the contributions of Asian and Asian Americans in media by showcasing new talent, highlighting local filmmakers and paying tribute to the trailblazers of the 21st century.
This year AAIFF 2015 features 10 days of Asian inspired film and food from the world’s most innovative Asian and Asian American artists. With over 50 films and videos from renowned filmmakers such as Oscar-winning filmmaker Ruby Yang and YouTube sensation WongFu Productions, AAIFF 2015 demonstrates the richness and diversity of Asian American voices in media.
OPENING NIGHT: MY VOICE, MY LIFE
AAIFF 2015 raises the opening night curtains with Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Ruby Yang’s feature film MY VOICE, MY LIFE. Following a group of under-privileged Hong Kong youngsters, MY VOICE, MY LIFE is the life affirming journey of self-discovery and growth as this group of misfits undergoes six-months of rigorous training to produce a musical on stage.
MY VOICE, MY LIFE will screen on July 23rd at 7:00 p.m. at Asia Society.
CENTERPIECE PRESENTATION: SEOUL SEARCHING
Making its New York debut as AAIFF 2015’s Centerpiece presentation, SEOUL SEARCHING is a fun coming-of-age feature, chronicling the shenanigans and personal journeys of a group of international Korean teens sent to a government-sponsored summer camp for a crash course in Korean culture. Directed by award-winning Korean American filmmaker Benson Lee, and starring Justin Chon (TWILIGHT, 21 & OVER, REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS) and Jessica Van (THE GAMBLER), this John Hughes-inspired dramedy delivers a pitch-perfect tale of teenage angst, modernized with a stellar Asian and Asian American cast.
SEOUL SEARCHING will screen on July 25th at 7:30 p.m. at Cinema Village East.
CLOSING NIGHT: EVERYTHING BEFORE US
Known for their YouTube channel and variety of short films and videos, AAIFF 2015 will close with the New York premiere of EVERYTHING BEFORE US, the first feature film from Wong Fu Productions. EVERYTHING BEFORE US tells the unique story of two couples trying their best to maintain and strengthen their love while navigating around the rules of an organization that monitors all romantic relationships.The film stars actors Aaron Yoo (“The Tomorrow People,” Disturbia), Ki Hong Lee (Maze Runner, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Randall Park (The Interview, “Fresh off the Boat”), Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic Thunder), Brittany Ishibashi (“Political Animals,” “Emily Owens M.D.”) and Victoria Park (Ravens Touch, Wine Club).
EVERYTHING BEFORE US will screen on August 1st at 8:00 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image.
SPECIAL PRESENTATION: ARTHUR DONG
Asian CineVision is honored to recognize Oscar®-nominated and three-time Sundance award-winning filmmaker Arthur Dong to the New York stage. A film visionary who has earned a multitude of prestigious awards for not only his work in film, but also for his public service, Dong is known for his prowess in utilizing the art of film as a means to investigate social issues and examine undisclosed parts of Asian American and LGBT history and identity. AAIFF 2015 is pleased to feature THE KILLING FIELDS OF HAING S. NGOR and FORBIDDEN CITY, U.S.A as well as a special on-stage conversation.
AAIFF IN FLUSHING
AAIFF 2015 is excited to return to Queens. Known as one of fastest-growing Asian American communities in New York and for its diverse Asian food scene, AAIFF 2015 is bringing together neighborhood food trucks and local food purveyors for five days of free community events including a “Made in Flushing” program to highlight the influence Flushing has had on the Asian American film industry. Highlights include free screenings of REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS, SIMPLE LIFE and OFF THE MENU at Queens Botanical Garden and Flushing Town Hall.
NEW YORK CITY PREMIERES
Each year AsianCineVision looks to bring the best and brightest Asian and Asian American films to New York audiences, and this year is no exception. AAIFF 2015 is pleased to present the following New York City premieres.
FACTORY BOSS, directed by Zhang Wei, is a compelling look into the heart of China’s manufacturing culture. Based on Wei’s personal experiences in Shenzhen, FACTORY BOSS follows the global economic effect of the rising demand for cheap Chinese labor and the social issues surrounding its labor force. With increasing competition pushing profit margins to a razor thin line, the future of not only the business, but also of the workers rest heavily on the shoulders of factory boss, Lin Dalin.
Directed by Taiwanese-Argentine filmmaker Juan Martin Hsu, LA SALADA is a multicultural story about the experience of new immigrants in Argentina. Blending the stories of Korean, Taiwanese and Bolivian immigrants who are not exactly at home, yet no longer belong to the countries they were born in, LA SALADA captures the constant struggle with identity issues, social exclusion and the generation gap that many immigrants face today.
In addition to it’s New York debut, HENERAL LUNA, directed by Jerrold Tarog will make its World Premiere at AAIFF 2015. Following the life of one of Philippine history’s most brilliant military men, General Antonio Luna, HENERAL LUNA is the story of General Luna during the Philippine-American war, as he tries to lead his countrymen against colonial masters and rise above their own raging disputes to fulfill the promise of the Philippine Revolution.
DRAGON BLADE, directed by Daniel Lee and starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody is a historical East meets West action film about the fight for the silk road. Set in China during the Han dynasty (206-220 AD), DRAGON BLADE follows Huo An (Chan), a Chinese commander who is framed and enslaved for a crime he didn’t commit. Crossing paths and eventually forming an unlikely alliance with Roman soldier Lucius (Cusack), the duo band together to rebel against the corrupt Roman leader, Tiberus (Brody).
Coming off its Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival, A GIRL AT MY DOOR, directed by July Jung, follows Young-nam played by Doona Bae, a promising graduate of the police academy who has been transferred to a small seaside village due to misconduct. On her first day, she meets Dohee (Sae-ron Kim) a young girl and resident scapegoat dealing with abuse from her drunken stepfather. The two share encounters and after taking Dohee under her watch after the accidental death of Dohee’s grandmother, Young-nam’s past begins to come to light and their relationship begins to become more mysterious.
LIVE FROM UB, directed by Lauren Knapp, explores the small but vibrant rock scene in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar (also called ‘UB’). By blending the story of one band creating original Mongolian rock with interviews from experts and Mongolian rock legends, LIVE FROM UB shows Mongolia through the eyes of its boldest musicians from the 1970s to today. These young Mongolians are defying the forces of globalization and using modern music to both explore and assert their own unique heritage. Like Mongolia at large, they are eager to be recognized beyond their borders, but without sacrificing their identity.
Comic Book Master Class with Greg Pak: Writer of action comics such as Batman, Superman and the Hulk, AAIFF 2015 features this in-depth workshop, lead by AAIFF alumni Greg Pak. Delving into the nuts and bolts of comic book making, using the 22 year development process of his newest creator-owned comic book, Pak will discuss a multitude of topics including the process of moving from filmmaking to comics, the challenges and joys of bringing Asian American characters to life and the practical work of making a comic book. The workshop will also give a sneak peek at Pak’s latest work.
To learn more about the full schedule of events, visit http://aaiff.org/2015.
Festival Ticket Information
Tickets for general admission are $14. Tickets for seniors (65+), students and handicapped (must present valid ID) are $12. Tickets for ACV members and Community Partners are $10.50. Tickets will be available for purchase on the AAIFF website on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. For Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing Night Events, please check website for ticket details.
General Festival Information
The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is a presentation of Asian CineVision. The festival is a celebration of inspiring Asian and Asian American works in film and video from innovative artists around the world. AAIFF 2015 takes place July 23-August 1, 2015 in Manhattan and Queens. Manhattan venues include: Cinema Village East (181-189 2nd Avenue); Asia Society (725 Park Avenue); Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre Street); Queens venues include: Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria); Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main Street, Flushing); and Flushing Town Hall (13735 Northern Boulevard, Flushing).
About Asian CineVision:
Asian CineVision (ACV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media arts organization devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American film and video.
Lia 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.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.