By Ed Diokno
Hey Hollywood! Looking for new stories that reflect the real America? Looking for talent to diversify your products or staff? Looking for filmmakers, writers, directors, actors so you can walk-the-walk when you talk-the-talk about the need for diversity in the television and motion picture industry?
Head on down to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Over the next two weeks, the festival will showcase some of the best work in video and film by Asian and Asian Americans in one of the largest film festival of its kind in the country.
The fest runs April 21-28 at various L.A. venues, with the roster including 34 feature films and 106 shorts, assembled from 20 countries including six world premieres.
Francis Cullado, Visual Communication’s executive director, said in a statement that the lineup of films “certainly highlights the amount of Asian American directorial talent out there. The big word this year in Hollywood has been ‘diversity,’ and the festival is one of the ways we address this issue at Visual Communications and for our community. For us, it’s not just about diversity – it’s about inclusivity.” The roster includes stories by women, men, LGBT artists, Asian Americans, Asian international and a multitude of ethnicities.
The six world premieres are The Last Tour, from director Ryan Yu; The Unbidden, Quentin Lee; Vampariah, Matthew Abaya; Signs of Remarkable History, Maryam Kashani; Rebel With a Cause: The Life of Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, Janice Tanaka; and The Tiger Hunter, Lena Khan’s film that was previously announced as the opening-night attraction. All of the directors will be at their screenings for Q&A discussion.
The Artist Spotlight will offer three works from documentary vet Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, including the Los Angeles premiere of her latest, People Are the Sky. There will also be the West Coast premiere of Salima Koroma’s Bad Rap, a documentary that asks why there hasn’t yet been an Asian American rap star.
On the weekend of April 23-24 will be C3 — the Conference for Creative Content, a series of conversations to discuss the changing technological and cultural landscape of Hollywood and to address the constant battle for diversity/inclusion.
The fest’s International Showcase offers a dozen new works from India, Vietnam, the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Cambodia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan and Hong Kong.
Among the tributes will be a salute to ABC’s series Fresh Off the Boat, screening two episodes and a Q&A with cast and crew.
The LAAPFF again presents two programs: Armed With a Camera Fellowship (which nurtures the next generation of Asian Pacific American media artists) and Digital Histories (for underserved, ethnic-minority seniors in the L.A.-based Asian Pacific American community).
As previously announced, the closer is Pali Road, a Chinese production filmed in Hawaii and directed by Jonathan Lim.
The fest’s centerpiece will be documentary Tyrus, about Chinese-American artist Tyrus Wong, best known for his concept art for Walt Disney’s Bambi. The director is Pamela Tom.
The fest is offered by Visual Communications, touted as the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center.
Festival co-director David Magdael added: “Asian Pacific American directors are more than half of our feature film lineup. These filmmakers are not waiting for a studio or someone else to approve them to make their film. No longer can it be said that Asian Pacific American talent is nonexistent. We are active in writing, directing, producing, acting, film distribution and exhibition, below-the-line positions and executive roles in the film industry.”
Some of the events are free. There will be lots of parties and galas throughout the festival, concluding the awards ceremony on April 28.
The festival will screen at various venues, including the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo; Tateuchi Democracy Forum, Little Tokyo; the Downtown Independent; CGV Cinemas in Koreatown; the Great Company, Downtown L.A.; and Directors Guild of America, West Hollywood.
(Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)
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