The 37th Asian American Film Festival

AAIFF

Asian CineVision closes out July and welcomes August with the 37th Asian American Film Festival (“AAIFF”), the country’s longest running festival dedicated to showcasing talented Asian and Asian American filmmakers and independent films.  This year, the AAIFF presents about three dozen films by filmmakers from China, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam, a few of who will be in attendance for Q&As.  In addition its great selection of films, the festival contributes to the development of filmmakers of Asian descent with workshops, panel discussions, and other events.

The festival runs from July 24 – August 2 and kicks off with a launch party on Wednesday, July 23 from 7 – 9 PM at Fat Buddha, 212 Avenue A.

Being that this is Beyond Chinatown, we’re going to highlight the films that fit our motto “things Chinese and Chinese things in NYC”.  But, there’s so much more to the festival!  Other films that look interesting include:

Sold – AAIFF’s opening film adapted from and based on true events described in Patricia McCormick’s globally acclaimed book of the same name about child and sex trafficking.  The film was directed by Academy and Emmy awards winner, Jeffrey D. Brown and Executive Produced by two-time Academy Awards winner, Emma Thompson.

Transit – AAIFF’s centerpiece presentation about a Filipino caregiver in Israel whose child is ordered to be deported deals with the question of home and national identity.  The film was the Philippines’ entry for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Love Hotel – A documentary about Japan’s short stay love hotels and their place in Japanese culture.

Kuma Hina –  A documentary about a transgendered woman who is respected as a teacher and leader in a Hawaiian community and Hawaii’s loss of traditional culture.

How to Disappear Completely – A sensual, mysterious, and droning experimental thriller about a family who disappears into the mountains during wartime.

The Cotabato Sessions – Director Joel Quizon and composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra’s documentary about a Filipino indigenous art form known as kulintang (rhythmic gong ensemble music).  The film is followed by a music and dance performance featuring Danongan Kalanduyan (the film’s subject) and artists of the Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble performing Taggunggo, Sagayan and Pangalay, as well as Kalanduyan joining Ibarra and Roberto Rodriguez’s percussion duet, Electric Kulintang’s to perform from their new release Drum Codes.

How to Fight in Six-Inch Heels – This Vietnamese box office hit is a comedy about a New York-based fashion designer who decides to infiltrate the Vietnamese fashion industry on suspicions of her fiancé’s infidelity

The seven are just our personal opinion, take a look at the full schedule.  It seems like we are curious about most of the films.  That’s how good this festival is!

Think of the above as the preview before the feature presentation.  Here’s a listing of the screenings of films by Chinese and Chinese American filmmakers:

100 Days (真爱100天 / 真愛100天)
Grandma’s Alilang
Fred Ho’s Last Year
Ghina
Letters from the South (南方来信 / 南方來信)
Memories from the Strike
The Rice Bomber (白米炸彈客 / 白米炸弹客)
Song of the Phoenix (百鸟朝凤 / 百鳥朝鳳)
A Time in Quchi (暑假作业 / 暑假作業)
We Are What We Wear

Click on the name to jump to Beyond Chinatown’s description below.  The films listed below are listed on our one-time and short term event calendar. 


100 Days (真爱100天 / 真愛100天)

Henry Chan / Taiwan / 2013 / Comedy, Drama / 104 mins / Mandarin, Taiwanese with English subtitles / Color / East Coast Premiere

In this debut feature by Emmy-winning TV director Henry Chan (A Different WorldKitchen ConfidentialDon’t Trust the B in Apt. 23), Bo Dan, a callous executive returns to the Matsu Islands for the burial of his mother.  Following tradition, he has to get married within 100 days so her spirit may be at peace.  Stranded by a typhoon in his estranged hometown, he rethinks his life and rekindles his passion for his childhood sweetheart.   

Friday, August 1, 7:30 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General Admission


Grandma’s Alilang

Yan Zhang / China / 14 mins

A tender homage, Grandma’s Alilang is a 14-minute hybrid documentary that profiles director Yan Zhang’s grandmother, an ethnic Chosun (Korean) minority in China, who talks about how she met and married her husband more than 50 years ago and the traditional customs she followed on the first night of the wedding. Mixing realistic and surrealist images and performances, the film conveys feelings of love from an old woman’s life experiences and memories.

The short precedes both screenings of The Love Hotel.

Friday, July 25, 8:30 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled

Saturday, July 26, 3 PM
Made in NY Media Center by IFP, 30 John St, Brooklyn
$13/General Admission


Fred Ho’s Last Year

Steven de Castro / USA / 2014 / Documentary / 58 mins / English / Color / East Coast Premiere

Fred Ho, the award-winning avant-garde jazz composer, Asian American author and political activist, who passed away on April 12, 2014 was active as ever in his last year.  He battled cancer, led protests, wrote a book about raw food, lectured, composed and wrote Deadly She-Wolf Assassin! an elaborate, manga-inspired samurai opera. Filmed over the course of 2013, the film provides a glimpse into Ho’s extraordinary life as a musician, a mentor, a pioneer and a dear friend for those who continue to be inspired by his courage and persistence.

The AAIFF’14 will co-host a sneak preview of Fred Ho’s Last Year with Museum of Chinese in America, followed by a discussion with director Steven de Castro, playwright Ruth Margraff, and Fred’s long-time friend Anne T. Greene.

Thursday, July 31, 7 PM
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street
$15/General Admission; $10/MoCA members, seniors, students, and disabled

Following the screening of Fred Ho’s Last Year at Village East Cinema, Fred Ho’s student Ben Barson will pick-up Fred’s saxophone and lead a musical tribute.

Saturday, August 2, 5:30 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


Ghina

Christine Choy / Hong Kong, Italy, USA / 2014 / Documentary / 69 mins / English / Color / East Coast Premiere

The Chinese have an extensive history of involvement in Africa. Over the last fifty years, Africa has seen a less ideologically based relationship to a strategic plan from the Chinese to expand their economy. Directed by Oscar nominee Christine Choy, Ghina explores the history of Chinese migrants to Ghana by not only examining their personal motivations for relocation, but also delving into the Chinese psyche as Ghana’s foreign “Other.” This documentary gives an unswerving investigation into the ongoing Chinese investment and construction in Africa through interviews with workers, investors, and scholars by providing both local and alien perspectives.

A Q & A with director Christine Choy will follow the screening

Monday, July 28, 6 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


Letters from the South (南方来信 / 南方來信)

Royston Tan, Midi Z, Sun Koh, Tsai Ming-liang, Tan Chui Mui, Aditya Assarat / China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand / 2013 / Drama / 105 mins / Cantonese, Hokkien, Mandarin, Thai with English subtitles / Color / North American Premiere

This ominbus of six shorts an official selection at the Busan International Film Festival 2013 and the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2014.   The shorts are best summed up in Hollywood Reporter’s review (hanzi are ours):

“The six shorts could be roughly divided into three groups: the first pair, Aditya Assarat‘s Now Now Now and Midi Z‘s Burial Clothes sees different generations casting glances northwards. Assarat’s Thai-Chinese schoolgirl reflects on how her mainland Chinese cousin has transformed herself from a shy nobody into her current alluring, artistic self; for the Myanmar-Chinese director Z, it’s all about the hopes of returning home, as a granddaughter helps realize his grandfather’s final wishes by bringing the funereal attire he left in his ancestral village back in China.

Meanwhile, Singaporeans Sun Koh and Royston Tan (陈子谦 / 陳子謙) offer tales closer to home. The former’s New New Panda using a pending Chinese takeover of a Singaporean radio station to reflect on how one of its veteran production staffers positions himself culturally; the latter’s Popiah, which looks at how kinship is fostered through traditional cooking.

The final two episodes are leaps into fantasy: in a whirl of quick edits of nocturnal images in the titular Malaysian city, Tan Chui Mui‘s (陈翠梅 / 陳翠梅) A Night in Malacca reflects on the possibility of revisiting the nostalgic sentiments of exiled Chinese writer Yu Dafu (郁达夫 / 郁達夫); as he described how memories subside in the tropical Southeast Asian heat.

But at least Tan’s conversing with someone or something with her entry: the same couldn’t be said of Malaysian-born Tsai Ming-liang‘s (蔡明亮) Walking on Water, which is nothing more than a love letter to his hometown of Kuching. It’s a shame the film ends with a letdown since the what comes before shapes up to be a contemplative collection of affecting migrant tales.”

Thursday, July 31, 6 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


Memories of the Strike

Featuring three short films, this series looks at the plight of laborers in Taiwan, China, and California.  Here’s info about the two Chinese-related films:

Grand Canal (大运河  / 大运河)

Johnny Ma / Canada, China / 19 mins

 “A Greek Tragedy told in a Chinese pop song”…Born and living on the longest canal in China, and navigating the strange tides of the 90s when labor disputes emerge in the privatized businesses, a boat captain has to collect debts from his fellow boaters but gets himself in trouble.

A Breath from the Bottom (状况排除 / 狀況排除)

Chan Ching-lin (詹慶臨 / 詹庆临)  / Taiwan / 42 mins

A Breath from the Bottom is a dramatic and realistic story that centers on the father-son confrontation against a political backdrop that you don’t usually see in Taiwanese dramas. The father is among the peasant protesters to storm the capitol; the son is an ambitious cop to keep control. Dynamically shot in a black-and-white, journalistic style, the film smartly ties together a series of social movements in Taiwan over the past decade. Directed by the upcoming filmmaker and scriptwriter Chan Ching-lin, the film won the Best Director Award at the 2013 Taipei Film Festival and caused a disturbance at a screening in Miaoli County, Taiwan.

Saturday, August 2, 3 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


The Rice Bomber (白米炸彈客 / 白米炸弹客)

Cho Li (卓立) / Taiwan / 2014 / Drama / 117 mins / Mandarin, Taiwanese with English subtitles / Color / US Premiere

This film is based on true story of Yang Rumen (楊儒門 / 杨儒门) who became a modern folk hero when he carried out a bombing campaign in Taiwan in 2003 and 2004 to raise awareness of hardships faced by Taiwanese farmers who faced increased competition after the country’s ascension to the World Trade Organization.   More information about the bombings in Chinese from Wikipedia and Liberty Times

Q & A with director Cho Li and producer Yeh Ju-Feng will follow the screenings.

The Taipei Times and The Hollywood Reporter have reviews.

Saturday, July 26, 7:30 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled

Sunday, July 27, 2 PM
Made in NY Media Center by IFP, 30 John St, Brooklyn
$13/General Admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


Song of the Phoenix (百鸟朝凤 / 百鳥朝鳳)

Wu Tianming (吴天明 / 吳天明) / China / 2013 / Narrative / 108 mins / Mandarin with English subtitles / Color / North American Premiere

This final film from the late director Wu Tianming, tells the the life and trials of You Tianming, a young suona (唢呐 / 嗩吶, a Chinese double-reed woodwind instrument) apprentice who goes on to form his very own suona troupe at a time of decline for traditional instruments. Tianming faces the harsh reality that his artistic calling is no longer in tune with a modern, urbanized China. Director Wu Tianming, who passed away on March 4, 2014, was considered a prominent figure among the Fourth Generation Chinese filmmakers who inspired many well-known Fifth Generation filmmakers such as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige.

Here’s an example of the sweet sounds of the suona:

Tuesday, July 29, 6 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


A Time in Quchi (暑假作业 / 暑假作業)

Chang Tso-chi (张作骥 / 張作驥 ) / Taiwan / 2013 / Drama / 109 mins / Mandarin, Taiwanese with English subtitles / Color / East Coast Premiere

In this humorous but fatalistic film reminiscent of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s (侯孝賢 / 侯孝贤) 1984 classic A Summer at Grandpa’s (冬冬的假期), 10-year old city kid Bao is sent to a rural community outside of Taipei for his summer vacation and comes of age as he spends time with his eccentric widower grandfather and befriends local kids.  Variety praises the film’s script, camera work, and sly subversion of urban vs. rural stereotypes in their review.

Monday, July 28, 8:30 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


We Are What We Wear

Six short films use clothes to explore themes of culture, self-esteem, dreams, and individuality.  Here are four by directors of Chinese descent:

Made in Chinatown

Kevin Lau / USA / 18 mins

A factory seamstress is in a secret relationship with the factory owner’s son and hesitates to tell him of her pregnancy. The final showdown takes place in a nightclub where she has to face his friends and family and also herself.

Red

Beyon, Jess X. Chen / USA / 1 mins

In this exquisite short animation, a woman is born of a drop of blood that falls to Earth from the space. Based on a spoken word poem, RED visualizes the mythology about the origin of the moon that celebrates the beauty of every menstrual cycle, and explores the body, blood, bravery, and love.

Woman in Fragments

Quan Zhou / China, Japan, USA / 21 mins

Anne Wong is a promising contemporary dancer, but her inability to tap into her emotions prevents her from realizing her full potential. After her mom is hospitalized, she is faced with the difficult task of juggling their family’s dry cleaning business and her dance career and discovers her inner strength which is a quality she lacks as a dancer.

Door God

Yulin Liu / China, USA / 23 mins

The 7-year-old Lingli has been waiting more than two years for her mom to come home. The reunion is a life-changing experience.   The film was a winner at the 2014 Student Academy Awards.

Sunday, July 27, 5 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled


Here are the programs that support and highlight budding filmmakers:

Youth by Youth showcases shorts by young media makers.

Saturday, July 26, 4 PM
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street
$10/General Admission; $5/MoCA members, seniors, students, and disabled

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Asian Women Filmmakers Taking on the Wider World welcomes filmmakers Hannah Espia (director, Transit), Cho Li (director, The Rice Bomber), Yeh Ju-Feng (producer The Rice BomberRed Cliff), and Chuti Tiu (writer, star, co-producer, Pretty Rosebud) in a panel discussion co-hosted by the Asian American Women Media Makers about their experiences in the industry.  Moderated by AAIFF alum S. Casper Wong

Friday, July 25, 4 PM
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street
Free, but RSVP required

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72-Hour Shootout – The premiere of the top ten short films from the annual worldwide competition organized by The Asian American Film Lab in which filmmaking teams are given a common theme and have 72 hours to write, shoot, edit, and complete the films.  This year’s theme was The Color of My Hair!, and the films were selected by acclaimed playwright David Henry Hwang (M. ButterflyChinglishKung Fu), producer Teddy Zee and ABC’s Marci Phillips.  The premiere will be hosted by actor and Asian Film Film Lab President Jennifer Betit Yen and by filmmaker and Shootout Coordinator Justin C. Lee.

Sunday, July 27, 1 PM
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street
$13/General Admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled

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Screenplay Reading – The festival hosts a reading of excerpts from Eugene Park’s screenplay Michael’s Story, a fictional retelling of the 1982 racially-motivated murder of Vincent Chin from the perspective of one of the murderers, Michael Nintz.  Eugene will work with New York City-based actors, and the reading will be led by Yoanna Wei (Stella Adler Studio).

Saturday, July 26, 2PM
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street
Free, but RSVP required

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Hui-ching Tseng Workshops and Presentation – Animator Hui-Ching Tseng leads two two-day workshops for teenagers with her long-term collaborator, San Francisco-based filmmaker Jin Joo and her niece/co-worker Yu-hsuan Tseng to teach the fundamentals of stop-motion animation.  Videos made at the workshops and a retrospective of Hui-ching’s works will be showcased on August 2nd.  The course is open to all levels of experience.

Contact info@asiancinevision.org to participate.

Workshops:

Friday, July 25, 2:30 PM
Saturday, July 26, 9:30 AM
Mandarin Ink, 9 Mott Street

Monday, July 28, 9:30 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 9:30 AM
Made in NY Media Center by IFP, 30 John St, Brooklyn

Presentation:

Saturday, August 2, 1 PM
City Cinema Village East, 189 2nd Ave (at 12th St)
$13/General admission; $11/seniors, students and disabled

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Music Night Out – A night of music videos by Asian and Asian American musicians and a live performance by Brother Han.

Friday, August 1, 10:30 PM
Barn Joo, 893 Broadway (at 19th St.)

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Work in Progress: Nam June Paik & TV Lab: License to Create – Howard Weinberg’s historical, educational documentary-in-progress explores the collaborative collision of artists and television at Thirteen/WNET, New York, 1972-1984 and the impact of the pioneering video artist Nam June Paik generated on the TV LAB where engineering genius John Godfrey figured out how to broadcast half-inch video. Run by omnivorous producer David Loxton, TV LAB expanded television and built many extraordinary careers. In this workshop, we will show parts of the documentary-in-progress and open the floor for critiques and comments.

Monday, July 28, 3 PM
CUNY – AARI, 25 West 43rd Street, Rooms A & B, 18th Floor
Free ($10 donation suggested), but RSVP required

Apologies to Asian CineVision for plagiarizing many of the synopses.