LAAPFF Announces Closing Night Feature and Full Lineup for the Fest’s 35th Edition
April 2, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT
FRANCISCO SANCHEZ – FSANCHEZ@TCDM-ASSOCIATES.COM
VINCE JOHNSON – VJOHNSON@TCDM-ASSOCIATES.COM
LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL, PRESENTED BY VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS, ANNOUNCES CLOSING NIGHT FEATURE AND
FULL LINEUP FOR THE FEST’S 35TH EDITION WITH FILMS DIRECTED BY 24 ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN AND ASIAN INTERNATIONAL FEMALE FILMMAKERS
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF “EMPTY BY DESIGN” DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY ANDREA A. WALTER AND STARRING CHRIS PANG, OSRIC CHAU, RHIAN RAMOS, DANTE BASCO, DESMOND CHIAM, YOSHI SUDARSO AND MADELINE HUMPHRIES WILL CLOSE OUT THE NINE DAY FESTIVAL
NEWLY ADDED PROGRAMS INCLUDE:
“SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN” – FEATURING GOLDEN HORSE AWARD WINNERS “LONG TIME NO SEA” AND “CITIES OF LAST THINGS;” THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BREAKTHROUGH “ALL-AMERICAN GIRL” TV SHOW STARRING MARGARET CHO; AND TWO SPECIAL PAST//FORWARD EVENTS CELEBRATING THE UPCOMING VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS 50TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY WITH A CONVERSATION WITH WALT LOUIE AND SPENCER NAKASAKO AND A RETRO SCREENING OF JESSICA YU’S FEATURE “PING PONG PLAYA”
April 2, 2019 – The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), presented by Visual Communications (VC), announced their Closing Night film and their complete film lineup for the 35th edition today.
The Festival’s Closing Night film features the World Premiere of EMPTY BY DESIGN, written and directed by Andrea A. Walter. This year’s Festival will showcase over 200 films, including both features and short films, with eight feature film world premieres. As previously announced, Opening Night will be the world premiere of YELLOW ROSE, directed and written by Diane Paragas. For the first time in the history of the Festival, LAAPFF will open and close with feature films written and directed by Asian Pacific American female filmmakers and as world premieres. In addition, this year’s selections marks a milestone with 24 female directors – both documentary and narrative feature films.
“For our 35th edition, we are thrilled to bookend our festival with two world premieres, YELLOW ROSE (Opening Night) and EMPTY BY DESIGN (Closing Night), by two Filipina American filmmakers, Diane Paragas and Andrea A. Walter, respectively,” shared Lindy Leong , LAAPFF Senior Programmer. & Programmer Manager. “This truly is an extraordinary moment of historical significance for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) film and indie film festivals, and it is a win for broader representation of and support of both women and Southeast Asian American stories from the heartland to the homeland. Most importantly, both films tell compelling humanist stories and demonstrate strong indie storytelling voices in the making.”
EMPTY BY DESIGN tells the story of Samantha (Rhian Ramos), who moves back home to Manila from the US after a loss in her family, and Eric (Osric Chau) who also travels back for a job. Both ex-patriates find themselves struggling with their new identities. Despite the disconnection to their culture, they find a sense of place by confiding in each other and eventually discover what they have long been looking for. The film also stars Chris Pang (CRAZY RICH ASIANS), Dante Basco (HOOK ), Desmond Chiam (NOW APOCALYPSE), Yoshi Sudarso (POWER RANGERS: NINJA STEEL), and Madeleine Humphries (THE STEPDAUGHTERS). The film is produced by Chau, Pang, and Basco.
“I’ve attended film festivals for over a decade now, from Sundance in the US to Cinemalaya in the Philippines, said director Walter. “I love them so much I began programming and volunteering at one of the festivals. The other year I decided to bring my roommate to his first Sundance, where we sacrificed sleep and warmth to watch 4-5 films a day. When we got back to LA, we thought, how come we aren’t a part of this? How come we aren’t doing this with our own community? It was then, we decided to attend LAAPFF in its entirety, not just the Opening and Closing Night films and parties, but for everything. We showed up every day and watched movies, partied, and we invited every single one of our friends to join us. By the end of the Festival, we were not only filled with so much love from our community, but were completely inspired to finally take the step to tell our own stories and make our film. Now, one year later and I can’t express in words or thought on how excited and thankful we are to screen our film at this year’s Festival. No matter how crazy the Fest will get for me, my colleagues and my friends will continue in the spirit of what we did last year and show up everyday in support of as many filmmakers as we can in the hopes of sharing even a bit of the magic we had last year.”
LAAPFF kicks off the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 200 films (shorts and features) from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three and a half decades, the Festival has presented close to 4,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian international talent. This year, the Festival will also feature over a dozen films from local Southern California filmmakers.
“As one of the longest-running AAPI film festivals in the US based in the global business capital of film and media, we are extremely conscious of our privileged position and proximity to and access to industry resources,” adds Leong. “As a platform for AAPI creativity and stories, we strive equally to showcase works of emerging talent and promise from members of our various communities. This year, we are proud to present a spectrum of Asian Pacific American and Asian international works conscientiously culled from both open call submissions and those specifically curated. As much as it was possible, we set out to give the first-time indie filmmaker that all-important initial spotlight and institutional support needed to develop their craft and creative path.”
LAAPFF presents Grand Jury Awards for Outstanding Asian Pacific International Documentary and Narrative features. This year’s competition is as follows:
DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION – INTERNATIONAL
- FOR MY FATHER’S KINGDOM – Directed by Vea Mafile’o, Jeremiah Tauamiti (New Zealand)
- FOR SAMA – Directed by Waab Al-Kateab, Edward Watts (UK, USA, SYRIA)
- MERATA: HOW MUM DECOLONIZED THE SCREEN – Directed by Heperi Mita (New Zealand)
- LAST NIGHT I SAW YOU SMILING – Directed by Kavich Neang (Cambodia)
- OUR TIME MACHINE – Directed by S. Leo Chiang, Yang Sun (China)
NARRATIVE COMPETITION – INTERNATIONAL
- CITIES OF LAST THINGS – Directed by Wi Ding Ho (Taiwan, China, France)
- EERIE – Directed by Mikhail Red (Philippines, Singapore)
- HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD – Directed by Bora Kim (South Korea)
- LONG TIME NO SEA – Directed by Heather Tsui (Taiwan)
- SONG LANG – Directed by Leon Le (Vietnam)
- VAI – Directed by Becs Arahanga, Amberley Jo Aumua, Matasila Freshwater, Dianna Fuemana, Miria George, Ofa Guttenbeil, Marina McCartney, Nicole Whippy, Sharon Whippy (New Zealand)
Films from North America are eligible for the Grand Jury Awards for Outstanding Asian Pacific American documentary and narrative features. The competition jury will be announced later in April. These competition films are:
NARRATIVE COMPETITION – NORTH AMERICA
- ANJING (THE DOGS) – Directed by Dean Yamada
- COME AS YOU ARE – Directed by Richard Wong
- EMPTY BY DESIGN – Directed by Andrea A. Walter
- GO BACK TO CHINA -Directed by Emily Ting
- HAPPY CLEANERS – Directed by Julian Kim, Peter S. Lee
- IN A NEW YORK MINUTE – Directed by Ximan “Mandy” Li
- MS. PURPLE – Directed by Justin Chon
- NORMAL. – Directed by Mragendra Singh
- PLUS ONE – Directed by Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
- YELLOW ROSE – Directed by Diane Paragas
DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION – NORTH AMERICA
- A WOMAN’S WORK: THE NFL’S CHEERLEADER PROBLEM – Directed by Yu Gu
- EATING UP EASTER – Directed by Sergio M. Rapu
- JADDOLAND – Directed by Nadia Shihab
- JOURNEY TO IFUGAO – Directed by Nicanor Evangelista Jr.
- MOANANUIĀKEA: ONE OCEAN. ONE PEOPLE. ONE CANOE. – Directed by Na’alehu Anthony
- NO DATA PLAN – Directed by Miko Revereza
- ORIGIN STORY – Directed by Kulap Vilaysack
- SEADRIFT – Directed by Tim Tsai
SHORT FILMS/ACADEMY AWARD® QUALIFYING
LAAPFF is proud to be an Academy Award®-qualifying festival for the Short Film Awards. Recipients of the Film Festival’s qualifying awards will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards® without standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules. With over 60 eligible films, recipient(s) of LAAPFF’s Golden Reel Award for Narrative/Animated Short Film will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards®. Additionally, the Film Festival grants a Golden Reel Award for Excellence in Documentary Short Films.
The shorts line-up is available now at festival.vcmedia.org.
“As part of the Festival’s special presentations, we strive to bring discussion and celebration of media and content creation from our international partners, the Asian Pacific American television landscape, milestones and to celebrate our own creators/professionals from within Visual Communications,” said David Magdael – Festival Co-Director. “This year, our special programs will provide an opportunity to view current award winning and boundary pushing Taiwanese cinema; a look back 25 years ago at television’s groundbreaking ALL-AMERICAN GIRL starring Margaret Cho and will feature a discussion with the iconic comedienne Cho together with other cast members; and two PAST//FORWARD events signifying the 50th year for VC – an in-depth conversation between VC’s longtime board member/supporter and extraordinary film editor Walt Louie and the legendary Asian Pacific American filmmaker Spencer Nakasako; and a retro screening and discussion with the Oscar® winning Jessica Yu and her first narrative film PING PONG PLAYA from 2007 – with her cast in tow.”
SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN
As part of an ongoing partnership with the Taiwan Academy of Los Angeles and the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan, LAAPFF will once again screen films highlighting the best in Taiwanese cinema that display the country’s rich culture and history that have shaped the island nation into one of the most dynamic countries in the Asia-Pacific Rim. This year, LAAPFF is honored to present two feature films in the SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN section, both films winning prestigious Golden Horse Awards for their actors – first time feature director/writer Heather Tsui’s LONG TIME NO SEA and CITIES OF LAST THINGS directed by Wi Ding Ho.
LONG TIME NO SEA – Ethnography and entertainment are neatly mixed in LONG TIME NO SEA, an uplifting drama set among the indigenous Tao community from Orchid Island in Taiwan. Based on life experiences of first-time feature writer-director Heather Tsui (also known as Tsui Yung-hui), this tale of a newbie teacher from the city who prepares students for a dance competition is sweet without ever getting sticky, and sends strong but never-didactic messages about the need to preserve traditional cultures and languages.
CITIES OF LAST THINGS – Spanning generations, CITIES OF LAST THINGS builds a searing portrait of societal and political change through the lens of an emotional drama. Reminiscent of the early work of Wong Kar-wai, it finds its heartbeat in the pulse-pounding rhythm of the underbelly of the unnamed city. Through his seamless blending of genres, from sci-fi to noir to romance, the Malaysian-born Ho commandingly employs cinematic language as a tool to discuss the root of our collective sadness, which is perhaps the very thing that makes us human. SPOTLIGHT ON TAIWAN films will be presented on Monday, May 6th at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center.
ALL-AMERICAN GIRL – 25 YEAR ANNIVERSARY – WITH MARGARET CHO
In 1993, there was THE JOY LUCK CLUB – the rare Asian Pacific American film to be distributed by a major studio – Disney. Then the following year – 1994, the Asian Pacific American community was once again all a buzz about the new sitcom about to hit the television airwaves of America. ALL-AMERICAN GIRL was that 1994 American sitcom on ABC TV featuring comedienne Margaret Cho as the rebellious teenage daughter of a traditional Korean-American family. The main cast that played the part of Cho’s family included Jodi Long, Clyde Kusatsu, B.D. Wong, J.B. Quon, and Amy Hill. Based upon the comedy material of Cho, the show premiered on September 14, 1994. Now 25 years later, LAAPFF will celebrate and engage in conversation with Cho and her other cast members, as we look back at that monumental time and the show and its impact on Asian Pacific America and all of America.
VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS’ 50TH YEAR – VC 50 PAST//FORWARD EVENTS
Part of Visual Communications 50th anniversary, LAAPFF will include two programs that contribute to VC 50’s Past//Forward series. PAST//FORWARD is a series of signature events to celebrate the organization’s upcoming 50th anniversary. The goal is to celebrate VC’s past, present, and future by (re)connecting with people and communities who made great things happen.
C3 x VC50: A CONVERSATION WITH WALT LOUIE – HOSTED BY SPENCER NAKASAKO
In an intriguing reversal of roles, longtime film and television editor (and host of Visual Communications’ long-running artist talk series “Monday Nite VC”) Walt Louie is for a change the subject of a “shop-talk” on the artist’s career and craft. Hosted by award-winning documentary filmmaker and longtime co-conspirator Spencer Nakasako, Louie will share through copious clips and excerpts his favorite and most challenging film editing assignments, and will talk about how a hipster from the San Francisco Bay Area became a hot-shot public television programming editor and, after relocating to L.A., a sometimes-cranky, occasionally overbearing, but always enthusiastic advocate for Asian Pacific American cinema.
VC 50: PING PONG PLAYA (RETRO) – SCREENING AND CONVERSATION WITH JESSICA YU
In a nearly three-decade career distinguished by an impressive portfolio of non-fiction features and shorts, Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu has rarely attempted narrative films. No doubt, the thinking goes, her incisively-essayed portraits of real people living on the margins of society/community/reality have provided a wealth of stories that greatly mitigate the need for Jessica to ever have to extend into the narrative format. Yet, on those rare occasions that she has dipped her toes into narrative filmmaking, Yu has struck pure gold. PING PONG PLAYA (2007), a splashy feature produced in collaboration with Cherry Sky Films and co-written and starring Jimmy Tsai, allowed Yu to display a wry left-of-center sense of humor previously unknown to anyone outside of her circle of friends. Populated with a who’s who of Asian Pacific American acting talents (Jim Lau, Roger Fan, Elizabeth Sung, Smith Cho) in a total send-up of San Gabriel Valley sports culture, PING PONG PLAYA both lampooned and honored the concept of family and community, and established director Yu’s unique talents for narrative storytelling. This screening will take place on Thursday, May 9th at 8PM at Regal L.A. LIVE.
The Festival opens May 2nd with the World Premiere of YELLOW ROSE directed by Diane Paragas and starring Broadway legend Lea Salonga and emerging star Eva Noblezada. Two acclaimed festival favorites will screen as the Centerpiece Films at the Festival; GO BACK TO CHINA directed by Emily Ting and MS. PURPLE directed by Justin Chon.
For program information, a complete listing of sponsors and partners, please visit festival.vcmedia.org.
Tickets are now on sale for VC members with public tickets going on sale on April 5th.
ABOUT VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS
Visual Communications’ mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists who empower communities and challenge perspectives. Founded in 1970 with the understanding that media and the arts are powerful forms of storytelling, Visual Communications creates cross cultural connections between peoples and generations. The organization turns 50 in 2020. Learn more at vcmedia.org.
ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL
Presented by Visual Communications, the 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) will take place MAY 2 – MAY 10, 2019 at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area. LAAPFF is the premiere showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific American and international cinema. The largest festival of its kind in Southern California, LAAPFF is also a proud Academy Award®-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. For program information, a complete listing of sponsors and partners, and to purchase tickets, please visit festival.vcmedia.org.
The Festival is proud to be partnering with the following screening venues across Los Angeles and Southern California:
- 341 FSN: 341 E 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Aratani Theatre @ JACCC – Little Tokyo (DTLA): 244 S San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Aratani Central Hall at JANM (Japanese American National Museum): 100 N Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Tateuchi Democracy Forum @ National Center for the Preservation of Democracy: 111 N Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Downtown Independent – Downtown L.A. (DTLA): 251 S Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Pacific Design Center: 8687 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069
- Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center: 1000 W Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90015
The 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is sponsored by:
City National Bank
Directors Guild Of America
Motion Pictures Editors Guild
The Famous Group
Go Little Tokyo
Writers Guild of America
GOVERNMENT: National Endowment for the Arts; California Arts Council; Dept. of Cultural Affairs; Los Angeles County Arts Commission; City of Los Angeles; HCNC;
FOUNDATION: Aratani Foundation; Asian Pacific Community Fund; SAG-AFTRA Producers Industry Advancement & Cooperative Fund, KEIRO, Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences
MEDIA: Character Media; Angry Asian Man; This Filipino American Life; Potluck Podcast Collective; Pacific Rim Video Press; International Documentary Association; Giant Robot Media
IN KIND: AAAZA; Asahi; Boos Philly; Cafe 86, Cafe Dulce; IsaMADE; Chef Kryssie Tinsay; Chung Jung One; Creme Caramel; Far Bar; First Street Catering; Found Coffee; GoGo squeeZ; Harmless Harvest; KIND; LT Vibes; Mark Redito; Meiji; Ninong’s Pastries & Cafe; Oculus; Passion Planner; Primo Water, Simple DCP; Spitz; The Freezin’ Point; The Park’s Finest; YELP
VENUE: Downtown Independent; Japanese American Cultural & Community Center; Japanese American National Museum; Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center; 341 FSN; Pacific Design Center; Little Tokyo Service Center
HOTEL: Hotel Indigo