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39th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

April 6, 2023

Visual Communications Presents

39th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

May 4-13, 2023 

LAAPFF 2023 Lineup Celebrates Native Hawaiian, Pasifika, Indigenous Voices, and Artists Across the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Communities

Commemorating 20th Year Since Passing of Founding Executive Director Linda Mabalot With Filmmaker Wellness Programming

April 6, 2023 (Los Angeles, CA) – Visual Communications (VC) announced today the lineup for their 39th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The annual showcase for Asian American, Native Hawaian, Pacific Islander, diasporic and Asian international cinema returns May 4 to May 13 with in-person programming slated to take place in Little Tokyo, Gardena Cinemas, and Regal L.A. Live, along with online programming.

On May 4, the Festival will kick off with a community celebration party at the Japanese American National Museum, followed by Opening Night programming on May 5th with the World Premiere of ARMED WITH A CAMERA VOL. 2023 (AWC). This year, AWC will feature six short films produced by Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander artists, in reflection of VC’s renewed commitment to uplifting Native Hawaiian and Pasifika stories. 

“As an organization, we recognize deeply that in order for us to build collective power we must in tandem confront issues that divide us; that privilege some parts of our own community over others and render our Indigenous relations invisible. In our growing practice to challenge definitions and boundaries, we’re always examining what we can do better,” shares Visual Communications Executive Director, Francis Cullado. “We’re honored to center Native Hawaiian and Pasifika artists in the 2023 edition of AWC as well as our Pacific Cinewaves program. This is a continuation of our intentions from early works like OMAI FAʻATASI: SAMOA MO SAMOA and NA PUA O LAKA, and a renewed commitment to uplift and amplify Indigenous storytellers in spaces where Asian-American artists may historically hold privilege. We have to amplify artists who utilize media to preserve cultural traditions and present diasporic stories if we are being earnest in our efforts to truly build community and collective power.”

In addition to AWC VOL. 2023, the Festival will feature several programs reflecting Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous perspectives to amplify the contemporary storytelling of Indigenous Peoples that universally connects all of us.

Linda looks through images to be included in the organization’s 1984 large-scale photo exhibit PLANTING ROOTS: FILIPINOS IN CALIFORNIA. Courtesy of Visual Communications

A central theme to the 39th edition of LAAPFF is wellness and joy, in continuation of VC’s year-round efforts to uplift the legacy of former Executive Director Linda Mabalot and her dedication to cultivating emerging generations of storytellers. This year commemorates the 20th year since Linda became an ancestor. VC has curated a series of healing and renewal-focused programs and activities for filmmakers and artists to participate in. These will precede film exhibitions throughout the Festival. The Festival’s Renewal towards joy and wellness reflects Linda’s vision of creating community with Artists and Allies.  

“We rededicate our renewed work and the 39th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival to Linda’s everlasting values as we honor the 20th anniversary of her passing. In doing so, we acknowledge that our creative communities have experienced profound grief and loss, in addition to other challenges through recent social, political, and cultural movements. As an organization, we’re looking at ways the Festival and our year-round programming can offer a space for care and compassion, where artists and filmmakers can deeply connect with one another without prerequisite or requirement,” shares Cullado.

General Public tickets are available for purchase beginning Friday, April 9, 2023 at 5:00pm PT. Complete details available at 


Free outdoor screenings throughout Little Tokyo

The Visual Communications Archives, one of the largest photographic and moving image collections on Asian Pacific experiences in America, will exhibit the 4k Restoration of HITO HATA: RAISE THE BANNER (dirs. Robert A. Nakamura and Duane Kubo) is the first feature-length film made by and about Asian Americans. Continuing the themes of communities being threatened with redevelopment, the program will be followed with the 2k Digitization of THE FALL OF THE I-HOTEL (dir. Curtis Choy), in which a San Francisco Manilatown community is wiped out by urban renewal, and 50 old-timers are forcibly evicted from the International Hotel by 300 cops in the dead of night.

Spotlighting our filmmaker elders

The Festival is proud to present the World Premiere of short documentary films from Digital Histories, Visual Communications’ media production and storytelling program for older adults.

Since its creation in 2003, Digital Histories has provided a space for seniors to create and share their stories and experiences through film and media.

Documentary Program features ethical productions that drive field towards greater documentary accountability practices 

Storytelling of lived experience is a powerful way to grow empathy and build solidarity. From a son’s desire to connect with his Bengali father; to the wayfinding brilliance of Pasifika voyagers; to the tender days of an aging Japanese mother with Dementia and her caregiving daughter; to the complexity of a woman’s kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan; this year’s Documentary program welcomes in a learning experience to better understand each other so that we can navigate life together.

Narrative Features Program weaves generational joy through global perspectives

With 16 selections in this program, each film brings in a perspective from all over the globe; united in varying degrees of connection and joy. Travel to Japan to meet an old picture book writer named Yamazaki, and understand what romance and love means to him as an elderly gay man. In Pasadena, CA, we’ll meet Laela and Colin; two long lost high school sweethearts who unexpectedly reunite 23 years after being separated during the 1998 riots in Jakarta, Visit Iran to meet Esmail, a newly named Patriarch, and his family that is constantly arguing and under pressure from various debts in the face of sanctions against Iran, And enter an ethereal, mythical tale of a colonial-era boarding school in the Himalayan mountains, to meet the mischievous sixteen-year-old Jaivardhana and his crush Tarini.

Shorts Programs spotlight emerging talent and bold filmmaking dreams

Amongst our Narrative shorts, some themes featured are: a stubborn father who refuses to move unless a broken down van comes with him; a peek at the life of Afong Moy, the first documented Chinese woman to come to the United States; and a Samoan American who is torn between playing football and pursuing his hidden passion for acting. Amongst our Documentary shorts, some themes featured include: amplifying the protest movement in China; two indigenous brothers from the Solomon Islands navigating a small conservative town in rural Georgia; and an intimate profile on Mia Yamamoto, her connection to LA’s neighborhoods and her work to bring visibility to the LGBTQ community.

Cinema Musica blurs experimental narrative film and documentary verité boundaries

This year’s Cinema Musica program continues to broaden the experience of Cinema and Music; not simply via a pop cultural Music Video form, but dissolves the boundaries to welcome in experimental narrative film and verite documentary filmmaking. From a rhythmic dream of drawn line and motion, to a traditional Ryūkyūan song and dance, to a time capsule of a healing anthem’s moment in time, this year’s Cinema Musia program is bathed in melody and sounds the inspirational messages of healing and connection.


This year’s animated short films highlights a community of filmmakers expanding the format including stories about the horrors of war, gentrification through the eyes of a child, a call to action about the barbaric practices of child marriage, and tales of the undocumented struggle. LAAPFF 2023 also brings the first independently made animated feature film from the Philippines, a labor love by its creators, taking its dramatic conventions into absurdist, but poignant humor. Though animated, these films are reflections of everyone.


Searching for wellness and joy at the Festival continues with our growing practice of restoration, regeneration, and renewal. This year, we renew C3:Conference for Creative Content by disrupting it. Instead of C3:Conference, Visual Communications presents R3:NEWAL, a series of restorative activities and gatherings to connect peoples as themselves, instead of our titles as artists and creators. R3:NEWAL features courageous and compassionate conversations focused on the wellness practices of artists and creators. The industry has a notorious reputation for being a very demanding work environment, with long hours, tight deadlines, and a culture of overworking. Unfortunately, these harmful practices often lead to high levels of stress and burnout. As we deepen our understanding of wellness and joy at this year’s festival, it’s important to address these issues and explore ways to build a more sustainable future for ourselves, while still meeting the demands of the job.

Special Presentations spotlighting emerging talent from AA and NHPI communities

As one of the first film festivals on the continent to center Asian and NHPI storytelling, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival has become a champion for Asian and NHPI storytellers, serving as a beacon for Industry professionals who are looking for emerging talent. This year, our Special Presentations include: NO NO GIRL, which explores the current impact of WWII and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, one young daughter digs into the past to  uncover a mystery that has been buried in her family’s history; and PAST LIVES, a modern romance in the diaspora of two childhood friends who reunite two decades later in New York.

Venues that connect and create access for filmmakers, industry, and local audiences

Visual Communications is an organization founded on Community. As media producers, we amplify the voices of the communities that we serve. As exhibitors, we bridge audiences to stories that can inspire communities to catalyze change. When we gather around film presentations and panel discussions, we look to our VC Values to help us connect to audiences in a most meaningful and impactful way. We deepen our practice of programming in venues, like the Japanese American National Museum and Gardena Cinema, that have a legacy of cultivating connections with the communities of Los Angeles. We desire to present programming that compliments that legacy, helps strengthen solidarity and activates storytelling towards impact. When we select venues, we continue our journey of how to make our programs  accessible for everyone. As we look for venues for film presentations, we welcome the opportunity to activate non-theatrical venues that are more meaningful to our audiences. And we look for venues that have intentional access offering for folks with varying access needs.


Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival presented by Visual Communications

May 4 – 13, 2023




Linda Mabalot, the daughter of a Sacramento River Delta farmer and graduate of UC Davis, was the Executive Director of Visual Communications from 1984 until her untimely death on May 19, 2003. Linda was part of the Visual Communications family for almost three decades, and was a powerful force in promoting Asian Pacific American media arts and artists. As Executive Director of Visual Communications, she steered the organization through all its rough times as well as all its accomplishments. A media artist herself, Linda was an ally to Asian Pacific American artists and involved in many arts and community-based organizations both locally and nationally. Her influence reached far beyond our office in Little Tokyo.

The Visual Communications family misses her deeply. In Linda’s spirit, we remember her wild laugh, unstoppable energy, and singular determination, and since her passing have sought to continue her work with the same sense of joy.  As Executive Director of Visual Communications, Linda Mabalot sought to ensure the viability and long-term success of Asian Pacific Americans in the media arts.



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. 

Instagram: @VCMediaorg



The 39th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, presented by Visual Communications, runs from May 4 – 13, 2023, taking place at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area and online. The largest festival of its kind in Southern California, LAAPFF is a proud Academy Award®-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. For program and ticket information, please visit

The Festival is proud to be partnering with our following screening venues across Los Angeles:

Japanese American National Museum – 100 N Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Aratani Theatre @ Japanese American Cultural & Community Center Little Tokyo (DTLA) – 244 S San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Centrl Office LA – 360 E 2nd St., Suite 800, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Far East Lounge – 353 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Gardena Cinema – 14948 Crenshaw Blvd, Gardena, CA 90249

Regal L.A. LIVE – 1000 W Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90015

Hotel Indigo – 899 Francisco St, Los Angeles, CA 90017


Foundation: Aratani Foundation, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Pacific Community Fund, GoFundMe.Org – AAPI Community Fund, California Community Foundation, California Humanities, Getty Foundation, John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Keiro, LA Arts Recovery Fund, Mellon Foundation, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, MUFG Union Bank Foundation, National Film Preservation Foundation, SAG-AFTRA Producers IACF

Government: California Arts Council, California State Library, California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, California Revealed, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, Japanese American Confinement Sites (National Park Service), National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council – Arts District & Little Tokyo

Corporate: Comcast NBCUniversal, The Foundation for Global Sports Development and Sidewinder Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Pechanga, Shout! Factory, 

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