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Directed by So Young Shelly Yo

Cast: Abin Andrews, Erin Choi, Ji-young Yoo, Joon Ho Jung

Filmmakers in attendance. Film program will be followed by Q&A.

Deep gratitude to all of our community organizations for the work that they lead. Special thanks to CAPE and Korean Resource Center for their help in promoting this program.

As irresponsible as her charming carpet salesman appa may be, 16-year-old Hayoung (Ji-Young Yoo, breakout star of Prime Video’s Expats) could never blame him for the disintegration of their working-class Korean American family. Instead, she heaps her resentment upon her demanding umma, who keeps Hayoung and her younger sister afloat with meager gigs teaching piano. After her mother enrolls her in an elite hagwon, Hayoung finds herself concealing her true identity and class shame in order to fit in with a group of wealthy, enchanting classmates, who represent a life that she constantly aches for and that finally feels within reach. But she soon learns that the image she has of others—from her parents to her rakish new crush—can be as vaporous as the wisps of smoke from her father’s cigarettes.

In her stunning feature debut, writer-director So Young Shelly Yo returns to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival with an exquisitely understated, richly realized portrait of teenage loneliness and shame, and how our adolescent hopes and dreams can often collide painfully with the realities of adulthood. With stirring empathy for its characters and poetic expression of shadow, reflection, and composition, Smoking Tigers (Winner of Best Performance and Best Screenplay in a US Narrative Feature at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival) is bound to be one of the most resonant and emotional journeys you will take this year.

Writer: So Young Shelly Yo
Producer: Guo Guo
Director of Photography: Heyjin Jun
Editor: Mengyao Mia Zhang
Production Designer: Yiming Zhao
Composer: Masayoshi Fujita
Sound Designer: Sung Rok Choi
Music: Masayoshi Fujita

Dates & Times


Aratani Theatre @ JACCC

Fri, May 3
7:00 pm