The 33rd annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival kicked off on April 27th with the screening of Justin Lin’s film, “Better Luck Tomorrow”. It’s hard to believe that it was 15 years ago when I first saw this movie. So much has happened since then, and at the same time, it's bittersweet to see that not much has changed. We can still relate to the characters of the film as well as their storylines.
I have been a huge supporter of the LAAPFF for several years and am always thrilled to see which movies will be screening. The films being showcased are always some of the best and do a wonderful job in representing the talented filmmakers, directors, writers, and actors in our APA community. This year was no different.
One example of this was Justin Chon’s movie, and Sundance Audience Award winner “Gook” which takes place during the 1992 LA Riots. “Gook” has received numerous positive reviews, including a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.7 rating on IMDB. Samuel Goldwyn also picked up the North American rights for the film, which is scheduled to be released sometime in August. “Gook” is screening at the LAAPFF Orange County on Wednesday, May 10th.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Chon throughout the years - from his “Twilight” roles to “Seoul Searching” and his other directorial debut movie, “Man Up.” It’s such a thrill to see him go from talented actor, to director and writer. I cant wait to see what else Justin has in store for us.
I also had the opportunity to be a juror for the Shorts Documentary competition; which was also the first time this category was created. What an honor! Each of the short documentaries in the competition was told in their own beautiful way. The other jurors and I had a difficult time reaching a decision.
In the end, The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Alisa Yang for her documentary, “Please Come Again” which centered on her story and the history of the love hotels in Japan. After watching the short, I was completely speechless. “Please Come Again” incorporated only text and visuals of the love hotels and the different meanings each room has held throughout the years. It was not only a documentary on Alisa’s life, but also used the love hotels as a metaphor for the female body.
The Best Cinematography award was presented to “Forever, Chinatown”. “Forever, Chinatown” follows the life of 81 year old artist, Frank Wong, who, for the past 40 years has recreated memories of his childhood, living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, through miniature models. The cinematography for the short docu captured every intricate detail of the film, including Wong’s touching, nostalgic and some times bittersweet memories, the miniature models he created and was able to lucidly encapsulate the tone of the documentary.
Jennifer Zheng took home the Best Director award for her documentary “Tough”. Zheng’s choice in creating an animated documentary was an interesting but well told one. “Tough” tells the story of a Chinese mother and British born daughter who openly talk as adults for the first time and honestly discuss growing up in their respective backgrounds and the cultural issues they struggled with.
Congratulations to all of the winners.
The Orange County portion of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is still going on until May 11th. For more information and for tickets on the movies currently screening, you can head to www.vconline.org