2021 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Fest my must see list

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The places I’ll go and what I want to see

I want to travel the world but instead will live vicariously at the 37th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival from Sep 23 – Oct 2, 2021, in Los Angeles! I can’t wait to step into the theatre and enjoy the rich culture of this curated film festival. It’s one of my favorites in LA and since I’m vaccinated and wear a mask I’m poking my head out of my apt for the festival that includes documentaries, films from talented seniors, and young people! I love the selection that over the years has made me laugh, scared me, got me dancing, and appealed to my geek side (I do love animation/sci fi).

LAAPFF is celebrating Filipinix American History Month with Filipinx Filmmaker Friday, October 1st!

Mark your calendar to purchase tickets starting Monday, September 13, 2021 at 12:00pm PT https://festival.vcmedia.org

“The Festival returns to connect our artists and communities in person. We are excited about our lineup of filmmakers whose work have the capacity to influence change in the world, as well as truly represent us. With our incredible narrative features, our non-fiction slate, and our live action, documentary, and animated shorts, this year’s LAAPFF will be one of our most exciting editions. We are all living in a time where anti-Asian hate crimes have risen. It is our hope that this year’s Festival will bring together not only our Asian & Pacific Islander communities, but all of our communities. We invite everyone to come experience art as entertainment, healing, and bridge building.”


For this year’s festival spanning 10 days, LAAPFF has 139 films that celebrate the talent and creativity of Asians and Pacific Islanders taking place at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s Aratani Theatre, the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at the Japanese American National Museum, and Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center.

So my personal ‘must see’ includes:

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers

Feature film highlights include:

●      The World Premiere of SILENT RIVER, from director Chris Chan Lee (YELLOW). Starring West Liang and Amy Tsang, this film takes you into a strange world, where one man’s struggle to reconcile with his wife becomes a journey for three strangers to return home.

●      The Los Angeles Premiere of Jeff Mizushima’s WHO IS LUN*NA MENOH?, which follows the life and work of the extraordinary Japanese artist, Lun*na Menoh. From her early career in Japan to the underground music scene in L.A., her uniquely individual artistic career and expressionism are explored.

●      The Special Presentation of LIST OF A LIFETIME, directed by Roxy Shih, an alumnus of Visual Communications’ Armed With a Camera Fellowship. Starring Kelly Hu (FINDING OHANA), Sylvia Kwan (GREY’S ANATOMY), Patricia Velasquez (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT), Jane Sibbett (FRIENDS), and Shannen Doherty (CHARMED), the film follows a woman diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, who is determined to track down the daughter she gave up for adoption. LIST OF A LIFETIME will have its world broadcast premiere on Sunday, October 10th at 8pm on Lifetime.

●      The West Coast Premiere of Kazem Mollaie’s THE BADGER, a powerful narrative from Iran.  The film begins right before a woman’s second marriage, when her 11-year-old son is kidnapped. Starring Iranian actress Vishka Asayesh, this film explores the unspoken challenges faced by a family on the verge of new beginnings.

●      The West Coast Premiere of Bee Thiam Tan’s TIONG BAHRU SOCIAL CLUB, a comedic odyssey from Singapore that takes you through the Tiong Bahru Social Club, a data-driven project to create the happiest neighbourhood in the world. 

●      The Los Angeles Premiere of Patricio Ginelsa’s LUMPIA WITH A VENGEANCE, a nostalgic follow-up to Ginelsa’s directorial debut LUMPIA in 2003. The action-packed comedy, starring April Absynth, MMA artist Mark Muñoz, and Danny Trejo (MACHETE), made its world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.

●      The Los Angeles Premiere of Oscar® winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s latest film THE RESCUE, a thrilling look at the 2018 rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped deep inside a flooded cave. 

●      Fresh from winning the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary and the Albert Maysles Award for Best First Documentary Feature at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, Jessica Kingdon’s ASCENSION will make its Los Angeles Premiere at LAAPFF, in collaboration with MTV Documentary Films. The film examines the contemporary “Chinese Dream” through staggering observations of labor, consumerism, and wealth. 

●      Following its screening at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, Evan Jackson Leong’s narrative debut SNAKEHEAD will make its Los Angeles Premiere ahead of a nationwide release from Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions. Set in New York’s Chinatown, the crime thriller follows a woman’s rise in the international underworld of human smuggling, and stars Shuya Chang, Sung Kang, and Jade Wu.

On October 1, LAAPFF kicks off Filipinx American History Month with a curated selection of films by Filipinx filmmakers, including:

●      The Encore Presentation of Mallorie Ortega’s THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME, the award-winning musical about a young Filipina on the brink of Hollywood stardom, who is pulled back into her past life and family obligations. The cast boasts charming performances from Emy Coligado (CTRL), Paolo Montalban (CINDERELLA), and Haven Everly. The film made its world premiere during the 2020 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where Ortega won an Emerging Filmmaker Award.

●      The World Premiere of Randal Kamradt’s NO DOGS, set against the backdrop of the Watsonville race riots that set Central California ablaze in 1930. 

●      The Los Angeles Premiere of Dante Basco’s directorial debut THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS, which he also stars in and co-wrote alongside his siblings. Told in four unique vignettes, this film is a romantic comedy following four Filipino American brothers and their lovers in the events leading up to a controversial Filipino wedding.

●      The West Coast Premiere of ISLANDS, the SXSW award-winning film by Martin Edralin. Starring Rogelio Balagtas, who won a Special Jury Mention at SXSW, the film follows a shy middle-aged Filipino immigrant, who has lived in the comfort of his parents’ home his entire life. As their health declines, he longs for a partner, terrified of being alone after they pass.

The largest festival of its kind in Southern California, LAAPFF is also a proud Academy Award® –

qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. LAAPFF’s programming hopes to mobilize and engage audiences towards social activism and civic engagement, a cornerstone that is part of the Festival’s foundation. This year’s productions by Asian & Pacific Islander artists from around the world amplify themes that include race, immigration, gentrification, economic security, and more. 

From the short film lineup, select highlights include:

●      F1-100, directed by Emory Chao Johnson, combines video, illustration, and animation into an intimate portrait of an international art student studying abroad in the United States. Drawing on artist profile and gender journey films, F1-100 is a transnational meditation through time and space of a young artist carrying a heavy burden. The film received the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary at CAAMFest. F1-100 will screen in the “Point of Entry” shorts program.

●      The Los Angeles Premiere of ʻĀina Paikai’s HAWAIIAN SOUL, based on the true story of Hawaiian hero George Jarrett Helm Jr., a musician who gained the support of elders to protect the island of Kahoʻolawe from military bombing. This film is a tribute to the legacy of a leader and artist who used his voice to inspire a revolution of consciousness. HAWAIIAN SOUL will screen as part of the “Pacific Cinewaves Shorts” program, which represents LAAPFF’s commitment to amplify Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities from Hawaiʻi, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Guåhan (Guam), Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Samoa, and throughout the Pacific region.

●      The World Premiere of Sharmila Ray’s DEVOTEE, a textured drama that follows a man as he encounters a guru and her group of devotees. The film features powerful performances from Kausar Mohammed and David Huynh, and will screen as part of the “Taking Space” shorts program.

●      The Los Angeles Premiere of the animated short BLUSH, from Emmy winning director Joe Mateo. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, and is the inaugural short film from Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation.


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