Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Previously, we compiled a list of Asian-American films suitable for kids that we recommend. Today, we've got some new ones for you guys to check out and support if you have the chance. These movies tend to be for an older crowd, so they may not be suitable fore really young kids.

On Saturday, our parents took us to check out the Visual Communications Asian Pacific Film Festival -- something we've known about for a while but hadn't had the chance to visit until now.  After all, it's a two-week event that only happens once a year.  You guessed it, folks: the Asian Pacific Film Festival features films with Asians in the cast and crew.  Not only is it a pretty rare opportunity to catch Asian-Americans in the film industry, these movies (or the ones we've seen thus far) are good.

We first watched a screening of the new movie, Shanghai Calling, a feature film directed by Daniel Hsia and starring starring half-Korean actor Daniel Henney and Chinese actress/TV hostess Zhu Zhu. Henney plays Sam, a white-washed Chinese-American lawyer who is relocated to Shanghai for his job.  While he's reluctant to assimilate into Chinese culture at first, he warms up to the city...and to his American relocation specialist, Amanda.

I'm not going to give away any more, but it's a fun movie that really delves into the whole American-meets-Chinese culture shock, with a twist about who is American, and who is Asian.  Not sure when you'll have the chance to see it, but look for it . It's got great cross cultural appeal.

Later on Saturday, my mom and I (Eileen) went back to the film festival to watch a very different movie called Sunset Stories, directed by Ernesto Foronda and Silas Howard. It's a "dark comedy" that follows a nurse, May, as she travels to Los Angeles to retrieve bone marrow needed for a transplant back at her hospital in Boston -- with a twist, of course.  All is well until May winds up running into the last person she wants to see: her ex-boyfriend, JP whom she left many years ago.  The film documents the wacky ordeals of May and JP as they run around Los Angeles in search of a cooler containing the lost bone marrow.  Sung Kang plays JP!  (He's in Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Better Luck Tomorrow, and other Justin Lin movies). Night time Los Angeles stars itself with its diverse supporting cast of lost souls and hopeless outcasts. The movie does not have a tidy ending, leaving the audience wanting more, which is the best kind of ending, in my opinion.

Monique Curnen and Sung Kang

The tag line on the poster says the movie is about "Losing Baggage". I guess it's about losing the burden you carry with you by facing and confronting your past.  For some reason, this movie speaks to me quite a bit even though I'm only a teenager.  Ladies, if you're looking for a really squeal-worthy and heartwarming movie to watch with your friends, here it is.  It's even got a hopelessly romantic Asian-American main character. Score!

The festival goes on for a few more days with movies from all over the Pacific rim. Because of school, I don't think I get the chance to go back this week. Not all the movies at the festival are kid friendly, but all are personal stories made with a lot purpose. There is an underlying sentiment at the festival that it is difficult to get mainstream support for Asian American indie films, so kudos to all the film makers who actually got their films made.  Check out the festival and support Asian American films.

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