Visual Communications Announces Lineup for The 36th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

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The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), presented annually by Visual Communications (VC), has announced the complete lineup for the 36th edition of the Festival, which is set to take place online from September 24 to October 31, 2020.

The Festival, which last week announced the shift to the Fall and the first set of confirmed films, is pleased to present the works of more than 225 filmmakers across five weekends, including 24 short film world premieres and 3 feature film world premieres.

The largest festival of its kind in Southern California, LAAPFF is also a proud Academy Award®-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. In a season where anti-Asian American sentiment and violence is alarmingly on the rise, 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. 

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This year's productions by Asian American & Pacific Islander artists from across the globe will amplify themes, including race, immigration, gentrification/economic security, and the upcoming US election. The Festival will be presented online to stay in guidelines that protect the health and safety of the Festival community.

"2020 marks the 50th Anniversary for Visual Communications," said Francis Cullado, Executive Director of Visual Communications. "The organization was born because our founders began searching for visual resources to build a greater consciousness of Asian Pacific history in America. Fueled by the burgeoning Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, they set out creating learning kits, photographing community events, audiotaping stories, and collecting historical images of Asian Pacific American lives. I am proud that we are able to present another edition of LAAPFF, and that this year's lineup centers select conversations that are most urgent to our communities here in America."

Millennial caregiver Camille with Rob Jr. and Rob Grier Sr. attend a Penn State football game in a scene from the film SKY BLOSSOMS: DIARIES OF THE NEXT GREATEST GENERATION. Rob Sr. broke the color barrier at the Sugar Bowl when he played for the team and now Camille is his caregiver. Photo credit: Vino Wong/Prisca Project.

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From the short film and episodic lineup, select highlights include:

●World Premiere of MICHELLE (Dir.: Kenya Gillespie). In this narrative short, a shy 10-year-old girl fights off her bullies with a little help from her idol: decorated U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan.

● PASSAGE, directed by Asavari Kumar, follows an Indian woman who revisits her immigration journey and voyages through a tempestuous emotional landscape of memory, identity, belonging and the illusion of the American dream.

● The World Premiere of MAY 35 (Dir.: Tina Takemoto). This experimental film is a haunting commemoration of the Tiananmen Square uprising made from fragments of censored archival imagery transferred onto film using razor blades and scotch tape. "May 35" is a phrase used to evade the censorship of evidence pertaining to the violence that began on June 4th, 1989.

●The narrative short BLACK GHOST SON  (Dir.: Christopher Low) follows  a first generation Chinese American, as he struggles with raising his black son, having to face deep seated prejudice from his family, culture, and himself.

●RED LADIES, directed by Parida Tantiwasadakran, is a witty look at when a daughter returns home to stop her mom from becoming the first female Asian American Republican assemblywoman, but is instead blackmailed into being a part of her mother's campaign ads.

● The North American Premiere of I'M NOT YOUR F***ING STEREOTYPE (Dir.: Hesome Chemamah). In this award-winning narrative short, a Muslim girl from Southern Thailand falls prey to racism in school and spirals into an identity crisis.

● The World Premiere of STASIS (Dir.: Patrick Nan), which builds a dystopian parallel world where police artificial intelligence interrogates innocent people for unsupported crimes.

●  World Premiere of Episodic series CLUB ULTRA (Dir.:  Shelly Mar): When her partner is murdered, Officer Janice Acorn goes looking for justice. Instead, she finds the truth.

●  Complete lineup of short films available here.

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A convergence for stories of AAPI storytellers in America and beyond, LAAPFF proudly announces the addition of the following titles to the features lineup:

●The World Premiere of SKY BLOSSOM: DIARIES OF THE NEXT GREATEST GENERATION, directed by Richard Lui, American journalist and news anchor for MSNBC and NBC News

● The West Coast Premiere of WAIKIKI. This narrative feature, directed by Christopher Kahunahana, explores life behind the superficial veneer of picture perfect tourist illusion of Hawaii. With a stunning performance from Danielle Zalopany, this will surely be a must-see of the Festival.

● The Los Angeles Premiere of THE MISEDUCATION OF BINDU, directed by Parthana Mohan. This soon to be classic charmed audiences at its world premiere in SXSW, with hilarious performances from Megan Suri and David Arquette.

Peter Shinkoda as WO and Danielle Zalopany as Kea in a scene from the film WAIKIKI directed by Christopher Kahunahana. Photos courtesy of 4th World Film. 

Narrative highlights also include: the World Premieres of Mallorie Ortega's THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME and Yuechen Hao's ONE MEAL; the North American Premiere of Shim Hye-Jung's A BEDSORE; and the U.S. Premiere of Bao Tran's THE PAPER TIGERS.

Documentary highlights include: The World Premiere of Richard Lui's DIARIES OF THE NEXT GREATEST GENERATION; the North American Premiere of Ning Huo and Gary Shih's NOODLE KID, the International Premiere of Heretu Tetahiotupa and Christophe Cordier's PATUTIKI: THE GUARDIANS OF THE MARQUESAN TATTOO; and screenings of Hao Wu and Weixi Chen's 76 DAYS, Ramona S. Diaz's A THOUSAND CUTS, Ursula Liang's DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL, and Jiayan "Jenny" Shi's FINDING YINGYING.

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In celebration of Filipino American History Month in October, LAAPF partners with NBCU TIPS for the special artist conversation "The Pinays Who Are Pipelining New Talent at NBCUniversal". The panel will feature three of the powerhouse Talent Development Executives from Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and NBC Entertainment: Grace Moss, Jandiz Estrada Cardoso, and Rosemary Palacios.  They will speak to leading the Hollywood charge for inclusion with groundbreaking and highly competitive talent pipeline programs.

To further honor the celebration of Filipino American History Month, LAAPFF invites audiences to check out titles from more Filipino/a/x artists, including:

● The World Premiere of Celine Parreñas Shimizu's THE CELINE ARCHIVE, which explores the story of Celine Navarro who was buried alive by her community in Northern California.

● The World Premiere of THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME. A musical written and directed by Mallorie Ortega, starring Haven Everly and Paolo Montalban.

●The World Premiere of ETA, written and directed by Justin Ricafort - a 2020 Visual Communications Armed With a Camera Fellow. The narrative short follows a middle-aged Filipino father who moonlights nightly as a rideshare driver.

● The West Coast Premiere of DEATH OF NINTENDO. A narrative feature directed by Raya Martin and set in 90's Manila, this film follows four friends who go on a journey of self-discovery together as they play videogames and wrestle with new dilemmas.

● The Los Angeles Premiere of HARANA, written and directed by Marie Jamora. In this narrative short, a cover band singer in a Vegas casino tries to connect with her daughter who is growing up in the Philippines without her.

● Kayamanan Ng Lahi Pamana Media Project, a short film program that celebrates kid media makers from the LA-based Filipino Cultural Dance group.

In addition to the film lineup, the LAAPFF team looks forward to creating a space where attendees can connect with one another. Every Friday to Sunday throughout the Festival, LAAPFF will host artist conversations programmed under the C3:Conference brand, where filmmakers and audience can gather, connect with each other, and listen to select artist conversations from peers.

In partnership with Okaeri and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), LAAPFF will present "Coming Out and Coming Home: Documenting the Voices of Queer and Trans Japanese Americans," a special conversation that celebrates the diverse experiences of the Japanese and Japanese American LGBTQ Community.

Building on the success of last year's debut, the 2020 edition of the REORIENT program will highlight creative works in emerging media—virtual reality, video games, live streaming, and more. All REORIENT programming is accessible from laptops and/or mobile devices, and is free to the public.

"Although we are sheltering at home, the projects featured in REORIENT bring us to outer space and the depths of the ocean, into digital worlds and the minds of plants." says Sue Ding, REORIENT Senior Programmer. "This year's program also showcases innovative responses to the constraints of creating and connecting amidst a global pandemic. From Zoom performances to interactive soundscapes, these projects offer compelling explorations of our relationship to community, memory, and the world(s) around us."

As part of an ongoing partnership with HBO® and their commitment to magnify emerging filmmakers, the Festival is excited to premiere the winners of this year's HBO APA Visionaries Short Film Competition: Tiffany So's FINE CHINA, Johnson Cheng's LONELY BLUE NIGHT, and Thomas Percy Kim's SI. With the theme of "Breaking Barriers," this year's competition drew a record number of film submissions that provided a unique lens into the challenges and victories of overcoming obstacles. The evening of these premieres will have appearances from 2020 HBO APA Visionaries Ambassador Shannon Lee, performing artist NIKI, and more.

Continuing on previous years' showcases of films from the Pacific Islands/Oceania, the Festival will continue to amplify the voices of those voices with stories and storytellers from Hawaii, Guam, New Zealand, Tonga, and Samoa. The films will be presented in an expanded Pacific Cinewaves shorts program, with additional feature films throughout the Festival.

LAAPFF will also showcase a selection of films from the Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, a group dedicated to centering the film expertise of undocumented people not only as sources of stories but also as creators, artists, and primary audiences.

Continuing to champion the power of short filmmaking, LAAPFF is proud to debut the works from Visual Communications' filmmaker programs. The Digital Histories program is a mechanism for Asian Pacific American older adults to use their unique voices and perspectives in sharing stories with the generations to come. Since its creation in 2003, Digital Histories has provided a professional and artistic work environment for underserved, ethnic-minority seniors. This year, Digital Histories will debut non-fiction works that touch on courtship through love letters, Japanese American patriotism and more.

VC founded the Armed With a Camera (AWC) Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists to develop the next generation of Asian American and Pacific Islander artists and connect communities through the power of storytelling. The Fellowship boasts alumni including Christopher Yogi (AUGUST AT AKIKOS), Erin Li (KEPLER X-47, currently on Amazon Prime Video's Eheria) and Roxy Shih (DARK/WEB). This year the Armed With a Camera World Premieres invite audiences into poignant reflections on family ties, cultural identities, and intimate portrait documentaries.

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