SF Int'l Asian American Film Festival

The San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival runs March 11-21, 2010 at the Castro Theatre and Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco, and other venues, and, in conjunction, the festival is also being held for the ninth year in San Jose on March 19-21.

Presented by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), the 28th edition showcases an array of films that span the genres, from international horror and romantic comedies to documentaries on poet/ activists and a Japanese American Black Panther.

This year's edition of the largest festival dedicated to Asian and Asian American films also coincides with the 30th anniversary of CAAM, and to celebrate they present a lineup of live events, interactive projects, online contests and more.

Leading films are:

The Opening Night Gala film, Today’s Special, directed by David Kaplan, starring Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show), Naseeruddin Shah and celebrity chef Madhur Jaffrey. A sous-chef whose life is turning to hash finds renewal with some unlikely characters.

The Centerpiece Film, The People I've Slept With, directed by Quentin Lee, is a new comedy about a promiscuous young woman who suddenly finds herself pregnant. Starring Karin Anna Cheung (Better Luck Tomorrow), Archie Kao (CSI) and James Shigeta.

The Closing Night Gala film is Au Revoir Taipei, directed by Arvin Chen, which follows a lovesick boy and a female bookstore clerk through the sights and streets of nighttime Taipei in their quest for love.

Other features in this awesome lineup include:

God is D_ad, directed by Abraham Lim, won the Best Picture award at last week's Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles. This road trip gathers together some strangers headed for a gamers' tournament in Chicago for a journey that prompts the question: are we bound by free will, an omniscient God or the roll of the Dungeon Master's dice?

The U.S. Premiere of The Message, directed by Chen Kuo-fu and Gao Qunshu. In Japanese-occupied Nanjing, “the Phantom” is leaking Japanese secrets to the resistance. Five suspects are rounded up: will they destroy one another—and the resistance—to save themselves? Starring Li Bingbing and Zhou Xun (Suzhou River).

Hong Kong’s entry for this year’s Academy Awards is Prince of Tears, directed by Yonfan.  Two young sisters come of age during Taiwan’s brutal anti-communist crackdowns of the ‘50s.

Documentaries include:

The World Premiere of Lessons of the Blood, directed by James T. Hong and Yin-Ju Chen. This film is a brilliant exploration of the explosive and contested history of Japanese atrocities and biological warfare in China during WWII.

Aoki, directed by Mike Cheng and Ben Wang, highlights the life of Bay Area Japanese American activist Richard Aoki (1938 – 2009), a founding member of the Black Panther Party. From a Japanese internment camp to the Vietnam War and a friendship with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, Aoki’s remarkable life and activism is covered through interviews, contemporary footage and archival material.

State of Aloha, directed by Anne Misawa reveals that despite its reputation, the 50th state in the Union is far from an idyllic paradise. Narrated by Hawai’i resident Jason Scott Lee, this documentary explores the hot-button controversies surrounding Hawai’ian statehood and all that it has entailed.

Other special presentations:

A Retrospective of Lino Brocka, the first Filipino director to screen at Cannes. The four films selected for screening are:

Manila in the Claws of Neon, about a young provincial looking for his lost love in Manila; You Have Been Weighed and Found Wanting, about a sensitive young man who is drawn to the outcasts of his small town; Insiang, about a young woman in the slums of Tondo whose efforts to respect her "serpent-like" are blown apart by the mother's younger lover; and Bayan Ko, about how depoliticized individuals are still, no matter what, destroyed by economic circumstances. The film’s Cannes screening caused a furious Marcos regime to revoke Brocka’s citizenship.

This year’s "Spotlight" is on Oscar and Emmy-award winning producer, director and writer Freida Lee Mock (Maya Lin: a Strong Clear Vision). Two of her latest documentaries are screened, and she will be present for discussions following the screenings.

Lt. WatadaLieutenant Ehren Watada is the bravest man in the military, or the best friend of Al Qaeda, depending on whom you ask. Mock’s riveting documentary tells the lieutenant’s tale, from heroic enlister in the armed forces to famed resister of the Iraq War.

Sing China! – The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus tours across a China preparing for the Beijing Olympics. Part travelogue of a nation on the verge of change, part cultural investigation of American preteens having their eyes opened to a new world, and all an extraordinary musical experience.

Other festival events include

The Bonesetter’s Daughter: Making of an Opera (Working Title ) is a work-in-progress screening of a new opera written by Amy Tan from her novel, sung by the San Francisco Opera.

"Up Close & Personal with the Asian American Film Industry," a session with top film producer Karin Chien (The Motel, Robot Stories).

"Imagining Atrocity: City of Life and Death and the Nanjing Massacre on Film," presented by Michael Berry, Associate Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies at UC Santa Barbara.

"Best Fest Photo Contest": Attendees can submit their Festival photos and enter to win a Flip Video MinoHD Camcorder plus two Fast Passes to the 2011 SFIAAFF. Entries in three categories:

Paparazzi – Snap photos of favorite Festival celebrities
Places and Spaces – Get shots of the many beautiful & iconic venues of the Festival
Fest Faces, sponsored by shu uemura – Capture all the fabulous faces of the Festival

About the Festival

The Center for Asian America Media presents the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) every March. The SFIAAFF is the nation’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian films, annually presenting approximately 120 works in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose. Since 1982, the SFIAAFF has been an important launching point for Asian American independent filmmakers as well as a vital source for new Asian cinema.

For more information, visit festival.asianamericanmedia.org.

San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
March 11-21, 2010

Castro Theatre
29 Castro St., San Francisco

Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
1881 Post St., San Francisco