The 26th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) is just around the corner. Starting March 13, Asians cinema enthusiasts will flock to Sundance Kabuki, Clay Theater, Castro Theater, and other venues in Berkeley and San Jose. This year's program looks really exciting. Here are few observations that might or might not be obvious to others.
There are plenty movies I have yet to see, and I would like to catch some shorts during the festival as well. Nevertheless, these are my picks for features (click on each picture for screening or ticket information) in alphabetic order.
- More boys than girls
I find out that there are many "boys" in this year's program. From youth focused "Glory Boy Days," to amazingly energetic documentary "Planet B-Boy" about breakdancers, and a dramatic account related to breakdance "Always Be Boyz." Not enough boys? There will have an all-star cast period drama "Blood Brothers (天堂口)." I guess brothers can't be girls.
There is only one girl in the program: "The Girl Who Hated Books," for only 7 minutes. Hopefully she loves books by now.
More and more films have more than one country under their names. The collaboration between countries has become a new trend. In fact, Taro will moderate a panel discussion "Crossing Over: Asian Americans and Asia". While many these multinational films are from South Korea and Japan, it's interesting that there is no film coming China except Hong Kong.
- Films reflecting on World War II
There are quite a few documentaries related to World War II. A superb documentary "Wings of Defeat" tells stories about kamikaze (神風) pilots who carried out suicide missions during World War II. "Behind Forgotten Eyes" recounts the nightmares of comfort women who were forced to serve Japanese soldiers during World War II. "Yasukuni (靖国神社)" takes a rare closer look at the ceremonies at this shrine which hosts the dead Japanese soldiers during World War II, including some war criminals.
- Something for everybody
Like almost every year, there is something for everybody at the festival regardless one's taste and preference in cinema.
Art house fans will be delighted with Hou Hsiao-Hsien's (侯孝贤) new film "Flight of the Red Balloon (Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge)" and the rare screening of late Edward Yang's (楊德昌) "A Brighter Summer Day (牯嶺街少年殺人事件)."
Korean melodrama lovers will find "Happiness (행복)" and "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (싸이보그지만 괜찮아)" staring Korean heartthrob Rain (비), and of course, "Never Forever."
Garin Nugroho, the director of "Opera Jawa" brings a documentary "Serambi" about the aftermath of 2004 tsunami. "Paper Cannot Wrap up Embers" is a documentary about miserable prostitution lives of women surviving in Cambodia.
In the gangster and crime drama genre, Michael Kang, the director of "The Motel," comes to the festival with his "West 32nd", and definitely we will find blood in "Blood Brothers (天堂口)."
- A Brighter Summer Day (牯嶺街少年殺人事件)
- Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame (بودا از شرم فرو ریخت )
- Death Note (デスノート)
- Desert Dream (경계)
- Flight of the Red Balloon (Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge)
- A Gentle Breeze in the Village (天然コケッコー)
- Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
- The Home Song Stories (意)
- I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (싸이보그지만 괜찮아)
- Long Story Short
- Never Forever
- Ping Pong Playa
- Planet B-Boy
- West 32nd (웨스트 32번가)
- Wings of Defeat
- Yi Yi (一一)
It's gonna be a great festival!