Monday, March 5, 2012


San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival Turns Thirty

Thousands of years ago, Confucius gave some advices to his students. He wrote, in Chinese of course because English didn't even exist during his time, "三十而立." It means that one should become mature and independent, and should be able to firmly stand on his feet when he turns thirty.

San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) turns the big thirty this year. Does the festival meet the Confucius's expectation?

You be the judge after you participate the festival this week, joining by tens of thousands other Asians cinema enthusiasts in the Bay Area.

the 30th SFIAAFF

With 102 films and videos in 47 programs, the 30th SFIAAFF continues to be a showcase of Asian American Independent filmmaking and current Asian cinema. However, it is noticeably smaller this year compared to the past. Perhaps that's one of the sign of turning thirty.

Although I am a member of the screening committee for this year's festival, I have only seen a limited number of the films in this year's program. I hold off viewing some of the films on purpose, so I can watch them with other festival goers together.

From what I have read in the program, I sense that turning thirty doesn't seem to make the festival become more predictable in style or contents. Quite the contrary, some new changes and directions will certainly surprise festival goers. It surely surprises me.

For example, I am intrigued by closing night program—an interactive and performative web series that is inspired by the phenomenon of Dancing Inmates of Cebu. Is it a film or a live performance? Or both? I am looking forward to finding it out by myself next Thursday.

If nothing else, I think this trend shows the festival constantly evolves itself and embraces the new media, and stay relevant.

Perhaps that is what really significant about the festival's turning thirty.

Here is my picks in this year's program. Because a picture worth thousand words, and a video worth a million words (okay, that's an expression I just invented), I will keep my words to a minimum. And the truth is, I really have nothing to say before I actually see a film.

As always, each title is linked to the festival program for more details and showtime information. Each image is linked to a film's official Web site when it's available.

The 30th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival takes place on March 8-18, 2012 in Sundance Kabuki, SF Film Society Cinema, Castro Theater in San Francisco, Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, Camera 3 Cinemas in San Jose, and other venues around the Bay Area.

  • 11 Flowers (我十一 | China 2011 | in Chinese | 120 min.)

    The director of "Beijing Bicycle" (十七岁的单车), Wang Xiaoshuai (王小帅), tells a story from a teenager's point of view set during the end of Cultural Revolution in China.

    11 Flowers

  • The Front Line (고지전 | South Korea 2011 | in Korean | 133 min.)

    After tearing up in "Taegukgi" (태극기 휘날리며), I am ready to be moved again by a gripping story during the Korean War in this South Korean's submission for Oscar.

    The Front Line

  • The Catch (Gibier d'élevage | Cambodia/France 2011 | in Khmer | 93 min.)

    This haunting image makes me want to see this film beside the fact that it's a remake of Nagisa Oshima's "Shiiku."

    The Catch

  • Always (오직 그대만 | South Korea 2011 | in Korean/Mandarin | 106 min.)

    Let's be honest: how can I attend an Asian film festival without watching a Korean drama in which one of the protagonists is going to be sick or dying? Come to see this film and bring a date.


  • White Frog (USA 2012 | 93 min)

    Director Quentin Lee's moving new film opens this year's festival. It is part of the Joan Chen Spotlight program that pays tribute to an extraordinary actress Joan Chen (陈冲). It's also an opportunity to see some of the hottest heartthrobs, such as Harry Shum, Jr., in person.

    Joan Chen and Harry Shum Jr. in White Frog

  • Ryang-kang-do: Merry Christmas, North! (량강도 아이들 | South Korea 2011 | in Korean | 95 min.)

    So far, almost every film regarding the tension between North and South Korea is poignant. I am intrigued to see how this comedy deals with this sensitive and tragic subject.

    Ryang-kang-do: Merry Christmas, North!

  • Night Market Hero (鸡排英雄 | Taiwan 2011 | in Chinese | 126 min.)

    You probably should come to this blockbuster in Taiwan after a full meal, because the film tells a story set in late-night food market in Taiwan. When the film is over, it's unlikely you will be able to find any food truck in the neighborhood. I will introduce this screening, but I won't bring any food, unless you place your order ahead of time.

    Night Market Hero

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?