The Vintage Tempest’s Picks of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

18 Sep

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film FestivalBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Runs Sept 24 to Oct 31

The complete lineup of the 36th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is here! The list is extensive and to figure out what to see for its virtual event took more than days to figure out. Because of this event being region specific, most of these movies are geolocked to those residing in the county to see. However, with a lot of film festivals offering an online component, it’s safe to assume that these films will become available for another region in no time. Failing that, some works are already available on home video for purchase in the country it was made.

Over 225 filmmakers will be featured in the five weeks which starts very soon! There’s three feature film world premieres and plenty of shorts to see.

From the press release:

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. 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 ….

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.”

My top picks of must sees does not include two works I’ve screened at Fantasia (Paper Tigers and Legend of Baron T’oa). They are worth catching here if you’re able to. I present a new listing, and with more than a month to see everything, I’ve expanded this list to include more than the traditional ten. Shorts are included too.

The Chef

Oct 1, 2020 | 12:00 pm

In the near future, when human labor is replaced by humanoids, a Chinese chef is ordered to pass on his cooking skill to a humanoid robot to teach him Chinese cooking.

The Donut King

Oct 29, 2020 | 12:00 pm

Ted’s story is one of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption. It’s the rags to riches story of a refugee escaping Cambodia, arriving in America in 1975 and building an unlikely multi-million-dollar empire baking America’s favorite pastry, the donut.


The Girl Who Left Home

Oct 1, 2020 | 12:00 pm
Oct 2, 2020 | 3:00 pm

In her feature directorial debut, Mallorie Ortega orchestrates a whimsical musical about a young woman on the brink of Hollywood stardom, but is pulled back into her past life and family obligations. You’ll be laughing out of your seat and singing the catchy lyrics right after it’s over. Come check out the World Premiere of THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME. — Melanie Ramos

The Haunted Swordsmen

Oct 1, 2020 | 12:00 pm

This handcrafted live-action samurai short film uses bunraku puppetry and practical effects to tell an epic tale set in a world of demons and ghosts. A lone samurai and his odd companion, a cursed severed head, seek vengeance in a haunted world.


Oct 1, 2020 | 12:00 pm
Today is February 3rd, known in Japan as Setsubun. Families celebrate by casting out evil spirits from their homes. But this family’s daughter is not convinced they’re so evil, so she invites a spirit in for a midnight snack.


Death of Nintendo

Sept 24, 2020 | 12:00 pm

Director Raya Martin and screenwriter Valerie Castillo Martinez tell a nostalgic tale of a group of friends dealing with pitfalls, pipe dreams, and power-ups in the toughest stage of their lives: adolescence. — Kirby Penafiel

Kids Shorts Program

Oct 1, 2020 | 12:00 pm
Oct 10, 2020 | 11:00 am

How can I not skip this? On the list of nine shorts are a mix of different styles used to tell a tale of perseverance and adventure. In this program are the following:

Directed by Chun Chun Chang
A woman is enchanted by the moonbeam and chases it up to the sky.

Directed by Esther Cheung
A portrait of seventies Hong Kong, as remembered by the filmmaker’s parents.

Directed by Erika Gomi
A couple of mushrooms have a fun day out!

Directed by Cassie Shao
A sheep-man waits for a continuously delayed train.

Directed by Kana Hutchens
Mr. Orange lives a lonely life, but one day finds companionship in the strangest place.

Directed by Flor Kaneshiro
Told through watercolor illustrations and a traditional Okinawan folk song, an emigrant journeys from Okinawa to Argentina in the early 1900s.

Directed by Trilina Mai
A 2D animated short film of a grandfather and grandson’s ever changing relationship through time.

Directed by Jenesssa Joffe
Asian American kids explore the power of their identities, revolution, and social justice.

Directed by Yan Dan Wong
An educational animation about the inspiring life and legacy of American heroine Harriet Tubman, created for TED-Ed.

George Takei: No More Fear

Sept 26, 2020 | 12:00 pm

Icon George Takei shares about his childhood crushes and the challenges of navigating his gay identity in Hollywood. He eventually overcame fear and shame, met the love of his life, and came out publicly, becoming a vocal advocate for LGBTQ visibility.

The Girl Who Left Home

Oct 1, 2020 | 12:00 pm
Oct 2, 2020 | 3:00 pm

In her feature directorial debut, Mallorie Ortega orchestrates a whimsical musical about a young woman on the brink of Hollywood stardom, but is pulled back into her past life and family obligations. You’ll be laughing out of your seat and singing the catchy lyrics right after it’s over. Come check out the World Premiere of THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME. — Melanie Ramos

Noodle Kid

Oct 8, 2020 | 12:00 pm

Ma Xiang, a 14 year-old in Western China, does what hundreds of thousands of other ethnic Huis end up doing to support their family: he opens a noodle shop. NOODLE KID takes us on Ma’s journey through his apprenticeship, stretching and pulling noodle-dough hundreds of times a day at his uncle’s far-flung noodle dive. But Ma also dreams of being an imam, and at the heart of NOODLE KID is a compelling examination of religious life among the besieged Muslim Chinese minority. — Ryan Wu

One Meal

Oct 22, 2020 | 12:00 pm
Oct 23, 2020 | 12:00 pm

Director Yuechen Hao’s short but sweet feature film explores the relationship between a father working hard as a chef to provide for his family, and a daughter eager to follow in his footsteps, but getting obstructed because of cultural stigma and prejudice. Set in L.A.’s Chinatown, ONE MEAL is a refreshing take on the culture gap between the children of immigrants and their parents. — Marvin Yueh

The Long Walk

Oct 15, 2020 | 12:00 pm

An old man in Laos walks the dusty roads between his isolated farm and the nearby rural village in the company of a silent spirit whose death he witnessed decades earlier as a young boy. He also has lived his life filled with regret over losing his mother to tuberculosis. This gives him a compulsive drive to ease the suffering of the terminally ill, and over the years, he has quietly euthanized several sick women, as a form of repent for witnessing his mother’s death. As he realizes that his spectral companion has temporal abilities, he hatches a plan to end his mother’s suffering once and for all. One could argue that THE LONG WALK is the first time travel story to deal with Buddhist beliefs. — Anderson Le


Oct 29, 2020 | 12:00 pm

When a Native Hawaiian hula dancer escaping her abusive boyfriend crashes her beat-up van into a mysterious homeless man, she finds herself flung into a surrealistic journey of self-exploration and enlightenment. Director Christopher Kahunahana’s eagerly awaited feature debut breaks down the enduring, stereotypical image of paradise we have of Waikiki to reveal a vulnerable and authentic portrait of indignity. We are delighted to present the West Coast Premiere of WAIKIKI. — Lindy Leong

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