Genre Picks of the 37th L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival

Runs Sept 23 to Oct 2, 2021
Tickets are available to purchase starting Sept 13, 2021 at 12:00pm PT.

The 37th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is back as both an online and in-person event! Some films will be available across the nation to view and others geo-locked to this municipality.

One work to take note of is the Los Angeles premiere of the documentary Wuhan Wuhan. This film examines the global health issue as it unfolded from February and March of last year and instead of a dire warning, Yung Chang’s (Up the Yangtze) direction offers a humanitarian message. Anyone wanting a fresh look at the situation may well want to consider this documentary as part of their viewing schedule.

Although much of the California state is not under lockdown, attendees are asked to still observe safety protocols. The in person events are likely to be attendance capped, and no matter what happens as the world enters the Autumn season, the organizers are committed to recognizing talents who are making an impact in the community as, so the saying goes, “navigate strange times.” 

On that note, the genre picks for this year include:

A Sip of Water

Directed by Hyuna Cho

Shamans are considered extraordinary in Korean society as they bridge gods and humans with their psychic talents. Based on interviews with shamans, this is an animated piece that seeks to explore the role of shaminism in Korean culture.

Directed by Joe Mateo

BLUSH follows the journey of a stranded horticulturist-astronaut’s chances for survival after he crash lands on a desolate dwarf planet. When an ethereal visitor arrives, the once-lone traveler discovers the joy in building a new life and realizes the universe has delivered astonishing salvation.

L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival - The Fabulous Filipino Brothers

Directed by Dante Basco

Dante Basco could arguably be anointed as API film festival royalty with his defining role in Gene Cajayon’s THE DEBUT and as Prince Zuko in AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (lest not forget his bad boy personification as Rufio in HOOK). After a diverse career that is entering its fourth decade, Dante makes his directorial debut, and he’s not at it alone. Co-writing with his brother Darion Basco, and casting pretty much his entire family, THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS is an intergenerational comedy that is sweet, at times raunchy, and full of heart. Set in their hometown of Pittsburg, California, Dante wears multiple hats behind the camera, and co-stars with Basco siblings Darion, Arianna, Dionysio, and Derek. Together, this FilAm family takes on a series of humorous vignettes that grant each a chance at the spotlight.

Directed by Bobbi Jo Hart

David Bowie was quoted in saying “”Revivify Fanny. And I feel my work will be done.” An affecting documentary, FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK carries on the work that one of their biggest supporters started, and is a definitive proclamation on the significance of one of the most under-appreciated bands in rock music history. This is the untold story of a self-founded, 1960s garage band — which included Filipina American and queer bandmates — that morphed into the ferocious rock group Fanny, the first band of women to release an LP with a major record label (Warner/Reprise, 1970).

L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival - Hawaiian SoulHAWAIIAN SOUL
Directed by ʻĀina Paikai

Not everyone knows Hawaiian history, and there’s few modern heroes to be recognized as such. George Jarrett Helm Jr., is easily one because he sought to protect his world, his land, from the American military. He led many protests against them because they were using the island of Kahoʻolawe as a target for all their bombs. This film looks back at this time, where this individual used his talents in many fronts to help spur change.

In 1976, he and eight other activists occupied the island to prevent further shelling. He was moved by the natural beauty of the land, and he dedicated his entire life to protect it. He saw the natural beauty that is the island, and dedicated the rest of his life to fighting for its protection and Pele must be proud. — Ed Sum

Directed by Christopher Makoto Yogi

Variety calls this Sundance hit a “A Beguilingly Restful Ghost Story That Moves With the Hawaiian Breeze.” Starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS), Steve Iwamoto, and Tim Chiou (SEAL TEAM), this sophomore feature from director Christopher Makoto Yogi is a lush cinematic love letter that spans several generations of one family based in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Yogi is an alumnus of Visual Communications’ Armed with a Camera Fellowship, and we are thrilled to welcome him back for the West Coast premiere of this film. — Eseel Borlasa

L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival - Journey to the East
Directed by Eve Liu

On the verge of death, a Woman with No Name falls into a mystical land between the East and West. There, she encounters a gang of mythical Chinese cowboys known as “The Chinamen,” gatekeepers for the bones of all Chinese Americans who have died in the West.

Directed by Randal Kamradt

When an ancient rogue monster threatens existence, only the scrappy multi-national team P.H.A.S.E. can stop him. But their newest recruit holds a stunning secret. Against impossible odds, this lonely, conflicted, difficult, and altogether human team must band together to save the world.

L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival - Mountain CatMOUNTAIN CAT
Directed by Шилүүс

A troubled teenage girl is coerced into seeing a local shaman in search of spiritual healing. Trapped by ancient beliefs that serve only to pacify her mother, she finds peace in the physical realm by unleashing her repressed, youthful spirit on the unsuspecting shaman, when she realizes his true identity.

Directed by Bradley Tangonan

On the verge of eviction, a Native Hawaiian woman is hired by a mysterious sculptor to retrieve sacred stones from a riverbed deep in the forests of Hawaiʻi. This film is a modern myth about alienation from the land and the consequences of denying our connection to it.

L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival - Tiong Bahru Social Club

Directed by Bee Thiam Tan

Ah Bee goes on a comedic odyssey through Tiong Bahru Social Club, a data-driven project to create the happiest neighbourhood in the world. Little by little, Ah Bee’s encounters with the neighbourhood’s residents reveal the absurdity of life.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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