A Closer Look at LAAPFF’s Spirited Away Program

28 Sep

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival - FilmFreewayBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Regal L.A. LIVE:
A Barco Innovation Center

1000 W Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90015

Sept 29, 2021
9:00 pm

Thematically, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival’s Spirited Away shorts program is an apt title to describe a set of works that deals with spirituality. It’s a topic few understand when they are about philosophies from smaller regional areas.

Udval Altangerel is a Mongolian filmmaker whose works explore anthropological subjects, and to introduce this group of films, she wrote for the program guide, “Guided by shamans and ancestral spirits, we traverse the line between the living and the dead, tradition and transformation, fiction and nonfiction.”

This unique set of eclectic works do more than define humanity’s relationship with Nature. There’s spirits, wisdom and counter-culture to be found in each. Fans of slam poetry will like Hinga. This piece argues for change. Unlike the fight to keep Fairy Creek pristine in my neck of the woods, this performance theatre is captured onto film and explores the complexity of what the Filipinx people in the Bay Area are passionate about. They want a utopia that transcends political and geographical barriers. Their message isn’t hard to follow, but it’s the rhythm which sets an unusual pace.

Of the six, The Fourfold is the best of the lot. It is an animated look at the traditional belief systems and rituals from Mongolia and Siberia. Here, Nature rules supreme, and the stones do more than contain the spirits of the land. The visuals are a gemologist’s wet dream come true, and it shows the natural life cycle of the land as we stroll through a wet painting of the worlds that lurk within the very microcosm of a quantum universe. Plus, we get a message on why this Earth must be preserved.


The Eyes of Summer is more of an experimental piece and very subjective in its message about how to commune with the spirit world. This story is set in a remote village in Southern Sri Lanka and it follows a young girl as she wanders through one world and enters another. The jungle world is filled with spirits, and although we can’t see them, the camera infers they are there, living in the fauna. The abstract nature of this film makes this work tough to interpret. It’s worth admiring more for the camera work than anything else.

On the following pages are a closer look at two works which deserve a closer attention:

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