All hands are on deck for the 2023 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and it’s resumed being a mostly in-person event. A small selection of works will be made available online and what attendees should check out are its shorts program! All the fantasy and genre works are found here, and what I offer as a highlight of what to look for those attending.
Although some pieces are tough to group according to the name of the program, what I offer will be by genre tag. Thus, in the animated category, I’m particularly excited for Colorville, Rem Koolhaus’ Music Video Kajo, The Old Young Crow, Tala’s Bedtime Story, and Māui Adventures: Capturing The Sun.
In the live action front, Desi Standard Time Travel and What’s Your Fantasy stands out as must-sees.
From the Battling Demons Shorts Program (playing at the Regal L.A. LIVE, on May 13, 2023 at 9:00 pm), there are:
- KNOCK KNOCK NIGHT
The little girl stays at home alone in the middle of the night, suddenly there comes a rat a tat on the door, and the creepy night is about to begin…
- MOM, IF I WERE A VAMPIRE
An insecure teenage girl dislikes her disapproving mother, and vows to be nothing like her. When she meets a cool schoolgirl who couldn’t give a damn attitude, she becomes infatuated and follows her down a rabbit hole.
A Chinese American girl stands up to her racist bully with the help of the Nian, a mythological beast that eats rotten children.
As for longer works, these three films playing at the 2023 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival have caught my eye.
- SOUL FOOD
Fah recently lost her mother and the feelings she experiences are all over. As for how she can help herself means hoping to talk to her mom one more time, and what she finds at the crossroads will have many examining their relationship with their parents too. This film won’t necessarily be a foodie’s guide to the afterlife, but instead will act like a way to show how grief counselling works when the supernatural is lightly involved.
- THE CLOUD MESSENGER
Studying in a colonial-era boarding school in the Himalayan mountains, Jaivardhana (‘JV’) is an insolent and mischievous sixteen-year-old who finds it hard to balance his world within the rigid and mundane structures of school, and his newfound attraction towards another student, Tarini. As the tale unfolds, we begin to realise their roles as timeless lovers in a mythical tale, meeting in the present day after several centuries of longing, and leading up to the death of Tarini in this life as well.
As the whole universe conspires to break the ancient curse, this tale of eternal love can only end if Jaivardhana travels to the land of death itself. The story of Meghdoot is where myth and reality merge, giving birth to something new. Where we witness the dream of a boy, merging with the cosmic dream.
- THE WIND & THE RECKONING
Based on The True Story of Kaluaikoolau: As Told By His Wife Piilani, The Wind & The Reckoning brings to life the story of a legendary Hawaiian hero. Koʻolau (Jason Scott Lee, Power Rangers) contracts leprosy and vows to never be separated from his family and taken to the leper colony by sheriff McCabe (Henry Ian Cusick) and the Provisional Government. This feature film is a treat as it is mostly told in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, the original language of the Kanaka Maoli.