The 39th annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival had lots of shorts and a bunch of movies to enjoy. It wasn’t too hard to decide on what to check out since, like other events worldwide, to restart properly following the global health scare is tough. To begin, I’ll look at my three most favourite shorts, and although two of them follow upon a similar theme, just where it goes is different:
Mom, If I Were a Vampire
Wen (Ting Chiu) doesn’t want to be a momma’s girl, and life at school is rough in other departments. But when she gets in with the right crowd, with Jo (Yu-Xuan Wang) as the “it” girl, the friendship forged is no different from what I recall from Vampire Princess Miyu, a classic anime I have fond memories of.
Although there’s no similar character dynamic since most of the manga and animated series involved the title role without a human companion, what’s presented here would make for a good jumping in point for a live-action adaptation! In this case, it’s to expand upon. The LGTBQ angle isn’t anything new, but how its handled is quite deft!
In what the two characters encounter are bullies and stalkers. Also, I think Wen wants to be turned. She has a lot of feelings to get out and to explore that requires a longer story. This piece made by Deborah Devyn Chuang is certainly worth seeking for the neo-noir colour aesthetics!
According to a Chinese legend, the Nian is a chimaera-like creature which lives in the mountains, and it would visit villages once a year to raze everything! It’s not known if it lived in communities, or anything else, but for one young girl (Lauren Mei) who just wants to present her culture for show and tell, maybe this entity is also a guardian too! It’s a brisk tale, but it gets to the point about why beliefs matter, and why it’s not nice to bully!
The production is very well done to turn an otherwise normal high school tale to something a horror anime would do. Grandma steals the show here, and to reveal any more would be spoiler material. It’s certainly a piece that can be expanded upon.
Desi Standard Time Travel
Despite a light budget, what’s done for effects still takes a page out of Back to the Future. That’s because the story is about parenthood more so than second chances. Here, Imran (Adolyn H Dar; The Expanse, Superman and Lois) is about to become a father, but after a row with his own pops, Faisal (Ali Kazmi; Funny Boy, The Breadwinner), and hearing he passed the next day, the stress is too much. When he learns dad’s life insurance comes with a time travel clause, he has a chance to make things right.
Whom he meets helps him figure out his dad better. That also includes his mom (Anika Zulfikar). The trio show instant chemistry since they get to learn from one another about the difficulties of raising a newborn in a strange new world. Although Imran is a first generation, his folks weren’t, and it’s a relatable film for any immigrant or their kids who just don’t understand each other. This work has a Canadian connection too. Writer-director Kashif Pasta was born here, so he’s directing from his own experiences, too.