2011 Asian American International Film Festival Kicks Off with John Sayles’ AMIGO on 8/10 in NY; AAIFF’11 Lineup, 8/10-14

Posted by Lia Chang

The 34th Annual Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF), presented by Asian CineVision (ACV) from August 10-14, 2011, kicks off on Wednesday, August 10th, with the New York Premiere of John Sayles’ AMIGO, which chronicles the forgotten events of the Philippine-American war in 1900. The cast of AMIGO features Joel Torre, Chris Cooper, Garret Dillahunt, Yul Vasquez, DJ Qualls and Arthur Acuna.

Over 70 films from 16 countries will be featured including 6 New York Premieres, 8 East Coast Premieres, and 3 which will be making their U.S. Premieres at AAIFF’11. AAIFF screenings will be at Clearview Cinemas, 260 West 23rd Street; at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), 215 Centre Street; and Maysles Cinemas, 343 Lenox Avenue in New York.

On Thursday, August 11th, AAIFF is presenting a LGBTQ themed film line-up, in collaboration with community partners from the LGBTQ community, featuring the non-traditional romantic comedy WHEN HAINAN MEETS TEOCHEW, directed by Yew Kwang Han, and TALES OF THE WARIA, a documentary about the transgender community in Indonesia directed by Kathy Huang.

The Festival’s Centerpiece Presentation Stephanie Guager’s SAIGON ELECTRIC delves into lives of hip-hop dancers in Vietnam’s capital, and will screen on Saturday, August 13th. AAIFF will close with Christine Yoo’s WEDDING PALACE, a light hearted comedy featuring Brian Tee, Hye-jeong Kang, Bobby Lee and Margaret Cho.

Other highlights at the Festival include the New York Premiere of award-winning director Ramona Diaz’s new documentary film THE LEARNING, which follows four Filipino women teaching inner city kids in Baltimore.

AAIFF is the nation’s longest-running festival of its kind and a leading showcase for the best in independent Asian and Asian American film and video.

AAIFF’11 FILMS
AMIGO – Dir. John Sayles | Starring Joel Torre, Chris Cooper, Garret Dillahunt, Yul Vasquez, DJ Qualls, Arthur Acuna | USA
Caught in the murderous crossfire of the Philippine-American war, mayor Rafael (Joel Torre) falls under pressure to collaborate when American troops garrison his village. Meanwhile, his brother Simón (Ronnie Lazaro), head of the local guerillas, regards collaboration as treason. The fate of a nation unfolds in this lucid, compelling portrait of the turbulent times.

ANNA MAY WONG: IN HER OWN WORDS – Dir. Yunah Hong | Starring Doan Ly | USA
Transcending the silent era into sound film, the legendary Anna May Wong co-starred with the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Douglas Fairbanks. The first Chinese American movie star is captured through rich archival footage, interviews with studio colleagues, commentary by filmmakers, scholars and re-enactments of her letters and diary by actress Doan Ly.

ENFORCING THE SILENCE – Dir. Tony Nguyen | USA
Thirty years after the unsolved murder of Lam Duong, Vietnamese American journalists remain the largest group of immigrant reporters killed on US soil. Friends of Lam, federal investigators, and journalists speak out about the risks that Vietnamese Americans face for exercising their first amendment rights.

THE LEARNING – Dir. Ramona Diaz | USA
Award-winning director Ramona Diaz (IMELDA) follows four Filipino women (Dorotea, Grace, Angel and Rhea) on a challenging and emotional journey as they leave their homeland and loved ones to teach at inner city Baltimore schools. Each woman tells a unique yet universal tale of the lives of overseas Filipino workers around the world.

LIVING IN SEDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES – Dir. Ian Gamazon | USA
A young pregnant woman seeks revenge on a man who has done her wrong. In a secluded forest, she begins a series of games—each more twisted than the last—designed to make him confess his sins. A mix of mystery and psychological thriller, Filipino-American director Ian Gamazon warps and challenges viewers’ expectations, leading to a haunting climax.

THE LULU SESSIONS – Dir. S. Casper Wong | USA
More affectionately known as LuLu, the unconventional Dr. Louise Nutter—boisterous, dedicated, and master of profanity—finds out she has the very illness she researches: breast cancer. Best friend and filmmaker S. Casper Wong captures her last 15 months on video as they embark on LuLu’s last and most enlightening adventure.

MY HEART BEATS – Dir. EunHee Huh | Starring Dong-sook You | South Korea
In a desperate attempt to revitalize her monotonous life, Juri, a lonely English professor in her mid-30s, has decided to break into the porn industry. With the help of an estranged friend and porn producer, Juri is eventually cast in her first film. Now she must re-evaluate what it is that keeps her heart beating.

MY WEDDING AND OTHER SECRETS – Dir. Roseanne Liang | Starring Michele Ang, Kenneth Tsang & Pei-Pei Cheng | New Zealand
Love knows no boundaries… unless you are a New Zealand-born Chinese woman trying to convince your traditional Hong Kong parents to let you marry your Caucasian boyfriend. Emily struggles to hide her forbidden relationship but discovers that, unlike in the movies, love cannot thrive on optimism alone.

THE PIANO IN A FACTORY – Dir. Zhang Meng | Starring Qian-yuan Wang | China
Chen is in a nasty custody battle with his estranged wife. A man of little means, he struggles to obtain a piano to convince his daughter to stay with him. The harsh reality of his desolate life is intriguingly juxtaposed with the quaint score and dreamlike scenes.

RAKENROL – Dir. Quark Henares | Starring Jason Abalos, Glaiza de Castro & Matet de Leon |The Philippines
Odie and Irene are die-hard rock fans, so it’s no surprise when they decide to form a band. Teaming with a former rocker and an angry drummer, they become Hapipaks. To the Hapipakers, rock isn’t just a genre of music, but a lifestyle, as each tackles his or her personal challenges with what they learn on the stage.

RESIDENT ALIENS – Dir. Ross Tuttle | USA
After calling the US home for decades, former Cambodian refugees are deported for criminal offenses back to Cambodia, a motherland now foreign to them. This documentary follows three returnees as they struggle to survive with few language and job skills, and find redemption through their new lives.

SAIGON ELECTRIC
– Dir. Stephane Gauger | Starring Van Trang & Quynh Hoa | USA/Vietnam
In the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, Mai a traditional ribbon dancer from the countryside meets tough street dancer Kim and soon becomes captivated by the city’s vibrant underground hip-hop scene. Representing the struggles of Vietnamese youth culture, this energetic film showcases bold, fresh talent with dynamic choreography and heartfelt narrative.

STRAWBERRY CLIFF – Dir. Chris Chow | Starring Leslie-Anne Huff, Anthony Chaput & Eason Chan | Hong Kong
Kate possesses the power to predict death, and makes a pact with Jason, who is predicted to die; he will send a signal from beyond the grave to prove there is an afterlife. Shortly after Jason’s death, Kate receives a mysterious phone call. Does an afterlife really exist?

TALES OF THE WARIA
– Dir. Kathy Huang | USA
In Indonesia, there lives a unique community of men who live openly as women. Known as Warias, these individuals must balance issues of identity, intimacy, and their Islamic faith. In this eye-opening documentary, four Warias tell the tales of their search for companionship and belonging.

WEDDING PALACE – Dir. Christine Yoo | Starring Brian Tee, Hye-jeong Kang, Bobby Lee & Margaret Cho | USA/South Korea
Jason is a 29-year-old advertising executive who must get married before his thirtieth birthday to avoid an ancient family curse. While on a business trip in Seoul, he meets Na-Young seems on track for the couple’s wedding—until Na-Young’s arrival in the U.S. falls short of expectation. Can true love overcome all obstacles?

WHEN HAINAN MEETS TEOCHEW – Dir. Yew Kwang Han | Singapore
An argument over a missing bra results in Ms. Teochew, a “womanly” man, having to move in with Hainan-boy, a “manly” woman. Not your typical romance, the unusual pair grows closer as they face an angry landlord, an estranged father, a sickly mother, and a crazy ex-girlfriend. Could this be the start of a beautiful relationship?

WHEN LOVE COMES – Dir. Tso Chi Chang | Starring Yijie Li | Taiwan
Lai-Chun is a free spirited young girl who must cope with her dysfunctional polygamous family. An unexpected pregnancy and the sudden collapse of her father’s health shift the balance of power at home. Lai-Chun begins to see her family in a new light as painful memories and profound regrets emerge.

Shorts Program: NEVER STOP BELIEVING
DREAM GIVER – Dir. Tyler Carter | USA
HENRY’S GLASSES – dir. Brendan Uegama | Canada
SOSEFINA – Dir. Tresa Ponnor | Australia
SAENG-IL – Dir. Jennifer Suhr | USA
BALLET OF UNHATCHED CHICKS – Dir. Shaun Seong-Young Kim | USA
BOYS & GIRLS – Dir. Chris Tipton King | USA
HEART – Dir. Erick Oh | USA
LUNCHTIME – Dir. Keo Woolford | USA
PLAY – Dir. Johnny Ma | USA
TOP SPIN – Dirs. Sara Newens & Mina T. Son. | USA

Shorts Program: LOVE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
PRESCOTT PLACE – Dir. Peilin Kuo | USA
TU & EU – Dir. Edward Shieh | USA
SCUMBAG, PERVERT AND THE GIRL IN BETWEEN – Dir. Bruce Hwang Chen | USA, Taiwan
HITOMI – Dir. Manu Du Smet | Netherlands
GRANT STREET SHAVING CO. – Dir. Payal Sethi | USA
HOTEL 66 – Dir. Antony Chen | UK

Shorts Program: TIGER DADS
CROSSING SALWEEN – Dir. Brian O’Malley | Ireland
A SCENE AT THE SEA – Dir. Jaehee Lee | South Korea
FATAKRA – Dir. Soham Mehta | USA
MASALA MAMA – Dir. Michael Kam | Singapore
GRANDPA’S WET DREAM – Dir. Chihiro Amemiya | Japan
GRAVEHEART – Dir. Yin Jill Lei | China

Shorts Program: A DAY LESS ORDINARY
ONLY MEAL OF THE DAY – Dir. Shang Sing Gou | Thailand, Taiwan
CANOPY CROSSINGS – Dir. Gary Young | Thailand
I WANT TO BE A DESI – Dir. Allan Tong | Canada
V SOMETHING – Dir. Asako Ushio | USA
CLOSED – Dirs. Christopher Zou & Alex Chin | USA
THE POTENTIAL WIVES OF NORMAN MAO – Dir. Derek Nguyen | USA
AFTERSHOCK – Dir. George Billard | USA
ROOM #11 – Dir. Mansee Kong | USA

Shorts Program: FYBY: AGE AIN’T NOTHING BUT A NUMBER
THE LAND IS STALE – Dir. Gabriel Ho | USA
THIS IS THE STORY OF THE GIRL I LOVE – Dir. Christopher Zou | USA
WHERE’S MY BROTHER – Dir. Chang Xin Ye | Taiwan
MEDIA – Dir. Woojin Kang | USA
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW – Dir. Brian Brennan | USA
MUSICAL WARRIOR – Dir. Angel Gatus | USA
BREAKING EXPECTATIONS – Dir. Kevin Tran | USA
A SUSHI LOVE STORY – Dir. Mike Blaney | USA
MY COUNTRY IS TIBET – Dir. Namgyal Wangchuk Trichen Lhagyari | USA
MY NORMAL FAMILY LIFE – Dir. Jonathan Cheng | USA

Shorts Program: CUNY Shorts
COLORS, JOURNEY OF A DANCER – MASAMI ISHIBASHI – Dir. Yee K. Lam | USA
HOME – Dir. Seimi Kim | USA
TEACHING OUTSIDE THE BOX – Dir. Katharine Filardi | USA
CLUB FIZZ – Dir. Yosuke Hosoi | USA
PAPER CRANES – Dir. Solim Lee | USA
MY PIANO LIFE – Dir. Jiayi Wang | USA

Shorts Program: QUATTRO HONG KONG 2
PURPLE – Dir. Brillante Mendoza | Hong Kong
OPEN VERDICT – Dir. Yuhang Ho | Hong Kong
M HOTEL – Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul | Hong Kong
13 MINUTES IN THE LIVES OF… – Dir. Stanley Kwan | Hong Kong

Shorts Program: SUITE SUITE CHINATOWN
OVERTURE – Dirs. Howie Shia & Lillian Chan | Canada
LIPSYNC – Dirs. Howie Shia & Lillian Chan | Canada
PRETTY LUCKY – Dir. Serena Lee | Canada
AUNTIE – Dir. Heather Keung | Canada
UNCLES – Dir. Heather Keung | Canada
ELIZABETH STREET – Dir. Lesley Loksi Chan | Canada
PLASTIC FUTURE – Dir. Aram Siu Wai Collier | Canada
HOW TO PARTY – Dir. Joyce Wong | Canada
THE WARRIORS OF QIUGANG – Dir. Ruby Yang | USA

Check out www.aaiff.org/2011 for more information on how to order and pick up tickets.
There are no refunds and no exchanges. All tickets are general admission. Ticketholders must arrive 15 minutes prior to show time. Late ticketholders will not be guaranteed seating. All programs are subject to change, please check www.aaiff.org/2011 or call 212.989.0017 for changes and updates.

About Asian CineVision
The annual Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is produced by Asian CineVision (ACV), a nonprofit media arts organization devoted to the development, promotion and preservation of Asian and Asian American film and video. http://www.asiancinevision.org/aaiff/

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.