26th Asian American International Film Festival

Posted by Lia Chang

Asian CineVision in association with Asia Society
presents the 26th Asian American International Film Festival
June 20-29!

Celebrate the life of former Asian CineVision executive director Bill Gee at a memorial service on Sunday, June 22 at 1:30 at the Asia Society (725 Park Avenue).

In association with ACV, the Asian American Journalists Association-NY Chapter has established the BILL J. GEE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MEDIA ARTS JOURNALISM.

The $500 prize, to be awarded annually, will recognize excellence in writing by a professional journalist or critic that advances and illuminates the work of Asian Americans in the media arts. An independent panel of distinguished writers, journalists, scholars and artists will review recommendations from other professionals for nominees. The award honors the memory of Bill Gee, journalist and former Executive Director of Asian CineVision, who passed away in March 2003. Gee was the founding editor of CineVue, the critical media arts journal published by ACV, and a founding member of the Asian American Journalists Association-New York Chapter.

The Bill J. Gee Award for Excellence in Media Arts Journalism will be presented at the 27th Asian American International Film Festival in 2004.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the fund or for more information, contact Risa Morimoto, Executive Director of Asian CineVision, at 212.989.1422 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Asian CineVision, Inc. (ACV) is a not-for-profit national media arts organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Asian and Asian-American media expressions. ACV's programs and services include film exhibitions, mentoring and educational outreach, training workshops, publications, and a media archive.

For complete program and ticket information, visit www.asiancinevision.org or call the festival hotline at 212-989-1422.

New York City, June 20 - 29, 2003

Asian CineVision (ACV) presents the 26th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) - the nation's largest and oldest festival devoted to celebrating the vision of Asian and Asian American filmmakers.

Screen more than 100 documentaries, features and shorts at the Asia Society and Museum (725 Park Avenue @ 70th) and selected screenings at Flushing Town Hall on June 28th and 29th. In addition, there are panels and Works in Progress and The Art of Pitching workshops for filmmakers.

Asian CineVision kicks off the festival with a gala reception following the screening of A Peck on the Cheek (Kannathil Muthamittal) by two -time Academy Award nominee Mani Ratnam at the Asia Society on June 20th at
6:30pm. A vivid depiction of the brutal human costs of war, this compelling Indian drama follows nine-year-old Amuda on her perilous journey with her adoptive parents as she searches for her birth mother in war-torn Sri-Lanka.
Lead actor Ranganathan Madhavan will introduce the film.

At 10pm on June 20th, there will be a special presentation of Chi-leung Lo' s haunting Inner Senses , a graphic tale of true horror existing inside the human mind, starring the late Hong Kong film star Leslie Cheung.

Festival Program Highlights:
FRIDAY JUNE 20
6:30pm - A Peck on the Cheek (Kannathil Muthamittal) directed by Mani Ratnam
gala reception follows screening
10pm - Inner Senses directed by Chi-leung Lo
Starring Leslie Cheung and Karena Lam
Program # F1

SATURDAY JUNE 21
12:30pm - Chinese Box Home Movies directed by Wayne Wang
Chinese Box Home Movies is Wang's unique and expansive record of Hong Kong in it final days before 1997 and its handover to China, shot on mini-DV in late 1996, as part of pre-production for his feature film Chinese Box starring Gong Li and Jeremy Irons. ACV executive director and filmmaker Risa Morimoto chats with producer Roger Garcia who collaborated with director Wayne Wang in developing Chinese Box Home Movies , and about its relationship to Chinese Box . Chinese Box Home Movies is a special addition on the new Chinese Box DVD due out in October.
Program #MC

2pm - Searching for Asian America produced by Donald Young, Sapana Sakya, and Kyung Sun Yu
This documentary follows the lives of four Asian Americans chasing the Asian American dream. Washington State governor Gary Locke, the first Chinese American to be governor on the continental U.S. has the potential drive to become the first Chinese American President, two Filipino doctors, Martin Bautista and Jeffrey Lim setting up shop in a predominantly white Midwestern town, and "Angry Little Asian Girl" Korean American cartoonist and actress Lela Lee-- all following their passions and breaking boundaries and stereotypes in what has been considered unlikely and unmarked territory for Asian Americans. Produced by the National Asian American Telecommunications Association (NAATA).
Program #F3

6:45pm - All is Full of Love Selected short films: Chocolate, Red Thread, Mahjong to the Grave, Letter to Susu, Butterfly, Little Hearts
In these stories of unrequited love between friends, an unspoken desire between doctor and patient, a mahjong obsession and a good old-fashion chocolate addiction, love can be both sweet and deadly.

Chocolate directed by Ron Domingo
A charming confection about a boy on a secret mission who tries to outwit his grandmother.

Butterfly directed by Tanuj Chopra
Ghani, a blind traditional Muslim man, calls Dr Aadam to his home to check up on his only daughter Miraal. However, the only way the doctor is allowed to examine the patient is through a hole cut in a large curtain hanging in the middle of the room. The two find romance after learning that they share a love of butterflies, but will her father set her free?

A Letter to Susu directed by Vincent Au
A poetic rendering of a young man suffering from mental illness as he writes to his ex-lover to reminisce on their loving but stormy affair.

Red Thread directed by Cynthia Liu
Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls) play a lonely playwright tired of dating Mr. Wrong. When her mother (Jodi Long) sets her up on a blind date with an actor (Eddie Mui), he turns out to be Mr. Wrong and Mr. Right.
Program # F6

7:30pm - Flavors directed by Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru
The wedding of a young South Asian man and a white woman sets the stage for four stories in this feature debut by Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru. With a kind of humor that's all over the map, Flavors is an infectious comedy about relationships - how to keep them fresh, how to find them, and how not to lose them.

SUNDAY JUNE 22
12:30pm - Culture Club
The focus of these two documentaries deal with the efforts of individuals who have preserved their culture and identity through artistic expression.
Words, Weavings and Songs directed by John Esaki
Delving into the universal language of art, three extraordinary Japanese American women survived the WWII concentration camps and continued to transcend those years with creative expressions.

American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawaii directed by Lisette Marie Flanary
For Hawaiians, hula is not just a dance but a way of life. From the traditional to the contemporary, master hula teachers living in California struggle to preserve their culture and bring the Hawaiian community together by celebrating their heritage.
Program #F11

5:15pm - I'm Just a Girl Selected Shorts: Double Exposure, A Place Where There Are Moths, Lily's Cricket, Kasya

Double Exposure directed by Kit Yin Snyder
In this poetically inspired video documentary, environmental artist and filmmaker Kit Yin Snyder explores the conflicts and contradictions of the "cultural state-lessness" she has experienced as a first generation Chinese-American immigrant. Her combination of traditional Chinese music, a series of experimentally conceived super impositions (using abstract footage and family photos), footage from recent trips to China, and her first person narrative, is effective in evoking and reframing her identity struggles.

7pm - The Sea Watches directed by Kei Kumai
From Japan, Kei Kumai's adaptation of a script left behind by the late Akira Kurosawa brings light to Japan's oppression of women by social class and gender during the Edo period (pre-1868). Set in the quaint town of Okabasho, east of Tokyo Bay, The Sea Watches is the story of young O-Shin who finds herself falling in love with a samurai that fate has brought to her brothel.
Program #F15

For complete program and ticket information, visit www.asiancinevision.org or call the festival hotline at 212-989-1422.

Wednesday June 25
6:30pm - A Peck on the Cheek (Kannathil Muthamittal) directed by Mani Ratnam
Two-time academy award nominated director Mani Ratnam showcases his vibrant storytelling in his latest film A Peck on the Cheek . Nine-year old Amuda has an idyllic life in India until she discovers she is adopted on her ninth birthday. Intent on finding her birth mother, Amuda's journey with her adoptive parents is a perilous one as their search takes them through war-torn Sri Lanka.

Thursday June 26
6:30pm - Robot Stories directed by Greg Pak
Award winning filmmaker Greg Pak makes his feature film debut with Robot Stories , the Centerpiece presentation film of the festival. Pak weaves science fiction through four intimate multicultural tales about love, death, familyand robots. In My Robot Baby , Tamlyn Tomita and James Saito are a couple who must care for a robot baby before adopting a human child; in The Robot Fixer , a mother (Wai Ching Ho) tries to connect with her dying son by completing his toy collection; in Machine Love , Pak plays an office worker android who learns that he too, needs love; and in Clay , Sab Shimono plays an old sculptor who must choose between natural death and digital memory. To read Asianconnections exclusive interview with Greg, click here.
www.robotstories.net
Director Greg Pak will attend screening.
Program #F20

9:15pm - Homeward Bound Selected Shorts: The Anniversary, Leang's Journey, and Saigon U.S.A
A Buddhist Monk is haunted by memories of war and betrayal on the anniversary of his brother's death; a survivor of the killing fields struggles to maintain his Cambodian culture and support his daughter; and a Vietnamese American community is united by their refugee experience in a selection of short films that examine the legacies of war.
Program #F21

Friday June 27
6:30pm - Marriage is a Crazy Thing directed by Yu Ha
In this latest film by Korean director Yu Ha, sexual liberationist Joon-yung and an attractive and daring Yon-hee engage in a passionate affair, even after Yon-hee weds a rich doctor. But their "weekend marriage" becomes complicated when Joon-yung becomes jealous and possessive, and Yon-hee adopts a more casual attitude about their relationship.
Program #F22

Saturday June 28
2:30pm - Charlotte Sometimes directed by Eric Byler
In his feature debut, Eric Byler tells a tale of friendship, desire, and deception, as Michael, who is secretly in love with his neighbor Lori, struggles to repress his longing in order to maintain their cherished friendship. But when he encounters the mysterious Darcy, he is forced to choose between a daring tryst with an alluring stranger, and the habitual comfort of his bittersweet obsession. To read Asianconnections' exclusive interview with Eric, click here.
Director Eric Byler will attend screening.
Program #F27

Sunday June 29
2:30pm - From the #7 Train to Pyongyang: Third World Newsreel and Asian American filmmaking
For 35 years, Third World Newsreel (TWN) has offered alternative visions of the people who shape our diverse national and international communities. This retrospective program showcases films tackling issues ranging from the geo-political to the localized complexities of diasporic experiences.
Program #F35

The #7 Train (1999) directed by Hye Jung Park and JT Takagi
Each day, 500,000 people from 117 different countries ride a bright red subway that runs from Flushing to Times Square, going through Queens, the most ethnically diverse region in the U.S. The No. 7 Train follows four immigrant passengers: a Korean who works in a Harlem fish store, Otavalen street vendors in Chinatown, and a gay Pakistani fabric salesman on Fifth Avenue. Their lives and their conflicted relationships with the city and its other residents are juxtaposed with the subway they take each day to get to Manhattan and their dreams for the future.

Community Plot (1984) directed by JT Takagi
This satiric comedy takes place in a building on New York's multi-ethnic Lower East Side. Four neighbors form an uneasy alliance after a case worker from family court is accidentally killed in their building. The film captures the noisy chaos and cultural diversity of this poor community with a gutsy sense of humor.

Homes Apart (1991) directed by JT Takagi and Christine Choy
They speak the same language, share a similar culture and once belonged to a single nation. When the Korean War ended in 1953, ten million families were torn apart. Today, while the rest of the world celebrates the end of the Cold War, Koreans remain separated between North and South, fearing the threat of mutual destruction. Beginning with one man's journey to reunite with his sister in North Korea, director Takagi and producer Choy reveal the personal, social and political dimensions of one of the last divided nations on earth.

2:45pm - Time After Time selected shorts: Yin Yin/Jade Love, Earth to Mouth, Showa Shinzan, Yah Yah
Four filmmakers dive into the generational gap to explore the evolving relationships between grandparent and grandchild, mother and son, and the passage of time.
Program #F36

8:00pm - Closing Night Screening hosted by fashion designer Anna Sui

Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity directed by Mina Shum
Set in the Cantonese-Canadian community of Vancouver, Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity revolves around twelve-year-old Mindy Ho , a Tao magic-obsessed pre-teen bent on changing the fate of her single mother, an overworked and underpaid waitress at a local dim sum restaurant with little time for affection for her daughter. Mindys dabbling with Taoist magic spells wreaks havoc: an aging man loses his job as a security guard, a butcher wins the lottery, and several romance entanglements also occur. Stars Sandra Oh, Valerie Tian, and Tsai Chin.
Director Mina Shum will attend the screening, followed by the Closing Night Reception.

In addition to an extensive lineup of short films and documentaries by Asian American filmmakers, there are new works from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.

For complete program and ticket information, visit www.asiancinevision.org or call the festival hotline at 212-989-1422.

Announcement of Bill J. Gee Memorial and Media Excellence Award created in his honor, click next for more details.