The San Diego Asian Film Festival started yesterday and it was a great time. This annual event is important to help spread Asian culture and awareness, topics still very much lacking in mainstream America. It’s paramount that we support these types of events, otherwise, our stories as Asians and Asian Americans–as real people–remain unheard. These films are usually low budget, marketed primarily through word of mouth, and has a cast which includes Asians in multi-dimensional roles, unlike their American counterparts.
This festival is definitely a spectacle not to be missed. Christmassy-lights are hung up all over the theatre and when you walk the red carpet, you feel like you’re the star–just remember to smile and keep your posture upright! Just follow the line of paparazzi with their cameras ready to snap pictures and the several important-looking people in casual conversation dressed in suits and slacks. Mini booths here and there have a staff more than happy to assist you to take a survey, spin and win a prize, browse the Asian DVDs vendors have on display. Go ahead and whiff up the smell of boba, sushi, or other treats emanating from the room. And while you’re at it, grab an Asian dude, I mean some Asian food:)
And if you are star struck then OMG!, this is the place to catch sight of one: John Cho, Dustin Nguyen, Leonardo Nam, Justin lin…you name it. Various panels and award recognitions are presented so you’re guaranteed a sighting.
It was about this time last year where I made my first post on this San Diego Asian Film Festival, and I’m reminded of the film Ip Man. Without this festival, I would have never heard of the movie, let alone see it in an actual theatre surrounded by enthusiastic fans. Now it is my all-time favorite martial arts film. I’m going to write a blog/review solely about this film. All I have to say for now is, watch it!
Go to San Diego Asian Film Festival to see the schedule of films, even if you can’t attend, because you can get an idea of what films to look for on DVD.
Here are a couple of the more-talked about films:
Legend of the Fist: a martial arts flick starring Donnie Yen
Ip Man 2: needs no introduction:)…if you only see one Asian film in your life, this is the one! Heroism, Chinese philosophy, Eastern concepts of restraint, zen, and the power of qi–it’s all there.
Time Traveller: Girl who Leapt Through Time: a story based on a hugely successful
Goemon: a fantasy about a 16th century Japanese ninja
Bodyguards and Assassins: Revolutionaries from China defend their leader from the Emperor’s hired killers, starring several big-name actors.
Air Doll: A blow-up doll falls in love with a store clerk; story about the loss of innocence
City of Life and Death: the important period in Chinese history known as the “Rape of Nanking”; the first of its kind ever done
The Photograph: an Indonesian film about two lonely people finding a connection
Au Revoir Taipei: a love story taking place over one night; winner of numerous awards
Fool for Love: a romantic comedy starring Asian heartthrob Dustin Nguyen of 21 Jump Street back in the day; highest grossing film in Vietnam in 2009. This one’s not to be missed!
I went to the festival Thursday through Sunday and watched 5 films. Here’s a quick summary of the ones I really liked.
Bodyguards and Assassins: WOW! This film completely blew me away and exceeded my expectations. The portrayal of a group of revolutionaries kept me engaged throughout–the perfect example of heroism at its finest. Filled with with action and intrigue and has an epic quality coloring the film throughout. How the filmmaker showed the importance of each moment leading to the safe passage for Sun Yet Sen was truly spectacular. Fans of Chinese history, especially of historic events that shaped China’s future, will appreciate this film. Plus, the hot actors are a bonus:)
Fool for Love: A very over-the-top and funny Vietnamese comedy. The main characters played by Dustin Nguyen and Kathy Uyen were perfectly cast. Their charisma and rapport shines. Interesting note on Kathy…I saw her before on some panel featuring Asian Americans and didn’t think much of her. Then her name started popping up more and more and, suddenly, this once ordinary-to-me girl evolved into a real beauty. This film captured her essence, captivating charisma, and physical beauty. Films have a way of turning regular people into larger-than-life characters. My point is it’s great to see everyday people, especially Asians, given their chance to shine in the spotlight.
On another note, the only film I attended that was sold out is Fool for Love. Even for Bodyguards and Assassins, the theatre was only about 65-70% full. I like a full audience so please help spread the word…
Love Asian, Support Asian! and if you don’t, here’s your chance to FINALLY open you horizons. Be adventurous!