Human rights, poverty, gangs, political revolution and LGBT issues are just some of the topics that will be covered at the Asian American International Film Festival (July 25-August 3) this year. The festival (also known as AAIFF) will screen 27 films and documentaries, along with workshops, shorts by local college students, Q&As, and panels discussing the significance, history and evolution of AAPI cinema. This will be the festival’s 42nd event.
AAIFF is the first and longest-running festival dedicated to showcasing Asian and Asian American film in the United States, and has screened films from more than 20 countries. According to Asian CineVision, AAIFF’s mission is “committed to film and media as a tool for social change and to the support of diversity and inclusion in independent cinema and the Asian American media arts.”
In this year’s program, fourteen films (roughly half of the curriculum) will be directed and produced by women filmmakers. The film festival partners with the nonprofit organization Asian Society, and will be screening films at these venues: the Asia Society and Museum, Regal Essex Crossing & RPX, Museum of Chinese in America, and Flushing Town Hall. Most of the films will be followed by Q&A by the directors and actors, and some will be accompanied by open bars.
Relevant in today’s political climate is the opening presentation, Yellow Rose from director Diane Paragas. Rising star Eva Noblezada plays Rose, an undocumented Filipino immigrant who dreams of pursuing a country music career. However, when her mother is tragically detained by ICE, she must contact her estranged aunt (portrayed by Lea Salonga) for safety, and to figure out her options.
On the 25th, the festival will also feature a panel on director Shu Lea Cheang, speaking about her extensive career in both filmmaking and art. Her debut film, Fresh Kill, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a screening at the Asia Society the next day. In this dramatic thriller, a lesbian couple raises their daughter in Staten Island, but contaminated sushi leads to corporation-wide conspiracies.
Happy Cleaners, the closing film, is a film touching those in the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) diaspora. The movie follows the Korean-American Choi family trying to keep the family business afloat as they navigate increasingly difficult relationships and suffer through cultural clashes.
Those films are only a glimpse at the diverse topics covered by this year’s festival. Here’s the complete list of women-helmed films that will be shown in these two weeks:
For more information, tickets, and to see other local or international locations where the films may premiere, please visit the Asian CineVision website.
© Beatrice Viri (7/23/19) FF2 Media
Featured image: Yellow Rose
Photo credits: Asian CineVision