L.A. Asian Pacific Film Fest Starts This Week

The 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival will be presented May 2 to 10 at select cinemas in the Los Angeles area, including Little Tokyo, Downtown, and the L.A. Live Entertainment Center.

This year’s festival will showcase over 200 films, including both features and short films, with eight feature film world premieres.

Since 1983, the LAAPFF has presented over 4,000 films, videos, and digital mediaworks by Asian international and Asian Pacific American artists, and additionally features seminars and panels, in-person guest appearances, and filmmaker awards. It continues to be the largest festival of its kind in Southern California and is the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific American and international cinema.

The LAAPFF is a proud Academy Award-qualifying film festival for short film awards. Recipients of the festival’s Golden Reel Award for Narrative/Animated Short Film will be eligible to submit in the Animated Short Film/Live-Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards.

For program information, visit http://festival.vcmedia.org.

Opening Night

“Yellow Rose” tells the story of a headstrong Filipino girl, from a small Texas town, fighting to pursue her country music dreams while facing the threat of deportation.

“I am so humbled that our film has been chosen for this honor,” says Paragas. “‘Yellow Rose’ has taken over 15 years to make and it couldn’t come at a more important time when anti-immigrant sentiment is at an all-time high. This is a story for everyone facing challenges in finding their voice, their dreams and, more importantly, their home.”

“The festival is excited to showcase Diane Paragas as our first-ever Filipina American Opening Night presentation,” says Francis Cullado, executive director of Visual Communications. “We feel that ‘Yellow Rose’s’ themes stemming from our collective experiences of what defines American can create cultural cross-connections throughout our diverse communities.”

Members of the cast and crew will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening, which will be held on Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

Closing Night

“For our 35th edition, we are thrilled to bookend our festival with two world premieres, ‘Yellow Rose’ and ‘Empty by Design,’” shared Lindy Leong, LAAPFF senior programmer. “…This truly is an extraordinary moment of historical significance for Asian American Pacific Islander film and indie film festivals, and it is a win for broader representation of and support of both women and Southeast Asian American stories from the heartland to the homeland. Most importantly, both films tell compelling humanist stories and demonstrate strong indie storytelling voices in the making.”

“Empty by Design” tells the story of Samantha (Rhian Ramos), who moves back home to Manila from the U.S. after a loss in her family, and Eric (Osric Chau), who also travels back for a job. Both expatriates find themselves struggling with their new identities. Despite the disconnection to their culture, they find a sense of place by confiding in each other and eventually discover what they have long been looking for.

The film also stars Chris Pang (“Crazy Rich Asians”), Dante Basco (“Hook”), Desmond Chiam (“Now Apocalypse”), Yoshi Sudarso (“Power Rangers: Ninja Steel”), and Madeleine Humphries (“The Stepdaughters”). The film is produced by Chau, Pang, and Basco.

The screening takes place Friday, May 10, at 7 p.m. at Regal L.A. Live: A Barco Innovation Center, 1000 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles.

Centerpiece Presentations

The Festival Centerpiece Presentations feature two rising Asian Pacific American filmmaking voices. “Go Back to China,” directed and written by Emily Ting, is her second feature film, which recently had its world premiere at SXSW. Justin Chon returns to LAAPFF after his award-winning film “Gook” screened in 2017, with his latest directorial and co-written feature, “Ms. Purple,” which gathered critical and audience accolades at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it world premiered.

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