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NOV 9-19 2017
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The PHLCVB salutes the 10th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival PHLDiversity.com
letters from the governor & mayor GREETINGS:
It is my pleasure to join with the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) to welcome everyone gathered here for the 10th annual festival.
It is my pleasure to welcome the patrons and guests of the 10th Annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) that will take place from Thursday, November 9 to Sunday, November 19, 2017.
Pennsylvania thrives on its vibrant cultural heritage. The commonwealth’s diverse ethnic and social communities can connect through the shared experiences and cross-cultural understanding of the universal language of film. Since its inception in 2008, the PAAFF has remained dedicated to showcasing and nurturing creative Asian American filmmakers, directors, actors and storylines. This year’s PAAFF event provides an opportunity for Pennsylvanians to celebrate the richness and diversity of Asian American cultures. I extend my sincere gratitude to the organization and its supporters, and I am certain that that this festival will continue to grow and reach a diverse audience while inspiring many for years to come.
We appreciate all that PAAFF does to contribute to the vibrancy of our City’s diversity and to educate our fellow residents about the tremendous heritage and traditions of our Asian-American residents. In the past 10 years, PAAFF has presented hundreds of culturally relevant films, written, produced, and directed about Asian Americans, to broad and diverse audiences through its Main Festival Program each November and year-round screenings series. We are very proud to host this wonderful event every year.
As Governor, and on behalf of all citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I am pleased to welcome everyone gathered to support the 2017 and 10th annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. Please accept my best wishes for an enjoyable event and continued success.
During the numerous film screenings and related events, audiences are welcome to participate in post-film discussions with filmmakers and actors, and take part in special live events, featured receptions, and celebratory parties. PAAFF is the proud recipient of the 2010 Share the Heritage Award presented by the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress and the 2012 International Vision Award presented by International House Philadelphia. On behalf of the City of Philadelphia, I commend PAAFF Festival Director Rob Buscher and the dedicated PAAFF staff for presenting the Philadelphia’s regional audiences, and for exposing everyone to unique points of views from the Asian cultural perspective. Congratulations on another year of insightful, enuoyable, and important films. 2017 PAAFF 3
2017 PAAFF 4
Staff Credits / 6
Forever Chinatown at Penn Museum / 43
PAAFF’17 Sponsors / 7
PAAFF Conference / 44-47
Welcome Letter From The Festival Director / 8-9
TRAITOR at InterAct Theatre / 48
Special Showcases / 10-11
Fermented at Reading Terminal Market / 49
Festival Schedule / 12–13
Community Series at Fleisher Art Memorial / 50-57
Opening Weekend / 15–47
Closing Weekend at Asian Arts Initiative / 59–75
Opening Night: The Dragon Painter / 15
4 Pillars Hip Hop Shorts + Year of the Ox / 62-63
Lightbox Film Center Programs / 15-31
Blasian Narratives Project / 69
Centerpiece Narrative: Better Luck Tomorrow / 27
Closing Night: The Soul of the Tiger / 75
Centerpiece Documentary: Finding Kukan / 31
Film Juries / 76
Governor’s Commission Town Hall / 32
Sabu the Thief / 78-80
Institute of Contemporary Arts Programs / 34-41
Untold Story of AAPIs in Early Hollywood / 80-82
Memories to Light / 41
Thank Yous / 88-89
21117 8x5 4c
The ultimate cinematic experience For avid moviegoers, a film festival is a momentous event. For filmmakers, it is a venue for captivating viewers with their creative vision. We applaud the PAAFF’s 10th Anniversary, and the films that capture our imagination. wellsfargo.com
© 2017 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. IHA-21117
PAAFFâ€™17 STAFF Rob Buscher Festival Director, Programmer
Mike Donnelly Events Coordinator
Brad Baldia Corporate Relations & Community Affairs Director
Imran Siddiquee Festival Staff, Print Traffic
Michael Wingate Jones Managing Director
Suan Tan Volunteer Director
Phuong Nguyen Development Director
Reema Kanzaria Guest Services Director
Quynh-Mai Nguyen Marketing Director, Festival Concept Design
Alison Maelhorn Festival Staff, Social Media
Kate Pourshariati Festival Staff, Memories to Light
Bryn Torres Friedenberg Festival Staff, Memories to Light
Xinyi Yang Festival Staff
Christine Virata Festival Staff
Leo Fox Festival Staff
Eric Hung Festival Staff, Grantwriter Khanhmy Vuong Festival Staff, Social Media
Scott CHOPS Jung Guest Curator Thanh Lam Festival Staff, Events
Jacqui Sadashige Festival Staff, Marketing and Promotions
Cat Shaw Festival Staff, Communications
Maestro Filmworks Festival Trailer, Recap Video Kylie Tsai Festival Staff, Events Ballard Spahr LLP Legal Counsel Maya Takase-Kay Festival Staff, Events Moxy PR PR Consultants
Wing So Festival Staff, Memories to Light
Film Review Committee Brad Baldia Rob Buscher Mike Donnelly Eric Hung Reema Kanzaria Thanh Lam Kate Pourshariati Jacqui Sadashige Wing So Suan Tan
Wan Ling Hung Festival Staff
PAAFF Conference Committee Rob Buscher Will Gardener Eric Hung Fariha Khan Michelle Myers Jacqui Sadashige
program layout Quynh-Mai Nguyen Rob Buscher
Sponsors Presenting Sponsor
Greater Phila Asian Studies Consortium
2017 PAAFF 7
letter from the Festival Director Anniversaries are strange things. We rejoice over birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other important milestones in our personal and professional lives – yet we also commemorate significant dates that are negative. In observing the 10th anniversary of PAAFF we celebrate the many noteworthy accomplishments that this volunteer-led group of community organizers and media advocates have achieved over our decade-long history. However, we must also recognize that our very existence as an organization is due to a fundamental racial inequality in American society. PAAFF is just one small part of a much larger movement that has taken place over the course of more than a century as persons of Asian descent fought, and continue to fight, for our right to be seen as Americans.
2017 marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which in 1942 set a legal precedent for 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry to be forcibly evicted from their homes and mass incarcerated in prison camps during WWII. Subsequent propaganda campaigns portrayed Japanese Americans as a purported “fifth column” ready to support their ancestral homeland in an attempt to justify the incarceration. As a result, an entire generation was polluted by intense anti-Asian racism that irrevocably changed how Japanese Americans were perceived by people who lived through that era. We also recognize 2017 as the 135th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1882 law that singled out a specific ethnic group by banning their entry to the United States. Countless negative stereotypes were born out of the yellow peril propaganda that still haunt Chinese Americans today. 8
Remarkably there was a period between these two landmark events when Asian Americans actually achieved widespread recognition in mainstream Hollywood pictures of the late 1910s – early 1940s. During this brief window actors such as Sessue Hayakawa, Tsuru Aoki, Anna May Wong, Keye Luke, Lotus Long, Philip Ahn, Sabu Dastagir, and others became household names. While many of their roles were heavily typecast and often stereotyped with negative tropes, they achieved broad-based recognition as a more authentic alternative to the yellow-face portrayals of Asians that plagued much of Hollywood cinema at that time. In recognizing our own anniversary, we remember these incredible forerunners to the Asian American cinema movement through our Asian Americans in Early Hollywood Retrospective. Several programs come to mind that engage with these subjects directly: Opening Night Film, The Dragon Painter starring Sessue Hayakawa was produced nearly 100 years ago in an attempt to counter the orientalist stereotypes of that era. Past and present merge in Centerpiece Documentary Finding Kukan, when filmmaker Robin Lung discovers a lost 1941 Academy Award winning documentary produced by Chinese American Li Ling-Ai. We’re also hosting two-days of free programs at Institute of Contemporary Art about the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese American Incarceration. I offer my sincerest thanks to the many volunteer staff, community partners, venues, sponsors, and audience members who have made PAAFF possible for the past 10 years. May we be as lucky to enjoy your support for the next 10. Onwards and upwards. Rob Buscher Festival Director
NOV 9-19 2017
Honoring 10 Years of Volunteerism PAAFF was founded in 2008 by a group of volunteers who wanted to celebrate and elevate the Asian American experience through cinema. Working countless hours on top of their day jobs, this devoted team of volunteers has changed, grown, and evolved over the years. We recognize the hard work and dedication of all of our volunteers, but in particular we wish to honor the original founding team of PAAFF.
Brad Baldia Shiella May Cervantes Mike Donnelly Michael Wingate Jones Joe Kim Ron Lu Marvin Scott Franklin Shen Cliff Song
Japanese American Showcase Presented by Japanese American Citizens League
Asian Americans in Early Hollywood Retrospective This year’s 10th anniversary retrospective underscores the extensive—yet often forgotten— cinematic history of the Asian American community in the early 20th century. Through a series of four major studio films starring Asian Americans and spanning the late 1910s to early the 1940s, contemporary audiences will discover a shocking number of parallels to the conversations we are having about whitewashing and the authenticity of representation in Hollywood today. 2017 PAAFF
Funded in part by Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Project Stream Grant.
2017 is the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which gave the federal government authorization to forcibly evict and incarcerate 120,000 Japanese Americans for the duration of World War II. In recognition of this significant event, PAAFF is partnering with the Japanese American Citizens League to present a special showcase highlighting aspects of the community’s unique experience in this country from Issei (firstgeneration) immigrants to wartime incarceration, reintegration and assimilation after camp, and finally somewhat conditional acceptance into mainstream society. Consisting of six feature films, a shorts program, and live theater performance—this showcase is designed to provide a nuanced and comprehensive overview of Japanese American history and culture.
Pacific Showcase Presented by Pacific Islanders in Communications
Although numbering few in the Philadelphia region, Pacific Islanders are an important part of the AAPI social, political, and cultural coalition. Including Native Hawaiians, there are over 1.2 million Americans descended from current and former US territories spanning across the Pacific such as Guam, American Samoa, Palau, Federated Micronesia, Northern Mariana, and the Marshall Islands. Presented by our partners at Pacific Islanders in Communications for the third year in a row, this five-film showcase shows a wide variety of cultural diversity and onscreen perspectives through a distinctly Pacific lens.
Virtual Reality Exhibit Presented by samsung Asian Americans are generally known to be early adopters of cutting-edge technology, a trend that can be seen in many of our filmmakers. Recognizing the exciting potential of recent advances in virtual reality camera technology, PAAFF and Samsung are partnering to present two exceptional VR shorts in a special exhibit at the festival. One fictional narrative, and the other a documentary short, these two films offer a glimpse into the future of storytelling. VR devices will be available for viewing between films in the lobby of International House and Asian Arts Initiative during Opening and Closing Weekends of the festival.
Grandma’s New Year
Extraction 3 mins | USA Director: Celia Au An elite rescue team raids a hidden bunker in search of a missing girl, but what seems to be an easy task takes a dark turn. Extraction is an action thriller film shot in monoscopic virtual reality,inserting the viewer directly into the rescue mission and utilizing spatial audio to enhance the audience’s experience.
Grandma’s New Year 3 mins | USA
Director: Matthew Hashiguchi This VR short takes us into the kitchen of Eva Hashiguchi, the main subject of Matthew Hashiguchi’s feature documentary Good Luck Soup, as she prepares a magnificent Japanese American feast on New Years Day. 11
Program Schedule THURSDAY, NOV. 9 opening night: The dragon painter 7–9pm Followed by Reception 9-11pm | LFC
FRIDAY, NOV. 10 GOVERNOR’S COMMISSION HEARING 11:30am–1:30pm | ICA
becoming american SHORTS 2–3:15pm | ICA
southeast asian migration shorts 3:30–5pm | ICA
VISIONS IN THE DARK 4:45–6:25pm | LFC
STAND UP MAN 6:45-8:55pm | LFC
SATURDAY, NOV. 11
SUNDAY, NOV. 12
CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT (PART 1)
10am-6pm | UPenn
11:30am–1pm | ICA
A time to swim 11:30am–1:10pm | LFC
ISLAND SOLDIER 12–1:45pm | LFC
Legacies of camp shorts
MEMORIES TO LIGHT 1:30–2:30pm | ICA
11:30am–12:50pm | ICA
AND THEN THEY CAME FOR US 1:10–2:30pm | ICA
WINDOW HORSES 1:30–3:10pm | LFC METAMORPHOSIS shorts 2:50–4:20pm | ICA
RELOCATION, ARKANSAS 3:30-5:20pm | LFC
FAMILY STYLE SHORTS 4:50–6:15pm | ICA
AUNT LILY’S FLOWER BOOK 6:15-7:15pm | LFC
9:15–11:10pm | LFC
SIGNATURE MOVE 7:40-9:10pm | LFC
Sci Fi Horror Genre Shorts
centerpiece Narrative: BETTER LUCK TOMORROW
11:30pm–12:45am | LFC
9:30-11:30pm | LFC
THIEF OF BAGDAD 2–3:50pm | LFC FOREVER CHINATOWN 2-3pm | PMUS CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT (PART 2) 3–4:30pm | ICA
I CAN I WILL I DID 4:05–6:25pm | LFC centerpiece documentary: FINDING KUKAN 6:45-8:15pm | LFC COMMUNITY SERIES MONDAY, NOV. 13 - THURSDAY, 16 traitor Mon 13 | 7-9pm | IAT Fermented Tues 14 | 7–9pm | RTM Classic movie night Wed 15 | 5–9:45pm | FAM
Music documentary night Thurs 16 | 5–9:45pm | FAM
FRIDAY, NOV. 17
SUNDAY, NOV. 19
locals only Shorts
sex sells SHORTS
4:45–6pm | AAI
11am–12pm | AAI
Festival Venues LFC (Lightbox Film Center) 3701 Chestnut Street, West Philly ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) 118 S 36th St, University City
6:15-8:15pm | AAI
12:15–2:15pm | AAI
AAI (Asian Arts Initiative) 1219 Vine Street, Chinatown
4 Pillars Shorts + Year of the Ox Live
a whale of a tale
UPenn (University of Pennsylvania) Arch Building 3601 Locust Walk, Room 108
8:30–10:30pm | AAI
PARIS NI HAO
kakehashi 11am–12pm | AAI
the valley 12:15–2pm | AAI
deported 2:15-3:15pm | AAI
resistance at tule lake 3:30–5:15pm | AAI
out of state 5:30-7pm | AAI blasian narratives Cardinal x 8:45–11pm | AAI
4:45-5:45pm | AAI
closing night: THE SOUL OF THE TIGER 6:15-8pm | AAI
closing reception 8:15-11pm | AAI Ticket Information For all ticketed programs: $10 General Admission $8 Students & Seniors (Requires ID) All shorts programs FREE except 4 Pillars All Access Festival Badge $100 General Admission $80 Students & Seniors
RTM (Reading Terminal Market) 12th and Arch Streets, Center City IAT (InterAct Theatre) 302 S Hicks St, Center City FAM (Fleisher Art Memorial) 719 Catherine Street, South Philly Receptions take place at same venue as movie.
three ways to order tickets 1/ www.paaff.org 2/ 215.387.5125 (IHP Screening Only) 3/ International House box office Tuesday–Saturday, 1–8pm
7:15–8:30pm | AAI
PMUS (Penn Museum) 3260 South St, University City
SATURDAY, NOV. 18
2:30–4:30pm | AAI
We put our energy into the arts. Arts and culture organizations have an impact of more than $1 billion on our local economy. Through PECOsponsored programs we help people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy and experience the arts throughout our region. PECO proudly supports the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. Find out more at www.peco.com/community
ÂŠ PECO Energy Company, 2017
Opening Night Film, Retrospective
Thursday, Nov. 9 | 7–9pm | Lightbox Film Center 53 mins | Drama | USA | 1919 Director: William Worthington Starring Japanese immigrant Sessue Hayakawa, this early Hollywood silent film is a fantasy romance about love and creative inspiration. Tatsu (Hayakawa) is a reclusive painter who lives in the mountains, painting images of the dragon princess he loved in another life. Tatsu comes to believe the daughter of a wealthy art collector is his lost princess, but as he finds happiness in love, his art begins to suffer. In his prime Hayakawa was as popular as Charlie Chaplin, as rich as Douglas Fairbanks, and to this day the only Asian American to own his own Hollywood studio. Although set in Japan, the film was shot on location in Yosemite National Park and stars a predominately Japanese American cast, including his wife Tsuru Aoki. Produced by Hayakawa’s own Haworth Pictures, The Dragon Painter deliberately provides an authentic perspective on Japanese culture that counters the dominant narrative of stereotypes, violence, and melodramatic conflict expected in so-called “Oriental” films of the period. For these reasons we consider it to be one of the first Asian American films in history.
japanese american Showcase Presented by
In honoring the legacy of this groundbreaking hundred-year-old film at our 10th anniversary festival, PAAFF has commissioned a new original score to be performed live by Japanese American singer/ songwriter Goh Nakamura. Following a brief Q&A with Goh, attendees will enjoy our opening night reception featuring complimentary food and beverage.
opening night film Presented by
P hiladelphia P remiere
The Dragon Painter
Visions in the Dark: The Pinky Thompson Story Friday, Nov. 10 | 4:45–6:25pm | Lightbox Film Center 57 mins | Documentary | Hawaii Director: Ty Sanga Born in 1924, Myron “Pinky” Thompson was a social worker, activist, educator, soldier, and Native Hawaiian historian. Sustaining a serious eye wound at Normandy during WWII, Pinky wore a head bandage that kept him in the dark for some two years – from that darkness emerged a clear vision of his purpose in life. During the early years of the Native Hawaiian cultural renaissance, Pinky served as a leader of key Native Hawaiian organizations and played a pivotal role in garnering millions of dollars of federal funds to effect positive social change. Part of the Pacific Showcase presented by Pacific Islanders in Communications, this film details a story of challenge and triumph through the life of one of Hawaii’s most important 20th century leaders. Screens With Ku Kanaka 30 min | Short Documentary | Hawaii Director: Marlene Booth
In August 1969, 15-year-old Terry Young dove from a rock wall into shallow water, severing his spinal cord and becoming quadriplegic. Paralyzed from the neck down with only limited use of his hands and arms, Terry finished high school and college, competed as a wheelchair athlete, got arrested for supporting the cause of Hawaiian sovereignty, graduated with a PhD in history, and became a pioneering professor in the new field of Hawaiian Studies. This short documentary tells the story of how Terry’s disability taught him to value the life he lived and offer hope to dispossessed Native Hawaiians. 16
Pacific Showcase Presented by
Stand Up Man PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
Friday, Nov. 10 | 6:45–8:55pm | Lightbox Film Center 85 mins | Comedy, Coming-of-Age | Canada Director: Aram Collier Forced to move back to his hometown of Windsor Canada, wannabe comedian Moses Kim finds his dreams derailed when his parents surprise him and his new wife with the deed to their family restaurant. Life becomes more complicated when Moses’s teenage cousin from Korea unexpectedly arrives. Now Moses must navigate his failing restaurant, non-existent sex life, and fledgling comic career while playing chaperone to his overseas cousin. A nuanced comedy film about cross cultural differences between Asians and Asian Canadians, STAND UP MAN is the debut feature written and directed by Aram Collier, former Artistic Director of the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival. Aram is expected in attendance for a post-film Q&A. Screens With Tiger Style! Excerpt Live Performance, Comedy | USA Director: Jeff Liu Cast: Richard Chan, Dan Kim, Stephanie Walters, Anita Holland, and Arlen Hancock
Before the screening of STAND UP MAN, Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists (PAPA) present an excerpt f rom TIGER STYLE! – a play by Mike Lew. The play is a raucous comedy about the successes and failures of two Chinese American siblings dealing with “tiger parents” and their own fantasies and frustrations. PAPA will produce the play from Jan 24 - Feb 4, 2018 at the Drake, home of InterAct Theatre. 18
105 mins | Drama | USA Director: Byron Yee Growing up, Jacob used to spend every Saturday night camping in the desert with his disgraced astronomer father and, waiting for the extraterrestrials to arrive. Now an adult, Jacob continues this tradition while his ailing father lies in the hospital on his deathbed. One night, a Mexican coyote, Maria, walks into his campsite leading a group of border crossers through the desert. As an unlikely relationship develops, Jacob must choose between his pursuit of the aliens above or the illegal alien that just walked into his life.
Friday, Nov. 10 | 9:15â€“11:10pm | Lightbox Film Center
An engaging and relatable drama that touches upon elements of family obligation and faith in the unknown. Filmmaker Byron Yee expected in attendance for post-film Q&A.
Sci-Fi Horror ACTION Genre Friday, Nov. 10 | 11:30–12:45am Lightbox Film Center | 54 mins
Back by popular demand for the fifth year running, this year’s FREE program of Sci-Fi, Horror, and Action Genre shorts is a non-stop thrill ride. Subjects include female assassins, mythical monsters, and dark animations. Filmmakers are expected to be in attendance.
The Pipes Director: Alexander J. Koo | 15 mins | USA
Glorious Victory Director: Will Kim | 2 mins | USA
A man moves into the home he inherited from a deceased relative, but strange happenings and unsettling encounters with his neighbor make him believe something evil lurks within its walls.
Glorious Victory is a watercolor animated short about two beetles intensely fighting over a fig fruit.
Evocation of a Nightmare Director: Wally Chung | 2 mins | USA Entering what seems to be a deserted building, a man explores and finds an unwanted guest.
Model Minority Director: Sean Dacanay | 2 mins | USA
Cowboy and Indian Director: Sujata Day | 8 mins | USA When a young Bengali bride collapses in the desert, a cowboy appears out of the sunset and rescues her.
The Anniversary Director: Art Chudabala | 10 mins | USA On the night of his wedding anniversary, a tormented widower seeks revenge by kidnapping his wife’s killer… but does he have the right man? Baumu Director: Shao-Chun Chung | 10 mins | Taiwan A female killer takes a contract to assassinate a drug addict. Finding members of his family she faces a moral dilemma.
In response to the cry for more diverse superheroes, Marvel presents… MODEL MINORITY!
Aswang Next Door Director: Bernard Badion | 5 mins | USA A man who thinks he’s a Filipino monster that eats fetuses informs his pregnant neighbor. 20
Cowboy and Indian
Discover the New South Asian Art Galleries
For more information, including a list of generous donors visit us online. A Lion Kills Prasenajit in the Jungle (detail), c. 1775, Nepal (Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994-148-613)
Philadelphia DocumentaryPremierer Program
A Time To Swim Someone
I used to know Saturday, Nov. 11 | 11:30am-1:10pm | Lightbox Film 82 mins | Documentary | Canada, Malaysia
Thursday, Nov. 14 | 7:00pm | I-House Director: Ashley Duong
79mins | Dramedy
Director: Nadine Truong | Writer: West Liang Mutang is a stay-at-home dad in the suburbs of Cast: Brian Yang, Eddie Mui. Emily Chang, Montreal, but in Malaysia he was an indigenous Kara Crane, Rex Lee, Sara Sanderson, West activist who voiced resistance for the peoples Liang
of Sarawak. When he returns home to Malaysia for the first time since his exile in 1992, Mutang’s remote forest village is not as he remembers it. Contrary toreunite the willfor of their Mutang’s Three friends a longelders, LA night in this younger cousins—who oncefaltering stood with him bittersweet dramedy. Their nightclub at the blockades—are welcomingfilled timber reunion soon becomesnow an all-nighter with companies into their tribal lands. With the very revelations, recriminations and regrets. existence of the community hanging in the balance, and threat of an arrest warrant lingering Opening Night Reception 9:30–11PM over him, Mutang takes up his old cause. This film provides an unflinching look at the effects of capitalism on the fabric of traditional communities around the world through the personal story of Mutang’s search for belonging in a place where home and heritage are slipping away.
Filmmaker Ashley Duong expected in attendance for post-film Q&A.
89 mins | Animated Feature, Drama | Canada Director: Ann Marie Fleming Rosie Ming, a young Canadian poet of mixed Chinese and Persian ancestry, is invited to perform at a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran. Once in Iran Rosie finds herself confronting memories of her past, the Iranian father she assumed had abandoned her, and the nature of poetry itself. An unwitting journey of forgiveness, reconciliation, and understanding – this animated feature is an attempt by its Asian Canadian filmmakers to build bridges across cultural and generational divides.
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 1:30–3:10pm | Lightbox Film Center
Executive Produced by Sandra Oh (GREY’S ANATOMY), this ambitious animated film features original poetry by a host of prominent artists.
2017 PAAFF 23
Relocation, Arkansas PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 3:30-5:20pm | Lightbox Film Center 81 mins | Documentary | USA Director: Vivienne Schiffer RELOCATION ARKANSAS explores the effect of the Japanese American incarceration in Arkansas during WWII on the generation that was born after the camps closed, the unlikely tale of those Japanese Americans who remained behind, and the even more unlikely tale of how a small-town Arkansas mayor of Italian descent became a legend in the Japanese American community. But with its themes of the complexity and hypocrisy of race relations in America, journeys toward forgiveness and healing, and crosscommunity understanding, the film transcends regional and cultural constraints unlike any other film on the incarceration experience. Documentary subjects Paul and Alice Takemoto expected in attendance for post-film Q&A.
japanese american Showcase Presented by
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 6:15–7:15pm | Lightbox Film Center 60 mins | Live Performance In this mixed-media theater performance, Emmywinning musician Mark Izu accompanies his wife and “America’s foremost Asian storyteller” Brenda Wong Aoki in sharing touching and personal family histories with universal and contemporary appeal. The two acclaimed artists embellish memories from a recently discovered family diary with story and song to track over 100 years of history in the American West.
Aunt Lily’s Flower Book
From the Transcontinental Railroad, to WWII’s Japanese American internment camps and 442nd Infantry Regiment, to San Francisco hippies and through today. Joined by koto master Shoko Hikage, the performance offers a poignant glimpse into our shared history and demands it not be repeated. This performance will be a 20-minute excerpt out of the larger play followed by an interactive discussion activity.
2017 2016 PAAFF
japanese american Showcase Presented by
Narrative Program Philadelphia Premierer
Someone I used to know Saturday, Nov. 11 | 7:40â€“9:10pm | Lightbox Film Center 80 mins | Romantic Comedy | USA
Thursday, Nov. 14Reeder | 7:00pm | I-House Director: Jennifer 79mins | Dramedy
An emotionally repressed Pakistani American Director: Nadine Truong Liang woman named Zaynab lives| Writer: with herWest recently Cast: Brian Yang,Parveen, Eddie Mui. EmilyMuslim Chang, widowed mother a devout who Kara Crane, Rexwatching Lee, Sara spends her days TVSanderson, dramas andWest trying Liang to find her daughter a husband. When Zaynab begins a lesbian romance with free-spirited Mexican American Alma, confrontation with her mother seems inevitable. Zaynab copes by Three friends reunite for a long LA night in this becoming a Lucha-style wrestler. bittersweet dramedy. Their faltering nightclub reunion soon becomes an all-nighter filled with A funny yet poignant film that addresses the revelations, recriminations and regrets. universal conflict between family expectations and personal fulfillment through a wholly unique Opening Night Reception 9:30â€“11PM Muslim Mexican take on romantic comedy. Screens With Lion Dance 6 min | Narrative | USA Director: Tim Pattinson & Zheng Kang
A romantic visual poem set during a traditional Asian parade in which a highly acrobatic dance is performed to bring good luck. It explores the theme of serendipity using a combination of CG, 2D animation techniques, and a soundtrack to express the rhythmic and pulsating emotion and actions of the characters. 26
Better Luck Tomorrow Saturday, Nov. 11 | 9:30â€“11:30pm | Lightbox Film Center 101 mins | Teen, Crime Drama | USA Director: Justin Lin Ben (Parry Shen) is a perfectionist and overachiever whose tunnel vision leads to nothing less than graduating at the top of his class. As he struggles to achieve social success, he discovers his darker side. He and his friends Virgil (Jason Tobin), Daric (Roger Fan), and Han (Sung Kang) lead a double life of mischief and petty crimes to alleviate the pressures of perfectionism. As their shadow lives begin to grow, the gang tumbles into a downward spiral of excitement and excess. A truly revolutionary film that broke the mold of the model-minority myth wide open with its 2002 Sundance premiere and nationwide theatrical release by MTV Films, this film single-handedly launched the careers of Justin Lin (The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Star Trek Beyond, Annapolis), Sung Kang (Fast & Furious, Gang Related, Bullet to the Head), Parry Shen (General Hospital, NCIS: Los Angeles, Yes Weâ€™re Open), and Jason Tobin (Jasmine, #1 Serial Killer, Tokyo Drift), among others.
In recognition of the 15th anniversary of its release, PAAFF is showing a never-before-seen Sundance Festival cut of the original 35mm film. This cut has only screened six times in Park City and once at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. 27
Island Soldier E A S T COA S T P remiere
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 12-1:45pm | Lightbox Film Center 85 mins | Documentary | Federated States of Micronesia, USA Writer/Director: Nathan Fitch A remote archipelago of hundreds of tiny volcanic islands in the western Pacific, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an independent nation of 100,000 citizens and a protectorate of the United States. In recent years, the country has become a “recruiter’s paradise” for the US military, especially since 9/11. Yet they have lost fives times more soldiers, per capita, than any US state. The film captures a tightly knit island community — a microcosm of economic, social and political change—as the high price for military service in a foreign nation’s wars cuts deep. Through an intricate web of the personal journeys undertaken by Pacific Islander soldiers, the film illustrates the larger story of a remote region whose interests are caught in the ever-changing tides of international politics. Who are these virtually unknown foreign soldiers fighting America’s wars? What does it mean for the United States to use, and practically discard, foreign citizens from their military? What happens to Micronesian veterans, and their families, when they return home and cannot access their benefits (healthcare, treatment for PTSD, loans, etc)? What is the future of these islands that exist at the mercy of foreign superpowers and strategic military interests?
Director Nathan Fitch expected in attendance for post-film Q&A.
Pacific Showcase Presented by
Narrative Program, Retrospective
Thief of Bagdad Sunday, Nov. 12 | 2:00-3:50pm | Lightbox Film Center 106 mins | Adventure, Fantasy | UK, USA | 1940 Director: Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan & Alexander Korda One of the most spectacular fantasies ever made, this color film pioneer was at the forefront of cinematic technique when released. Inspired by The Arabian Nights and cited as a major influence on Disneyâ€™s Aladdin, Sabu Dastagir co-stars as Abu the thief in this epic adventure. When Prince Ahmad (John Justin) is blinded and cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), he joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu (Sabu, in his definitive role) to win back his royal place and the heart of a beautiful princess (June Duprez). With its luscious Technicolor, vivid sets, and unprecedented visual effects, Thief of Bagdad has been charming viewers of all ages for decades.
2016 2017 PAAFF
Perhaps the only Indian national to achieve A-list celebrity status in mid 20th century Hollywood, Sabu is best known for his role in the original, live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. While it is somewhat problematic that he race-bends as Arab in the role of Abu, this is arguably his strongest performance in a Hollywood film, as he spends nearly an hour of the film as the lead protagonist.
I Can, I Will, I Did PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE 2017 PAAFF 30
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 4:05-6:25pm | Lightbox Film Center 106 mins | Drama | USA Writer/Director: Nadine Truong A depressed foster youth named Ben is bullied and consequently gets into a car accident. His recovery process is slow until he meets Adrienne, a fellow wheelchair-bound patient at the hospital. Adrienne breathes hope into his life and introduces to him her grandfather, Taekwondo Master Kang. Master Kang not only teaches Ben how to walk and get back up on his feet but also how to take charge of his own life. PAAFF alumna Nadine Truong (Someone I Used to Know) uses the martial arts backdrop to tell a classic coming-of-age story complemented by a beautiful score and meticulously crafted cinematography. Based in part on the true story of Master Kangâ€™s Old Greenwich Taekwondo dojang. Nadine and Producer Brian Yang (Linsanity, Snakehead) expected in attendance for postfilm Q&A.
75 mins | Documentary | USA Director: Robin Lung Documentary filmmaker Robin Lung investigates Li Ling-Ai, the uncredited female producer of KUKAN, a landmark color film about the atrocities committed by Imperial Japan in China. Lost for decades, KUKAN helped shift public support against Japan in the lead up to WWII and was the first American feature documentary to receive an Honorary Academy Award in 1941. Lung discovers the sole surviving copy of the film and pieces together the inspirational tale behind its production and complex identity of the woman who made it.
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 6:45-8:15pm | Lightbox Film Center
Filmmaker Robin Lung expected in attendance for post-film Q&A.
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governor wolf’s advisory commission on apa affairs Friday, Nov. 10 | 11:30am–1:30pm | Institute of Contemporary Art Meet the commissioners who represent the AAPI community on Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission at the this public hearing and community listening session. Moderated by Commission Executive Director Tiffany Chang Lawson
The Commission wants to hear about the challenges facing AAPI communities in the Greater Philadelphia and how to leverage community strengths to effectively advocate for, promote resources to, and best serve our AAPI communities. The Commission will also present a high level report on its activities in the last year since they first convened at PAAFF. About the Commission: The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs was created by Executive Order and consists of Commissioners that have been appointed by Governor Tom Wolf. GACAPAA is responsible for advising Governor Wolf on policies, procedures, and legislation that have an impact on the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Pennsylvania. The Commission also serves as a liaison to federal, state, and local agencies to ensure that services affecting AAPIs are effectively utilized and promoted; serves as a resource for community groups and provide forums for developing strategies and programs that will expand and enhance the civic, social, education, cultural and economic status of the AAPI communities; identifies programs, scholarships, mentoring programs, and resource for the benefit and advancement of AAPIs. The Commission also acts as an advocate for policies and legislation it feels serves the best interests of AAPIs in Pennsylvania.
To learn more about the Commission please visit our website: governor.pa.gov/gacapa 32
SPEECH/ACTS Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Steffani Jemison, Tony Lewis, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Martine Syms, with poetry and prose by Morgan Parker and Simone White
Nathalie Du Pasquier BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT
Free. For All. 118 S. 36th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 icaphila.org
Image (left): Martine Syms, Lessons, series of 00:00:30 videos, installation view from Black Box, Human Resources, Los Angeles, February 6–27, 2016, image copyright Martine Syms, courtesy of Human Resources and Bridget Donahue, NYC. Image (right): Nathalie Du Paquier, Rovine 2, 2008, Oil on canvas, 39 x 59 in. ICA is always Free. For All. Free admission is courtesy of Amanda and Glenn Fuhrman. Marketing is supported by Pamela Toub Berkman & David J. Berkman and by Lisa A. & Steven A. Tananbaum.
ON VIEW SEP 13–DEC 23, 2017
Becoming American Friday, Nov. 10 | 2-3:15PM
Just One Story
Institute of Contemporary Art | 54 mins
This series of FREE shorts offers a glimpse at a few of the many pathways to becoming an American in both a legal sense and identity. Subjects include Syrian refugees, undocumented college students, and first-generation identity crisis. Filmmakers expected to be in attendance.
Just One Story Director: Melissa Taylor, Seng Rimpakone | 17 mins | USA As refugees from Laos, the Rimpakones spent only one year in Portland, Indiana, but that year shaped their futures. That year they became Americans.
Searching Skies Director: Vivian Hua | 9 mins | USA When a Syrian refugee family is invited to a Christian familyâ€™s house for Christmas dinner, they are caught between opposing viewpoints for and against them. Godspeed Director: Chiahao Chou | 6 mins | USA
It Is What It Is Director: Cyrus Tabar | 8 mins | USA Cyrus, a first-generation American of mixed Japanese heritage tries to understand why his father kept him away from his Iranian grandparents. Turning to home movies and photos, he sets in motion a journey into the dark and nebulous corners of his family history.
Go to Where the Light Is
An ambitious delivery boy decides to pursue his dreams at the expense of his financially struggling father. Lobbying to Learn Director: Matthew Hashiguchi | 8 mins | USA In Georgia, undocumented immigrants lobby the state legislature for the right to attend college.
Go to Where the Light Is Director: Josh Oldham | 7 mins | USA
Each year, approximately 13,000 North Koreans risk their lives in a desperate attempt to flee the country. This is the story of one survivor, Yeonmi Park, and her escape from North Korea. 34
It Is What It Is
Lobbying to Learn
Kim: #justB courageous Float
Friday, Nov. 10 | 3:30-5PM
Institute of Contemporary Art | 72 mins
This collection of FREE shorts tells the varied stories of Southeast Asian Americans whose identities stem from their refugee status and one film about the current Karenni refugee crisis in Thailand. Filmmakers are expected to be in attendance.
Float Director: Tristan Seniuk, Tristan Seniuk | 24 mins | USA Set in mid 1990s Seattle, Cambodian-American hustler Rocky Mang spends his days cruising the streets slanging cheap goods on the corner as he struggles to help his family make ends meet. His days are a hazy wash of grinding and hustling, only broken by his persistent attempts to convince a local barista named Jenni-Mo Day to go on a date. Worth Director: Vokee Lee | 15 mins | USA Based on a true story from 1982, a teenage Hmong refugee boy named Pao struggles to adopt the American lifestyle as he faces racism and bullying in high school.
Kim: #justB courageous Director: Philippa Wharton | 3 mins | USA Kim’s story is a loving tribute to her father, who died of liver cancer caused by hepatitis B. She wonders whether the stigma about hepatitis B in the Vietnamese community prevented him from telling the family and seeking medical care earlier and suggests that access to culturally and linguistically appropriate resources could have prevented his death.
Southeast Asian Migration Shorts
Like We Don’t Exist Director: Ansley Sawyer, Corey Embring | 30 mins | Myanmar, Thailand, USA A short documentary about the ongoing ethnic violence and mass displacement of a minority called the Karenni between Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma). After 70 years of civil war – the Karenni face an uncertain future today as a refugee community surviving along the Thailand-Myanmar border.
Like We Don’t Exist
Legacies of Camp Saturday, Nov. 11 | 11:30am-12:50pm
Institute of Contemporary Art | 62 mins This collection of FREE shorts explore the myriad experiences of Japanese Americans who lived through the incarceration of WWII and the impact of intergenerational trauma. Filmmakers expected in attendance.
The orange story
The Orange Story Director: Jason Matsumoto | 17 mins | USA
Sansei Dream Director: Gabe Veenendaal | 7 mins | USA
The proud owner of a small corner grocery store must abandon everything and report to an assembly center, enroute to a more permanent incarceration site.
After his mother suddenly passes away, a young third generation Japanese American farmer uncovers the truth about her dark past through a subconscious dream state.
Cliff, Superfan! Director: Diane Quon | 27 mins | USA 9066 Director: Andrew Okada | 11 mins | USA A personal look at the lasting effects of Executive Order 9066 and how to best translate the unspoken trauma of Japanese-American internment to future generations.
68-year-old Clifford Hayashi is a legendary superfan of all Stanford sports teams. Although most know who Cliff is, the man himself remains a mystery. Rivaling his love for Stanford sports is Cliffâ€™s passion for writing about the Japanese concentration camp where his mother was imprisoned during World War II.
japanese american Showcase Presented by
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 1:10-2:30pm | Institute of Contemporary Art 47 mins | Documentary | USA Director: Abby Ginzberg This compelling documentary narrated in part by George Takei brings history into the present, retelling the difficult story of Japanese American incarceration and following contemporary activists as they speak out against the Muslim registry and travel ban. And Then They Came for Us is a cautionary and inspiring tale for these dark times.
And Then They Came For Us
Screens With One-Two-One-Seven 14 mins | Short Documentary | USA Director: Brett Kodama This short documentary tells the story of a woman whose parents committed suicide in a Japanese American Concentration Camp.
japanese american Showcase Presented by
Metamorphosis FREE SCREENING
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 2:50am-4:20pm
Institute of Contemporary Art | 69 mins This series of FREE shorts explores variations on the theme of metamorphosis: transitions between life and dead, emotional growth, and physical transformation. Filmmakers are expected to be in attendance.
Tidal Waves Director: Kristina Wong | 9 mins | Canada
Tiger God Director: Ying Pan | 7 mins | Taiwan
Tidal Waves is a short film about a young dancer’s struggle with scoliosis. After undergoing a surgery to correct her spine, Riley - a once triumphant and passionate dancer must now come to terms with the fact that she can no longer dance. After her mother enrolls her in water therapy, Riley begins to find a new path.
Master Tiger, the god who protected children in Chinese traditional religion, rises to the occasion when a young boy needs his help.
A Time to Bleed Director: Shaun Vivaris | 5 mins | USA A young man hallucinates an existential debate with a former school teacher as he bleeds out in his bathtub. Mwah
Mwah Director: Sara Soheili | 12 mins | Iran While five pregnant women sit in their doctor’s waiting room, their unborn babies carry on conversations about life inside their mommy’s belly and futures outside the womb.
Confucius Plaza Director: Patrick Chen | 5 mins | USA Within this building of 762 apartments there’s a story in each of them. In this story, a young couple enjoy a morning together in bed that will change their lives forever.
Im/Perfection Director: Andrew Hida | 12 mins | USA Im/Perfection is about one man’s pursuit of perfection in his creation of hand drawn architectural renderings in Hawaii. In a digital world, Hitoshi Hida is one of the last holdouts who meticulously practices his craft at the drafting table. Lady Eva Director: Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson | 11 mins | Tonga, USA A brave young transgender woman sets off on a journey to become her true self in the conservative Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga – competing in the Miss Galaxy beauty pageant.
The Servant Director: Farnoosh Abedi | 9 mins | Iran A bug becomes a servant, but how long will he stand his master’s abuse? 38
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 4:50-6:15pm
Institute of Contemporary Art | 64 mins This program of FREE shorts revolve around the Asian American family. Subjects include elder wisdom and conflicting values between generations. Filmmakers expected in attendance.
Home is Where the Sunsets
Akashi Director: Mayumi Yoshida | 10 mins | Canada, Japan Grappling with a one-sided relationship, Kana’s returns home to Japan to pay her respects to her deceased grandmother. As she recalls advice from their most intimate conversation, Kana’s own relationship problems come into focus.
Mother’s Touch Director: Jane Yeon | 5 mins | USA An elderly woman goes to the sea for what will be her last pearl dive. As she submerges, she is reminded of precious times she spent with her late mother.
The Bird Who Could Fly Director: Raphael Sbarge | 19 mins | USA
Time for Tea Director: Bob Yang | 22 mins | Brazil
A young Korean-American man struggles with his journey in the face of an overbearing mother and two brothers whose lives have gone awry.
A retired Chinese general gets an unusual visit from his grandson.
Home is Where the Sunsets Director: Kayla Tong | 8 mins | USA
The Bird Who Could Fly
Time for Tea
Alison’s life in LA turns upside down when her family comes to visit from Hong Kong for the very first time. Stuffed into her cramped apartment, Alison finds beauty and heartache in the smallest of moments.
Chinese Exclusion Act FREE SCREENING
Sunday, Nov. 12 | (Part 1) 11:30amâ€“1pm (Part 2) 3-4:30pm Institute of Contemporary Art 180 mins | Documentary | USA Director: Ric Burns & Li-Shin Yu Co-produced by Center for Asian American Media, this film underscores important connections between the Chinese Exclusion Act and the history of US immigration. By examining the socio-economic and geo-political forces that led to the Act, the film uncovers its unmistakable and wide-ranging consequences on national attitudes towards race, culture, politics, and society. At its core this is a film about American identity, tracing the arc of what has defined being American from the time the US was a fledgling republic through its astronomical rise as a world superpower. This film documents in fascinating detail the events leading to, consequences, and continuing impact of the only federal legislation in US history to single out and name a specific race and nationality for exclusion from immigration and citizenship. The second half of this documentary will be shown after the Memories to Light Program, which explores a more recent history of Chinese Americans through a collection of home movies.
2017 PAAFF 40
Presented in partnership with:
Home Movies Program
Memories to Light
60 mins | Home Movies PAAFF is excited to present a selection of home movies collected in the San Francisco Bay Area spanning 1920s-1970s and featuring Chinese American families. Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Executive Director Stephen Gong will narrate this program, which will also include live musical accompaniment by Chinese multiinstrumentalist Qin Qian and her band.
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 1:30-2:30pm | Institute of Contemporary Art
If memories are food for the soul, home movies are the breadcrumbs we drop to find our way back. Unfortunately for many Asian American families who immigrated in the early 20th century or earlier, there is very little home movie footage that shows their unique experiences in this country. CAAMâ€™s Memories to Light project is an effort to collect, digitize, and exhibit Asian American home movies from the bygone film era. PAAFF is also collecting home movies on behalf of the Memories to Light project in the formats of 8mm, Super-8, and 16mm. Films will be digitized at no cost to the owner. 2017 PAAFF
If you have questions about adding your films to the collection, please contact: Wing So at email@example.com. 41
32 mins | Short | USA | English Director: James Q. Chan Forever Chinatown is the story of self-taught 81-year-old artist Frank Wong, who spent the past four decades recreating fading memories of the San Francisco Chinatown of his youth by building extraordinarily detailed miniature models.
Sunday, Nov. 12 | 2-3pm | Penn Museum
A meditation on memory, community, and preserving one’s own legacy, Frank’s threedimensional miniature dioramas become rare portals into a historic neighborhood and a window to the artist’s filtered and romanticized memories and emotional struggles. In his compromise with immortality, Frank announces plans to cremate his exquisite works with him upon his death in order to ‘live inside them forever’ in his afterlife. This film takes the journey of one individual and maps it onto a rapidly changing urban neighborhood from 1940s to present day. Philadelphia Chinatown community leaders expected in attendance to lead a group discussion after the film. 2017 PAAFF 43
F R E E E V E N T S: CO N F E R E N C E
paaff conference Saturday, Nov. 11 | University of Pennsylvania ARCH Building Room 108
In partnership with University of Pennsylvania Asian American Studies Program and Greater Philadelphia Asian Studies Consortium, we present the second annual PAAFF Conference. This year’s one-day conference features a series of two individual presentations and three panels that revolve around the central theme of Art as Activism. Bringing together filmmakers, academics, and other creatives - each of the PAAFF Conference subjects is designed to intersect with various themes present throughout our film program. This is a FREE event open to the public, RSVP advised due to limited seating capacity.
ali brothers Films Solo Presentation
Tow-Arboleda Films Solo Presentation
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 10–11:30am | UPenn
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 11:45am–12:45pm | UPenn
Since his brother Omar first moved to China in 2006, filmmaker Khalid Ali has shot a body of short documentaries exploring various subcultures within China. Markedly different from films produced by other non-Chinese filmmakers—perhaps in part due to their Persian American backgrounds—the Ali brothers have developed an immersive storytelling technique that belies both their familiarity with China and their perpetual otherness as outsiders to the culture. This program will present two recent works about distinctive musical subcultures that are synonymous with marginality in Chinese society.
Inspired by the racist Watters’ World report on Chinatown voters in the 2016 Presidential election, actor Michael Tow and producer Teja Arboleda issued a short, parody, response video that went viral within hours of its release. Since then the duo have perfected the art of the quick release “clapback” parody, dropping videos within days of incidents such as the United Airlines deplaning fiasco, Hawaii 5-0 pay inequity, and whitewashing of Ben Kanahele in Ni’ihau. Their most popular video about a BBC Skype interview gone wrong titled “That’s Not the Nanny” has over 1.6 million views to date.
Ballad of the Knife Sharpener | 19 mins A knife sharpener from rural China uses his penetrating voice to attract customers in Beijing. Away from the Grasslands | 28 mins An intimate portrait of Mongolian rock band Hanggai.
Join Michael Tow and Teja Arboleda for a presentation of their short video works followed by a discussion and extended Q&A.
Following a screening of the two films, director Khalid Ali will be present for an extended Q&A.
2017 PAAFF 44
Away from the Grasslands
Michael Tow and Teja Arboleda
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 1–2:30pm | UPenn As a diasporic community, so much of the Asian American experience is defined by the historical memories of our ancestors as told through oral tradition and visual arts. This panel delves into the intergenerational trials, tribulations, triumphs, and traumas of the Asian American community as articulated by storytellers working across several distinct media. Moderator: Dr. Fariha Khan, Associate Director University of Pennsylvania Asian American Studies Program received her Master’s degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Yale University and a PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research focuses on South Asian American Muslims and the Asian American community. Actively involved in the Philadelphia community, Dr. Khan was appointed in 2015 to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.
Dr. Fariha khan
Panelists: Samip Mallick is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the South Asian American Digital Archive where he works at the intersection of technology and storytelling. For the past 9 years, SAADA has built the largest publicly accessible archive of South Asian American history. Learn more at www.saada.org
F R E E E V E N T S: CO N F E R E N C E
Historical Memory, Storytelling, and the Arts panel
Henry Chang is a native son of Chinatown New York City, and author of the five-novel Detective Jack Yu series. Henry’s stories plumb the depths of the Chinese American immigrant demimonde, countering the century-old orientalist tropes of the Chinatown detective character. Visit Henry at Chinatowntrilogy.com
Marcelino Stuhmer, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at University of the Arts is a multidisciplinary artist whose media include painting/drawing, video installation, architectural intervention, puppetry, and storytelling. His most recent series, A Life to Those Shadows, explores his Dutch-Indonesian ethnicity through invented portraits of his imagined Javanese and Indo-European ancestors.
F R E E E V E N T S: CO N F E R E N C E
Asian Americans in Early Hollywood Panel Saturday, Nov. 11 | 2:45–4:15pm | UPenn As part of the Asian Americans in Early Hollywood Retrospective at PAAFF17, this panel is designed to explore in greater detail the significant contributions of actors like Sessue Hayakawa, Anna May Wong, Sabu Dastagir, Philip Ahn, Keye Luke, and others who paved the way for future generations of AAPI performers in American Cinema.
dr. peter x. feng
Moderator: Dr. Peter X. Feng teaches film, literature, ethnic studies, and gender studies at the University of Delaware; his books include Identities in Motion: Asian American Film and Video, Screening Asian Americans (editor), and Chinese Connections: Critical Perspectives on Film, Identity, and Diaspora (coeditor). Panelists: Stephen Gong, Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media has served in his current role since 2006. Stephen’s lifelong media advocacy has allowed him to work with institutions such as Pacific Film Archive, National Endowment of the Arts, and American Film Institute. Stephen also discovered the sole surviving print of The Dragon Painter that was reconditioned for DVD release and is an expert on Sessue Hayakawa. Peilin Kuo is an award-winning filmmaker born in Taiwan and based in New York City whose films have screened at Sundance, Cannes, and LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. Her new project is a feature length biopic of the first Chinese American actress Anna May Wong.
Imran Siddiquee is a writer, filmmaker, and activist working to transform how gender and race are represented in the media. He helped start The Representation Project, where he led nationwide campaigns to call-out sexism in the media. In 2014, he gave a TEDx talk called “How Hollywood Can Tell Better Love Stories,” and his 2015 short film, Love Reset, was aired by MTV. His writing has been published by The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Salon, Mic, and other publications. Robin Lung is a 4th-generation Chinese American raised in Hawai‘i and director of Centerpiece Documentary Finding Kukan. Robin has spent over fifteen years bringing untold minority stories to the screen, and several of her past films have aired nationally on PBS. 46
Saturday, Nov. 11 | 4:30–6pm | UPenn In light of the recent shift in political climate, American artists have taken up the mantle where politics have failed. This panel will explore the role of artists within the larger activist movements of our time, questioning to what extent community of color artists are responsible for engaging in issuebased political discourse.
Moderator: Jenny Yang, is a Los Angeles-based writer, actor, and stand up comedian who produces the first-ever, mostly female, Asian American standup comedy tour, Disoriented Comedy. Drawing from her former career in politics, Jenny is a regular commentator on politics and pop culture with contributions featured in National Public Radio, MSNBC, The Guardian, NBC News, BBC News, and Al Jazeera America. Panelists: Dr. Michelle Myers, is a spoken-word poet, community activist, educator, and founding member of the Asian American female spoken-word duo Yellow Rage, best known for appearing on the first season of HBO’s Def Poetry. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Community College of Philadelphia and also lectures at Temple University.
dr. bruce cambpell
F R E E E V E N T S: CO N F E R E N C E
Arts as Activism Panel
Frank Chi, is a progressive media strategist and filmmaker who created the “Past is Prologue” video series – a compilation of four short films that connect the past with today’s fight for social justice, in partnership with Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Receiving over 200,000 shares and 10 million plus views, the “Letters from Camp” video was particularly popular, featuring Muslim American children reading letters written by Japanese American incarceration survivors. Dr. Bruce Campbell Jr., is Director of the Educational Leadership Masters and Supervisory Certification programs at Arcadia University. Also known as “DJ Junior,” Dr. Campbell is the founder of Record Breakin’ Music, a Philadelphia-based indie record label and co-host of Eavesdrop, a weekly radio show on WKDU 91.7FM. His recent project Dust + Dignity aims to promote dialogue and advance social justice through the exploration of the relationship between music and visual art.
michelle myers 2017 PAAFF 47
TRAITOR WO R L D P R E M I E R E
Monday, Nov. 13 | 7-9pm | InterAct Theatre 90 mins | Live Performance Writer: Steven de Castro Director: Cat Ramirez PAAFF is excited to present for the first time a staged reading of a new original play by Steven de Castro (Fred Hoâ€™s Last Year). The play is based on the true story of Corporal David Fagen, an African American soldier serving in the 24th regiment of the US Army in the PhilippinesAmerican War. While serving, Fagen defected to the Filipino army and joined in their rebellion against US colonial rule. Earning the rank of Captain in the Filipino Army, Fagen became the FBIâ€™s most-wanted criminal. Ultimately his fate is shrouded in mystery, some claiming to have found his partially decomposed remains, while others believe he married a Filipina woman and lived out the rest of his life peacefully in the Philippine mountains. Bringing together two underrepresented communities in the retelling of a little known story of mutual resistance, this groundbreaking piece will feature local African American and Asian American theater artists sharing the stage for the first time.
2017 PAAFF 48
Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 7-9pm | Reading Terminal Market 67 mins | Documentary | USA Director: Jonathan Cianfrani
Fermentation is an ancient and mysterious food preservation technique whose story can be traced back to the origins of our species. How did this practice give rise to what the culinary world calls “the hottest food trend across the globe?” Join chef/author Ed Lee on a journey to understand how the process of fermentation is used in modern cuisine throughout the US and abroad—exploring the shared techniques used to produce cheese, bread, beer, charcuterie, kimchi, kombucha, and more.
Providing a glimpse into how tradition can give rise to a contemporary trend, this film offers point of entry into the deep dark world of fermentation ... and what it means to human. Co-presented by Reading Terminal Market, this special after-hours market event will highlight the many market vendors whose products involve or employ fermentation. 2016 2017PAAFF PAAFF
Narrative Program, Retrospective
Daughter of Shanghai free screening
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 5-6:15pm | Fleisher 63 mins | Drama, Crime | USA | 1937 Director: Robert Florey Anna May Wong stars as the daughter of a wealthy Chinese American merchant whose father is found dead after refusing to do business with a human trafficking operation. To uncover the truth about her fatherâ€™s death, Wong goes undercover in a Central American nightclub where she begins to unravel a much larger conspiracy. Korean American actor Philip Ahn plays a strong supporting role as Kim Lee, a US government agent trying to crack the human trafficking case and love interest to Wong. Born in Los Angeles as the son of influential Korean Independence activist Ahn Chang-ho, Ahn is the first Korean American to achieve mainstream recognition in Hollywood, working well into the 1970s.
2017 PAAFF 50
Narrative Program, Retrospective
Phantom of chinatown
62 mins | Drama, Crime | USA | 1940 Director: Phil Rosen Keye Luke (Charlie Chan, Kung Fu, Gremlins) stars as Detective James Lee Wong in this noir-esque murder mystery. While lecturing about his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, explorer Dr. John Benton suddenly collapses and dies. His last words “Eternal Fire” are the only clue Detective Wong and Captain Street of the police department have. Win Lee (Lotus Long), Benton’s secretary, reveals the doctor’s dying words refer to a scroll that divulges the location of rich oil deposits. Wong and Street must search for the killer among Benton’s associates before someone else dies.
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 6:30-7:45pm | Fleisher
Known for his role as “Number One Son” in the Charlie Chan Detective series, this role was Keye Luke’s only chance to play leading man in a Chinese detective film, something usually reserved for white actors in yellowface makeup. An actress of mixed Japanese and Native Hawaiian descent, co-star Lotus Long (Tokyo Rose, Mysterious Mr. Moto) enjoyed a brief but popular career in Hollywood during the 1930s-40s. Remarkably, on account of her ethnic ambiguity and Chinese-sounding surname, Long avoided incarceration as a Japanese American in WWII.
Narrative Program, Retrospective
Piccadilly free screening
Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 8-9:45pm | Fleisher 92 mins | Drama, Crime | United Kingdom | 1929 Director: Ewald AndrĂŠ Dupont Actress Anna May Wong stars as a young Chinese woman working in the kitchen at a London dance club. Given the chance to become the clubâ€™s main act, she finds herself embroiled in a plot of betrayal, forbidden love, and murder. Born in Los Angeles, Wong had only acted in a few supporting roles before landing her big break in this British silent film. Although she continued acting in Hollywood films throughout the 1930s-1940s, Wong was unable to secure roles of an equal caliber due to the prevalent racism of that era. Despite her somewhat tragic career, Wong is remembered as the first Chinese American leading lady.
2017 PAAFF 52
ASIAN BANK is proud to support and celebrate the 10th Anniversary Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival Uplifting cinema work by and about Asian Americans
Asian Bank | 111 N. 9th Street | www.theasianbank.com | 215-592-1188 53
free screening 2017 PAAFF 54
Ghost Magnet Roach Motel Thursday, Nov. 16 | 5-6:15pm | Fleisher 67 mins | Documentary | Mexico, USA Director: Shinpei Takeda Veteran filmmaker and visual artist Shinpei Takeda (Hiroshima Nagasaki Download) returns with this punk musical documentary. Follow two American musicians, two Mexican artists, and one Japanese filmmaker from experimental Punkformance unit Ghost Magnet Roach Motel as they struggle with addiction and an existential crisis on the US-Mexico border. With a soundtrack to match their madness, this film offers a compelling look at the somewhat blurred line between chemical dependency, mental illness, and creativity.
Maybe it already has. Problem gamblers stand to lose a lot more than just their money. Gambling can cost them their home, their job, their familyâ€Ś even their freedom. If you think you or someone you love has a gambling problem, help is available. Visit PAProblemGambling.com to learn the warning signs, or call 1-877-565-2112.
Poi E free screening
Thursday, Nov. 16 | 6:30-7:35pm | Fleisher 57 mins | Documentary | New Zealand Director: Te Arepa Kahi Poi E is titled after Patea Maori Club’s iconic 1984 song, which gave hope and a renewed spirit to a suffering community during New Zealand’s economic recession. This film recounts the unexpected roller coaster ride on which bandleader Dalvanius Prime and the group found themselves as their song climbed the charts and topped off as the number one hit single for four weeks straight. The song “Poi E” remains relevant today, having reentered the Top 10 in New Zealand in 2009 and 2010. The rich history of this song and its roots in indigenous Maori culture are uncovered through archival footage and interviews with Prime, surviving Patea Maori Club members, and other notable figures in New Zealand media.
Pacific Showcase Presented by
81 mins | Documentary | USA Directors: James Payne Far Western is a music-fueled, characterdriven documentary film about Japanâ€™s history and obsession with American country music. Seventy years after the US occupation of Japan, a devoted group of Japanese musicians pursues their passion for American country and bluegrass music in honky-tonks from Tokyo to Nashville.
Thursday, Nov. 16 | 7:45-9:45pm | Fleisher
The film screening will be followed by a live performance from the Filipino American fatherson bluegrass duo Rick and Chris Marcera and short reception to kick off the Closing Weekend of PAAFF.
japanese american Showcase Presented by
Asian Arts Initiative | 52 mins Each of the shorts in this FREE program were either shot locally or produced by local Asian American filmmakers. Subjects include teaching children with severe disabilities, missed love connections, and a hair-brained scheme to clear a gambling debt.
The Seagull Director: Justin Lee | 10 mins | USA
Eubie Director: Eiko Fan | 5 mins | USA
A stuffed dog named Cream Cheese is acutely aware of how little he belongs in a world meant for humans. One day, he decides to leave his friend Lea and his small town in France to find whatever it is that heâ€™s looking for.
Eubie paints with a paint brush attached to her baseball hat. She moves her head across the canvas with bright colors of her choice. The brush strokes often show jiggles as she giggles with joy. The viewers can see her joy in spending time creating and can see that Art is Food for the soul of our artist.
Sea of Fog Director: Imran Siddiquee | 14 mins | USA
The Condo Director: David Zhou | 23 mins | USA
Strangers pass each other every day on the ferries leaving and entering San Francisco - some find romance, others remain unseen. Sea of Fog explores the distance between the dreams weâ€™re sold about love and its daily reality.
A comedy about best friends and roommates, Steven and Rahul, who open their condo into an underground casino in order to raise money to pay off a debt owed to the Chinese gambling syndicate.
Filmmakers expected in attendance.
Friday, Nov. 17 | 4:45-6pm
Sea of fog
86 mins | Documentary | Tuva, USA Director: Michael Faulkner Shodekeh, a beatboxer and vocal percussionist from Baltimore, has spent his life mastering new sounds and fostering unlikely musical collaborations. After a chance meeting with traditional Tuvan throat singers Alash Ensemble, Shodekeh embarks on a journey to the Republic of Tuva as a guest musician chosen to participate in the International Xoomei (throat singing) festival. A sensory experience of music and landscape, this film takes the viewer on a journey through the vastness of Central Asia and the sounds that emerge as musical cultures combine.
Friday, Nov. 17 | 6:15-8:15pm | Asian Arts Initiative
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Shorts Program, Live Performance
4 Pillars Friday, Nov. 17 | 8:30-10:30pm | Asian Arts Initiative 120 mins | Shorts Program, Live Music This shorts program explores the Four Pillars of Hip Hop and the various Asian American communities that have immersed themselves in them. Short film subjects include the Filipino turntablist scene in 1980s San Francisco, the integration of traditional Chinese theater technique into breakdance routines by Mark Wong of Hip Hop Fundamentals, and a graffiti artist navigating the sometimes violent street art world. The fourth pillar of emceeing will be incorporated through a special live performance by acclaimed Korean American rap duo Year of the Ox.
Performances guest curated by Scott CHOPS Jung of the legendary Mountain Brothers
the street pearls mixtape
year of the ox
the street pearls mixtape Director: Aidan Un | 15 mins | USA
According to the Zodiac, the Ox is attributed with traits of strength and familial loyalty. Nevertheless, they can be stubborn with their ideals and quick to snap at anybody who might violate tradition. Hailing from Virginia, Lyricks and JL exemplify these characteristics. They are artists who regularly speak on the struggles of the Everyman yet are quick to welcome any challengers, treating them like the bonus stage in Street Fighter. It’s a breath of fresh air in an era when rappers spit freestyles off their phones and mumble from the bottom of styrofoam cups. In 2016, the tag team released “Seven Rings,” garnering millions of views while definitively answering the question, “Can Asians rap?”
Street Pearls is a site-specific performance that was presented at Pearl Street Block Party in October 2015, directed and performed by b-boy crew Hip Hop Fundamentals. Filmmaker Aidan Un captures their dynamic use of b-boy culture to explore themes of identity, individuality, and ancestry.
flip the record Director: Marie Jamora | 15 mins | USA TAG Director: Patrick Green, Steve Tirona | 6 mins | USA A colorful day in the secret life of a graffiti artist looking to make a mark.
This film takes us into the beat of an aspiring Filipino American DJ crew in 1984 San Francisco. Vanessa, sick of the the constraints and boring piano lessons in her conservative household, starts teaching herself how to scratch on her older brother’s turntables. Watch as she discovers her talents and place in the local music scene of the era.
flip the record
shorts program : 4 pillars
year of the ox
Kakehashi PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 11am-12pm | Asian Arts Initiative 45 mins | Documentary | J apan, USA Director: Andrew Gooi A documentary about a free-spirited chef born of a strict culture. “Kakehashi” is the vision that Chef Nobuo Fukuda’s father had for him, to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world. Facing the challenges of a strict environment and emigrating to a new one, Chef Nobuo unexpectedly bridged the gap through his cuisine. In 2007, Chef Nobuo was awarded the James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Southwest. Screens With Pool to Table 3 min | Short Documentary | Taiwan Director: Tim Cheng
Tiny, circular “fishing floats,” attached to baited lines bob on the water like wayward mini-beach balls. Plastic lawn chairs scrape against the concrete floor, as would-be fishermen shift and wait for the slightest tug. Tinny Mandarin music accompanies the bubbling of large water filters. But the most evocative sound reverberating through Taiwan’s catch-your-own shrimp bars is the sizzle of prawns on the grill. 64
japanese american Showcase Presented by
Narrative Program Philadelphia Premierer
The Valley Someone
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 12:15-2pm | Asian Arts Initiative
Thursday, Nov. 14 | 7:00pm | I-House 94 mins | Drama, Mystery | USA
79mins | Dramedy
Director: Saila Kariat
Director: Nadine Truong | Writer: West Liang Neal an immigrant entrepreneur working Cast:Kumar, Brian Yang, Eddie Mui. Emily Chang, in theCrane, high-octane technologically drivenWest Kara Rex Lee, Sara Sanderson, culture Liang of Silicon Valley, seeks answers to lingering questions about his daughter’s suicide. As he journeys deeper into his daughter’s mental-health odyssey, the fractured nature of Three friends for apparent a long LAto night in this his interior lifereunite becomes himself and bittersweet dramedy. Their faltering nightclub those around him. reunion soon becomes an all-nighter filled with revelations, recriminations and regrets. The Valley explores the struggle of one family to survive intact amidst a culture in which Opening Night Reception 9:30–11PM are almost relationships and human connection impossible to maintain. It also addresses the secrecy and lack of understanding that surrounds mental health issues like depression and anxiety, which are the root cause of most suicides.
I used to know
Deported PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 2:15-3:15pm | Asian Arts Initiative 42 mins | Documentary | Cambodia, USA Director: Sahra V. Nguyen Deported follows Philadelphia-based advocacy group 1Love Movement and its sister organization 1Love Cambodia over the course of five months as they head to Phnom Penh to meet with representatives of the Cambodian government. The goal: to halt deportations and renegotiate the 2002 repatriation agreement that allows the US to deport refugees back to Cambodia. Told over the course of five chapters, this film follows the cases of several deported refugees, documenting the impact that separation has had on their lives and their families. Shedding light on the plight of Cambodian refugees caught in the school-to-prison-todeportation pipeline, this insightful documentary underscores the historical imbalance of USCambodia relations. Co-presented by 1Love Movement, who will be present for a post-film discussion with director Sahra V. Nguyen. co-Presented by
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Resistance at Tule Lake
80 mins | Documentary | USA Director: Konrad Aderer The dominant narrative of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans has been that they behaved like a “model minority,” cooperated without protest, and proved their patriotism by enlisting in the Army. Resistance at Tule Lake, a new feature-length documentary from Third World Newsreel (Camera News Inc.) and directed by Japanese American filmmaker Konrad Aderer, overturns that myth by telling the long-suppressed story of Tule Lake Segregation Center.
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 3:30-5:15pm | Asian Arts Initiative
A compelling documentary that exposes the worst of the US government’s violations of civil liberties during WWII and the organized resistance by Japanese Americans behind bars.
Director Konrad Aderer expected in attendance for post-film discussion with Tule Lake camp survivor Ed Kobayashi.
2016 2017 PAAFF
japanese american Showcase Presented by
Out of State E A S T COA S T P R E M I E R E
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 5:30-7pm | Asian Arts Initiative 79 mins | Documentary | Hawaii, USA Director: Ciara Lacy Exiled to a private prison deep in the Arizona desert, native Hawaiian inmates discover culture and community behind bars. In 2007, the state of Hawaii outsourced the care of roughly two thousand of its male prisoners to a private, forprofit prison on the continental US. Now deep in the desert of Arizona, exiled thousands of miles across the ocean from their island home, a group of indigenous Hawaiian inmates have discovered their calling on the inside: teaching each other their native language and dances while behind bars. The film follows several of the men as they complete their sentences and reintegrate back home in Hawaii. Out of State explores complex questions of cultural and religious identity; the disproportionate incarceration rates of native Hawaiians and other ethnic minorities in the prison system; the cycle of criminal behavior and its impact on the family; and prisoner entitlement.
Pacific Showcase Presented by
50 min | Mixed Media Performance | USA Director: Jivan Atman
Blasian Narratives is a multi-media “DocuTheatre” project that explores the intersectional identities of mixed-race Black & Asian individuals through an integrated live performance and film screening. The project began as a collaboration between Morehouse and Spelman College students documenting peoples of mixed AfroAsian heritage, colloquially known as “Blasians.” Illustrating the complex relationships between two historically polarized communities of color, this grassroots project aims to develop identity awareness and build solidarity.
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 7:15-8:30pm | Asian Arts Initiative
Film subjects will be present to perform live excerpts in conversation with the film.
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Cardinal X PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 8:45-11pm | Asian Arts Initiative 94 mins | Drama, Crime | USA Director: Angie Wang Based on the life of filmmaker Angie Wang, this film dramatizes the true story of a Chinese American chemistry student who became the largest supplier of ecstasy on the West Coast in the early 1980s. After losing her scholarship to a prestigious college in San Francisco, Angie continues manufacturing and selling the party drug to make ends meet. Angie hides her dangerous secrets from everyone in her life, but when the consequences of her double life come to a head, she finds herself tumbling out of control. Starring Annie Q (HBOâ€™s The Leftovers) and Francesca Eastwood (of ABCâ€™s Heroes Reborn), writer/director Angie Wang is expected in attendance for a post-film Q&A. Screens With Monday 19 min | Short Documentary | USA Director: Dinh Thai Kwan is a small-time hustler who provides contraband to whomever needs it. He bounces from neighborhood to neighborhood, each encounter tinged with racial undertones. On this day, his illicit activity brings him to a halt.
2017 PAAFF 70
Sex Sells I am jupiter
Asian Arts Initiative | 48 mins This FREE shorts program explores the concept of sexual commerce and body commodification. Subjects include prostitution and emotional transactions related to sex. Filmmakers expected in attendance. MATURE CONTENT, VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.
I am JUPITER Director: Matthew Victor Pastor | 15 mins | Australia, Philippines
Dear Mother Director: Matthew Kaundart | 4 mins | USA
Jupiter is a visual narrative about the silence of my people in post-colonial Philippines. Itâ€™s a tense thriller without any spoken dialogue showing the harsh realities currently present in the motherland.
A Korean adoptee named Kayla Tange lives in LA, where she works as an exotic dancer and performance artist. After plans to meet her birthmother fell through, Kayla created this visual letter in the hopes it will bring her some sort of peace.
Hierarchy of Needs Director: Ryan Michael Connolly | 5 mins | USA
Please Hold Director: Jerell Rosales | 15 mins | USA
A gay Filipino American named Jonathan is in a financial dilemma; but his troubles run much deeper than his pocketbook.
When a condom breaks during a random hook-up with a stranger, Danny gets an HIV test and an unexpected new friend.
Sunday, Nov. 19 | 11am-12pm
Cake Director: Anne Hu | 9 mins | USA
A bisexual woman tries to explore her sexuality with her husband Thomas by surprise ordering a seemingly human female sex robot. But the sex robot is not the cure-all she had hoped for.
hierarchy of needs
The Apology PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
Sunday, Nov. 19 | 12:15-2:15pm | Asian Arts Initiative 105 mins | Documentary | Canada, China, Korea, Philippines Director: Tiffany Hsiung The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten.
Some 70 years after their imprisonment, the three “grandmothers”—Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines—face their twilight years with fading health. Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward to seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.
A Whale of a Tale
95 mins | Documentary | Japan Director: Megumi Sasaki After a documentary film denouncing Japan’s longstanding whale and dolphin hunting practices called The Cove wins an Academy Award in 2010, the sleepy fishing town of Taiji suddenly awakens to find itself in the global spotlight. Almost overnight, Taiji transforms into the go-to battleground for international anti-whaling activists. The camera delves into the lives of local whalers, global activists, and an American journalist in the “whale and dolphin killing town” and suggests that not everything is as black and white as it might seem.
Sunday, Nov. 19 | 2:30-4:30pm | Asian Arts Initiative
Filmmaker Megumi Sasaki is expected to be in attendance for a post-film Q&A.
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Paris, Ni Hao PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE
Sunday, Nov. 19 | 4:45-5:45pm | Asian Arts Initiative 40 mins | Documentary Feature | France, USA Director: Zixuan Deng Paris, Ni Hao, tells the stories of eight Chinese immigrants in France. Through their specific experiences, the film gives an intimate look at the rise of a new generation of French Chinese who identify with two cultures, speak two languages, and demand acceptance within contemporary French society. Filmed in French and Chinese with English subtitles, this film reveals the resilience of the Chinese community in Paris, but also underscores the universal complications and shared immigration histories across the Chinese diaspora. Filmmaker Zixuan Deng expected in attendance for post-film Q&A.
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Closing NightPremierer Film Philadelphia
The Soul of the Tiger Someone
I91 mins used to know | Feature | France, Switzerland
Director: Francois Yang After his brother suddenly dies, dies, Alex, a thirtysomething man of Chinese descent, returns Thursday, Nov. 14 French | 7:00pm | I-House to Paris in search of an explanation. Torn between 79mins | Dramedy two cultures and caught in a love triangle with women who represent both sides of his heritage, Director: Nadine Truong | Writer: West Liang Alex must come to terms with his family’s past as he Cast: Brian Yang, Eddie Mui. Emily Chang, tries to uncover the truth behind his brother’s death.
Kara Crane, Rex Lee, Sara Sanderson, West Liang
Produced by the same team who brought us PAAFF15 film alumni Mooncake, this feature film is a landmark achievement for the Francophone Asian diasporic community, and relatable the Three friends reunite for a highly long LA night into this Asian American experience. bittersweet dramedy. Their faltering nightclub
E A S T COA S T P R E M I E R E
Sunday, Nov. 19 | 6:15-8pm | Asian Arts Initiative
reunion soon becomes an all-nighter filled with revelations, recriminations and regrets.
Closing night reception
Sunday, Nov. 19 | 8:15-11pm | Asian Arts Initiative Opening Night Reception 9:30–11PM Join us for the final celebration of PAAFF where we will be announcing the winners of our 2017 film competition. Continuing the French Chinese theme from our last two films in the program, guests will enjoy a complimentary selection of fusion food, wine, and craft beer inspired by the combination of these two cultures. Complimentary whisky tastings provided by WhistlePig. 2017 PAAFF
Free entry with Closing Night film ticket.
Narrative Feature jury
Doc Feature jury
Short Film Jury
Susan Jin Davis Senior VP of Product and Operational Compliance, Finance at Comcast Cable and a big supporter of Asian American film.
Allen Chou President of Sales and Acquisitions at Passion River Films, a NYC based company that distributes documentaries and arthouse films for the US home video and international sales market since 1998.
Tetsuki Ijichi Independent film producer from Japan and President of Tidepoint Pictures, which specializes in releasing Asian films across genres—from horror to documentary—in North America and internationally. Tetsuki picked up and sold Dukhtar (PAAFF’16) and Big in Bollywood (PAAFF’13) for Japan.
Melanie Forchetti Casting Director at Mike Lemon Casting, Melanie began her career at Lightstone Productions producing music videos then started her own production company and produced feature films including Prey for Rock ‘n Roll, ‘Til Proven Innocent, and Screw Cupid, as well as documentaries, and promotionals. Amira Smith Director of Marketing and Multicultural Affairs for the Greater Philadelphia Film Office (film.org), actress, and overall film enthusiast. 2017 PAAFF 76
Philip Lam Independent film producer (Undoing, Santa Mesa) based in the New York City metropolitan area. Joe Kim PAAFF founder and Festival Director for five years, Joe started PAAFF in 2008 with a great team and the intention to highlight distinctive stories by and about Asian Americans. He is currently developing various projects.
Maori Holmes Originally from Los Angeles, Maori Holmes is a producer, curator, and the Founding Artistic Director of the BlackStar Film Festival (blackstarfest.org). Maori received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and has screened her own film work internationally. Marángeli Mejía rabell Puerto Rico-born Director of PHL Latino Film Festival, Marángeli is also Director of CED at the Village of Arts and Humanities. She also curates/produces arts & culture programs and special events as a cofounder of AfroTaino Productions.
Sushi - Cra Beer Bar - Live Music - Open Mic - Sushi Catering - Sushi Class
Madame Saito invites everyone to make reservations for her 2017 DVD Documentary Release Party Titled “Philadelphia Queen of Sushi, Madame Saito” which includes a special four course dinner for only $25.00 November 9 - 15th. Seating Times – 5:00pm to 8:00pm and 8:30pm to 11:30pm Must book in advance. 122-124 Lombard St, Phila PA 19147 | 215-922-2515
Menu: Rice Noodle Soup Ginger Salad Sushi Combo or Chicken Teriyaki Green Tea Ice Cream Please RSVP via Email to Madamesaito@gmail.com
Sabu the Thief by Imran Siddiquee As the story goes, in 1935 Selar Sheikh was an orphaned boy living in Britishruled India. The son of an elephant driver, now a ward of the Maharaja of Mysore, he was spending his days caring for elephants when filmmakers Osmond Borradaile and Robert Flaherty first spotted him. The two were so taken with Selar’s cinematic potential that the footage they shot of him was soon turned into the Alexander Korda-produced Elephant Boy, a film based on Rudyard Kipling’s story “Toomai of the Elephants.” The orientalist adventure was a success, particularly for its young star, who began going by the name “Sabu” and would soon capture the hearts of audiences worldwide. By the time Sabu abruptly died of a heart attack some 27 years after being cast as the “elephant boy,” he would be an internationally known South Asian actor, married and working in an otherwise almost entirely white film industry.
Yet, despite his popularity, his onscreen roles almost never progressed past that very first one. As a young man Sabu went from one exoticized role to the next, including in a series of Kordaproduced hits, playing mischievous teens who were often linked to animals. In The Thief of Bagdad, perhaps his most well-known role, he is literally turned into a dog, and he followed it up by playing Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Though he was from 78
India, white filmmakers would cast him to play “exotic” brown-skinned men from countries across the globe, in films like Savage Drums and Arabian Nights. But even in the late 50s, as a 30-something adult, he was still being described as “Sabu, the Jungle Boy,” in Jungle Hell, or “Sabu, the stable Boy” in 1957’s Sabu and the Magic Ring. He was never quite allowed to grow up — or to be seen as fully human. Even so, Sabu’s performances themselves often transcend these racist, orientalist limitations, and the larger narrative of his career serves to point out the absurdity of how Hollywood has long attempted to define South Asian masculinities. And continues to do so today.
During his rise to stardom, Sabu remained the only man of South Asian descent to get near top billing in the British and American film systems. Indeed, he was among only a handful of Asian actors, of any background, working at that level, at that time. But it’s clear from the roles which were given to him that he was never really seen as an equal to Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, or any of his other white co-stars.
Like Shirley Temple, the Oscar-winning child star of the same period, Sabu’s particular performance of gender was always integral to his limited acceptance in the industry. As Gayatri Gopinath observes in Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures, Sabu remained “perpetually frozen” as a wondrous, beautiful child onscreen. Hollywood had no room for an actual leading man with brown skin — one who might need to project a level of hypermasculinity — but a “strange” brown boy was perhaps more acceptable. And as xenophobic debates about the immigration of Indians and other Asians into the country raged throughout the 30s, 40s, and 50s — and the United States entered into the second World War — it’s no coincidence that Sabu was allowed in only if he stuck to a particular script. Onscreen he was often infantilized, desexualized, and feminized — a frequently shirtless “native” of “the East.” He rarely posed a risk to the manly white men onscreen, mostly remaining a curious oddity. He was not resisting the white imperialist forces of the world in his films, but rather, as Priya Jaikumar writes in her essay “Sabu’s Skins: The Transnational Stardom of an Elephant Boy,” the actor’s film persona shifted “to suit a range of island ‘exotics’ needed by American studio and independent productions.” At the same time, in real life, Sabu became an American citizen and joined the Air Force, serving in World War II. He was an actual “American war hero.” It’s also true that he gained fame starring in action films —which are still mostly reserved for manly men — even if it was typically in the sidekick role. In The Thief of Bagdad he has a particularly notable sequence as Abu, the thief named in the title, in which he outwits a genie, and then fights
his way out of certain death at the hands of a giant spider. In these scenes he is alone — without the help of the film’s lead, Ahmad (played by John Justin, who was white) — and takes on the role of a bonafide hero. Indeed, Abu is the one who kills the evil Jaffar (Conrad Veidt) at the climactic moment of Bagdad, ultimately saving the day.
those who see him (always shirtless!). Ingram’s genie, on the other hand, is mostly presented as a frightening presence, recalling adventures like King Kong which link black men to monsters out to steal innocent white women. This is reiterated by the few appearances of other black men in the film, mostly as Jaffar’s guards.
Despite fulfilling so many aspects of ideal American masculinity onscreen — displaying physical strength, courage, and the ability to use violence to take power from others — there’s no doubt that Abu was not meant to be the romantic hero of Bagdad. That role is reserved for Veidt as Ahmad, a white man playing a brown man who wins the heart of the princess (June Duprez, also white), and becomes the leader of the land. Michael Powell’s The Thief of Bagdad is also an example of the ways in which representations of South Asian masculinities have been used in comparison and in contrast to black masculinities in Hollywood. Rex Ingram, the black actor who plays the larger-than-life genie in the film, once explained how he got into the movie business: “I was standing on a Hollywood corner waiting to cross the street when I was discovered by a movie talent scout. I was persuaded that I was just what was needed to play a native of the jungles in the first Tarzan pictures.”
As a result, even when playing one-half of a brown couple, Sabu was often cast opposite white women playing brown women — like Jean Simmons, who plays his love interest Kanchi, in The Black Narcissus. Hollywood painted the boy from Mysore into a corner, and then, in many ways, used his career as the template for representations of
Today there are a few more South Asian men in leading roles, but they still tend to fall into the tropes of “exotic” sidekicks — like Karan Soni’s character in Marvel’s Deadpool. And when these characters do have a desire for women — still one of the universal markers of heroism in mainstream American film — they tend to be overly sexual, but again in a way that is unthreatening to the desires of straight white men (see Raj on television’s The Big Bang Theory). Meanwhile, the wondrous brown-skinned child from the East still fascinates Hollywood studios and Western audiences, as evidenced by recent hits Slumdog Millionaire, Lion, Life of Pi, Million Dollar Arm and the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book. And though 2017 has brought us projects like Master of None and The Big Sick, which frame South Asian masculinity as potentially desirable (though still largely in relation to whiteness), it’s also brought news of an upcoming remake of Disney’s 1992 ode to orientalism, Aladdin. That wildly popular cartoon was partially inspired by 1940’s The Thief of Bagdad (itself a remake of a 1920s film starring Douglas Fairbanks), retaining characters like Jaffar, the bumbling Sultan, and the Princess, as well as scenes as specific as Abu’s romp through the market (not to mention the flattening of African, Middle Eastern, East Asian, and South Asian cultures). But while elements of Sabu’s memorable performance as the thief show up in Disney’s characterization of its hero Aladdin, 79
While Sabu was also pigeon-holed as a “jungle boy,” his framing differed from black actors like Ingram in that he rarely posed a risk to the manly white men on screen, particularly in their pursuit of white women. For example, in Bagdad, the young Abu apparently has no romantic or sexual interests (he seems confused by Ahmad’s infatuation with the princess) and seemingly attracts none from
Sabu remained a puppy dog for the majority of his career, which of course meant that there wasn’t much room for him as an adult actor. It also didn’t lead to creating room for brown women in Hollywood, whose exoticness was often hypersexualized instead — or just whitewashed away. In some respects, in the nearly 80 years since Sabu burst onto the scene, there has not been an Indian woman, or South Asian woman of any background, who has become as big a movie star in Hollywood as he was in the 1930s and 40s.
South Asian masculinity that followed. Foreign, feminized, and capable of being beautiful only in relation to whiteness — following the career of Sabu is a glimpse into the past, but also into a contemporary mirror.
the character of “Abu” literally becomes a monkey in the film. In the live-action remake we can expect that Aladdin’s sidekick might once again become human, but what’s less clear is when, if ever, Hollywood will rid itself of these dehumanizing stereotypes of brown men altogether. Indeed, as the United States “interests” in the Middle East remain, and political leaders still require the specter of a menacing Eastern world to justify their wars, there’s little sign that the industry is ready to stop using portraits of “weak” Asian masculinities to prop up the manly white men of the West. In this still oppressive climate, looking back at the performances of Sabu can offer a complicated kind of relief. In certain moments we find this talented brown boy, and then brown man, who snuck his way onto white movie screens and fashioned a career for himself. The directors of his films surely didn’t realize that Sabu’s performances would one day have this power to reach across time, pointing out the flaws in Hollywood’s conception of “ideal” masculinity. But the actor does more than transcend the frame around him; Sabu’s presence pushes us to look at ourselves as South Asian American men today. Motivating us to find new ways to subvert and resist the white patriarchal status quo.
The Untold Story of Asian Americans in Early Hollywood by Rob Buscher
It would shock many film buffs and casual viewers alike to learn that there was a time in early Hollywood cinema when several Asian Americans were among the top A-list celebrities. In fact, one of the highest paid actors in 1910s Hollywood was a Japanese immigrant named Sessue Hayakawa. Hayakawa would go on to become the first (and to this day only) Asian American to own a Hollywood studio, which netted over $2 million profit at the height of their popularity in the late 1910s. Born in 1889 as Kintaro Hayakawa in Chiba Prefecture, he emigrated to the United States to pursue a degree in political economics at University of Chicago. After flunking out his plan to return home got waylaid when he caught a theater performance in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and fell in love with the stage.
Hayakawa became a regular player at The Japanese Playhouse in Little Tokyo, where he was discovered by Hollywood film producer Thomas Ince. Against all odds, Ince agreed to pay him the 80
extraordinary sum of $500 per week to star in the silent film adaption of a stage play called The Typhoon in 1914. The Typhoon starred Hayakawa as a Japanese diplomat to France who after having an affair with a chorus girl, strangles her to death in a fit of passion. Despite the negative stereotyping of his character, Hayakawa’s brooding good looks made him an undeniable sex symbol amongst white women across America. Cast in a similar role the following year by legendary director Cecil B. DeMille, Hayakawa shared the first ever onscreen interracial kiss with a white woman in the 1915 film The Cheat. Although the studio took a substantial risk by visually suggesting miscegenation, they still made him the villain by making his character brand his lover with a hot iron after she tries to break off their affair. Asked about the significance of Hayakawa’s sex symbol status, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Executive Director Stephen Gong responds, “I think his transgressive stardom (white women being his primary – and ardently loyal fan base) served as a cautionary tale for the developing industry and its concomitant censorship-machinery. Rudolf Valentino, in the 1920s, elicited a similar “forbidden” fan response, and that from a very light-complexioned Italian. I think the industry was quietly but completely determined not to allow Asians or non-whites to become “stars.” Fed-up with the self-proclaimed Orientalist roles that Hayakawa was being cast in by the major studios, he decided to go out on his own by founding Haworth Pictures Corporation where he subsequently released nineteen films between the years of 1918-1922.
Gong elaborates on Hayakawa’s tenuous relationship with race in Hollywood, “I think at the time he was working, all filmmakers were using stereotypes as tools of the trade to get people to watch, and hopefully pay a few cents for the pleasure. I don’t think many people were thinking critically about authentic cultural or ethnic representation before the 1960s or 1970s. That said, Hayakawa was aware of the racism behind his character in The Cheat, and determined therefore to play the hero in his own Haworth and Hayakawa Feature Play films – albeit many of those employed stereotypical depictions of Chinese, Mexicans, Indians, and others.” Alas, the rising anti-Japanese sentiment in early 1920s California made Hayakawa unpalatable to Hollywood moguls looking to cash in on their majority white audience. Hayakawa spent the next decade working in Europe and by the time he returned to Hollywood in the 1930s his thick Japanese accent pigeon-holed him as a character actor in the new talkie era.
The Americanborn daughter of
Unlike Hayakawa’s early flirtations with white audiences through their onscreen surrogates, the majority of Wong’s career were released after the Motion Picture Production Code went into effect in 1930. Better known as the Hay’s Code after President Will H Hays of the Motion Picture Association of America, this agreement amongst executives from each major Hollywood studio outlined what should and should not be permitted onscreen. With anti-miscegenation laws active in California until 1948, this prevented Wong from taking on roles that involved romance with a white male lead. Kuo explains, “During her Hollywood career, [Wong] suffered from the frequent stereotyping of Asian women as ‘China dolls’ or ‘Dragon ladies’. Despite her prodigious talent and screen presence, she was usually relegated to playing secondary roles to white actresses. The closest she came to a lead Asian role in a major studio film was in The Good Earth (1937), but she lost the role to Luise Rainer, a white actress in yellowface, who won an Oscar for the role.” By the 1930s romantic Asian male leads were virtually non-existent, and when the script called for one, Hollywood frequently cast white men in
yellowface. Even in these cases when a white actor was portraying an Asian onscreen – interracial relations were forbidden, thus preventing Wong from landing these roles. A rare exception is the 1937 thriller Daughter of Shanghai in which Wong stars opposite of Korean American actor Philip Ahn as the daughter of a wealthy Chinese merchant who goes undercover as a nightclub dancer to try and expose the illegal human-trafficking operation that led to her father’s death. Despite the potential for onscreen romance with Ahn, the couple barely holds hands, let alone kisses, before she agrees to marry him in the closing scene suggesting perhaps that even onscreen romance between two Asians was deemed inappropriate by Hollywood tastemakers. Reflecting on her own relationship to Wong’s work, Kuo writes, “As an Asian woman myself, I related to her struggle as a person caught between East and West. Even though she was born in a different time, I was so inspired by her strength, her will to fight, her persistence to fulfill her dream. Although Anna May was the biggest Asian American movie star during her career, that career was limited by prejudice and the star system. Nowadays she is often held up as an object lesson of a major talent whose career was thwarted by discrimination in Hollywood. In a real sense, her career hovers over today’s conversation about the underrepresentation of women and Asians in major Hollywood films.” While circumstances differ between Hayakawa and Wong – each of their careers came to a premature end. Had they been given the opportunities of their white counterparts, one wonders if film studies might remember Hayakawa alongside Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks or consider Wong 81
Hayakawa’s return to Hollywood coincided with the rise of another Asian American star – Anna May Wong, who coincidentally starred together in Hayakawa’s 1931 sound debut Daughter of the Dragon.
Chinatown laundry owners, Wong holds a special place in film history as the first Asian American actress to become a major Hollywood sensation. Filmmaker Peilin Kuo who is an authority on Wong writes, “Anna May was fascinated by film from a very early age… she played hooky from school to watch movies and sometimes snuck into shoots on the streets of Chinatown. From those humble beginnings, she rose to prominence against great odds and paved the way for the current generation of Asian film actors to make their mark.”
as a true contemporary to Joan Crawford and Ginger Rogers. Kuo muses about Wong’s challenges working in the studio system, “Although she constantly pushed back against stereotypical roles, she had virtually no choice but to take those roles if she wanted to work as an actress. She was far from a passive participant in the Hollywood casting system, but there was a limit to how much she could push back and I don’t blame her for the roles she took.” Indeed, had Wong and her contemporaries not taken these roles perhaps there would be even fewer Asian faces in early Hollywood cinema. The very fact that their stories exist counters the perpetual foreigner myth, by proving that Asians have lived in and contributed to the culture of the United States long before the Immigration Act of 1965 ended the ban on Asian immigrants. Despite personal tragedies in their careers, both of these actors left an important mark as early forbearers to the Asian American movement. Gong reflects on Hayakawa’s legacy, “Given his background and personality, I don’t think he was conscious of the need for an Asian American film movement. He famously said early on that he was determined to make films in American for Americans. But I think people can take something from his story, and his pride and ambition, and assert that it was an important and early chapter in Asian American media history.” Unfortunately, prevalent institutional racism in Hollywood has prevented these talents from being remembered as anything but an anomaly in the history of cinema. Likely there are many others whose names and stories have been lost to time. 2017 PAAFF
To read the full version of this article that originally appeared in the August 18 edition of Pacific Citizen visit www.pacificcitizen.org 82
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