By admin | October 9, 2006

The 7th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival is set to lift off on October 12 and deliver a week of nearly three-dozen features, 50 shorts and a compelling array of animation and music video productions. All of the screenings take place at the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas at Hazard Center. The awards categories are: dramatic narrative feature, dramatic narrative short, feature documentary, short documentary, animation, and experimental.

The proceedings kick off with Ham Tran’s Journey From the Fall. The Vietnamese-American filmmaker will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening of this year’s opening night film. Tran’s first feature chronicle’s a family’s history after the Fall of Saigon. The journey leads one man to the “new world” in search of his loved ones—a compelling testimonial to millions of refugees and boat people everywhere. Premièred at the 2005 Pusan International Film Festival and then at Sundance, the film continues to resonant even as, daily, countless others are being displaced from their homes.

Eight days later, the festival concludes with Takashi Yamazaki’s Always – Sunset on Third Street. Post-WW II Japan is the setting for this multi-layered tale that shows a defeated nation and its citizens struggle to get back on their feet. The economy rebounds, exemplified by the construction of the Tokyo Tower, but its characters must re-establish their lives even as the beginnings of television changes everyone’s world forever. The emotional power and technology-rich Nagano native’s third film is a fitting closer to the jam-packed fest.

Mid-week, My Boss, My Teacher brings a full-fledged gangster (played by Jeong Joon-Ho) into the classroom. The zany sequel to My, Boss, My Hero explores the delicate balance of doing right by the mob (taking an ethics course for future advancement) while simultaneously training inquiring minds. Organized criminals and their admirers everywhere will savour the mayhem.

The “shorts” will be a cornucopia of situations and snippets of life that pass by in a flash but linger in memory. Jackie Huang’s six-minute Lullaby sees an ailing concertmaster try to reorganize the music in her life through adoption. Family matters in Seung-koo Jeong’s Bravo! Mr. Kim where a destitute father struggles with pride when he’s forced to ask his son for a handout. Who can resist Greg Pak’s Happy Hamptons Holiday Camp for Troubled Couples? Secrets abound, even as an assault of the hiccups leads to the dénouement!

The Queer Shorts offerings promise to be equally revealing. Transsexual art is featured in Maricar Camaya’s Transart; Rolmar Baldonado explores sexual choices over Two Nights; in Seoul to Soul—the Korean version of Mormon’s and queers (it can only improve on Latter Days)—where filmmakers Michael Chen/Paul Detwiler probe under the altar of religious belief and drugs.

Rounding out the films will be parties (don’t miss “Blowfish and Intersection of Sights & Sounds”—360 minutes of DJ-driven music videos, October 13, 8:00 – ?), awards presentations (the October 14 Gala Dinner will honour actress Kieu Chinh with a lifetime achievement award) and endless discussion both formally (“Asian Americans in Hollywood: A Celebrity Panel” has confirmed Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim) and while waiting in line.

Looks like SDAFF’s lucky seven will be a top-notch affair.

For more info, visit the San Diego Asian Film Festival website.

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