It’s a wrap for the 2015 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival presented by Comcast NBC10 Telemundo62 Comcast Spectator, which ran from November 12th – 22nd at International House and the Asian Arts Initiative.
This year’s festival was comprised of 23 features and over 30 shorts from 17 countries spread over 4 continents and of these, 5 were East Coast premieres and 14 Philadelphia premieres, with a special presentation of Center for Asian American Media’s Muslim Youth Voices project featuring world premieres of short films produced by local Muslim youth.
My filmmaking partner Garth Kravits and I were delighted to have our film Hide and Seek screen at The Festival as part of the Women’s Shorts Program at the Asian Arts Initiative on November 21, 2015.
This year’s 2015 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival award winners were announced on the closing night of The Festival. Congrats to all of the winners.
Benson Lee’s Seoul Searching (Korea) received The Best Narrative Feature Award and the Audience Choice Award for Narrative Feature – Set against the backdrop of 1980s Seoul and inspired by a summer exchange program that Lee attended in the summer of 1986, this John Hughes-esque teen comedy tells a universal coming-of-age story chock full of pop culture tropes, teen hijinks, and first love.
Nick Spark’s Right Footed (USA) received The Best Documentary Feature Award and The Audience Choice Award for Documentary.
Right Footed is a film following Jessica Cox, a Filipina American born without arms, who became the first person licensed to pilot an airplane with her feet, as she transforms from a motivational speaker to a mentor, and eventually into a leading advocate for people with disabilities.
The Best Narrative Short Award was presented to Tadaima (dir. Robin Takao D’Oench, USA), a film exploring what happened after the closure of the US internment camps at the end of World War II, when a Japanese American family returned home and found the strength to rebuild both their house and family amidst the emotional and physical destruction caused by the war.
The Best Documentary Short Award was presented to Fall Seven Times Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides (dir. Lucy Craft, Karen Kasmauski, Kathryn Tolbert, USA). Fall Seven Times Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides examines what it was like to abandon family, friends and country, and marry a former enemy via the stories of three biracial Japanese American women who tell the story of their mothers who landed in 1950s America – the brides of young GIs brought home from an enemy nation.
The Audience Choice Narrative Honorable Mention was presented to Jalal’s Story (dir. Abu Shahed Emon, Bangladesh) – a film following an infant, rescued from a river and adopted, later abandoned, who becomes a gangster in adolescence.
The Audience Choice Documentary Honorable Mention was presented to Waiting for John (dir. Jessica Sherry, Vanuatu) – a film exploring the John Frum Movement, now considered the last surviving Cargo Cult, from the perspective of the last village of believers, as they struggle to preserve their culture in the modern world.
The Vijay Mohan Social Change Award, a new honor named after the late PAAFF staff member recognizing a film or filmmaker who embodies Mohan’s spirit of transformative change through media, was presented to Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten (dir. John Pirozzi, Cambodia) – a compelling documentary uncovering the forgotten history of the Cambodian music scene during the Vietnam War era, which blended Western rock and roll with local traditions, and was suppressed by the Khmer Rouge.
The 2015 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival is presented by Comcast NBC10 Telemundo62 Comcast Spectator; and made possible through the generosity of Premier Sponsor Aetna; Founding Sponsor HBO; Partner Sponsors Wells Fargo, PHLDiversity, Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs, and Samuel S. Fels Fund; and Prime Sponsors PECO, Jefferson Health, Pacific Islanders in Communications, Greater Philadelphia Asian Studies Consortium, and Hepatitis B Foundation.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
PAAFF is the first and only event of its kind in Philadelphia, bringing in audience members from all over the region and Asian American filmmakers, actors, and leaders, from around the world. The festival also hosts numerous screenings year-round independently and in partnership with regional arts and community organizations. PAAFF’s parent organization, Philadelphia Asian American Film & Filmmakers, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to showcase films by and about Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans for the city of Philadelphia and Greater Philadelphia region. They aim to present captivating programs that engage, inspire, and connect our community both to one another and the non-Asian mainstream.
For more information about PAAFF’15 visit phillyasianfilmfest.org and follow on social media @paaff or #PAAFF15.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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