Garth Kravits’ WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG Receives 2021 DisOrient Audience Choice AWARD for Best Short Narrative; Full List of Winners Includes Mari Walker’s SEE YOU THEN, Akira Boch and Tadashi Nakamura’s ATOMIC CAFE: THE NOISIEST CORNER IN J-TOWN, Wayne Wang’s COMING HOME AGAIN, Hui Tong and Kelly Ng’s CURTAIN UP!, Allan Zhang Tran’s VALLEY, Jaime Sunwoo’s EQUALITY TEA, Anthony Banua-Simon’s CANE FIRE, Ben Phantom, Kaia Rose’s FUGETSU-DO and Hisonni Mustafa’s TAKE OUT GIRL

The DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon went digital this year with a 10-day program featuring 46 films, available for viewing to a North American audience. 

Now in its 16th year, DisOrient is the premiere Asian American independent film festival of Oregon, celebrating films with authentic Asian Pacific American voices, histories and stories. They highlight social justice themes that translate to universal human experiences. They promote representation, diversity and inclusion to broaden the narrative of who is American, and to strengthen and build community.

Jason Ma, Lia Chang and Virginia Wing in When the World Was Young. Photo by Garth Kravits

Our film, When the World Was Young, written and directed by Garth Kravits, won two awards including the 2021 DisOrient Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative  and a 2021 DisOrient Inspirational Artist Award for our star, Virginia Wing. The cast also features Lia Chang, Jason Ma, Jo Yang, Daniel Dunlow, Michelle Miller and Mark York.

Filmmakers Hui Tong and Kelly Ng’s documentary Curtain Up! won the 2021 DisOrient Best Feature Documentary Award and 2021 DisOrient Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Documentary. 

Synopsis: It’s show time at PS124, an elementary school in New York’s Chinatown, where students in the theater club are working on this season’s production of Frozen the Musical. Off stage, they navigate school, family expectations, and their own identities. As opening night and graduation loom, students find their voices through rehearsals and the continued support of teachers, family, and one another.

Pooya Mohseni and Lynn Chen in Mari Walker’s SEE YOU THEN

Mari Walker’s See You Then received the 2021 DisOrient Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Narrative. In See You ThenKris (Pooya Mohseni), a transgender computer programmer, and Naomi (Lynn Chen), an Asian-American performance artist, used to date in college (pre-transition). They haven’t seen each other for 15 years, since Kris left town without a word. Over the course of a one night encounter, they engage in a series of increasingly intimate and revealing conversations, before a shocking revelation sends everything spiraling out of control. See You Then focuses on the universal truth that no matter how much you change, a part of you will always stay the same.

Atomic Cafe: the Noisiest Corner in J-Town, directed by Akira Boch and Tadashi Nakamura, received the 2021 DisOrient Audience Choice Award for Best Short Documentary.  In the late 1970’s, a Japanese American, family-owned diner in Los Angeles’ J-Town became a lively gathering space for the L.A Punk Rock scene. Sansei “Atomic Nancy” took over her parents’ restaurant and cranked up the jukebox. From Japanese American locals to the biggest rock stars of the day, the Atomic Cafe became an important part of L.A.’s punk rock history.

Below are the previously announced winners, special mentions and nominees.

Best Feature Narrative: Coming Home Again; Filmmaker Wayne Wang

Synopsis: Based on a personal essay by first-generation Korean American author, Chang-rae Lee (Justin Chon) returns to San Francisco to care for his terminally ill mother. In this intimate snapshot set over the course of a single day, Chang-rae tends to his mother (Jackie Chung) and tries to recreate her Korean New Year’s dinner, while he grapples with family expectations and the pain of watching a loved one slip away.


Nominees: Coming Home Again,  See You ThenThe Girl Who Left Home



Best Feature Documentary: Curtain Up!; Filmmakers Hui Tong and Kelly Ng

Synopsis: It’s show time at PS124, an elementary school in New York’s Chinatown, where students in the theater club are working on this season’s production of Frozen the Musical. Off stage, they navigate school, family expectations, and their own identities. As opening night and graduation loom, students find their voices through rehearsals and the continued support of teachers, family, and one another.

Hui Tong and Kelly Ng’s CURTAIN UP! Wins DisOrient 2021 Award for Best Feature Documentary 

Nominees: Cane Fire, Ghost Mountain, and Curtain Up!

Best Short Narrative: Valley; Filmmaker Allan Zhang Tran

Synopsis: Two friends growing up in the San Gabriel Valley ditch school and spend the day together, at a time when their lives are starting to take them down different paths.


Nominees: ValleyUnpotHello From TaiwanBlue LanternsRefrigerate After Opening, I Sound Asian


Equality Tea

Best Short Documentary: Equality Tea; Filmmaker Jaime Sunwoo

Synopsis: It’s time to take off the white gloves and spill the tea, that liberty and justice were not for all…

Throughout America, women organized tea parties for meetings and fundraisers to support the suffrage movement. The Woman’s Suffrage Party sold ceylon, young hyson, gunpowder, and oolong tea under their charitable brand “Equality Tea.” Yet the history of tea is steeped in inequality, driven by colonialism, war, and appropriation. In her short film, Equality Tea, Sunwoo brews tea while drawing parallels between the fraught histories of the tea trade and the suffrage movement.

Original score by Matt Chilton, based on a 1895 suffragist anthem by Augusta Gray Gunn. Commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and The Laundromat Project for 100 Years | 100 Women.

Nominees: Fugetsu-DoAn Object of MeritEquality TeaAtomic CaféKAYE: Next Life AroundKeep Saray Home

Jason D. Mak Award for Social Justice: Cane Fire; Filmmaker Anthony Banua-Simon

Synopsis: This documentary takes an expansive look at the history and present day reality of the Hawaiian island, Kauai. Contrasting Hollywood’s depiction of Hawaii as tropical paradise and a prime tourist destination with the realities of indigenous and working class residents, this is an eye-opening look at the forces that shaped Kauai through generations of colonialism, capitalism, and activism. 

Nominees: Cane FireEquality TeaTake Out GirlKeep Saray HomeSee You Then

DisOrient Inspirational Artist Award: Virginia Wing (When The World Was Young)

Synopsis: Returning home to care for their mother whose memory is deteriorating, two siblings find more of her past than they knew was there.

Virginia Wing. Photo by Lia Chang

Virginia Wing is a Chinese-American actress whose ancestors came to the “Gold Mountain” from Canton (now Guangdong) in the mid-1800s, lured  by the Gold Rush and the building of the railroads. She is currently writing about growing up Southern in the Mississippi Delta, where she was born and raised. Professionally, she has run the gamut from opera, theatre, cabaret, TV, film, playwriting, directing and producing to script analysis.She modeled in her youth and is in the Breck Girl Hall of Fame. She was the model in the Mitsouko by Guerlain ad in the 60s, which won awards internationally. She was a nominee for Best Actress in the Hollywood NAACP Image Awards. She can be seen in NYTW’s production of Three Sisters in 2021. Click on the  Performing Arts Legacy Website for more about Virginia Wing.

DisOrient Special Recognition for Outstanding Music Video: Ben Phantom (Saigon)

A son journeys to Vietnam with his father, 42 years after his father escaped as a refugee.

DisOrient Heritage Award: Fugetsu-Do; Filmmaker Kaia Rose

Synopsis: For over 115 years, this Japanese confectionary in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo has served 5 generations of customers and is a testament to the resilience of its Japanese American owners. The beautiful cinematography and Brian Kito’s engaging storytelling are imbued with the spirit of this sweet shop.

DisOrient 2021: Raising Our Voices Award: Take Out Girl; Filmmaker Hisonni Mustafa

Synopsis: Tera Wong works in her family’s Chinese restaurant, located in an LA project called the “Low Bottoms.” When Tera delivers food to a local drug kingpin, she sees an opportunity that could pull her family and the restaurant out of financial turmoil. But as she’s pulled in deeper and the stakes get higher, she sees these dreams begin to crumble and learns that she might not be the only one keeping secrets.

Broadwayworld: WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG Wins Audience Choice Award For Best Short Narrative At 16th DisOrient Asian American Film Festival

WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG Star Virginia Wing Wins 2021 DisOrient Inspirational Artist Award; Full List of 2021 DisOrient Award Winners Includes COMING HOME AGAIN, CURTAIN UP!, VALLEY, EQUALITY TEA, CANE FIRE, Ben Phantom, FUGETSU-DO and TAKEOUT GIRL 

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. 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, Balancing Act, Belongingness, When the World was Young and Hide and Seek.


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