N.Y. fest spotlights American work

NEW YORK — The Asian American Intl. Film Festival will honor Arthur Dong and Jessica Yu with the 1997 Asian American Media Award here July 17.

The ceremony, to be held at the French Institute/Alliance Francaise, will kick off the 20th edition of the AAIFF, which runs through July 27 in Manhattan. The opening night film will be Renee Tajima-Pena’s “My America … or Honk if You Love Buddha,” which makes its New York debut July 18.

A lifelong San Francisco resident, Dong won the docu-director and docu-filmmakers trophies at Sundance this year for “Licensed to Kill,” the third in his series of films about anti-gay and lesbian prejudice. The series also includes “Coming Out Under Fire” and “Outrage ’69.”

Yu won an Oscar this year for her docu short “Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien.” Yu is working on “The Living Museum,” a feature about Gotham’s Creedmoor Psychiatric Center for HBO.

Since 1978, the AAIFF has introduced Gotham moviegoers to the works of such Asian filmmakers as Ang Lee, Mira Nair, Wayne Wang, Chen Kaige and Kayo Hatta. The fest is presented by Asian CineVision.

This year’s festival will include the Gotham preem of “Yellow,” the feature film debut of Korean-American director Chris Chan Lee. Pic is about a Los Angeles teen who gets held up at his father’s Korean grocery store the night before his high school graduation.

Making its American debut is “Automatic Writing,” Ann-Marie Fleming’s surrealistic adaptation of the 19th-century diary of her great-grandfather, who was born in China during a famine.

For more information about the opening night awards ceremony, call (212) 925-8685.

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