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‘Searching’ Takes Top Audience Award at L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival

Searching,” from director Aneesh Chaganty and starring John Cho and Debra Messing, won the audience award for North American narrative film at the 34th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The thriller will open nationally in August in theaters through Screen Gems.

The documentary “Minding the Gap,” directed by Bing Liu, won the audience award for documentary feature, and also was given the special jury prize for best director.

The festival gives out awards in both North American and international categories. For international narrative feature divisions, “In the Life of Music,” directed by Caylee So and Visal Sok, was a double winner, with both the audience award and special jury prize.

The international documentary-feature audience award was given to “Late Life: The Chien-Ming Wang Story,” directed by Frank W. Chen.

Other winners: “Call Her Ganda,” directed by PJ Raval, grand jury prize for North American docu feature; “Anote’s Ark” from director Matthieu Rytz, special jury mention; Nathan Fitch, cinematography, “Island Soldier”; and Alejandro Valdes-Rochin and Tom Maroney, editing, “Science Fair.”

In international narrative competition, “Waru” (co-directed by a group of women: Chelsea Cohen, Ainsley Gardiner, Casey Kaa, Renae Maihi, Awanui Simich-Pene, Briar Grace-Semith, Paula Whetu and Katie Wolfe), grand jury prize for international narrative feature; “Kiss & Spell,” directed by the late Stephane Gauger, special jury mention; and Timothy Castillo for his performance in “Neomanila,” acting award.

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In international documentary features, “People’s Republic of Desire,” directed by Hao Wu, grand jury prize; Jin Jeon and Moon Chang-Yang, “Becoming Who I Was,” special jury prize for director as well as cinematography award; Hyewon Jee and Wongjung Bae, “Singing With Angry Bird,” editing; and “The Cleaners,” directed by Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck, a special jury mention for most urgent and cautionary film.

Also: “Silence (Maun),” directed by Priyanka Singh, won the Golden Reel Award for narrative short film. Since LAAPFF is an Academy Award-qualifying festival, this means Singh will be eligible for consideration in the Oscars’ short category. The jury also gave out a special prize for excellence in directing to Paris Zarcilla for “Pommel”; “Three Boys Manzanar,” directed by Preeti Deb, Golden Reel for documentary short; and Georgia Fu, “Miss World,” the Linda Mabalot New Directors/New Visions Award.

The festival, presented by Visual Communications, ran May 3-12. The 48-year-old Visual Communications’ mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American & Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists who empower communities and challenge perspectives.

The winners were announced May 17. Previously announced were the jury prizes, including “For Izzy,” written and directed by Alex Chu, grand jury prize for North American narrative feature; Joanne Park, “Fish Bones,” director; Adelina Amosco, “The Fever and the Fret,” breakout performance; and Eunsoo Cho and Jose Asunción, “August at Akiko’s,” cinematography.

The festival was held at various venues in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

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