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Asian Pacific Film Festival Spotlights Women Filmmakers

The 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, running May 2 to May 10, will screen 200 films, including eight world premieres and a number of works by women filmmakers. For the first time in its history, the fest will open and close with feature films written and directed by Asian Pacific American women.

The festival, presented by Visual Communications, will be held at a number of venues in Los Angeles.

Opening night will be the world premiere of “Yellow Rose,” written and directed by Diane Paragas, and starring Lea Salonga and Eva Noblezada. The fest will close with “Empty by Design,” written and directed by Andrea A. Walter, and starring Rhian Ramos and Osric Chau.

Special programs include Spotlight on Taiwan, featuring Golden Horse Award winners “Long Time No Sea” and “Cities of Last Things,” and a 25th-anniversary salute to the 1994 TV series “All-American Girl,” with Margaret Cho and other cast members in discussion.

The lineup of 200 films includes both features and shorts. LAAPFF is an Oscar-qualifying film festival for live-action and animated short-film Academy Award consideration.

Two features will screen as the Centerpiece Films at the festival: “Go Back to China,” directed by Emily Ting, and “Ms. Purple,” directed by Justin Chon.

Tickets are now on sale for VC members, with public tickets going on sale April 5.

LAAPFF senior programmer Lindy Leong said the opening and closing films, both from Filipina American filmmakers, is significant. “This truly is an extraordinary moment of historical significance for Asian American Pacific Islander film and indie film festivals, and it is a win for broader representation of and support of both women and Southeast Asian American stories from the heartland to the homeland. Most importantly, both films tell compelling humanist stories and demonstrate strong indie storytelling voices in the making.”

In addition, the fest’s Special Presentations offer a sense of innovation and continuity. Spotlight on Taiwan, for example, is part of an ongoing partnership of the Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles and the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan. “As part of the festival’s special presentations, we strive to bring discussion and celebration of media and content creation from our international partners, the Asian Pacific American television landscape, milestones, and to celebrate our own creators/professionals from within Visual Communications,” said festival co-director David Magdael.

Presenting entity Visual Communications was founded in 1970, meaning this year begins observations of the group’s 50th anniversary. The mission has been to develop and support the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists, as well as create cross-cultural connections between peoples and generations.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, LAAPFF will include two programs that contribute to VC 50’s Past//Forward series. That is a series of events to celebrate VC’s past, present, and future by (re)connecting with people and communities who made great things happen. The Past//Forward events include a conversation between editor Walt Louie and filmmaker Spencer Nakasako, and a screening of “Ping Pong Playa” (2007), a rare narrative outing from Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Jessica Yu.

The festival is partnering with multiple screening venues in Southern California: 341 FSN, Aratani Theatre, Aratani Central Hall at JANM (Japanese American National Museum), Tateuchi Democracy Forum at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, Downtown Independent, Pacific Design Center, and Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center.

The festival is part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In 35 years, the festival has presented close to 4,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian international talent. This year, the festival will also feature over a dozen films from Southern California filmmakers.

For program information, visit festival.vcmedia.org.

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