Is it November already?

There’s so much going on in November, including, of course, the election.

Meanwhile the San Diego Asian Film Festival kicked off yesterday with their opening night film Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey.  The film chronicles the legendary rock band Journey as it searches for a new lead singer.  They find one in a formerly homeless cover-band frontman, Arnel Pineda of the Philippines.

The centerpiece film screens Sunday, November 4.

Eden, starring Jamie Chung and Beau Bridges, is based on the true story of Chong Kim, a Korean American who was kidnapped into an international sex-trafficking ring.

Usually centered at Hazard Center, the much-loved film festival has expanded and will also utilize the North Park Birch Theater, Taiwanese Film Showcase at University of California San Diego, Cinepolis Del Mar, and Museum of Photographic Arts.

The Gala Awards Dinner is tomorrow night, Saturday, with an expected performance from the musical Allegiance, which wrapped a record-breaking run at the Old Globe Theater.  The production starred Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga and George Takei.  Randall Park (who we loved having on our Wide Lantern WonderCon panel last year) will host the awards show.

Some of the SDAFF highlights include:

All About My Wife — I previewed this South Korean movie this past summer.  It’s a wacky, enjoyable comedy about what happens to a seemingly happy couple after the happiness is over and the flaws come out after the sheen of love is gone.

Dead Sushi — What a zany concept.  For all you sushi lovers, what happens when what bites is the sushi, not the person!

Five Fingers of Death — A special screening commemorates the 40th anniversary of the film.  Director Chung Chang-Wha will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gala.

Mr. Cao Goes to Washington — A documentary on “accidental Congressman” Joseph Cao.

Nuclear Nation — The film follows those displaced by the Fukushima disaster.

Painted Skin: The Resurrection — From China, demons and human square off.

SDAFF will continue its revered panel series with its Present/Future Summit, hosted by filmmakers Gary Chou and Karin Chien.

Unlike other local Asian film festivals, SDAFF actually pays special attention to Asian American filmmakers.  Over 20 feature-length films by Asian American filmmakers are on the slate, in addition to several short programs and the Reel Voices showcase that features documentaries from nine local high school students.  That’s a significant commitment to Asian Americans, often left out of the conversation in the burgeoning big-budget Asian film arena.

I’ve always said that SDAFF is the film festival with heart.  But it’s also one with intelligence and a strong sense of supporting its community.

SDAFF runs through November 9.


–Ken Choy

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