The 38th edition of Visual Communications’ Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is set for May 5-13 (just in time for Asian American Pacific Heritage Month) and it has unveiled it lineup and programming including a presentation of the LAAPFF Legacy Award to trailblazing filmmaker Mira Nair as well as a robust opening day lineup of films.

The opening lineup will include the LA Premiere of Every Day In Kaimuki directed by Alika Tengan, an indigenous filmmaker from Hawaii. LAAPFF will celebrate and introduce the world premiere works from the Armed With A Camera Fellowship. The fellowship now in its 20th year, has shepherded the early works notable alums including: Christopher Makoto Yogi (I Was a Simple Man), Kristina Wong (2022 Lucille Lortel Awards Nominee for Outstanding Solo Show), Roxy Shih (List of a Lifetime) and more. This year’s cohort produced 9 world premieres that tenderly touch upon community movement, family legacy, and ancestral connection.

“In our 38th edition, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival continues to transform itself to reflect our ever-evolving artists and experiences,” says Executive Director Francis Cullado. “In a time when our community is dealing straight up with anti-Asian Hate crimes, living through an uncertain pandemic, and adjusting to the ongoing global issues affecting all of us, our festival is instilling a sense of pride, respect and community through art and film. These stories connect us to one another and fill our lives with a sense of purpose. This year, we share a renewed collectiveness to inspire creativity and support collaboration, and the opportunity to gather and celebrate our histories and our lives from all corners of the world.”

The fest will also see the return of the HBO Max APA Visionaries Short Film Competition and feature the SXSW Double Award Winner Bad Axe; Sundance Winner Leonor Will Never Die; Eugene Yi and Julie Ha’s timely Sundance hit Free Chol Soo Lee; the West Coast Premiere of Omoiyari: A Song Film By Kishi Bashi; the North American Premieres of The Assault, Arisaka and the animated feature The Girl From The Other Side; the Los Angeles Premieres of MaikaWaterman, Dealing With Dad, Delikado, Crossing and Stay The Night.

Read below for the details about this year’s fest:

Opening Day Lineup
The festival will kick off May 5th at the Director’s Guild of America Theater with a lineup that includes:

  • The World Premieres of 20th edition of Armed With A Camera showcase, a fellowship for Emerging Media Artists to develop the next generation of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander artists to connect our communities through the power of our stories.
  • The Los Angeles Premiere of Alika Tengan debut feature EVERY DAY IN KAIMUKĪ following its World Premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
  • Anam Abbas THIS STAINED DAWN, a powerful look Karachi’s feminists who organise a woman’s march, coming up against Pakistan’s state, media and radical religious right;
  • And a special showcase featuring the Visual Communications archive, anchored by the early works of Robert A. Nakamura.

Centerpiece Weekend
The festival continues at the DGA Theater with the Centerpiece Weekend

  • The North American Premiere of Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s THE ASSAULT, fresh from its World Premiere at IFF Rotterdam and the first film from Kazakhstan to screen at the festival.
  • New feature filmmaker David Siev’s SXSW Audience Award and Special Jury prize winner BAD AXE, a moving look at his in a rural Michigan, as they now fight to keep their restaurant alive in the face of a global pandemic, racial reckoning, and generational scars from the Cambodian Killing Fields.
  • Festival alum Tom Huang’s family dramedy DEALING WITH DAD starring Ally Maki, Hayden Szeto, And Peter S. Kim.
  • First time filmmakers Eugene Yi and Julie Ha’s Sundance sensation FREE CHOL SOO LEE focusing on the story of a Korean American death row inmate convicted of a 1973 Chinatown gangland murder in San Francisco, and the activists who led a pan-Asian American movement to free him .
  • Award winning director Ham Tran’s Vietnamese sci-fi kids adventure MAIKA. When a meteor falls to earth, 8-year-old Hung meets an alien girl from the planet Maika, searching for her lost friend.
  • Fresh new feature filmmaker Martika Ramirez Escobar’s Sundance Special Jury Winner LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE.
  • Emerging filmmaker Renuka Jeyapalan’s debut feature STAY THE NIGHT will screen following its World Premiere at SXSW.

Additional Festival Highlights

  • The LA Premiere of WATERMAN, Isaac Halasima’s look at Native Hawaiian and surfing icon Duke Kahanamoku, narrated by Jason Momoa.
  • MSNBC Anchor Richard Lui’s latest film HIDDEN WOUNDS which profiles three families at the intersection of mental health and caregiving.
  • The West Coast premiere of DELIKADO, an environmental thriller on how corrupt corporate and political interests are swallowing small Indigenous communities in the Philippines, and across the globe.
  •  Young Min Kim’s narrative feature debut DAWNING, a chilling psychological thriller.
  • Special Presentation of FRAN ROCKSTAR!, a retrospective of short films celebrating one of VC’s beloved veterans of the Digital Histories program, Frances Ito, Ito who will celebrate her 90th birthday this year, will also celebrate the world premiere of her 12th film at this year’s fest.
  • The LA Premiere Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan’s THE HEADHUNTER’S DAUGHTER, winner of the Sundance Short Film Grand Jury Prize.
  • The latest film from acclaimed Philippine director Mikhail Red’s – the revenge thriller ARISAKA – which follows a policewoman who has to retrace the route of the Bataan Death March to escape her captors.
  • The LA premiere of BUSAN, 1999, a drama from Thomas Percy Kim that follows a Korean-American woman return to her mother’s rustic home.
  • Deann Borshay Liem’s CROSSING, which looks at a group of international women peacemakers sets out on a risky journey across the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
  • Acclaimed musician Kishi Bashi explores the legacy of Japanese American internment through his music in his directorial debut OMOIYARI: A SONG FILM BY KISHI BASHI, co-directed with Justin Taylor Smith which premiered at SXSW.
  •  Legacy Award presented to Mira Nair, which will include a Special Anniversary screening of SALAAM BOMBAY!, her acclaimed breakthrough feature film.
  • The North American premiere of the animated feature THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE, adapted from a manga series by the same name and directed by Yutaru Kubo and Satomi Maiya.

World Premieres at LAAPFF

  • Yasir Masood’s narrative feature debut ISTIKHAARA, NEW YORK which follows Reza, an artist and Brooklyn transplant, Babbu, a recent immigrant and revolutionary from Delhi, and Rahul, an aspiring Imam and crony capitalist, finding themselves in an America where they are ever the more important but feeling even more looked over.
  • The stylish action thriller ALL I WANT IS EVERYTHING, from director Alexandra Cuerdo.
  •  80 YEARS LATER, from Celine Parreñas Shimizu, which captures how families continually grapple with the legacy of Executive Order 9066 which imprisoned Japanese Americans in World War II.

HBO Max APA Visionaries
The HBO Max APA Visionaries Short Film Competition (established in 2016) returns for a special showcase that once again provides a platform for emerging filmmakers to share their unique and diverse perspectives of the Asian and Pacific Islander community. Now in its sixth year, APAV serves to showcase cinematic storytellers of AAPI descent, awarding the top three winners with cash prizes and the opportunity to have their projects premiere on HBO Max following their theatrical screening at the 2022 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Since 1983, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival has presented over 5,000 films, videos, and digital mediaworks by Asian & Pacific Islander artists, and features seminars, panels, in-person guest appearances, and filmmaker awards. The Film Festival continues to be the largest festival of its kind in Southern California and is the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific cinema.

The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is an Academy Award-qualifying film festival for Short Film Awards. Recipient(s) of the Film Festival’s Golden Reel Award for Narrative/Animated Short Film will be eligible to submit in the Animated Short Film/Live-Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards.

Read more details about the fest here.