7th Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF)
IT’S BACK! Austin welcomes back the Austin Asian American Film Festival!
Headlining films include the Southwest premiere of the Martin Scorsese produced “Revenge of the Green Dragons” and “Happiness” by award-winning Thomas Balmès, director of 2010 documentary “Babies” with director in attendance.
From a Chinatown gang crime thriller to an 8-year-old Bhutan monk faced with technology and the potential happiness it can bring, the Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF) is ready to bring a whole new world of stories and perspectives to light in one amazing festival lineup. The festival runs over a four-day weekend, November 13–16, 2014 at the Marchesa Theater, 6406 N I H 35 # 3100, Austin, TX 78752.
Headlining the festival is the Southwest Premiere of “Revenge of the Green Dragons,” executive produced by Martin Scorsese, a brilliant mix between a Hong Kong action film and a New York City crime thriller. Opening Night Gala Film “Happiness” will see acclaimed French director Thomas Balmès in attendance. This French/Bhutan documentary premiered at Sundance and won the Documentary World Cinema Cinematography Award.
The 7th Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF) showcases the best in Asian and Asian American Cinema in order to celebrate our communities, entertain and enlighten the public, and support the creative talents of Asian American and Asian artists.
Tickets: All-Access Festival Badge $80, All Film Pass $55, Individual Movie Ticket $12, Student Tickets $8
AAAFF Film Listings and Descriptions
REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS (U.S.A., Action Drama)
From acclaimed directors, Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo, and legendary Executive Producer Martin Scorsese, comes a brilliant mix between a Hong Kong action film and a New York City crime thriller, portraying the never-before-told true story of “The Green Dragons.” This AAAFF Centerpiece Film will be the Southwest Premiere of the film. Guests will be in attendance.
In the vein of crime classics like “Mean Streets” and “Infernal Affairs,” “Revenge of the Green Dragons” follows two immigrant brothers Sonny (Justin Chon) and Steven (Kevin Wu) who survived the impoverished despair of New York in the 1980s by joining the Green Dragons Chinatown gang. The brothers quickly rise up the ranks, drawing the unwanted attention of hard-boiled city cops. An ill-fated love affair pits Sonny against his own brother, he sets out for revenge on the very gang who made him who he is.
HAPPINESS (French/Bhutan, Documentary)
From acclaimed French director, Thomas Balmès, this French/Bhutan documentary premiered at Sundance and won the Documentary World Cinema Cinematography Award. “Happiness” is the AAAFF’s Opening Night Gala Film with filmmaker in attendance. Balmès achieved critical acclaim for his 2010 documentary, “Babies.”
Bhutan is one of the least developed countries in the world. There is barely any industry, and electricity was not commonplace until very recently in 1999. The advent of electricity was revolutionary for the tiny mountainside villages in this Himalayan kingdom and the film delves into the world of Peyangki, a dreamy and solitary eight-year-old monk who lives in the last village to get hooked up and the idea of happiness that technology might bring. The gorgeous shots of the scenery speak more than the people in this film, in which Thomas Balmès brings his tradition of being a silent witness to cultural developments around the world.
VULTURES OF TIBET (short)
Accompanying the film, “Happiness,” is the student Academy Award nominated, “Vultures of Tibet,” directed by Austin-based filmmaker Russell Bush. “Vultures of Tiebet” is a documentary film that explores the commercialization of sky burial, a private death ritual where the bodies of the Tibetan dead are offered to wild griffon vultures. Guest will be in attendance.
FARAH GOES BANG (U.S.A., Comedy)
From Asian American director Meera Menon, Farah Goes Bang is an indie road trip comedy about sex, politics, and friendship. This film was the winner of the inaugural Nora Ephron Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival.
“Farah Goes Bang” is a road-trip comedy centered on Farah Mahtab, a woman in her twenties who tries to lose her virginity while on the road campaigning for presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. Farah and her friends K.J. and Roopa follow the campaign trail across historic Route 66 on their way to Ohio, the central battleground state of 2004, seizing control of this charged moment in their lives and the life of their country.
ICE POISON (Taiwan, Drama)
By Burmese-Taiwanese director Midi Z. “Ice Poison” is Taiwan’s official entry for the 87th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film.
A poor young farmer in Myanmar pawns his cow for a moped and seeks alternative income as a taxi driver. Among his first fares is a woman who has returned home for her grandfather’s funeral and is making a new start after escaping an arranged marriage in China. Together, they are lured into one of the few lucrative business opportunities available in the area: selling “ice poison” (crystal meth) around town.
PEE MAK (Thailand, Horror/Comedy)
A comedy horror film by one of the Thailand’s top horror directors, Banjong Pisanthanaku, “Pee Mak”is the highest grossing Thai film and one of Asia’s highest grossing films of all time.
Thai horror films have never quite found the same kind of international audience as their creepy cousins from Korean or Japan, in part due to the fact that the country’s genre films tend to be heavily grounded in local beliefs and traditions. “Pee Mak” is a perfect case in point, a ghost comedy set in mid-19th century Siam based around the ever-popular folk tale “Mae Nak Phra Khanong” and shot with uniquely Thai humor and character. Though horror and romantic comedy are notoriously hard to pair up, “Pee Mak” is one of the few films that successfully nail the balance.
FANDRY (India, Drama)
Directed by Nagraj Manjule, “Fandry” explores India’s caste-based discrimination in the modern age through the romance of two young people from different castes. Described as “explosive” by the Hollywood Reporter.
Jabya, a Dalit (low-caste) boy in India, falls for Shalu, a girl of a higher caste despite the callous reality created by centuries of customs. He is told the ashes of the rarest of rare Black Sparrow will cast a spell and help win over her love and he goes in search of it. The film navigates young love and the complicated reality of the Indian Class Structure. Co-presented with Indie Meme, Austin-based independent distribution company of Indian films.
CART (South Korea, Drama)
Directed by Boo Ji-Young, “Cart” is a based-on-fact drama about the injustices of Korea’s labor system against women and a group of middle-aged chain store workers who decide to rise up against the establishment.
Beginning as an ensemble drama showing the different and difficult circumstances of the store’s workers, “Cart” takes its time to set up the tense standoff between the company and its former employees. As things escalate, the inherent unfairness of the labor system is brought to the fore and the power brokers show their true colors, treating the strikers as an infestation that needs to be wiped out, first by hired thugs and then by water cannons. Director Boo personalizes the repercussions of Korea’s poor treatment of workers, yet she resists the impulse to present a one-sided argument. Mostly shot in a large, non-descript store, the film’s tone is stripped down, limited to whites, greys and the pale blues of the store uniforms with color injected in choice moments and spaces.
TOMORROW WE DISAPPEAR (India, Documentary)
Directed by Jim Goldblum and Adam M. Weber, “Tomorrow We Disappear” is Indiewire’s pick for one of top documentaries of 2014 and premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. A poor artist/magician community in India’s city of New Delhi is forcibly displaced by redevelopment.
Since the 1970s, India’s city of New Delhi’s magicians, puppeteers, and circus performers have called the tinsel slum, the Kathputli Colony, their home. In 2013, the government issued relocation permits to the colony residents; the slum is to be bulldozed and cleared for development. The film explores the last remnants of a culture born out of folk art and molded by poverty.
9-MAN (U.S.A., Documentary)
Directed by Chinese American filmmaker Ursula Liang, “9-Man,” delves into an isolated Chinese-American sport that’s an ongoing piece of history of Asian America.
Since the 1930’s, young men have played the gritty, street ball game, known as 9-Man, in the alleys and parking lots of Chinatown. Today, some 80 years later, the sport is a lasting connection to Chinatown for a community of men who know a different, more integrated America. The film explores the history of the game and includes a diverse cast of modern-day characters – from 6’7″ Olympian Kevin Wong to a 93-year-old pioneer – combining vérité footage and interviews with never before seen archival footage and photos sourced directly from the community.
JEEPNEY (Philippines, Documentary)
Directed by Filipino American filmmaker Esy Casey, “Jeepney” visualizes the richly diverse cultural and social climate of the Philippines through its most popular form of mass transportation: the vividly decorated ex-WWII military jeep.
These jeepneys are individually operated by the drivers, who manifest their identity, values, and dreams in its painting and decoration. The stories of a jeepney driver, artist, and passenger take place amidst nationwide protest against oil price hikes that pressure drivers to work overseas to earn a living. Lavishly shot and cut to the rhythm of the streets, “Jeepney” provides an enticing vehicle through which the rippling effects of globalization can be felt.
Funny Money (Vietnam, Comedy)
Directed by Vietnamese-American filmmaker Thien Do, “Funny Money” (Tiên Chùa), is a romantic comedy and satire about capitalism in Vietnam. The humor references Vietnamese culture subjects such as torn money, hell notes, superstition, and other cultural contexts.
Lucky Loc has worked his way into respectable society as the owner of a company producing high-end ceremonial gifts to be burned as offerings to the dead. When his luck takes a sudden nosedive, he is convinced it is due to the torn money note which he slipped at a flower shop to salesgirl Quyen, knowing local businesses don’t accept damaged money. Believing that the same torn bill is his lucky charm, he scrambles to retrieve it from her while she believes it to be bad luck which caused a string of unlucky events in her life. In trying to retrieve his funny money, Loc pursues Quyen, both romantically and with the ulterior motive of regaining his lucky charm. Set in Vietnam, “Funny Money” is a social satire about a man trying to survive the increasingly materialistic world with his soul and sanity intact, or at least partially intact.
CICADA (Japan, Comedy)
“Cicada” is the first feature film by filmmaker Dean Yamada whose shorts have won multiple awards. This family dramedy is an ensemble film about a group of quirky adults who throw a birthday party for a boy, who is being bullied at school, in hopes of changing his peers’ perception of him.
AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS (U.S.A. web series – screening and panel)
An action/comedy about two offbeat filmmakers reuniting the Asian bad guys from action films from the 80s and 90s, to carry off one impossible mission, from directors Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco, written by Milton Liu.
A screwball comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” is an homage to the actors who played iconic, yet paradoxically nameless Asian villains on the silver screen. What happened to the actors that played that one Asian villain in your favorite childhood action flicks? They have teamed up with the National Film Society to avenge the wrongful death of Tamlyn Tomita’s twin sister, Pamlyn! Directors Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco assembled the “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” for the very characters that they portrayed on film and what they do best — kick butt.
Festival Partners and Sponsors
University of Texas at Austin Center of Asian American Studies
Austin Film Society
Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce
Lucky Chaos Theater
City of Austin Cultural Arts Division – This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
PK Acupuncture Wellness