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SDAFF 2022 Blog

The San Diego Asian Film Festival Spotlights AAPI Voices From Across The Globe

October 27, 2022

CONTACT: Carmela Prudencio,
SAN DIEGO, October 12, 2022

October 12: The San Diego Asian Film Festival Spotlights AAPI Voices From Across The Globe
-Opening Night Film BAD AXE is a portrait of an Asian and Mexican American family in rural America fighting to keep their restaurant and American dream alive in the face of a pandemic
-SDAFF will showcase more than 130 films from over 30 countries in 30 different languages

Pacific Arts Movement (Pac Arts) presents the 23rd Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) from November 3 – 12, 2022 , the most comprehensive portrait of Asian and Asian American cinema in North America. The festival is back in-theaters at the UltraStar Mission Valley with additional screenings at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, and the UCSD Price Center Theater in La Jolla.

This curated lineup of films includes the best in both award-winning and cutting-edge cinema from around the world, including 25 premieres—15 West Coast premieres, 5 North American premieres, 3 US premieres, 1 International premiere, and 1 World premiere. Festival attendees will enjoy films, Q&A’s with filmmakers, and opportunities to meet cast and crew.

This year’s festival is ambitious in its programming with its biggest film line-up since 2019. SDAFF will showcase more than 130 films from over 30 countries in 30 different languages. In addition to films from the United States, the festival welcomes works from countries around the globe that showcase the diversity of Asian representation, including Aotearoa (New Zealand), China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Hong Kong, Japan, Myanmar, The Philippines, Taiwan, and South Korea.

The festival opens with the audience favorite BAD AXE, a documentary that ties up so many of the themes of this year’s festival — from learning to come out of a pandemic, to committing to social justice and cross-racial solidarity, to immigrant entrepreneurship, to the warm embrace of family. It follows a Cambodian-Mexican family’s restaurant in Bad Axe, Michigan and the challenges it faced in 2020.

Brian Hu, SDAFF Artistic Director shares that “so many of this year’s films acknowledge the crises of our time, and unlike Hollywood films, they aren’t stuck eternally in a pre-pandemic 2019. Whether tackling issues of social inequality or just learning to fall in love with masks on, these films are quintessentially 2022.”

For over two decades, SDAFF has been a centerpiece of Asian American culture in the San Diego region. The festival has influenced how Asian and Asian American cinema has evolved during this time and continues to strive to represent the AAPI community through storytelling. At Pac Arts, film is a powerful medium to bring communities together in sharing unheard stories and voices from around the world.

“After three years of reimagining our festival, Pac Arts remains committed to sharing the stories of Asia, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders around the world” says Henry Manayan, Executive Director of Pac Arts. “ Through these unique films, we hope to enlighten people’s views of one another by highlighting new cultures and perspectives. It is in doing so that we not only transform the hearts and minds of the audience, but build bridges among distant and diverse communities”.

The film lineup includes a “Sneak Preview” of the powerful NURSE UNSEEN, a documentary about the phenomenon of Filipino nurses in the United States. The film shines light on Filipinos on the front lines in the U.S. and the disproportionate impact of COVID on Filipino nurses.

The festival’s centerpiece film is WISDOM GONE WILD. The latest film by the legendary Asian American filmmaker Rea Tajiri, the documentary is a portrait of her own Japanese American mother, who had experienced the camps during WWII, raised an artist daughter, and now has dementia. But rather than the usual documentary about pain and suffering, WISDOM GONE WILD is a documentary about wisdom passed through the generations, and serves as a touching tribute to a mother who has always lived on a different wavelength.

The festival will close with the brand new drama RICEBOY SLEEPS, which just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. The story of a Korean single mother raising her son in 1990s Vancouver, RICEBOY SLEEPS is a tender drama about love and sacrifice, and brings forth a beautiful, unreplicable youthfulness.

Opening Film: BAD AXE
Thursday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Location: San Diego Natural History Museum
Q&A: Cast and Crew
BAD AXE captures a closely knit Asian-American family living in a rural Michigan community as they now fight to keep their American dream alive. As owners of a local prominent restaurant, they reckon with a global pandemic, racial tensions, and generational scars from Cambodia’s “killing fields.”

Sneak Preview: NURSE UNSEEN
Friday, November 4 at 7:20 p.m.
Location: Ultrastar Mission Valley
Q&A: Cast and Crew
Feature-length documentary that explores the little-known history and humanity of the unsung Filipino nurses risking their lives on the frontlines of a pandemic, thousands of miles from home.

Centerpiece Film: WISDOM GONE WILD
Sunday, November 6 at 5:30 p.m.
Location: Ultrastar Mission Valley
Q&A: Cast and Crew
An immersive meditation on elder consciousness and the act of caregiving a parent with dementia, filmmaker Rea Tajiri weaves her mother’s storytelling wisdom into the fabric of this film.

Closing Night Film: RICEBOY SLEEPS
Friday, November 11 at 7:15 p.m.
Location: San Diego Natural History Museum
Set in the 90s, a Korean single mother raises her young son in the suburbs of Canada determined to provide a better life for him than the one she left behind.

Sunday, November 6 at 2:30 p.m.
Location: Ultrastar Mission Valley
Directed by UCSD alumna Joseph Juhn. In 2020, for the first time ever, five Korean Americans ran for U.S. Congress in the same year. Meet David Kim, a young LGBTQ progressive in Koreatown, Los Angeles; Marilyn Strickland, a Black Korean centrist Democrat in Tacoma, WA; Young Kim and Michelle Park Steel, Republicans in Orange County; and New Jersey Democratic incumbent Andy Kim.

Sunday, November 6 at 12:00 p.m.
Q&A: Student filmmakers from the REEL VOICES Class of 2022
Twelve filmmakers, twelve stories exploring filmmaking from the teen perspective. From Pacific Arts Movement’s Reel Voices documentary filmmaking program. Free admission.

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