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What Not to Miss at the San Diego Asian Film Festival

The largest showcase of Asian cinema on the West Coast returns to San Diego this week


Pacific Arts Movement presents the 17th San Diego Asian Film Festival, the largest showcase of Asian cinema on the West coast. | Photos courtesy of SDAFF

What do Randall Park (Fresh off the Boat and The Interview), Academy Award-winning director Steven Okazaki (Days of Waiting) and 12 San Diego County students have in common? Their talents will be on display at the 17th annual San Diego Asian Film Festival, Nov. 3-12. It is the largest showcase of Asian cinema on the West Coast, and will present more than 140 films from 15 countries.

Some of the hand-selected films include themes of injustice, immigration, family, art, sexuality, and the music industry, with film cast and directors scheduled to attend the 10-day festival.

AKA Seoul is a documentary that focuses on Korean adoptees in their 20s and 30s.

This year, the festival will premiere five LGBT films. One of those will be the festival’s centerpiece film and the world-premiere of AKA Seoul at UltraStar Mission Valley on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m. The film follows the lives of five Korean adoptees from around the world who arrive in Seoul, where their complex identities—professional, sexual, cultural—emerge out of their interactions with the culture and terrain of the city. Director Jon Maxwell and documentary subject Dan Matthews are scheduled to attend.

The festival will also feature Edge of Seventeen, the closing film of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. The romantic comedy (with some high school drama) centers on Nadine, a teenager and social outcast, who now feels especially alone after her best and only friend Krista develops feelings for Nadine’s younger brother. She can’t believe what a farce her life has become, until classmate Erwin slides in with looks, charm, and just enough awkward high school humor. Cast and crew will be in attendance at the showing at UltraStar on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 8:25 p.m.

Danny Pudi (Community) stars in The Tiger Hunter, a comedy about an immigrant who is determined to become successful in the U.S.

The opening night film is The Tiger Hunter, a comedy that takes place in 1979. Sami arrives in the United States from India with a leisure suit, a new job, and a suitcase full of expectations. He loses two of those three within hours of touching down, so it’ll take grit, ingenuity, and some hilarious friends to get back on his feet and, if the stars align, impress his sweetheart back in India. This film plays at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.

The closing night features Mifune: The Last Samurai. Academy Award-winning director Steven Okazaki pays tribute to Toshiro Mifune, arguably Japanese cinema’s best-known international star. The film documents his craft, legacy and place in cinematic history. Okazaki is scheduled to attend the showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla on Friday, Nov. 11, 7:00 p.m.

There will also be three kid-friendly films, including a free showing of Reel Voices, a collection of documentaries from 13 San Diego area high school students based on issues ranging from identity and family, to school and sickness. It will be playing at UltraStar Mission Valley on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 12 p.m.

Actor and comedian Randall Park will take audience members down memory lane through Hollywood, the stand-up comedy circuit, conjoined twins, crime-fighting babies, and stir-fried cocaine at UltraStar Mission Valley on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 3 p.m.

The festival also features an awards gala and after party at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter on Saturday, Nov. 5. More than 600 celebrities, and community and business leaders will attend. This year’s winners will be presented, and Los Angeles-based dance crew Kinjaz of America’s Best Dance Crew is slated to perform. Proceeds will benefit festival organizer Pacific Arts Movement's student documentaries and other year-round programs.

For a complete listing of all the movies and events, including ticket information, check out festival.sdaff.org/2016.

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