Filipino American Diana Lee Inosanto, daughter of famed Pinoy martial artist/actor Danny Inosanto and Goddaughter of the legendary Bruce Lee, makes her directorial debut with THE SENSEI which World Premieres Sunday, May 4 as part of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Fest '08.
Los Angeles: A RECORD NUMBER OF FEATURES INCLUDES WORKS BY DIANA LEE INOSANTO (photo) AND BRILLANTE MENDOZA. Pinoy Cinema is most assuredly on the rise again.
A record number of films by Filipino filmmakers will be on tap at The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival presented by Honda, the largest regional event of its kind featuring Asian cinema, May 1 - May 8.
The week-long event, which opened Thursday, May 1 with Academy Award-winning director, Jessica Yu's PING PONG PLAYA and closes with Tony Ayres' HOME SONG STORIES with Joan Chen May 8, will screen over 140 films from more than 17 countries at the prestigious Directors Guild of America and Laemmle's Sunset 5 in West Hollywood through the opening weekend. It shifts venues during the week to the brand new Imaginasian Center in Downtown Los Angeles, the Center for Democracy and closes, as per tradition, at The Japan America Theater in Little Tokyo.
Mirroring the recent accent of Filipino films internationally and the festival's own panel discussion called "The State of Pinoy Independents: An Afternoon With Filipino Independent Film Movers," Filipino films figure quite prominently in this year's selection.
Among the featured films is THE SENSEI, the directorial debut by stuntwoman/actress, Diana Lee Inosanto. Herself a practicing martial artist, Diana Lee is the daughter of famed Filipino American martial artist, Danny Inosanto and is the Goddaughter of the legendary Bruce Lee, one of her father's best friends. THE SENSEI makes it world premiere, 4 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at the DGA 1 Theater.
"I'm beyond excited; I'm nervous!" said the lifelong Southern California resident. "But, beyond that, thrilled to be making my World Premiere at the LA Asian Pacific Film Fest.
"You can only World Premiere once and the fact that I'm alongside such talented Pinoy filmmakers makes it that much more special," she added. "Besides, I've told all my relatives in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco about it!"
Manila-based Brillante Mendoza owns the unique distinction of having two feature films programmed at this year's festival in the multi-award winning FOSTER CHILD with Cherry Pie Picache and the acclaimed TIRADOR. Both films are shining examples of the fast-rising Pinoy Independent Cinema movement that has seen Pinoy films once again rule the programs of prestigious film festivals worldwide.
Palawan native Auraeus Solito knows that world well having previously had two of his features selected back-to-back for the Sundance Film Festival (the first Pinoy filmmaker to own that distinction), he returns this time with perhaps his most personal film yet in PHILIPPINE SCIENCE, a narrative set amidst his own experiences at the famed Philippine Science High School.
After making its World Premiere in January at the Slamdance Film Festival, Joanna Vasquez-Arong's cosmopolitan NEO-LOUNGE comes to Los Angeles. Her film follows the lives of a Bulgarian jazz singer, a flamboyant Italian businessman and a hip lounge-owning Shanghainese couple in modern Beijing. Filmed entirely in the Chinese capital, her film has also drawn raves from critics worldwide.
Fil-Am ARTS, the Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture, a longtime collaborator and sister non-profit arts organization with Visual Communications, is onboard again as a community presenter for a bulk of the Filipino programs alongside other staunch community organizations such as Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA).
The 2008 LA Asian Pacific FIlmfest presented by Honda, is produced by Visual Communications, the oldest Asian American media resource center in the nation. For updated schedules and ticket information, interested parties are invited to visit www.vconline.org
LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILMFEST 2008
List of Works by Filipino and Filipino American Artists
(Philippines, 2007) Dir.: Brilliante Mendoza, Scr.: Ralston Joel Jover
The emotional bonds between foster-parents-for-hire and the abandoned babies they care for are examined in the highly acclaimed drama FOSTER CHILD by Brillante Mendoza (SUMMER HEAT, LVHIFF 2006). Based on a true story, it’s a slice in the life of a poor foster family in Manila, Philippines, comprised of Mother Thelma (played by the multi-award winning actress Cherry Pie Picache), husband Dado and sons Gerald and Yuri. The film sees Thelma on the day she’s forced to part with a precious three-year-old named John-John, who has just been adopted by an American family.
SUNDAY, MAY 4, PROGRAM 34 • 2:30 PM • SUNSET 5
35mm, 98 min, Color, Narrative, Tagalog w/ES
(Philippines/China, 2007) Dir./Wtr.: Joanna Vasquez Arong
Beijing 2003. As the capital strives to transform itself into a world-class cosmopolitan city, many foreigners are drawn to Beijing. In a city full of surprises and contradictions, many are finding refuge in the trendy bar, Neo-Lounge, run by a hip Shanghainese couple. The film follows a year in the lives of a Bulgarian jazz singer after she lands her first gig during the SARS epidemic period and a larger-than-life Italian businessman whose parties never seem to cease at his lavish home. As they both strive to chase their dreams and find their own space in unpredictable Beijing, they, together with their colorful friends, soon find out that escaping their past isn’t always easy.
FRIDAY, MAY 2, PROGRAM 4 • 7:30 PM • DGA 3
Beta SP, 86 min., Color, Documentary, English, Italian, Chinese w/ES
(Philippines, 2007) Dir: Auraeus Solito, Scr.: Henry Grageda
Structured in four acts to follow freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years, PHILIPPINE SCIENCE begins in playful and familiar school conflicts, as the teenagers compete for top marks and fret over status at the highschool dance. As the students get older, the film takes on richer tones and more complex dilemmas. At the same time, one student – a fictional alter ego of Solito – slowly finds his voice as a high-school theatre impresario, as well as the first hints of his gay identity. The high-school film is a thriving genre in the Philippines, with its own codes and expectations. Usually these films are chocolate-box romances, and Solito both taps and subverts the genre’s evocations of lost innocence. Fascinating as a portrait of an artist, PHILIPPINE SCIENCE is even more compelling as a look at kids who first learn the value, then the limits, of subjecting life’s problems to the scientific method.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 9 • 12:00 PM • DGA 2
Video, 118 min, Color, Narrative, English, Tagalog w/ES
(United States/Philippines, 2007) Dir./Scr.: Ron Morales
After the death of his mother, 12-year-old Hector arrives in Manila to live permanently with his grandmother, Lita, a woman whom he has never met. Shortly after arriving, Hector meets Sel, a neighborhood teenage girl, and Miguel, along with Miguel's barkada (street gang). Longing to find a connection to his new environment, Hector joins this group of petty hustlers in the hopes of getting closer to Sel, until one night Hector's initiation takes a wrong turn. Hector's clumsy actions get him caught while breaking into the home of Jose, a 59-year-old former photographer. Later, Hector finds himself having to work for Jose in order to compensate for his actions while keeping this secret from his new group of friends and his grandmother.
Jose, a somewhat disconnected man, feels he can pull Hector away from Miguel's street gang by using him to complete daily chores around the house. With all this time being spent with Jose, Hector stumbles upon Jose's past. For years, Jose has been spying on his daughter Rosa, who is unaware of her birth father's identity. Oblivious to the ""can of worms"" Hector is about to open, he takes it upon himself to follow Rosa and reunite father and daughter as a way to repay Jose.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 21 • 7 PM • Sunset 5
35 mm, 82 min., Color, Narrative, English, Tagalog w/ES
(USA, 2007) Dir./Scr.: D. Lee Inosanto
THE SENSEI takes place in a small, conservative town during the rise of the AIDS panic it inspired in communities in the late 1980's. Young McClain is a gay teen that is constantly harassed and ostracized in his provincial town. Karen Nakano-O'Neil, once denied her black belt for being a woman, is haunted by the memories of her fiance, boxer Mark Corey. She returns home, after a five-year absence to make amends with her Asian American family-owners of a successful martial arts business and proud members of their local church. When three teens hospitalize McClain after a near-fatal beating and are then released on bail, Annie, McClain's outraged mother, asks Karen to teach McClain the martial ways. Fearful of small town retaliation and her family's disapproval, Karen agrees to secretly teach McClain, training him at night to protect them both. Reminiscently told in a conversation between the young man, McClain and a Minister, The SENSEI is an examination of the prejudices that allow hatred to continue, and the people that find their own humanity in their darkest hour.
SUNDAY, MAY 4, PROGRAM 36 • 4 PM • DGA 1
Video, 103 min, Color, Narrative, English
(Philippines, 2007) Dir.: Brilliante Mendoza, Scr.: Ralston Joel Jover
Shortly after Holy Week in 2007, national elections were held in the Philippines. The film uses the backdrop of mass demonstrations, corruption, and vote buying to tell of everyday struggles for survival. Its protagonists are small time criminals, tiradors, who live in a dilapidated tenement house in the slums of Manila. In interwoven episodes, TIRADOR captures moments in the daily lives of people who have been forced by crushing poverty into a constant tightrope walk between life and death. Their disillusioning reality is the slum with its seedy rooms, its hopelessness. Here drug use, prostitution, and violence are the order of the day. Brillante Mendoza’s use of imagery is masterful. With dizzying agility, hand-held cameras unrelentingly track down life as it is now being played out in the swarming streets of the metropolis. The sound design also contributes artfully to the dramatization of events. In the concluding documentary mass scenes, TIRADOR shows that for many people, climbing out of the gaps in society is impossible.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 26 • 10:00 PM • DGA 2
DigiBeta, 86 min., Color, Narrative, Tagalog w/ES
(Philippines, 2007) Dir./Scr.: Jim Libiran
In Tondo, the gloomiest area of Manila, youth gangs dominate the street scene. Their lives consist of criminality, drugs, and hip-hop music. In the twilight of the underworld, 10-year-old Ebet observes the members of enemy gangs, whose meeting becomes inescapable and which finally leads to an explosion of raw violence. Jim Libiran is the first director in 30 years who has been able to film in Manila’s notorious Tondo district. The majority of his actors were recruited from among the inhabitants of the slum, most of them members of enemy street gangs, whose enthusiasm for their acting is catching. During the shooting of the film deadly hostilities gradually turned into friendships. TRIBU is not only a film, but also a social project—but most of all a rare cinematic event, spilling over with energy. Sex and violence are here not merely the surface, but they function as a vehicle for the realistic illustration of this ignored parallel world. The authentic rap soundtrack was collectively composed by the four main actors. TRIBU is fragile, edgy, and real—an independent production that is one of the best from a strong year in Philippine film.
SUNDAY, MAY 4, PROGRAM 44 • 10 PM • DGA 2
DV Cam, 90 min., Color , Narrative, Tagalog w/ES
YEARS WHEN I WAS A CHILD OUTSIDE
(Philippines, 2008) Dir./Wtr.: John Torres
The latest magnum opus by director John Torres (TODO TODO TEROS, Festival 2007) essays the unusual relationship between a father and son. YEARS WHEN I WAS A CHILD OUTSIDE is from the start a meditation. It is a meta-film that unravels into the journey of the son of best-selling self-help author Rodolfo Torres, who pioneered the sale of instructional books and tapes to “help raise brighter children” in the Philippines during the early 1980s. After learning that his father fathered illegitimate children, the narrator decides to run away. The film is not only a chronicle of stories through foreign regions, but also a probing letter from outside circles, an honest account of illegitimate views from uneven terrain, and a narrative-driven exploration of the nooks and peripheries of the body, geography, and weather. As the journey progresses, the film increasingly traverses the countries of revelation, film, and heart—to where all journeys are meant to begin and end.
TUESDAY, MAY 6, PROGRAM 51 • 7:30 PM • NCPD
Video, 100 min., Color, Experimental Documentary, in Tagalog w/E.S.
(Philippines, 2007) Dirs: Pia Augustha G. Agetep, Preciouse Ann M. Tayag, Scr.: Precious Ann M. Tayag
Alagwa is a coming of age film of Francesca, a young dancer who is trapped with two major struggles in her life—of entering a dance institute to continue the family’s legacy of performing, and still remain connected to her twin sister Veronica, who is diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia—both instigated by her controlling father.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 12 • 1 PM • DGA 3
Video, 28 min., Color, Narrative, Tagalog w/ES
(United States, 2007) Dir./Wtr.: Russell Espinoza
BOOMIN’ GRANNY observes a day in the life of a Filipino grandmother whose daily routine consists of cooking, cleaning, and caring for her granddaughter. Outside of household chores, she often watches television and thinks about her deceased husband. At turns comedic and heartfelt, the film is underscored by a soundtrack by the Beastie Boys, whose blend of aggression, humor, and even sentimentality give meaning to a simple world of cooking and cleaning.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 10 • 12 PM • SUNSET 5
Video, 7 min., Color, Documentary, in English and Tagalog w/E.S.
(United States, 2008) Dir./Wtr.: Rochelle Lozada
CELEBRATION focuses on a family of women, three generations thick. Their intersections, sometimes collisions are imbedded within their actions. With her mother's encouragement, Fili digs deep into her roots. Follow Fili, as she takes an unexpected excursion through her grandma's mind & the physical space of modern day Philippines where she discovers something deeper than what she had originally anticipated.
WEDNESDAY,MAY 7, PROGRAM 56 • 8:00 PM • A/JAT
Video, 5 min., Color, Documentary
(Philippines, 2007) Dir./Scr.: Nelson Florentino
A film editor goes through her archive of film stock and sometime during the day she finds the time to dispose of the body parts she has kept hidden in the projection room.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 26 • 10:00 PM • DGA 2
Video, 2 min., Color, Narrative
(United States, 2007) Dir./Scr.: Jeremiah Tayao
It’s the first time that a young woman’s dream date is coming over for dinner, so she wants to make everything right. Unfortunately, some unexpected guests show up too.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 25 • 9:30 PM • SUNSET 5
Video, 8 min., Color, Narrative
(United States, 2007) Dir./Scr.: Clarissa De Los Reyes
When a phone call brings news of her father's death in the Philippines, a Filipina caregiver (Banaue Miclat) working illegally in New York City, must make a choice between her duties as the family breadwinner and her desire to go home to grieve her father’s death. GIVING CARE is a story about one of the worst fears of an immigrant far away from home: being absent when a loved one goes.
SUNDAY, MAY 4, PROGRAM 39 • 6 PM • DGA 3
Video, 11 min., Color, Narrative
(United States, 2008) Dir./Wtr.: Mark Villegas
LEGEND highlights the DJ career of Isaiah Dacio (aka DJ Icy Ice), from his beginnings as a member of the legendary DJ crew The World famous Beat Junkies through his recent notoriety as proprietor of his DJ business Stacks Records. Navigating through cultural history of Filipino youth in Los Angeles during the 1980s and ’90s, Ice tells the story of a rich Filipino youth expression that continues to this day.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, PROGRAM 56 • 8:00 PM • A/JAT
Video, 5 min., Color, Documentary
THE MOMENTARY ENEMY
(United States, 2008) Dir./Wtr.: Angel Velasco Shaw
Longtime Film Festival director Angel Velasco Shaw (NAILED, 1993, UMBILICAL CORD, 2001) delves deeper into the integral role of war in shaping U.S. national culture by casting a critical eye at the history of U.S. wars and drawing connections between the current war in Iraq and its predecessors, the Philippine-American War and the Vietnam War. Featuring interviews with Ninotchka Rosca, Howard Zinn, Reynaldo Ileto, and Marion Young, THE MOMENTARY ENEMY raises the question, “Hasn’t America been in this position before?”
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 15 • 3:30 PM • DGA 3
Video, 24 min., Color, Documentary
(United States, 2007) Dir./Wtr.: Brian del Rosario
The everyday activities of a young man living with Down’s Syndrome are observed. Simple household activities, even singing, take on a distinct poignancy.
TUESDAY, MAY 6, PROGRAM 48 • 3:00 PM • NCPD
Video, 4 min., Color, Documentary
(United States, 2007) Dir./Scr.: Justin Quizon
Joe and Josephine, two sibling practitioners of eskrima (Philippine martial arts) with wildly different styles and philosophies, bring their differences to a head at a family party where a hilarious, full blown, no holds barred fight scene ensues. After countless broken plates, many bruises and an unconscious uncle, will the sibling rivalry be defused and familial harmony once again restored?
MONDAY, MAY 5 PROGRAM 45 • 7 PM • IAC
Video, 21 min., Color, Narrative
(United States, 2007) Dir./Scr.: Ty Sanga
Michael returns home from school bruised and beaten. Disappointed, his father is determined to turn him into a man. He trains Michael on an old punching bag. Michael becomes stronger, faster, distant from his father, but most of all distant from himself.
SATURDAY, MAY 3, PROGRAM 22 • 7:30 PM • DGA 3
Video, 6 min., Color, Narrative
TO TRANSGRESS: A MEDITATION
(United States, 2006-08) Dir./Wtr.: Maya Santos
TO TRANSGRESS: A MEDITATION explores the moment when She leaves everything She knows to become everything uncertain. Threading homeland, body, family, innocence, sexuality and love, the film provides a meditative glimpse toward a lifetime of self-love.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, PROGRAM 57 • 9:30 PM • IAC
Video, 6 min., Color, Experimental