2018 is the first year the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Hollywood became a proud Community Partner with Visual Communications’ annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival from May 3-12. Personally, it is my twentieth year attending this festival.
With its continuing effort in presenting, showcasing and elevating our stories while banishing crab mentality and antiquated stereotypes, its 34th year was no exception. Especially during a time of representation, change and accountability in mainstream media today. Both mainstream television (at the forefront are The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend now entering its fourth and final season later this year and NBC’s Superstore starring Nico Santos, The Good Place starring Manny Jacinto and A.P. Bio starring Sari Arambulo, all with recent season renewals) as well as new media (Netflix’s first Filipino film in Mikhail Red’s Birdshot, its first Filipino episodic series in Brillante Mendoza’s Amo and the U.S. family comedy, Alexa & Katie starring Paris Berelc, the latter recently renewed for a second season) continue to highlight Filipino American talent, but it is mainstream cinema that is falling behind. However, in recent months, with the largest box office opening in the history of cinema in Avengers: Infinity War with FilAm actors Dave Bautista, Jacob Batalon and Ethan Dizon in the Marvel Comics Universe film franchise as well as the upcoming Crazy Rich Asians starring Nico Santos, things may start to change.
Let’s start off first with the film festival’s 2018 trailer. The music used was “A Lil More” (featuring Bambu) from 2011. Here is the original 2012 music video for the song.
On the second day of the film festival, FACCHO Vice President Edwin A. Santos attended the invitation-only, private screening of H.P. Mendoza’s new film, BITTER MELON starring Patrick Epino (Awesome Asian Bad Guys, National Film Society) at the AMC Dine-In Theater in Hollywood.
FACCHO President Craig Obligacion-Wilson and Vice President Edwin A. Santos attended Marie Jamora’s Cinema Sala X LAAPFF: Writers Night to hear new original scripts held at Matsumura in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles. Readers include Dante Basco (WeOwnThe8th, Steven Spielberg’s Hook).
Prior to the Los Angeles Premiere Screening of the documentary film, THE CLEANERS on May 8, FACCHO Vice Presidents Paul Mirador and Edwin A. Santos co-presented the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Hollywood and our FilAm Chamber of Commerce Hollywood Film Challenge to the audience of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
The filmmakers of The Cleaners were unable to attend, but the people featured in this fascinating doc, United Nations Special Rapporteur/University of California, Irvine Law Professor David A. Kaye and Artist Illma Gore were present for audience Q&A after the screening held at the Regal L.A. Live Cinemas in Downtown Los Angeles.
Last night during the Closing Ceremonies of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the award winners were announced.
In the category of INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION AWARDS, the documentary film, THE CLEANERS directed by Hans Block & Moritz Riesewieck won the newly created honor, the Special Jury Mention – Most Urgent and Cautionary Film.
Compassionately portraying the Filipino workers who comb through thousands of online images in the dark of night, THE CLEANERS exposes the dark side of information technology. Don’t miss this film when it comes to a theater near you!
Two nights later, FACCHO returned to the Regal L.A. Live Cinemas to co-present back-to-back screenings, the West Coast Premiere of THE FEVER AND THE FRET and the North American Premiere of NEOMANILA.
Joining co-presenting duties with FACCHO were This Filipino American Life (TFAL) and FilAm Creative (FAC) for Mikhail Red’s Neomanila.
In the category of the NORTH AMERICAN NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION AWARDS, Adelina Amosco won Breakout Performance honors for her lead role as ‘Eleanor’ in Cath Gulick’s The Fever and The Fret.
A shy, artistic loner growing up in the Bronx, Eleanor is tormented at school because of her large facial birthmarks. At night, she begins visiting another world, and encounters another being. But when Eleanor is forced into a confrontation at school, she may have to leave her other world behind forever.
In the category of the INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION AWARDS, Timothy Castillo won the Best Acting Award for his lead performance as ‘Toto’ in Mikhail Red’s Neomanila.
As a violent war on drugs is waged in present day Manila, a notorious vigilante death squad recruits a teenage orphan named Toto.
After the premiere screening, we celebrated with the filmmaker at Angel City Brewery in DTLA until it closed.
I have been attending the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival since 1998 (twenty years ago this week). And thereafter, the work-in-progress film, Mercado Family Debut was screened and it gave me hope. It was later released as The Debut making it the first Filipino American film released theatrically nationwide. And, many a time as a frequent attendee and at one point, a yearly VC Member — last year as an actor having three short films — Lolo Pepe, What You Don’t Say and Uncle Eddy premiere at LAAPFF was unforgettable.
Congratulations to the winners from our co-presented films! As well as the other FilAm talent in and behind their own films at the festival these last eight of ten days such as PJ Raval’s Call Her Ganda as that won the Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding North American Documentary Feature last night.
Thanks to Janna Wang, Lailanie Gadia and Melanie Ramos for guiding us along the way. And, much thanks to the Executive Director of Visual Communications Francis Cullado for another successful film festival!
Until next year!