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Preview: Pac-Arts Spring Showcase

Celebrating A Diverse Array Of Asian Cinema

Credit: FUNimation Entertainment

Above: "Wolf Children"

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando previews Pac-Arts Spring Showcase.


The wild diversity of Asian cinema is once again highlighted in Pac-Arts Spring Showcase (April 18 through 25 at the Digiplex Mission Valley) with films ranging from “Linsanity” to werewolf children.

The Pac-Arts Spring Showcase kicks off tonight with some “Linsanity.” Evan Jackson Leong's documentary doesn’t focus on Jeremy Lin’s mad skills on the basketball court but rather on the behind the scenes journey to NBA superstardom.

The film’s a crowd pleaser as is another documentary, “Harana.” Guitarist Florante Aguilar returns to the Philippines in search the gentle serenades known as harana. The film pays tribute these courtship songs sung by men outside the windows of the women they loved. It’s an enchanting exploration of a past cultural tradition that still has resonance today.

Charming in a more rambunctious way is “Wolf Children” from Mamoru Hosoda (who made "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time"). Japanese anime frequently displays a flair for allowing the mundane and the magical exist side by side. In this case a woman has an affair with a werewolf, and then faces the difficult task of raising werewolf pups that transform back and forth between human and animal form. There are some hilarious scenes of the kids/pups chewing up furniture and books. But as with many anime it has wild mood shifts from slapstick comedy to tragedy so you never know quite what to expect.

The Spring Showcase has no shortage of charm but it also challenges viewers with films like “United Red Army,” a video essay about the 1977 hijacking of Japan Airlines Flight 472. The film relies on a riveting original recording between the Japanese United Red Army hijackers and the negotiators.

According to the filmmaker Naeem Mohaiemen the film is "a series of photography installations in museums since 2006, and now a projected film trilogy that traces 1970s ultra left movements' turn to violence, which became an "accidental Trojan horse", creating blowback through the rise of right-wing political forces. Part one of the trilogy is based on the negotiations over the 1977 JAL hijack, between the Japanese Red Army members on board the plane, and Dhaka control tower."

The festival returns to cheerier themes with the Bollywood musical “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” for closing night. The Spring Showcase runs through April 25 at the Digiplex Mission Valley.

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