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Podcast Episode 97: San Diego Asian Film Festival — Extreme And Overachieving

San Diego Asian Film Festival artistic director Brian Hu talks about defying ...

Credit: Well Go USA

Above: San Diego Asian Film Festival artistic director Brian Hu talks about defying expectations with films like Johnnie To's "Three," in which actors had to perform an action scene in slow motion.

Episode 97: San Diego Asian Film Festival - Extreme and Overachieving

Asian cinema loves to push boundaries be it in action cinema, melodrama, or pinku films. SDAFF artistic director Brian Hu talks about expanding awareness through film and about how he wants every film to please an audience... but sometimes being repulsed can be a form of pleasure.

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The 17th annual San Diego Asian Film Festival kicks off Nov. 3 with "The Tiger Hunter" at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Sherwood Auditorium and will run through Nov. 12 at multiple venues but with its home base at the UltraStar Mission Valley.

Brian Hu, the festival's artistic director, likes to expand awareness through film and to challenge audiences with things they haven't seen before. That's why this year he has programmed Sion Sono's "Anti-Porno" (the title alone is provocative); a nearly four-hour Filipino melodrama; and "Hime-Anole," an adorable romance that takes a shocking turn.

Hu said he hopes every film pleases the audience and his job is to find the right audience for each film because "feeling repulsed can be a kind of pleasure for some."

The festival is also paying tribute to director Wayne Wang (whose "Chan is Missing" helped define Asian American cinema in the 1980s) and to actor Randall Park (who went from quirky web series to playing Kim Jong-Il in "The Interview" and having a recurring role on TV's "Veep") with showcases of their works.

The festival will also have another edition of the kick-ass "Mystery Kung Fu Theater" where you don't know what film will be screened and have to place your trust completely in Hu as the programmer. But the film will be old school and will have action, that is guaranteed.

Earlier this year for the Spring Showcase, Hu screened a 16mm print of an obscure Asian film and his projectionist Jon Miller had to rig a special projector to play the film. That goes to what Hu is interested in providing for audiences, something that is "not just about the movie but about the whole experience of seeing a movie with a community of people."

Hu also discusses pinku films, a Toshiro Mifune documentary, and discovering fresh talent. Whether you can go to the festival or not, you will learn a lot about Asian cinema and the art of crafting a film festival.

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