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Women Dominate Eighth Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase

Eight day fest opens Thursday with Mina Shum’s ‘Meditation Park’

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Photo credit: SDAFF

Heather Lenz' "Kusama: Infinity," closing night film at the Spring Showcase, looks to artist Yayoi Kusama.

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UPDATE: 11:50 p.m., April 23, 2018

"Ulam: Main Dish" screened earlier tonight to a sold out theater at the San Diego Natural History Museum. After the screening thirteen chefs prepared a spectacular Kamayan feast for 300 people. Plus there were Filipino cocktails and desserts. "Ulam" filmmaker Alexandra Cuerdo was on hand for a Q&A after the film as was Nicole Ponseca, restaurateur (Maharlika and Jeepney) and author ("I am Filipino and this Is How We Cook").

Local Fil-Am chefs and crew that helped make this impressive event happen are (in alphabetical order): Mike Arquines (The LAB: Dining Sessions), Chris Aure (Zarlitos Restaurant), Tress Balch (Happy Sushi), Jonathan Bautista (George's at the Cove), Evan Cruz (Arterra Del Mar), Phillip Esteban (Consortium Holdings Ltd.), Spencer Hunter (Hunter's Home Kitchen), Craig Jimenez (Nom Nom Bento), Leigh Lacap (Campfire), Tara Monsod (Tender Greens), Danilo “DJ” Tangalin Jr (Bivouac Ciderworks), Marcus Twilegar (Parq), Jayrell Ringpis (Snoice) , Marlaw Seraspi (Open House food + drink), and Kristianna Zabala (Nomad Donuts).

Tickets for the event sold out in less than four hours. An encore screening of the film takes place on Tuesday at 8:40 p.m. at Ultrastar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center. Online tickets are already sold out but there will be limited tickets available at the box office.

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m., April 20, 2018

Mystery Kung Fu Theater is having a last minute change. Projectionist Jon Miller — the only person in San Diego who can project 16mm film at Ultastar Mission Valley Theaters — has gotten sick. This means Friday night's MKFT will not be on 16mm film. It is still happening, and the film will still be great, but it will be just a little less special. Miller assured me that he is game to project 16mm in November for the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

Read original story below.

The Eighth Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival's Spring Showcase opens this Thursday with Mina Shum's "Meditation Park."

The San Diego Asian Film Festival, sponsored by Pac-Arts, has an embarrassment of riches every year in terms of films to show. So in addition to its main festival in the fall, it also hosts a Spring Showcase.

Although it was not the original intent of the Showcase to focus on women filmmakers, artistic director Brian Hu said it was a natural evolution that grew organically out of their film choices.

Shum's film, about family and aging, focuses on two strong women played by Sandra Oh and Cheng Pei Pei. Then for closing night it's a documentary by a woman filmmaker about a woman artist. Heather Lenz' "Kusama: Infinity" looks to artist Yayoi Kusama who struggled to gain attention as a Japanese woman artist in the 1960s and has become what Hu said is "arguably now the biggest artist in the world."

For the festival's weekend centerpiece, Hu then decided to focus on Yasmin Ahmad and crafted a showcase of her work called "Falling for Angels: The Films of Yasmin Ahmad." She is a Muslim filmmaker educated in the United Kingdom and her films reflect the cultural diversity of her native Malaysia.

The festival will also screen "Waru," a film made up of eight short films by women directors that all take place at 10 a.m. on the same day and play out in real time. The film weaves eight stories of Maori women, each dealing with the death of a child in the community.

Returning once again to the Spring Showcase is Mystery Kung Fu Theater. This is when the audience has to place absolute trust in Hu to pick a martial arts film that will kick ass. It's all very secretive but rumor has it that it will be on 16mm again, a film format that has all but vanished. This means projectionist Jon Miller has to set up his 16mm projection rig next to all the state-of-the-art digital projection at Ultrastar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center. You can't get an experience like this any where else, so I urge you to check it out.

Mystery Kung Fu Theater On 16mm Film

Also worth seeking out are a pair of films from male directors, the latest from Hirokazu Kore-eda and something of a change of pace for the poetic Japanese director, "The Third Murder," and the political drama "1987: When the Day Comes" from South Korean director Jang Joon-hwan who made the audacious "Save the Green Planet!"

The San Diego Asian Film Festival's Spring Showcase runs April 19 through 26 at Ultrastar Mission Valley at Hazard Center.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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