Podcast Episode 44: San Diego Asian Film Festival Celebrates Its Sweet 16
Festival looks to honor past legends and highlight new talent
The San Diego Asian Film Festival celebrates its sweet 16 this year.
It will show 130 films from 20 countries over 10 days.
Artistic director Brian Hu explained that in programming the festival, films get assessed individually but also in terms of how they fit into the festival overall. He strives for diversity and balance and hopes that all the films are "crowd-pleasers."
"What I always turn to is the fact that the idea of a crowd-pleaser is very subjective. We want all of our films to be crowd-pleasers but we understand there are different kinds of crowds," Hu said. "What might be considered mainstream to some folks could be extremely dull and unwatchable to another group. And because we are a quote-unquote niche film festival, that we do film from Asia or Asian-American film, we’re already playing films that, the market has deemed unmarketable. They are not crowd-pleasers because to the mainstream, a crowd-pleaser cannot have subtitles."
So you’ll find a musical about corporate intrigue, a film pitting zombies vs. yakuza, and a documentary about a Japanese country western star. But Hu said there is also an underlying theme.
"This year there is a big emphasis on honoring past legends and then highlighting new talent. This always happens but this year in particular with Kiju Yoshida, with Tyrus Wong, who is our lifetime achievement honoree, and then with new talents like Ken Jeong, and the folks at Buzz Feed are really changing the landscape of Asian American media making, as well of course as all of the independent filmmakers who are coming to us with their short films, with their first films. So being able to highlight where we’ve been in the past and where we can potentially go is a huge theme for this year," Hu said.
That means legendary Japanese new wave director Kiju Yoshida as well as comedian Ken Jeong will both be represented at the San Diego Asian Film Festival that kicks off on Thursday and runs through Nov. 14.
Ticketing information and the full schedule is available online.
Listen to the Cinema Junkie Podcast for a discussion of what a programmer's role is and a rundown of film highlights.