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14th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival – Asian Showcase! All on April 29th. The Asian Showcase will feature the Regional Premieres of  Key of Life as the Japanese Spotlight, A Werewolf Boy as the Korean Spotlight, and One Mile Above as the Chinese Spotlight. Key of Life is a highly comedic tale of a down-and-out actor who decides to take over someone else’s life — only to find himself filling the shoes of an elite assassin. The mega-blockbuster from Korea, A Werewolf Boy, follows an elderly South Korean woman as she reflects on the time when her family took in a feral boy whose fierce loyalty resulted in a painful sacrifice. The film stars, Song Joong-Ki, Park Bo-young, and Yoo Yeon-seok. The multi-award winning film, One Mile Above, is the inspiring and true tale of a young man who picks up his late brother’s challenge of cycling to the highest point in Tibet. The emotional power of the film is matched by the stunning beauty of the Tibetan landscape. 7:15 p.m. – Key of Life (Kagi-Dorobo no Method) (2012, Japan, 128 min) 7:30 p.m. – A Werewolf Boy (Neuk-dae-so-nyeon) (2012, Korea, 122 min) 8:00 p.m.  – One Mile Above (Kora) (2012, China, 90 min) 10:00 p.m. – Post Screening Gala (Fashion Island, Newport Beach)
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Greetings from Chicago

Tim Hugh, one man bandleader of the Chicago Asian American Film Festival

This is Tim Hugh and his dog Helga in his kitchen in Chicago. Tim has run the only Asian American Indie Film Fest (i.e. no “imports”) for 12 of the 17 years that it’s been in existence. In this picture, he’s a one man bandleader- running it solo, something I can relate to as a solo musician. I’m in town to promote my film “Daylight Savings” which premiered at SXSW this year, and will be the opening night film this year. Joining me at the screening will be Michael Aki who plays my cousin in the film. I met Mike at this very festival in 2010 when he was showing his films Sunsets that he directed with Eric Nakamura, and his Film Noir tribute “Strangers”

I asked Tim a bunch of questions:

Goh: Why is this festival important?

Tim: It’s one of the only festivals that shows only Asian American films; produced, directed and/or about the Asian American experience. In the midwest more so than the coastal states, you’re constantly asked that stupid question “Where are you from?”… so it’s important to help define what being Asian and American is.

I’m a fourth generation Chinese American. In the midwest, it’s usually under the assumption that you’re just “Asian”… and not “Asian American.” When I see Causasian people I don’t ask them “are you from Poland? are you European?” I just see them for who they are, not what they look like.

Goh: How did you get involved in the festival?

Tim: I was just a fan of the band Seam, and Sooyoung Park, Ben Kim and Billy Shin started the festival in 1995 after they released the Ear of the Dragon CD, which was the first Asian American Rock Compliation. I’d always go and watch everything I could. I’d never seen films like this before; Asian American characters that spoke like me; the actors weren’t forced to speak with a bad accent. I could relate to these images and characters that I was seeing at this festival.

I became obsessed and would watch everything I could, whether it be a feature, documentary, or shorts program. I just wanted to see as much as I could, because I knew I’d never get a chance to see these movies again. Plus, being able to meet the directors and hear them speak about their films was one of the coolest things for me. I remember hanging out with Justin Lin, back when he was just a shorts director.

They noticed me being there year after year, and began to recognize me. Eventually, they would ask me to do little things like hand out program booklets, take tickets, watch the table, and take pictures during the Q&A’s. Basically, I became a volunteer. I remember standing there back in the day giving out Giant Robot magazines!

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A write up about films about 3.11 including Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, Pray for Japan, but the writer does leave out the Shunji Iwai documentary, Friends After 3.11 (this is the link to our review). (NY Times – Films 3.11) The Oscar nominated Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom showed at the SFIAFF and although it’s a short, it’s a powerful look at the events that transpired. At first it was a distraction to see an angle of Cherry Blossoms, since it’s juxtaposition felt trite, but their beauty added a layer of hope and something to look forward to. Yes, in 2011 there were no mass drinking like in years past, but the cherry blossoms provided more of an observation of the flowers. Sad stories, a ray of hope, it’s a very grand look at lives after the quake and tsunami. It’s hard to slam or say much bad about a 3.11 film. Yes some are better than others, and some will tell the truth or even distort them, but as an event, all real documentation matters. [youtube]gxXhj8bDRTo[/youtube]
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Bruce Willis sees the thousand screens and sees dollar signs. It’s obvious that a billion people want to watch movies and many of the huge middle class will see them in a theater. His film called Looper is a joint production that includes Chinese backing. This is getting to be old news and obvious, yet it’s still developing. Perhaps the idea is to join the brigade of being in theaters before it gets bootlegged! (Bloomberg – Bruce Willis)
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