The Asian American International Film Festival handed out the 2012 Awards for feature and short films before the closing night screening of Michael Kang’s Knots, at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas in New York on August 5, 2012. The awards ceremony was emceed by spoken word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai.
This year, the Asian American International Film Festival, presented by Asian Cinevision (ACV), featured 50 New York premieres-narrative and documentary features, and shorts-of all genres from The Philippines, Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, UK, Canada and across the Asian Diaspora.
Audience Choice Awards:
The Audience Choice Award for Narrative Feature was presented to Lily Mariye, an actor, screenwriter and director, whose impressive debut feature MODEL MINORITY, follows the story of L.A. teenagers trying to navigate the treacherous world of peer pressure, drug dealers, juvenile hall and dysfunctional families.
The film stars Nichole Bloom as Kayla, an underprivileged Japanese American girl with a drug addict mom (Jessica Tuck) and an alcoholic dad (Chris Tashima), who endangers her promising future as an artist when she becomes involved with a drug dealer (Delon De Metz). Laura Innes, Helen Slater, Takayo Fisher, Courtney Mun and Marc Anthony Samuel are also featured, along with music by three-time Grammy nominee, saxophonist Boney James.
The film recently garnered three awards at its World Premiere at the 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival: Special Jury Outstanding Director, Breakthrough Performance by a New Actor for Nichole Bloom, and Outstanding Cinematography. AAIFF’12: Lily Mariye’s Model Minority, starring Jessica Tuck, Nichole Bloom, Chris Tashima, Helen Slater, Laura Innes and Takayo Fisher, screens at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas
The One to Watch Award was presented to director Jayshree Janu Kharpade for her short film FIRE IN OUR HEARTS. Eligible films were screened in the shorts programFOR YOUTH BY YOUTH, written and directed by talented youths between the ages of 15 and 20. FIRE IN OUR HEARTS is an autobiographical film written and directed by a 15-year-old schoolgirl, Jayshree Janu Kharpade, who was born to an indigenous family (aka tribals) that have been disenfranchised at the very bottom of India’s poverty ladder. With a strong courage to learn and conviction to give back to others, Jayshree documents her family and village, as well as the tenacious efforts of the tribal union for the equal rights to education, thanks to which she is able to attend a school for tribal girls.
The Audience Choice Award for Documentary Feature was presented to A LOT LIKE YOU, directed by Eliaichi Kimaro. Tender, intellectual, and reflective, director/writer Eliaichi Kimaro explores her intricate identity as a Tanzanian-Korean mixed-race, first-generation American in her award-winning documentary. A LOT LIKE YOU lodges a personal lens to the perception of postcolonial and immigrant histories, confidently and sincerely bringing out the conversation between the individual, family and culture.
The Emerging Director Award for Narrative Feature was awarded to director Vincent Sandoval for his film SEÑORITA. Sandoval is also the co-screenwriter, co-producer, and leading actor in the film. Wanting to quit sex work in Manila and start a new life, Sofia, a transgender woman, reinvents herself as Donna in the small town of Talisay to look after her friend’s son. But her past soon catches up with her when she gets involved in the complex politics of a local election, and her two lives cannot be kept apart. Other films nominated for this award were MODEL MINORITY (dir. Lily Mariye), PEARLS OF THE FAR EAST(dir. Cuong Ngo), SHANGHAI CALLING (dir. Daniel Hsia) and VIETTE (dir. Mye Hoang).
The jurors for The Emerging Director Award for Narrative Feature award included film critic John Anderson, executive director of Film Society of Lincoln Center Rose Kuo and award winning Art Director Wing Lee.
The Excellence in Short Filmmaking Award was awarded to MY SPIRITUAL MEDICINE, directed by Liang Cheng. Actor Takahiro Morooka accepted the award on behalf of director Liang Cheng. Two white-collar clerks set up a private radio program in bustling Shanghai. An Otaku lady lives in isolation. As the random fates of individuals are linked and changed by the radio wave, love, in all possible forms, burgeons. Other films nominated for this award were HOW TO EAT YOUR APPLE (dir. Erick Oh),ONCE (dir. Jie Chen), SHANGHAI LOVE MARKET (dir. Craig Rosenthal) andTHE LAST MARBLE (dir. Manjari Makijany).
The jurors for The Excellence in Short Filmmaking Award included award-winning filmmaker Buboo Jakobsson, actor Ken Leung and film distributor Cindi Rowell.
The screening of Knots was followed by a luau-themed afterparty at DUO Lounge.
Check back for my exclusive interviews with Model Minorityactor Chris Tashima, an academy award-winning filmmaker for Visas and Virtues, and Jodi Long, who is currently appearing on “Sullivan and Son” with Steve Byrne.
In addition, I will be posting a slideshow of my 35th Asian American International Film Festival coverage of Lily Mariye’s Model Minority; Richard Wong’s and H.P. Mendoza’s Yes, We’re Open; Michael Kang’s Knots; and Simon Yin’s$upercapitalist, written, produced and starring Derek Ting, Linus Roache, Michael Park, Kenneth Tsang, Richard Ng and Kathy Uyen, which kicks off its theatrical release at Village East Cinema on August 10, 2012.
The 35th Asian American International Film Festival is made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for The Arts, by the New York State Council on The Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Special Support is provided by Macy’s, Wells Fargo, AARP, Woo Creative, Art Works, NYCulture, AMP Viacom, and the many friends of ACV.
“AARP is proud to sponsor the Asian American American International Film Festival because it is important for us to increase the awareness, relevance and engagement of the 50+ and their families in the Asian Communities,” shared David Kim, Vice President for Multicultural Markets and Engagement, AARP. “One of the ways we do this is to have a presence in the Asian American community to let people know that we want to support through our outreach efforts, the Asian American communities on a consistent and long term basis.”
The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is produced by Asian CineVision (ACV), a nonprofit media arts organization devoted to the development, promotion and preservation of Asian and Asian American film and video. AAIFF is the nation’s longest-running festival of its kind and a leading showcase for the best in independent Asian and Asian American film and video.
About Asian CineVision & AAIFF
For more information on the 35th Annual Asian American International Film Festival, please visit http://www.asiancinevision.org/aaiff/.